Wonder Woman (2017) Review

The time has come for the premiere woman superhero to finally get a feature film after 75 years. Sure there has been a TV show in the 70’s but after that, it has been little to nothing. There have been numerous attempts at feature films and live action shows that have never materialized. There was a fairly popular animated movie in 2009. But now that the DC Extended Universe is off and running and making a small appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman’s chance has finally come. How does it succeed?

Arguably this is the best movie in the DCEU canon and one of the best superhero movies in years. Origin movies are usually the best way to go especially with heroes whose origins aren’t commonly known. So this was the route chosen for Wonder Woman as well as setting the bulk of the movie in the past during World War I. Wonder Woman is usually tied to World War II but since Captain America: The First Avenger handled that war, you can see why they shifted it. After spy Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, Diana (Wonder Woman) agrees to take him back to mainland Earth where he has information on a new weapon to help end the war of wars. People tend to forget how brutal World War I was and this change does not diminish Wonder Woman’s plight against the God of War, Ares.

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Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman is serviceable as the titular hero. She is not necessarily great in the role. No fault to her as her acting resume is thin with a lot of roles that asked nothing of her. But when she does shine, she does. I can see her growing into the role and becoming a better actor in the process. Chris Pine steals the show for me in the movie. I’ve always been so so on him as an actor until fairly recently. In this movie, he plays a spy who has become world weary due to the war happening. While he is jaded, he always shows that he believes in the good of people. This is a good contrast to Diana’s more naive black and white view of the world. When these two interact, their chemistry is great and help sell the movie. The Amazons played by Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother and Robin Wright as General Antiope, Diana’s aunt are strong presences in the movies despite limited screentime. Diana and Steve’s compatriots played by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock are solid and help flesh out the war side and also help flesh out the world for Diana. Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis and Lucy Davis are the rest of the supporting cast are solid and help flesh out the movie.

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Patty Jenkins deserves all the credit in the world for this movie. The tone for the movie was perfect. There wasn’t humor just thrown in for the sake of humor. A lot of humor comes from Diana being a fish out of water. The contrast between Themyscira and the actual world is such a beautiful contrast. When Diana enters the modern (circa 1918) and sees London, you can just feel the pollution on the screen. When the war scenes happen, even though it is not an R rated film, you feel the effects of this horrific war. There are no hidden shots of missing limbs or anything like that, you see them. I think it was a tricky balance to not be too heavy but also show the effects of the war and what it is doing to the world. So when Diana finally does step in and become a beacon of hope, you really feel it.

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The action in this movie is top notch as well. Since Diana comes from a warrior group of people, they are much more melee based combat. This reflects in her combat style as she frequently goes for the legs. The opening action scene between the Amazons and German soldiers is unique to see this group of trained warriors go up against modern weapons that they know nothing about, which helps makes things even. Whenever Diana steps into battle, it is memorable since she is no normal person and can do things like no other. A unique battle shows that even though she is all powerful, she can not do everything and it is juxtaposed with her teaming with soldiers and their weapons to help turn the tides of battle.

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This is also a gorgeous movie. As mentioned earlier the contrast the modern world and Themyscira is palpable. Themyscira is a gorgeous place (probably why it’s nickname is Paradise Island) and the hues of greens and blues make you just want to visit the place. Then when entering the modern world and seeing the effects of war and everything is black and gray helping to sell that the world is really at war. Seeing the world in 1918 is also pretty much being like in a different world. Seeing London in this era and war torn Europe is nothing like the world today. The fashion, the vehicles, the lingo, everything about it.

Is it a perfect movie? No. The third act is a little long winded. The whole thing with Ares is a bit on the thin side. He’s a serviceable villain but not much to him. But it is nice to see a movie about a superhero who actually wants to be a hero. Everyone involved in the movie should be proud of themselves for creating one of the best superhero movies in recent years.

 

SCORE: 9/10

 

Justice League Trailer Takeaway

First thing first, no Superman. We all know that the Man of Steel is in the movie and probably more than a cameo. They even brought Henry Cavill out at San Diego Comic Con 2016 to show that he was in the movie. We know Lex Luthor and Lois Lane both play important roles in the movie. We even see a brief shot of Lois Lane looking towards the sky. Maybe she’s looking at her returned love. Who’s to say? But I can commend Warner Bros. on playing coy about Superman.

But other than that, I think it was a good trailer. We see how Batman is the one to bring the team together. This was hinted at in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We still don’t know the extent of Wonder Woman’s role in forming the team. She really does not play that much of an element in the trailer. Instead it mainly focuses on the three new heroes who were introduced in cameos in BvS.

The Flash was always going to have the hardest time. The superhero already has a hit television show on The CW. We even see that they have the same origins with the father being in prison after being falsely accused of murder of Barry’s mother. The way that The Flash’s powers work in this universe make him much more faster than any other live action incarnation. Plus Ezra Miller is the total opposite of what Barry Allen traditionally looks like and younger as well. He does look much like Robin than Allen but he looks to be Batman’s sidekick in the movie.

Cyborg is the one who gets the least amount of screentime in the trailer. I figure this may be due to the heavy special effects nature of his character and these shots might not be done. But we do get a sense of his abilities and what he is capable of. In BvS it looked like a Mother Box (powerful tools used by the New Gods…it’s complicated) helped form him into what he is now. We know that the forces of Apokolips play an important part in this movie as the main antagonist but it makes you wonder what Cyborg will function as.

Aquaman looks to be the life of the party. The one who gets off on the thrill of battle. Nothing cooler than seeing Aquaman ride on top of the Batmobile while Batman can only smirk. There is a quick shot of Mera in the trailer as well. It is known that a Mother Box resides with the Atlanteans but we do not know Aquaman’s status with Atlantis. It will be interesting to see his dynamic with Batman as he seems to grate on Batman at best.

We also see a lighter side of Batman in this. I was not a fan of the way Batman was in BvS. Talking about how “you’re not a man” and “men are brave” and all that. It was all a little too xenophobic for me. But this movie seems to have taken a step back. While Batman will probably not be cracking jokes, he does have a dry wit about him. This is apparent in most of his interactions shown in the trailer with Aquaman, The Flash and Commissioner Gordon. By the way, J.K. Simmons looks great as Gordon.

There is not much to the trailer other than mostly battle scenes which are good and bad. Hopefully WB does not do what they did with BvS and ruin all the set pieces before the movie even premieres. Justice League looks to be fluffy fun which is something that the DCEU can use at the moment. Remember The Avengers in 2012, there was not much in terms of plot when it came to that moment. This movie looks to be following suit as well as assemble the team (and possibly resurrect Superman) and kick ass. I honestly hope this movie does not suck.

I’m Now Worried For The DC Extended Universe 

With all the recent news coming out about the DC Extended Universe, I’m no longer in “wait and see” mode. I’m now officially worried about this cinematic universe. I loved Man of Steel and more ambivalent towards Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and have grown to really dislike Suicide Squad. So I am more about where this universe is going. But The Flash movie has now lost two directors and getting a page one rewrite. Ben Affleck has left directorial duties on the upcoming Batman movie. Suicide Squad was such a mess because of the studio being reactionary about the reception of Batman v. Superman. The DCEU is a ship that is moving but there is no singular voice and thus it doesn’t know where it’s going. 

I’ve already made my opinions about Ben Affleck stepping down as director known. The Flash losing another director and getting a page one rewrite raises some eyebrows. I can applaud the execs at Warner Bros. not rushing something as they tend to have been doing ever since the announcement of Batman v. Superman. But a complete rewrite of the script? Then there is the Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) splitting into two movies with Black Adam starring Dwaynr Johnson. 

Warner Bros. is in the business to make money. Makes total sense. But their biggest problem is rushing to a billion. Man of Steel didn’t make a billion so let’s scrap a pure sequel and instead let’s introduce a new Batman, introduce Wonder Woman and lay the foundations for Justice League while also paying homage to The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman. That’s a lot and probably the film’s biggest shortcoming. 

It has been said time and time again that there needs to be a central figure in charge of these movies. Too many cooks in the kitchen is what’s making these discombobulated. Is there hope for the DCEU? Of course. These are some of the most beloved heroes and villains in superhero fiction. But there needs to be action done and quickly to help right thr ship. 

Justice League Image Revealed…But What Are They Looking At?

2017 is upon us and that means it is time for more information about blockbusters to be revealed. Other than a set visit and certain images, not much has been revealed about the upcoming Justice League. We know the lineup, we know the villain and the basic plot. But with what is known, there are still a lot of questions especially concerning Superman himself. 

We see in this image that the team is leaving some sort of ship and are staring into a field. Well where was Clark Kent/Superman buried? In a field. Is this a subtle way yet not actually showing the team going to see the body of the Man of Steel? We know that Superman isn’t dead per se but his role in the movie is being kept under wraps. This is similar to the Luke Skywalker situation in The Force Awakens.

Either way it is a nice image of the team before the one key member returns. Justice League will be released in November. 

Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

So a new year is upon us and thus that means a whole field of new movies to be released. Since it’s so early in the year, it’s a bit more questionable about the smaller releases in the year. So this list will primarily consist of the bigger movies but there will be smaller releases here and there:

10. The Founder – Honestly who hasn’t been to McDonald’s in their lifetime? So when a movie comes out about how McDonald’s was taken from a small chain to a worldwide franchise, it sparks my interest. As with most large corporations, there had to be shady dealings to get the company where it is today. Michael Keaton lately has never done wrong even in stuff like Need for Speed.

9. Logan – the suuposed final movie for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart as Logan/Wolverine and Professor Xavier. Much about the movie is unknown except that it will be R rated and feature a little girl and the Reavers.

8. Kingsman: The Golden Circle – the sequel to the surprise hit of 2015. I highly enjoyed the first movie and wonder where the sequel is going to go. All we know is that the Kingsman will be interacting with their American equivalents. 

7. Kong: Skull Island – well it is a movie about a giant ape. The largest version of Kong put to screen. 

6. Spider-Man: Homecoming – Spider-Man is one of my favorite heroes and this will be his first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

5. Get Out – as someone who’s been in a lot of interracial relationships, this kinda hits close to home. I think we’ve all been there where we visit our significant other’s family and you dont know how they’ll be. Now add in a horror element and you’ve got one of my most anticipated movies. 

4. Thor: Ragnarok – Thor + Hulk to stop the destruction of everything. Count me in

3. Wonder Woman – the premiere female superhero finally getting her own movie

2. Star Wars: Episode VIII – it’s no secret that I’m a Star Wars nut. So here we are with the continuing adventures of the Skywalker saga

1.  Justice League – I’m a fan of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice despite its flaws. The Justice League is my favorite superhero team. So even though people have been iffy on the DC Extended Universe, it will still be interesting to see how the premiere team of the DC Universe comes together on the big screen for the first time.

Justice League #3 Review

“The Extinction Machines” Part 3

The arc continues from the previous issues events and picks up maybe a few hours after. Here we learn that Superman is being sent on a potential suicide mission to the Earth’s core. In a poignant moment, we see Superman talking with Lois Lane and their son Jon before his trip. This is all while Batman is keeping his distance but still a voyeur to the intimate family moment. It’s not really touched upon in the issue but this is presumably Batman’s first time seeing this Superman with his family. The other two issues have stated how Batman is wary of this Superman but maybe this will be the turning point in their relationship. Now that he sees this Superman is a man with a family and Lois actually threatens him if something happens to her husband and Jon offers him some cookies, maybe Batman will turn the other cheek towards The Man of Steel.
But the other heroes still have other things to deal with as well. Being are seemingly drawing off of the origin of their abilities. The way each being talks makes it seem like that they are living “arks” as they harvest the inhabitants of the planet in case of the oncoming disaster. The disaster is also the threat that the Justice League has been dealing with since the first issue. So seemingly this is a threat that has happened many times before in Earth’s history. Aquaman is still off on his own separate but connected adventure but it appears it might finally tie in in the next issue.

As Batman and Cyborg send Superman to the center of the Earth, they are attacked by the alien beings from the previous issues. So now they must protect themselves but also Superman’s family. Superman is also in a precarious incident as being in the Earth’s core is no joke. The intense heat and pressure is something that he is surviving but for how long can he do so. But finding a barrier in the Earth’s core and one that is unbreakable is another thing he has to deal with.

The high concept and high action is a theme that continues with this issue. It has been the thing that I have actually loved about the series so far. If you’re going to get the world’s greatest superheroes all together, they have to be facing incredible threats that would justify them being all together. The mystery is still intriguing but it does seem to be padded out. I’m not too sure as to how long this arc is supposed to go on but something needs to happen in the next issue. But it is nice to see a nice rapport between all of the characters and they all have their own distinct voice. Bryan Hitch and Tony Daniels continue to do good work on the series.

Justice League #2 Review

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“The Extinction Machine” Pt. 2

The opening storyline of the relaunched title by Bryan Hitch and Tony Daniels continues in this issue. The catastrophes that occurred in the previous issue have finally ended and the group has decided to regroup and talk the various things going on. Batman is dealing with the alien threat that hit Gotham, Wonder Woman is dealing with the possessed people while the rest of the members dealing with the natural catastrophes. They all quickly come to the summation that none of this can be a coincidence. Cyborg states how there is an outside force affecting Earth’s gravity and that would explain the natural catastrophes. But the Watchtower is quickly attacked and while the members of the team deal with it, Wonder Woman and Batman have another mission. Batman needs to go get “him”. Who is him? Superman. What for? Superman needs to go to the center of the Earth.

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The issue is one where the team needs to take a break. It also serves to function as a way to catch the reader on what is going on. The first issue had a straight forward manner where there was a little to no exposition about the goings on. This issue rectifies that as the team is just as confused as the reader. They do not know what these threats are either. When the team is going over it, it is usually easy to give most of this dialogue to either Batman or Cyborg. Instead every member gets a chance to chime in with their different opinions and work on a solution. The Green Lanterns really shine as the newbies of the team. Not only are they new to the team and being a Green Lantern, they are new to being partners with one another. There is something else going on with Aquaman but that seems to be a slow burn with his portion.

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The interactions between Batman and Superman are interesting. Batman does not trust this Superman. He knows that Superman is needed for the situation and so he will trust him to do the right thing. It is easy to chalk this up to Batman being his usual paranoid self and the dialogue indicates that this does play an element. There is an added element that Batman misses the deceased Superman who he had come to trust for years. He frequently refers to the dead Superman as his friend, which is something Batman rarely does. So while he may have justified distrust of Superman, it really comes down to Batman missing his friend. Superman has hardly appeared in the two issues so we do not know how he feels about Batman or the League other than a natural respect. But does he know about their wariness of him?

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Bryan Hitch and Tony Daniels seem to be a match made in heaven for this book. Bryan Hitch is known for his bombastic storytelling but unfortunately can’t seem to stay on a book in a timely manner. Tony Daniels is someone who can do that and has experience with drawing most of these heroes. So they seem to gel with Hitch’s big story and Daniels’ artwork that can keep up with what is going on. Overall, I am thoroughly entertained by the initial storyline and will be back for the third issue.

SCORE: 8.5/10