[Spoilers] Wonder Woman #review

This is the fourth film in what Warner Brothers is calling the “DC Extended Universe.” What has been met with an occasional mixed reaction and predominately disparaging comments, this series of movies pressed on giving us iconic characters like Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor and the Joker. We also received lesser known characters like Deadshot, Killer Croc and Harley Quinn. Curiously, it wasn’t until this year that we got a movie about (arguably) the most recognizable female hero of all time, Wonder Woman. So, was “Wonder Woman” able to defeat the consistently negative press and bolster expectations going forward for this DCEU? Let’s dive in and take a look at “Wonder Woman” in this review…

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I wrote on social media just before walking into an early Thursday evening screening that I was experiencing medium expectations blended with high hopes and a side of curiosity. This DCEU started off with “Man of Steel” which I moderately enjoy. Next we got the train wreck that was “Batman V Superman” followed by the half terrible, half enjoyable “Suicide Squad.” In baseball terms, we got a runner on first with two outs, zero runs scored. I wasn’t sure what to expect because the films haven’t instilled any positive confidence. The early press buzz online was positive. The trailers looked great. I’m happy to report the movie is enjoyable beyond my expectations.

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The film is a hero’s journey or coming of age tale. We meet “Princess Diana” when she is a little girl with the Amazons. From there we see her grow into a beautiful, lethal warrior whose heart guides her every move. She’s a selfless warrior who is passionate, deadly, intelligent and outspoken. I was pleased with Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman. She started off as an innocent minded young woman who saw the world only by what she had been taught and by the end of the movie she is mature, heart broken, experienced in war and aware of the atrocities humanity is capable of. Gal plays the emotions quite splendidly.

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Enter Chris Pine who plays “Steve Trevor” the infamous love interest of Wonder Woman. The performance Pine gave was exactly the performance I expected him to give. For this, I was pleased. The onscreen chemistry between Pine and Gadot was an unexpected surprise. The band of fellows that Pine collaborates with was equally enjoyable and their on screen chemistry was another unexpected surprise. The biggest take away for me regarding the good guys was that at no point did I feel the men were being emasculated. This was a genuine concern I had walking into the theater. I didn’t want this film to feel like a feminist propaganda film that would limit the audience. It did not, at all.  These guys were strong, capable men who complimented the story. It’s because of this, I feel that ladies and their fella’s will be enjoying this movie together for awhile. It at no point ever felt like a movie designed or geared for specifically just women. This isn’t a life time movie. It’s an action film that explores what humanity, with its history of violence and self destructive tendencies, deserves. I was elated with this aspect of the movie.

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The villain, Aries (the god of war), was a twist in a twist for me. I knew that the character “Sir Patrick” was not what he seemed. I did not once assume that he would in fact turn out to be none other than Aries himself. I thought he might be working as a spy for Aries and that would be appropriate as Pine played a spy. So there would be a sort of spy vs spy thing happening. So, the big reveal was a twist in a twist. It was a fun revelation at the end of the film as well.

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Wonder Woman” is in theaters now! I’ve seen this movie twice already. I’ll be seeing it a third time. I definitely recommend you get over to your local theater and enjoy this summer blockbuster. It looks great on screen and the story is equally enjoyable. At its core, in my opinion, this is a movie that explores what it means to be part of a society that destroys itself, time and time again. What does humanity deserve? Should we be encouraged to kill, torture and destroy each other because it’s built into the fabric of our being? Should we chose love to quell the fires inside us to help our neighbors and stop the ravages of war? The movie is about growing up, seeing the world for what it is and then making a choice. The 3rd act is a mixture of action and philosophical debate. Aries isn’t trying to destroy humanity because he’s evil. He’s decided to show his father Zeus that he (Zeus) created something evil, man. He’s not a villain for the sake of being a bad guy. In the same way Wonder Woman isn’t a hero just because she’s destined to be a hero. The emotional journey this film goes on is delightful. It explores hope, love, tragedy, loss, duty and honor. I loved this film. I hope you will as well. Go see this movie!!

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Suicide Squad – Box Office Review

The last of the summer blockbuster films held the #1 box office spot for its first 3 weeks in theaters. It’s a testament to the quality of the film if you pay attention to these types of things. If you prefer to check Rotten Tomato scores you are probably surprised it was #1 for 3 weeks. So let’s jump in and take a look at my thoughts on “Suicide Squad” in this box office review…

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When asked by people not familiar with the stories of “Suicide Squad” what to expect I would compare it the Dirty Dozen. It’s a band of criminals brought together to stop something terrible that would most likely result in their death. I will say that this was one aspect the film got right. The movie explained, mostly, who the villains are and why they’re in jail. I felt the story could’ve added more depth to what makes them so terrible instead of just bad guys. Also, I didn’t understand why we needed a double introduction for two characters, Harley Quinn and Deadshot, at the beginning of the film. The first time I saw the movie it didn’t bother me but the second time I realized what a waste of screen time that was and became annoyed at that one item.

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The film itself left me feeling divided on how much I actually enjoyed it. The high points were high and the low points were low. The Deadshot scene where he is killing one monster after another was incredible. Most scenes with Captain Boomerang were boring. I don’t recall a moment that left me thinking simply, “that was enjoyable.” I was either loving it or hating it and after seeing it twice I’m leaning towards the negative by maybe 1%. I loved the character of Harley Quinn and Deadshot. I even enjoyed the Rick Flag character. I don’t understand why Katana was in this film at all. The purpose of her sword is to steal souls and that wasn’t used at all to it’s potential. The end of the film could’ve been done with any sword, knife or sharp object. She served no purpose. I was hoping she’d serve as a character like “Snake Eyes” from the GI Joe film but she didn’t. She was pointless and her dialogue was terrible, including delivery.

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Additionally, the CGI animation towards the end of the film was atrocious. I mentioned this on the podcast review I did with “Cinema Head Cheese” but it’s worth repeating here, the special effects towards the end looked like something from the Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movies. It was awful. For a big budget film the special effects should’ve been much better. Also, why do I care about Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, and pretty much anyone else? The story revolves around 5 characters and they are, Harley, Deadshot, Flag, Amanda Waller and Enchantress. Everyone else in this film felt like they were there because someone wrote them in and refused to remove them despite their uselessness to the overall story. The Harley story almost felt like a secondary plot to the film because there was this heavy subplot of her relationship with the Joker running throughout. It was almost two completely different movies.

Suicide Squad” is in theaters now! If you wanna turn your brain off and see some pretty dope action sequences and Margot Robbie in tiny booty shorts, go see this film. If you’re looking for a great summer action flick, this isn’t it. It misses the mark one time too many but I will say that the DC live action movies do make me think more their competition. Unfortunately, those thoughts are usually my figuring our how it’s possible to mess up great existing stories in the way they only seem to be capable of anymore.

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(Spoilers) Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice – Box Office Review

The movie we’re about to examine was filled with so much information, so many stories and characters that I won’t spend many words in this introductory paragraph. “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” was grand in scale and dark in tone. The reviews have been demeaning as well as celebratory. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on this film. You’ll read what I thought worked and what didn’t work. Here we go!

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First we’ll start with what I thought worked. Ben Affleck was a great Bruce Wayne and Batman. His performance was an entertaining blend of sophisticated business man meets vigilante. He was believable and his performance helped deliver on the intensity of the concepts this film dealt with. Next we have Gal Gadot. I was nervous about her performance as Wonder Woman going into this film. I found myself believing her on screen presence and I enjoyed the playful tone she brought with her. It was a pleasant break from the brooding and intense nature of the film. Speaking of brief breaks in moodiness, Jeremy Irons as Alfred was fantastic. He was my favorite character of the film.

Not surprising, the action scenes were all well done. If Zack Snyder does anything well, it’s action sequences. The apocalyptic dream sequence Batman had was incredible. This weird dystopian action scene that was part “Mad Max Fury Road” and part “Injustice Gods Among Us” was definitely a highlight. Plus, seeing Superman melt guys with his heat vision while he approaches Batman was pretty spectacular. I’m a huge fan of the “Injustice” storyline so I loved that brief moment in the movie. The fight between Batman and Superman was quite creative as well. His use of kryptonite gas bombs and a kryptonite spear was believable considering the film itself is quite fantastical. I was disappointed I didn’t get the line from Frank Millers “Dark Knight Returns” when Batman tells Superman he wants him to remember that he was beaten by a man, Batman. However, that’s such a small detail it didn’t ruin anything for me by it not being in the film. Also, I loved seeing Wonder Woman fight Doomsday. And I loved seeing her lasso in action. That was great.

Now let’s look at what didn’t work for me at all. The characters had limited back story and I didn’t quite understand their motivations. Batman made perfect sense because his character was developed from start to… well, his character fell apart briefly towards the end when he has some bizarre mental freak out because Superman said the name “Martha”. I get, to a point, the fact his mother was important because they did spend time showing us the connection he had to his mother. However, that scene felt odd and it didn’t work for me. If all it takes is to say “Martha” and Batman loses his mind, he’s not a very good Batman.

Lex Luthor was obnoxious. I wasn’t happy when they cast Jessie Eisenberg and I wasn’t happy with how they ended the film with his character. He’s not Batman’s arch nemesis. He’s superman’s. Are the other Batman villains all dead and now Batman can focus solely on Lex? Who knows, they didn’t really explain that. They didn’t really explain a lot. Also, why did he care so much? I understand he had this thing about his grandfather’s story of waving a flag but that didn’t explain his contempt for Superman and Batman. Are we supposed to assume that because he is a villain that’s enough? As I thought about his character longer it felt like he had the most potential. Considering that he was the grand designer of the major conflict in this film and created Doomsday using alien technology he just discovered, he could’ve been more impactful. He came off as a bit of a looney spoiled brat. I didn’t like it.

You killed superman? I’ll give you credit in so much as I respect the balls it takes to make a Superman movie and then kill him in the end. Was the deciding factor, “Well, we have Doomsday so I guess Superman has to die?” Does this mean we’ll be getting electric Superman who wears yellow visor sunglasses (see image below) as a threat in the Justice League film? Is Snyder trying to create an “Injustice” storyline on the big screen? Why did we kill Superman?? Why did we use Doomsday? That whole story felt rushed and it was reminiscent of Sam Ramie’s “Spiderman 3” when all of sudden we have “Venom” on screen and then the movies over. And why was Doomsday this bizarre energy absorbing, constantly growing monster? And why was Batman ok with the fact that the four of them are destroying everything but he was so angry at Superman for destroying Metropolis?

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I’m also still trying to figure out the marketing for this film. They advertised Aquaman by giving him his own poster but he had maybe a minute and half of screen time. We saw Flash twice but he didn’t have a poster. In another weird dream sequence Bruce Wayne sees Flash (from another dimension? the future?) and he looks like “Injustice” Flash. So, why not give him a poster? Cyborg also didn’t get a poster and he had more screen time than Aquaman. That whole scene was odd. It felt cheap. If you have the technology to create a cybernetic body for your son who is hanging from a fence, you should be able to afford a high definition camera to capture the progress.

The new Batmobile was awesome. I loved that chase scene. Then Superman showed up and ruined it. Why? No clue. It’s not explained. It felt like the whole scene was a set up to show Batman how Superman is indestructible. I could’ve enjoyed that scene more had Superman stopped Batman and then went off and stopped the criminals. He didn’t though. He let the bad guys get away with the one item that can kill him which later Batman still had to steal from Lex!

Finally, all the issues I had I was happy to overlook because I realize not everyone reads comic books and there are people who read way more than I do. So everyone has a different idea of what’s entertaining to them. So because of that I was happy to overlook all the weird decisions, unanswered plot points, disjointed storyline and just accept the fact that this is a fantasy action film and it has beloved characters in it. HOWEVER, the one thing I cannot excuse and never will be able to overlook is Superman using his power while also being around kryptonite. Ask anyone to tell you what beats Superman and they’ll say kryptonite or something like “that green rock” because it’s engrained in our culture. Everyone knows that Superman’s basically a deity but put a green rock near him and he’s as useless as any man who has the flu. That’s the rule. We all know it. So tell me why Superman can’t dive into water, grab a kryptonite spear and then swim back to safety but he can fly across the battle field and stab Doomsday with that same spear? Did I blink and miss something in this film? Why didn’t we write this film so Lois runs the spear to Batman who throws it to Wonder Woman who gets to kill Doomsday? She already cut his arm off. It could’ve worked and would’ve made more sense. Superman (a god) sacrifices himself to get the spear, Lois and Batman (humans) get the spear to an Amazon Warrior Princess who defeats the monster.

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“Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice” is in theaters now! I give this film a box of kryptonite and some batarangs. It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen because cinematically it’s very enjoyable. Your eyes will be very happy with how good the film looks. Your brain might be a bit frazzled with questions but for what it is, it is entertaining. There were rumors this film might’ve been edited into two films and after seeing the movie that might’ve been a better option. Give the story time to develop as well as the characters and don’t rush it. That didn’t happen and what we have is an entertaining, albeit confusing, story that features some popular characters who deserve your hard earned dollars for the big screen filming experience. Go check it out folks.