Category Archives: 4 Star
Is this thing on? Is anyone there still? Sorry I haven’t been in the mood to review anything…. for almost a year now I guess… Not saying I’m back, or that I can commit to doing this with any regularity, or that I can even commit to watching more movies right now, but let’s see what happens, shall we?
The Shape of Water tells the story of a mute cleaning woman named Elisa who works at a secret government research facility in the 1960s. Housed in one of the labs is an amphibian humanoid creature (the “fish man”) that is being tortured and experimented on. Elisa finds the creature, and somehow makes a connection with him. Through secret visits, the two somehow become friends and eventually Elisa falls in love, causing her to concoct a plan to break the creature out. To set him free? Or to spend the rest of their days together?
- Shape of Water won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Score, and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro
- Very good cinematography, and very good special effects.
- Very well acted by everyone. Michael Shannon was an excellent bad guy, Sally Hawkins was brilliant playing the mute cleaning woman Elisa, and of course Doug Jones is an incredible actor who gives so much to the performance of the fish man by do so many little and subtle things.
- Very unusual to have a love story where your two main characters don’t speak. It worked though.
- I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but I loved when Giles (Richard Jenkins) gave the opening narration, when he comes to the line “Or perhaps I would just warn you about the truth of these facts, and the tale of love and loss and the monster who tried to destroy it all.”, Michael Shannon’s name pops up in the credits when he says “monster”. What brilliant and beautiful foreshadowing.
The style to the film was incredible, it also won the Oscar for Production Design. The cold war espionage, mixed with some science fiction, mixed with a love story was a very interesting story to tell. I enjoyed it, but I know that it may not be the film for everyone, and that’s even before Elisa has sex with the fish man…
Bottom Line: Did anyone else catch the double dose of Forever Knight actors? Nigel Bennett and John Kapelos were both here!
I love Noomi Rapace, and will watch anything with her in it. When I heard about 7 Sisters, it immediately piqued my interest.
7 Sisters was very good, but immediately comparisons were made to Orphan Black, simply because you have one actress playing multiple roles. In Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany played more than 10 different characters/clones over the show’s run, in 7 Sisters, Noomi Rapace plays septuplets in a mild dystopian future. The planet was getting overpopulated, so a one child policy was put in place. When anyone has more than one child, the extra siblings are taken by the government and put into a deep sleep until a time that the planet can sustain the population. When his daughter dies giving birth to septuplets, Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe) hides the children in his apartment, constructing hidden rooms and false walls to conceal the girls in case of government searches. When they are old enough, he allows the girls to go outside, one day a week. Though they are all registered under the name of Karen Settman, they each are named after a different day of the week, and that is the day they can go out, and live the life of “Karen”. All goes well until of course one day “Monday” doesn’t come home from work. Now the sisters have to work together to find their sister while avoiding detection…
Rapace makes the film with her multiple performances, but everyone shone. Willem DaFoe who was shown mostly in flashbacks was a treat and gave the film an extra sense of validation. Glenn Close played the government official who instituted the one child policy and ran the department that dealt with “extra” children. She was deliciously evil as the antagonist because she didn’t think what she was doing was evil. As I said though, Noomi Rapace was the best part of this film. Each sister had a very distinct personality and it was fun to watch her bring each “day” to life.
This was an exciting, thrilling film. There was lots of action; with fights and chases mixed in throughout the film all while the sisters got closer and closer to Monday. I really enjoyed the movie, mostly because of the cast, but also because the story was an excellent little taste of sci-fi. The only thing that disappointed me was that the Blu Ray didn’t have any special features. I thought that a film as ambitious as this; having one actress play seven characters, often sharing screen time; would have had some very interesting “behind the scenes” story, and I wanted more once the film was done.
Bottom Line: If you’re as big a fan of Noomie Rapace as I am, may I also highly recommend the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films and Unlocked? Also, the original title for 7 Sisters was What Happened to Monday. While I like the sound of that title a lot more, I guess it could be a little spoiler-ish, so I can see why they changed it.
An excellent action-thriller that hit all the right notes.
Jackie Chan plays Quan, a father whose daughter is killed in an terrorist explosion in London. A faction of the IRA is claiming responsibility, but the authorities are having no luck tracking them down. When Chan learns that the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), had past ties to the IRA and might know how to catch the bombers, he presses the man relentlessly for information about the killers, information he insists he doesn’t have. Quan doesn’t believe him, and for good reason. Hennessy is busy tracking down the bombers himself because he doesn’t just have past ties to the IRA, he has active ties too that actually didn’t seem to have anything to do with this particular bombing.
I think I first saw the trailer for The Foreigner in October last year, and was rather upset that it didn’t play in cinemas around my home. Though this isn’t necessarily one of the huge blockbusters that I usually deem theatre worthy, I really did want to see it and would have gone to see it in theatres. Several months later it came out on DVD and I watched it (and yes, I know, several more months later I’m actually reviewing it).
Jackie Chan was absolutely excellent. He played the role very seriously, as did everyone else, but there was no comedy on his part in this performance, which is something he is know for bringing into his films. Even in the most serious action scene there is usually some funny spot in his films, but this time he played the part of a 65 year old man, who was mourning the loss of his daughter and he wanted to do something about it. Chan played serious as I said, but he also “acted his age”. Quan is a seasoned former black-ops type soldier, so he clearly has lethal skills but they aren’t as polished as they once were. He now fights like a older man, he is not as fast, not as strong, but his training makes him just as effective and I thought made the film more believable. Yes, Chan still got in a few of his “signature moves”; in most of his movies that I’ve seen when someone attacks him with a knife, he pulls off his jacket or grabs a towel or something and twists and ties up the attacker’s arms, dodging the attack and looking pretty cool at the same time. He does that in The Foreigner too, but he does it slower, and clumsier than in his other films. Pierce Brosnan was also excellent and at times just as brutal, taking his own brand of justice into his own hands, on the good guys, on the bad guys, on his friends and even on his own family. A very clever thriller, and at times a brutally honest revenge film.
Bottom Line: I like the serious Jackie Chan.
Wind River was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water and was a very enjoyable movie. I was about to say it was a good mystery thriller, but it really isn’t a mystery. True, we don’t know “whodunit” but we’re led there through the course of the investigation step by step. It was a good crime thriller. I liked the cast, and I liked the story behind it all. It had the “fish out of water” idea, the rookie cop, the guy who helps the cops who can act outside the law. Lots of tropes, but still everything clicked.
I really liked the cast, and that was what initially drew me to Wind River. I’ve been an Elizabeth Olsen fan for some time now and again was quite impressed. The story was excellent hitting emotional and suspenseful notes equally well. Jeremy Renner was also good, and it was interesting to see the two interact with each other while not playing their MCU characters (Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye if you will).
When a young woman is found dead (and probably murdered) on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, young FBI Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) from the Las Vegas field office is sent to investigate. Not familiar with the territory or the people she asks Fish and Wildlife Service agent and game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who is accepted by the locals, to help her navigate the snowy terrain and the distrust of the locals. Banner also works closely with the local sheriff Ben (Graham Greene). The plot unfolds and we learn how the girl met her fate, and that she was best friends with Lambert’s own daughter who also died. The film shines a light on many of the darker aspects of reservation life, such as rampant violence, drug use, depression and of course the many, many unsolved cases of missing women. It is a sobering look, and one that draws you into the film at every turn.
I enjoyed the way the film played out, how the case was solved, who did it, and how they paid for their crime. At first I thought they were going to go a much different way with that payment…. I really thought Lambert was going to leave him to the mountain lion, but the way they did it was definitely satisfying. …A very good film all around, and even though it is full of tragedy it has a satisfying payoff.
Bottom Line: Graham Greene is a great actor, he’s been in such works as Green Mile, Dances With Wolves, and he played Mr. Crabby Tree on The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon…
Oh how I’ve missed this team! The Halifax Highlanders are back on the ice, and I can’t believe it has been five years since Goon! The whole gang was back, with a few new faces as a labour dispute in the big leagues has sent a lot of talent to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League. Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of the team, but the team isn’t doing that well. When they play the first place team from Reading, Doug gets his clock cleaned by an up and coming star who delivers a beating unlike any Doug has ever suffered. With an injured shoulder, Doug retires from the game he grew to love and the team he loved. Though the injury is unfortunate, it may not be all bad though, as Doug and Eva (Alison Pill) are now married and expecting a baby. Of course, even without Doug, the team must go on, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) makes some trades and acquires his son and star player from the Reading Wolfdogs, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the one who made Glatt retire. Cain is talented but reckless and dangerous, both on and off the ice. With he hears how the Highlanders’ locker room is falling apart, Doug looks up his old friend/nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him how to fight left handed so he can get back in the game…. of course he does all this without telling his wife, so you can guess how that will play out… Cain is eventually traded back to his old team and a collision course with Doug and the Highlanders with the final playoff spot on the line.
Jay Baruchel co-wrote both this film and the original Goon, but he makes his directorial debut with Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, which turned out to be another really good hockey movie. It’s clear he’s a fan, and wants to do right by the game and the fans. My only complaint about the first film was Baruchel’s Pat Houlihan character. I thought he was over the top and needlessly crude. This time around he’s still crude and over the top, but he was actually funnier, also there’s far less of him on screen, likely because Baruchel had to dedicate his time to the directing. Sadly though there was a character that seemed to fill the role in Pat Houlihan’s stead, and that was Elisha Cuthbert as Mary, a character thrust into the film for seemingly no reason except to be the crude friend (this time being a friend of Eva’s). Her casting may have been a favour from Baruchel, they did work together on Popular Mechanics For Kids in 1997 and she is married to Dion Phaneuf (former Toronto Maple Leafs captain? Currently playing defence for the Ottawa Senators…. a hockey player). In fact, I’d have to say that I really didn’t enjoy the cameos that were scattered throughout the film. T.J. Miller seemed thrust into an improv role as a sports reporter which kind of gave us some exposition into what was going on with the team, but seemed to be trying to hard to be funny. Jason Jones felt much the same as Doug’s boss at the insurance company he works at before getting back into the game. I did like James Duthie and Tessa Bonhomme in their roles, which they fit perfectly. Duthie plays the lead sportscaster opposite Miller and Bonhomme plays a sports reporter. In real life, Duthie is a sportscaster and host of a variety of hockey shows on TSN, Bonhomme is a Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player and is also a sportscaster for TSN.
Once again I was very impressed by Seann William Scott, I loved the heart he brought to the character and the film overall. Goon 2 to me was a “returning hero” story, as Doug is first broken and then has to rediscover himself, rebuild himself and come back to save the day. I’m a sucker for those stories (as bad as Highlander 2: The Quickening is, I still love the bit at the beginning where weak old man Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gets his powers back). I was very happy to see Marc-André Grondin back as Xavier LaFlamme too, I hadn’t heard that he was in the film. Kim Coates was just as phenomenal as he was in the first film as Coach Ronnie Hortense and of course Liev Schreiber is always a nice addition to any cast.
For a first time director, Baruchel did a very good job, obviously he’s intimate with the script and the characters, but I really liked some of his camera work. He had an excellent eye for the on ice shots, and seeing how they did some of them in the bonus features of the Blu Ray was really cool. One camera rig was setup on a base, with hockey pucks attached to each corner and pushed along the ice with a snow shovel-like handle. I love that kind of innovation! More than just a simple hockey movie, more than just a sequel, Goon 2 is another great comedy with light drama and a lot of heart. It also takes a very real look at the game, and the role of the “goon” in the current day. Is there still a place for them, or do they end up forgotten and suffering from post-concussion symptoms? Will they become a circus act, fighting for the enjoyment of “fans” in an event like the film’s “Bruised and Battered” competition? I don’t know, but I did enjoy how Doug Glatt approached the role and his own future in the game. The scene where Doug sets his stick against the wall in the hallway was beautiful, and reminded me of the scene in the first film where he wipes off the team logo on the floor of the locker room. Those are the scenes that made me love these films.
Bottom Line: After watching Goon 2, I played several games of PS3 hockey. When does the season start again?
Also, I love that they had an “after the credits” scene.
Colossal may have been billed as a sci-fi comedy, but the “comedy” part may have been a little misleading. Yes, there were some comedic moments, and some hilarious moments too, but boy did it turn a corner and get very dark all of a sudden! When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is dumped by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), she leaves her life in New York City, and moves back to her small hometown where she meets back up with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) an old friend from school. Oscar never left the town and has taken over his late father’s bar. Down on her luck, Gloria accepts Oscar’s offer of a waitressing job, which might not be the best idea for a girl whose alcoholism had already cost her her job and her boyfriend. She soon takes to drinking in the back room after the bar closes with Oscar and two of his regulars Joel and Garth (Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson). Unable to walk the entire way home, Glora starts sleeping on a park bench in front of a small play area. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. Somehow, at 8:05 am, whenever Gloria walks through the playground, the monster appears in South Korea, mimicking her steps and movements. Realizing what she is doing, Gloria struggles to stay on the wagon and away from the playground so she doesn’t hurt anyone else, but Oscar doesn’t make it easy.
So, now that turn to the dark side (SPOILERS highlight to read): It seems Oscar has been stalking Gloria for years after she left their small town, keeping tabs on her relationships and her career, seemingly waiting until she would come back and he might have a chance with her. When the group discovers that she is manifesting the monster in Korea, it gets weird, but even weirder when Oscar steps into the playground and projects a giant robot onto Korea as well. Was he mad with power, or was he mad all along? Oscar now threatens the South Koreans with giddy disregard in his drunken states, and becomes particularly nasty when he learns that Gloria spent the night with Joel. After a tense confrontation, Gloria gets Oscar to leave the park, but Oscar is jealous, and an alcoholic. Later that night at the bar, he demands that Gloria have a drink with him, and even threatens her by saying he he will go to the playground in the morning if she doesn’t drink with him. It is clear that Oscar wants to have her and to control her. He issues her an ultimatum basically, stay with him or he’ll smash South Korea. To finally free herself from Oscar (and her drinking problem) Gloria flies to Seoul and enters the area where her monster appears, sparking the monster to appear in America at the playground where she (as the monster) grabs Oscar…
Colossal was incredibly original, but it was more than just a quirky little concept film there was a much deeper message and meaning to it, and that all happened once it turned that corner I spoke of earlier. Both Hathaway and Sudeikis give strong performances, but once that corner is turned their performances get even better. While I knew Anne Hathaway was an excellent actress, Sudeikis was a pleasant surprise when he elevated his game to match the Oscar winner. The film was a big metaphor for addiction and the pain that addictions like alcoholism can cause. The film also explores how those addictions can hurt those around us, and even people who are not directly around us. The people of Seoul are definitely innocent in all this, but still feel the effects of Gloria and Oscar’s drinking, and they’re on the other side of the world. The consequences of all our actions are real. Ultimately Colossal deals with overcoming our inner demons and dealing with the decisions we make in our lives. It does so in a clever, sometimes humourous way which makes it entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. Colossal really is a “hidden gem”, and was definitely worth watching.
Bottom Line: Even though it didn’t go into much science-fiction detail, Colossal does show us the origin of Gloria’s monster and Oscar’s robot.
Once Upon a Time In Venice was pulpish, noirish, and funny with an incredible array of characters. I found it extremely entertaining. It wasn’t the best movie, it certainly had flaws, but I enjoyed it and that is what I base my ratings off of, how much I enjoyed the film.
Bruce Willis plays Steve Ford, the only licensed private investigator in the Venice (Los Angeles not Italy) and he gets himself mixed up in a lot of odd cases. His partner John (Thomas Middleditch) narrates us through the story as we see Steve track down a missing sister, only to sleep with her and incur the wrath of her overprotective brothers, who he escapes in a naked skateboarding scene… He meets a friend whose car was stolen and he tracks it back to a drug dealer named Spyder (Jason Momoa), who he steals it back from by crashing out of his garage. When he gets home he finds out that his sister’s house has been robbed, taking his niece’s X-Box, their television, and Steve’s dog Buddy who his niece takes care of after school. They were robbed by punks who needed money for drugs, which leads Steve back to Spyder who controls the drug trade in town. Now Steve has to apologize for wrecking Spyder’s garage, and what he feels was “his” car (even though it was stolen) in an attempt to get Buddy back. Spyder agrees, (Steve’s gift basket of muffins helped smooth the tensions between them) and he’ll give Steve the dog back, if he’ll retrieve a case of cocaine that was stolen from him by a hooker. Things don’t get any easier for Steve who is trying to buy back his parent’s house that he was forced to sell years ago to Lou the Jew (Adam Goldberg) and help his best friend Dave (John Goodman) who is selling his surf shot to get through a tough divorce. Lou is in a bind too, because someone is painting pornographic graffiti on a building he owns that he’s trying to sell. So if Steve can catch the graffiti artist, he’ll get the house back, if he can find the drugs he’ll get his dog back, easy right?
When I first heard of this film, I thought it was trying to be a John Wick rip-off, action star Bruce Willis trying to get his dog back sounds a bit like action star Keannu Reeves trying to get revenge on the guys who killed his dog. Boy was I wrong, if this film was trying to cash in on any of the perceived similarities with John Wick, it did so totally with tongue in cheek.
I think what made Once Upon a Time In Venice work was the very clever script. The dialogue was snappy and natural, and really plays off the comedic talents of the lead, Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis is very funny, and has great comedic timing. I wouldn’t have thought that “tough guy” Jason Momoa would be as funny as he was either, but perhaps it was the juxtaposition of these tough actors playing these tough roles with a lighter twist that made it work. Having more seasoned comedic actors like Thomas Middleditch and John Goodman in the film also helps carry the story. Quite good, and quite entertaining, if you’re looking for a few good laughs, give it a try.
Bottom Line: Every time you thought a situation was resolved it just got more and more absurd! Every time things seemed sorted, a new character came in and twisted the plot into something more absurd than the last character did. I loved it.
Five teenagers with attitude discover five alien artifacts that have been lost on Earth for millennia. Together, with these power coins and their potential unlocked, they become the Power Rangers, defending the Earth against all levels of threat!
Well, okay, it wasn’t that straightforward. Three of the five teenagers meet at weekend detention like in The Breakfast Club, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler) attend Angel Grove High together. Jason was a star athlete who rolled his car and injured his knee during a police chase after a prank gone wrong. Kimberly leaked photos of a rival in a compromising position to the entire school. Billy is autistic and the target of bullies…I don’t remember why he was in detention, but he was. In detention Jason protects Billy from a bully, making them friends. Billy overrides Jason’s house arrest ankle bracelet and the two are off on an adventure where they find Kimberly and meet Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) in a local quarry, a quarry where Billy and his dad used to hunt for scrap metals and treasures before he died. Blasting apart a quarry wall, they find five glowing coins: red, pink, blue, black and yellow. These coins give the youths strength they couldn’t imagine, but they are not Power Rangers yet. Meeting Alpha Five (Bill Hader) who takes them to Zordon (Bryan Cranston) they train and eventually bond, forming a team who can finally morph into the Power Rangers, set to defend the Earth from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
You know what, I actually really enjoyed this. Sure it was 90% cheese, but it was nostalgia, and it was fun. Yes, it was an origin story so getting to the action was a little slow, but the story developed the characters fairly well, and had a lot of heart behind it. I liked how they managed to make a fairly intelligent story out of what was effectively an after-school show for kids. Zordon was a former Red Ranger, Rita was part of his team as the Green Ranger. Her monster Goldar was created when she managed to steal enough gold to make him. Sure there were some plot holes and head scratching moments (the Pink Ranger was in detention for spreading revenge porn? SPOILER: Rita drowns the Blue Ranger and instead of anyone giving him mouth to mouth or CPR they take him miles away to Zordon’s hidden Power Ranger base?), but I enjoyed it.
I liked the effects, and I liked the costumes. Whenever there is a movie of this type, you have to get the costumes right, and the new “armoured” look was a lot more practical for fighting space aliens than spandex ever was. All the actors really did a great job, from the seasoned veterans like Cranston (who voiced several monsters on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV 1993-1995) and Banks to the newcomers. They each really seemed to have fun in the roles, and they all fit their updated characters. The characters also seemed quite realistic. Black Ranger Zack seems moody and aloof, but is really concerned about his mother’s ailing health. Yellow Ranger Trini has problems with her parents (it’s hinted that she’s either bi-sexual or a lesbian). Red Ranger Jason and Pink Ranger Kimberly both are dealing with the consequences of their past decisions, and Blue Ranger Billy is still dealing with the loss of his father, but really is the heart of the group, and the most enthusiastic about becoming a “super hero”.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel, but apparently that is in doubt. I’ve heard that the film did not perform as well as the studio had hoped, and that the director thinks the PG-13 rating may have had some affect on it. The reasoning is that with the slightly higher rating, families may not have been as likely to watch the film. From what I could tell, the primary reason the film got the PG-13 instead of a PG rating was swearing. A few times the language was a little more “colourful” than you would expect for a property mainly directed at children. I think that something the director could have controlled and taken out of if the potential rating worried him. They could have even fixed it in post production. Power Rangers was a solidly entertaining popcorn flick, plain and simple. You would be disappointed if you were looking to take more than that from it.
Bottom Line: Nice that it wasn’t just a simple rehash of the television series. I liked the cameos (Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson) but would have liked more. Where were Bulk and Skull? Even if they didn’t have the actual actors (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy) from the original series, it would have been a nice nod to have the characters show up.
Leo is a young boy who is undergoing treatments in a New York hospital (I don’t think they say it outright, but I assume the boy has cancer of some sort). Presumably due to his treatments, he learns that he has the ability to become a “phantom” and can explore the city as a ghostly apparition. Alex (voiced by Jared Padalecki) is a New York City detective who is injured while attempting to capture the villain known as “The Face” (voiced by Vincent D’Onofrio) who has taken control of the city’s power supply, throwing the metropolis into chaos. Now, using Leo’s phantom powers, Alex’s detective work and his reporter friend Mary (voiced by Melissa Disney) as their “legs” they team up to foil the plot and save New York.
I love superhero stories, and this seemed like a nice twist on the typical cartoon or comic book hero story. Phantom Boy is a French animation, and done by the same team that made A Cat In Paris. The animation was hand drawn, and rather simple, but it was still remarkably well done, and had a very French feel to it. The story keeps you engrossed in the mystery and actually can effect you emotionally. As I said, we’re not sure what Leo’s ailment actually is, but we learn that his chances of recovery are low. Despite that, he becomes the star of an action movie, and while some of the situations seem sad, he isn’t a sad character at all. Leo’s powers, his adventures, all show the silver lining of life, and finding the good things in bad situations because he only discovered this ability when he got sick.
The directors (Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol who also wrote the screenplay) said something very interesting about superheroes; it’s not their powers we’re interested in, but their human side, that’s what people identify with. It’s entertaining to watch them fly and climb walls, but that’s not what makes them captivating.
I really enjoyed Phantom Boy, it was an original story, that felt very pulp-ish, and very noir-ish and it had a lot of heart in it. It took a slightly different spin on astral projection ( A nice thing about foreign language cartoons is that when they’re dubbed into English, you don’t notice that the mouths don’t match like in live action films.
Bottom Line: I really enjoyed the fact that even though the Face’s backstory was teased several times it was never actually revealed. Also, I really enjoyed A Cat In Paris, which I watched the next night.
So if you’re a Marvel fanboy (or fangirl) you’re not allowed to like DC stuff right? And vice-versa? This is the law that was handed down, right? So if you can only like one comic book company’s movies, and I just enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, how is it even possible that I really enjoyed Wonder Woman? Because, I really did enjoy Wonder Woman…
Wonder Woman was my second trip to the theatre in less than a week, and this time there were more than just two of us in the theatre. I think it was the second weekend possibly? A good friend is a big fan of Wonder Woman, and since the release pretty much coincided with her birthday, the outing was made.
Now, I haven’t seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I haven’t seen Suicide Squad, and I haven’t even seen the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I did watch the Wonder Woman TV series from the ’70s though and did enjoy them. As well, I think I had only seen one trailer for Wonder Woman beforehand, so I was going into the movie with very little advanced knowledge, and really no expectations. Obviously I know who Wonder Woman is, and I know what the character’s powers are, but I don’t know really anything about her introduction to the DCEU. I do know that you don’t usually hear a lot of good things about the films of the DCEU. Also, why are the DC movies called the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel movies called the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Wonder Woman was the origin story for the character that fans didn’t get when she was introduced in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it wasn’t really burdened down by that. From what I’ve heard, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the highlight of that film, and this followup was greatly anticipated. Raised on the island of Themyscira as an Amazon princess, Diana is the daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nelson) and Zeus who brought the clay statue of a daughter that Queen Hippolyta made to life. Remember, this is an island of all women, so reproduction is a bit of a tricky subject… Their island is hidden from the outside world (i.e. the world of man), but Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American airman crashes through their protective shield as he is chased by a German squadron at the height of World War I bringing the realities of the outside world with him. Convinced that Ares, the God of War is behind this “war to end all wars”, Diana leaves her home with Trevor to fight alongside man, and embrace her destiny by defeating Ares and ending the threat.
As I said, I really enjoyed this film. It had a lot of fun moments in it, lots of action, some great characters and it wasn’t slow or brooding. There was a nice mix of humour, as we did get a little bit of a “fish out of water” story when Diana encounters our modern world for the first times. Trying on clothes suitable for a woman in 1917, trying ice cream for the first time, walking down London streets with a sword and shield, all served to lighten the mood enough to make us love the character. When haven’t we all felt like a fish out of water? Once Diana and Trevor make it to the front lines, the action steps up but so does the heart of the movie. It’s funny when you get emotionally involved with a movie that portrays recorded history. We know that the Germans lose and the Allies win WWI, but seeing Diana emerge from the trench and attack the Germans in that No Man’s Land sequence was epic. I had goosebumps. Incredibly scripted, incredibly acted, and incredibly shot. That scene, and the celebration afterwards was the entire film (and character) in a nutshell. I like to think I’m an intelligent film watcher, and sometimes that comes back to haunt me. I have seen far too many movies where I’ve correctly predicted a cheesy line or outcome due to what I think is obvious foreshadowing. In the movie Diana is unfamiliar with trench warfare and is shocked when it is explained to her that they’ve been fighting there for months and have possibly only advanced a few feet further into No Man’s Land. I fully expected an “I’m no man” line to come before Diana charged into the battle, and I even mentioned this to The Girl Who Whispered. I was very glad that I was wrong and that it didn’t happen. Kudos to director Patty Jenkins for not having that in her film! Also, I may be mistaken but I don’t actually remember anyone calling her “Wonder Woman” in the film, just Diana.
At the end of the film I was pleasantly entertained by everyone connected to it. Gal Gadot seems born to play Wonder Woman, and handled all aspects of the character well, from the naive and curious princess to the intelligent and confidant military commander. Chris Pine is proving to be quite a good actor and has not been pigeon holed into a single role after playing Captain Kirk in the three rebooted Star Trek films. Patty Jenkins did an excellent job directing the film. I’ve heard people say the Zack Snyder directed films have been a bit of a tonal mess at times, and that the films are poorly lit and devoid of colour. Wonder Woman was not a mess, was not dark, and in fact I thought it used colour and lighting quite well.
Patty Jenkins was the first woman to direct a major super hero film, and I’m a little surprised that she got the opportunity because she doesn’t appear to have directed that much. I haven’t seen Monster, but it did win Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar, beyond that she has only directed a handful of episodes for various TV series and a few short films. Directing someone to a Leading Actress Oscar is always an accomplishment, but to do it in your first film is really something so no one should be surprised that Jenkins is a talented director. I’m a little surprised though that DC chose someone with so few feature films to their credit to direct a very important piece of the DCEU. I suppose that really doesn’t matter now, because the film has become a great financial success, and a great critical success as well. Maybe part of DC’s problem in the past was choosing directors who weren’t fresh and were stuck in their ways? Who knows. I’m glad this film did well and that it all worked out for everyone involved. To touch on my opening point about only following one company’s films, shouldn’t we as the fans of these films and as the audience want all comic book movies to do well? The better everyone’s movies are, the more comic book movies we’ll get the opportunity to enjoy.
Bottom Line: The Marvel fanboy in me would be remiss if I didn’t mention the many similarities between Wonder Woman and Captain America: The First Avenger… Both used shields a lot, both were set in World Wars. Both heroes have idealistic reasons for wanting to fight in their respective wars, but have superiors who want to keep them away form the combat. Both had mentors characters, both have love interests that are already involved in the wars, and both get a team of supporting characters (Howling Commandos and Diana’s own band of multicultural comrades). And SPOILER: At the end of the film, a heroic character named Steve (portrayed by an actor named Chris), sacrifices himself by destroying a plane that was about to destroy a major Allied city. 😉