Thoughts on: Wonder Woman (2017)

  Warning: This Post Contains Spoilers!

 

landscape-1489502614-wonder-woman-new-poster

 

This weekend the long awaited solo outing of everyone’s favorite Amazon Warrior Princess started in theatres and sufficed to say it has made many positive ripples over its short stint in movie houses so far, so lets take a look at Wonder Woman and see if it is sensational as everyone says?

 

The film starts off with Diana Prince in modern day monolouging about the world and the nature of man as a briefcase is delivered to her with the original copy of the photo Bruce found of her in BVS inside.  This leads to the flashback that starts the main story of the film with Diana reminiscing about her life from childhood to adulthood growing up on Themyscria with her mother and the other Amazons.  We also get a brief retelling of the Amazon’s origins from Hippolyta.  As expected we also see Steve Trevor crash on the island which starts the whole thing off.  A Small group of German’s trailing Steve land on the island and are quickly slaughtered by the Amazons though not without the mighty women losing a few of their own to the attack, including Diana’s teacher and aunt Antiope.     This leads Diana to leave the island with Steve and help him try to stop the war.

 

Without spoiling too much more the rest of the film shows Diana learning more about the world of man both the good and the bad which over the course of the film is the sole push for Diana’s character growth not just as a hero but as an individual as well as she has to accept the world is a much more complicated place than she first thought and everyone has both good and evil within them, coming to the conclusion that as long as there is love there is still hope to save the world.

 

Overall the story of the film is well written, it faithfully follows Wonder Woman’s comic book origin while only making the necessary tweaks and additions to help serve the greater narrative of the film or have it fit into the DCEU continuity.  Gal Gadot gives a solid performance as Diana giving off a sense of both youthful naivety while also coming off as a strong and confident woman.  Chris Pine is also an excellent Steve Trevor and shows us a version of the character who despite being psychologically worn out from the war still does his best to try to stop it. And while only in the beginning of the film Ronnie Wright & Connie Nelson give solid performances as Antiope and Hippolyta respectively.  The supporting cast of characters like Etta Candy, Chief, and the villains like Doctor Poison. General Ludendorf and later on Ares all fit their role quite adequately as well.

 

The cinematography still manages to have the same natural tone the past DCEU films have had while having just enough color pop out to help make the characters more defined in the dark backdrop of war.  The slow motion moments in fight scenes somewhat reminiscent of Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes are also well choreographed and welcome additions .  The special effects are also spot on for the most part making the battles feel as if they have real weight and depth to them.

 

The costume design is also impressive as both the Amazons and early 20th century citizens look authentic which helps add to the atmosphere of the film.  And the colors of Wonder Woman’s outfit pop every time they are on screen making the armor as visually appealing as the character of Wonder Woman is inspiring.

 

The only minor complaints I could find with the film would be that Ares has a really really stupid mustache that even his nice and somewhat comic accurate armor couldn’t completely hide and this prevents him from looking as intimidating as he should.  And the end scene before the credits being a traditional Superhero in silly pose while jumping really cliché was somewhat off putting.

 

Overall though Wonder Woman was a delight to sit through the first time and just as much if not slightly more so the second.  Patty Jenkins, Zack Snyder and co did a genuinely great job with this film as despite the dark topic of war it never loses its sense of love and hope and truly showcases what makes Wonder Woman such a great and inspirational hero.  If WB & DC are smart they will keep Mrs. Jenkins on as long as possible as she has proven that not only can female directors play ball just as well as the big boys, in some ways they can throw even better!

 

Final Grade

Cinematography: 8 out of 10

Story: 10 out of 10

Overall: 9 out of 10

Wonder Woman is now in theatres nationwide and will be rolling out worldwide over the coming weeks!

 

From Film To Frame: 5 Wonder Woman Comic Book Series Worth Checking Out.

 

With Wonder Woman releasing for previews in Theatres tonight and nationwide tomorrow I figured now would be a good time to plug some of the Amazon Warriors best stories.  So lets travel to Themyscira and beyond and take a look at some of Diana’s best adventures.

 

 

Wonder Woman: Rebirth By Greg Rucka (2016-2017)

rucka.png

  Acclaimed Comic book writer Greg Rucka teamed-up with talented artists Nicola Scott & Liam Sharp for this 25 part epic consisting of 23 regular issues a special and an annual which shows Diana searching for the Truth of her origins in both the past and present against new and old foes alike.   This run takes the core of the character and reinvigorates it for a new generation of readers.

 

Wonder Woman: A True Amazon By Jill Thompson (2016)

51mRHMroImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

A one shot graphic novel with beautiful art and story by the ever talented Jill Thompson give us a look at a younger Diana as she learns what it truly means to be an Amazon, a hero, and a leader.

 

Legend of Wonder Woman By Renae De Liz (2016)

The-Legend-Of-Wonder-Woman-1

A look at Diana’s childhood all the way to her early years as Wonder Woman, Renae De Liz Legend of Wonder Woman series is a true delight for Wonder Woman fans of all ages

 

Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello (2011-2014)

ww-lede

 

A more controversial yet still well done run shows the mighty Amazonian Princess fighting the pantheon of Greek Gods and even have a brief meeting with Orion and the New Gods as well.  If you are ok with a more violent interpretation of the character it may be worth a look.  And then of course there’s also Cliff Chang’s amazing art.

 

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age  By William Moulton Marston (1942-1947)

2611981-screen_shot_2012_09_25_at_11.23.08_am

Where it all began, the original Golden Age tells of Wonder Woman are always worth revisiting.  We see Diana fight Nazis and villains of all shapes and sorts.

Thoughts On: Building Better Fanbases

lg-fp-228-cast

 

One of the most common complaints in the digital age and even before is how insane and down right toxic fandoms for everything from Comics to Cartoons, Film to television to video games can and have been.  One thing I always find myself wondering is why things are like this and really there is no easy singular answer to this question but today I will be doing the best I can to from my perspective point out the various flaws in the way we as both groups and individuals portray ourselves as fans.  So without further hesitation I ask if you will please humor me and see what you think, am I spot on or way off the mark?

 

 

I. The Psychology of A Fan

1: Fulfilling A Need:  Before one can ask what is wrong with fandom we must first ask why we become a fan of something in the first place?  There is of course no right or wrong answer, different people gain or lose interest in things for different reasons.  However in base psychological terms one could argue that we become a fan because we feel the thing we gain interest in fulfills a psychological &/or emotional need that was previously missing in our lives or was not present to a degree that we were satisfied with.  Whether it is  being inspired by superheroes, letting animation tug at your heartstrings or satisfying your adrenaline rush with certain scifi and horror franchises we all have our own reasons for partaking in the fictions we choose as they give us something we feel everyday life doesn’t and if we like what we partake in well enough, and if we feel it can help fulfill what we see as a gap in our emotional and psychological needs we will justifiably become a long time fan.

2: Obsession:  This is one step that every fan enters to some degree during their lives and it is arguably the most dangerous one to navigate through.  After we get our first hit of something we keep coming back for more, like an addict we can become increasingly obsessed with a character/series/franchise of choice to where it can consume every facet of our lives and we think about it every waking moment of our existence, we branch out from just casual enjoyment to a more hardcore endearment towards our new found obsession.  While this in and of itself is not always a bad thing and may just result in joining a forum or two, occasionally drawing some fan art, watching some Youtube videos and getting a couple of knick-knacks here and there for others and can become an extreme it can result in doing everything you do, every action being about or for this thing you now love to a point to where like any other addict it can interfere with your real life and the relationships with in it.  If left unchecked obsession can lead to an individual being unable to handle any form of criticism towards the thing they like taking a general critique of it as a personal attack on their honor and person which can lead to never ending ever increasing extreme and ridiculous arguments between different factions both within and outside of fan communities.  This is the most dangerous part of the fan life because it can easily lead fans to extremist levels of overreliance of the thing the love and lead them to be so out of touch with reality that they would openly threaten the life of another person for merely having a different opinion or viewpoint than them on it.  Thankfully though many of us grow out of this phase and slowly learn that not every negative word given is an attack on their person.

3: Control & Reconciliation VS Submission:

If you manage to wade through the sea of obsession you will eventually find yourself at the shores of sanity once more.  You can acknowledge that you are a fan of something, accept you may be a fan of this thing for the rest of your lifetime, but you also accept that it is merely an interest a hobby, just one part of your character and psyche and not the totality of your being.  You realize that it is OK if not everyone else has the same interests as you and that it is OK if people like the things you like for different reasons. You learn to control yourself and only indulge in excess content related to this thing you love in moderation over reasonable periods of time and within reasonable expense.   You know there will always be people that both like and dislike your thing and that’s OK.  However if you don’t eventually get to a point where you break free of the bright and shiny lights of obsession you in a way are submitting to something, letting this thing that doesn’t even exist on the same plane as you, letting a mere idea and dream, a metaphysical existence control you and your actions.  Instead of being a mere fan you are now a servant to this force with no will of your own and like a cultist you blindly follow it wherever it goes and whatever the hive mind of the community says.   This is a very dangerous path to tread down as it can stunt personal growth not only as a fan of something but as a person as well.  At the end of the day we have to stand tall and say that we control our interests and that they do not control us.

 

In closing while being a fan can be a very satisfying experience we need to like with any other aspect of our lives practice these things in moderation and sensibility.  We are the ones responsible for our actions both good and bad while participating in a fan community and no level of delusion or obsession can ever justify treating a fictional character or creature with more decency and respect than a living one.  We must learn to keep ourselves in check and not overact to every thing said about our interests we dislike.

 

II. Fixing The Cracks

 

  1. Acknowledging Alternative Views:  While it is true that many sites and critics will be purposely overly negative or unprofessional to rile-up controversy just to get easy clicks and advertisement we should realize that not everyone who has a view differing from our own is out to harm or demonize the things you enjoy, in the wise words of the great sage Linkara “Get over yourself internet, not everyone has the same interests as you!”

2. Putting The Pro Back in Professional:  The advent of the digital age has arguably caused critics both young and old to get a bit lackadaisical in their practices, far too many critics online and in print form have taken a more hostile and troll like approach to their job.  Given this smug sense of elitism has always existed in the profession to a degree but we have known for decades you can dissect a film or any work of art and storytelling without being cruel even if most of your conclusions of it are negative ones.  Critics may be getting paid or praised for their word but at the end of the day they are also a type of fan and it is important to be aware of ones own confirmation biases both positive and negative when going into a review and still trying to give everything you view an even shake and letting each individual work stand or fall on its own legs.

 

3. Talking about the issues:  Whether we like to admit it or not things like Toxic Masculinity, Mental Instability,  Exclusivist mindsets, Sexism, Racism, Homophobia and every other nasty part of human nature can and do butt their ugly heads into fan communities.  It is important we continue to discuss these issues and call out those guilty of these practices to help make a better and safer fan community for those from all walks of life.

 

III. Final Thoughts

Overall the points and topics presented here are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of human interaction and how fans and fanbases/communities view one another.  In truth you could write an entire series of books about the psychology of the various fanbases on the internet and it could take a lifetime to even get everyone on board to consider addressing the problems inherent in their communities but I do believe that if we are willing to acknowledge the faults both within ourselves and the communities both online and off that we partake in we can make better more professional, mature, caring and empathetic fans in the future.  Or who knows maybe i’m just a madman.

Thoughts on: Everything Wrong With GOTG Vol.2

 

Guardians-Galaxy-2-Sad-Baby-Groot

 

In 2014 Marvel Studios released the first Guardians of The Galaxy movie which took a lesser known team of space ferrying Marvel heroes as well as a director previously known for what many would consider B-movies and skyrocketed them both into the mainstream with a surprise hit.  Like with most films the movie ended with a promise that some day the titular Guardians would return and as of this past Friday that promise was kept, though despite a fresh rating on the extremely overrated Rotten Tomatoes and lots of fluff pieces from mainstream media outlets the film itself fails to live up to the precedent set by its predecessor and makes for what is arguably not only the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but perhaps one of the worst films of 2017 so far.  So hold your Baby Groots tight dear readers because we are about to take a deep dark look at the multitude of problems with Marvel’s latest theatrical outing.

 

 

 

  1. The Excessive Juvenile/Toilet Humor:   The original Guardians did arguably have a fairly simplistic and zany Saturday morning cartoon style of humor however it was innocent enough and balanced out well enough with the action that it managed to work fairly well.  The sequel however throws all of that out the window as it fills the movie with nothing but base sex and dick jokes nearly every five minutes, there is even an extremely awkward and cringe worthy scene where Drax asks Peter’s father Ego about his dick in front of quill and the rest of the Guardians.  This movies sense of humor is basically the equivalent to a 13 year old screaming penis over and over, it is genuinely grotesque, off putting and makes watching the film nearly unbearable.

 

2. The Casual Sexism: From beginning to end the film is filled with casual sexism.  From the start portraying Star Lord’s mother as a complete idiot  to having Gamora be a more subdued version of herself from the previous film and making Mantis a stereotypical “Submissive Asian girl” the film never lets up on its blatant and casual sexism. Oh and lets not forget that Yandu’s first appearance in the film is with him and his crew  on a planet of sex robots.

 

3. The Racism: As mentioned previously the portrayal of Mantis is horrible.  The character is portrayed as dull and submissive, referred to as Ego’s “pet” and takes whatever verbal abuse characters throw at her, especially from Drax.  It doesn’t help that she is a vary blatant stereotype of an Asian woman, which is just bone headed and disrespectful on Gunn & Co’s part.

 

4. Everyone is a sociopath!:  From Yandu killing his whole crew after a failed mutiny to Nebula’s obsession with killing her sister and Ego wanting to wipe out/assimilate all life in the Universe Guardians of the Galaxy is filled with violent and vile sociopaths! Even our heroes come off as huge jerks for most of the film and not even in a lovable rouges kind of way, just in a generally disturbing and unsettling kind of way

 

 5. Exacerbates its tropes:  Everything that made the previous film work so well is back and on steroids, twice as many classic rock songs, twice as much Rocket & Groot, twice as much blue-collar comedy.  It is almost as if the old saying “less is more” was completely ignored by this film as it takes what made the first film so enjoyable and throws it in your face to the point that you can’t help but be annoyed and aggravated by it.

 

6: This is NOT A kids/family friendly movie. Guardians was heavily marketed on kids networks like CN, DisneyXD & Nick, but despite the adorable Baby Groot this film is not kid friendly, the core audience for this movie is obviously 13-16 year old boys who still think that dick jokes are funny and that girls are icky and only good for bullying and sex.

 

In closing Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the most shameful pieces of comic book film making to be put on the big screen in well over a decade and that fact that all it takes for main stream media to celebrate or deem something fresh is to slap a Disney/Marvel logo on it is just flat out disappointing and insulting to both the art of cinema and professional critique and criticism everywhere.  So do yourself a favor and skip this one, you’d have a much more enjoyable experience just copying the films playlist and staring at a tree in your backyard while listening to ELO.

Thoughts On: Smurfs The Lost Village

smurfs0002_0

 

 

This past Weekend Sony’s latest theatrical outing for everyone’s favorite little blue gnomes debuted in theatres worldwide and thankfully unlike the previous two live action atrocities this one is full animated!  But will even that be enough to save the Smurf’s Hollywood carrier!?  Lets find out!

 

 

Focusing on the positives of the film first the most obvious one as mentioned is that thankfully Sony had the smarts to keep the film fully animated this time around.  In fact despite some people calling the film Smurfs 3 this is more of a soft reboot for the film franchise.   The film all but ignores its predecessors and instead tries to stay more in line with the continuity of the original Peyo comics and earlier seasons of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  And on the subject of animation this film looks wonderful!  The colors are vibrant, the motion is fluid and the whole thing feels as it is brimming with life!  Sony Animation put some genuine effort in making this film.  There is also an updated voice cast that gives much better performances then the previous incarnations as well.  Dani Pudi is a perfect choice for Brainy and Demi Levato is a much better Smurfette then Katy Perry was.  And speaking of female Smurfs the film also introduces all new female Smurfs that are a much welcome and needed addition to this decades old franchise.  The Amazonian like lost village Smurfs are both cute and fierce and their personalities range from intimidating like Stormy, Wise like Willow or Kind like Blossom.  The forest the live in is also a visually stunning place, even if it does borrow a few minor things from James Cameron’s Avatar for its aesthetic.   Compared to the past feature lengths films this is obviously the strongest outing yet.

 

On the negative side however the plot of the film is extremely simplistic & straightforward as it involves Smurfette trying to discover what her role in Smurf Village should be as she feels like an outsider being a artificial Smurf created by Gargamel as opposed to a naturally born er Smurfed one.  It is set-up well though despite being simple children’s storybook fare.  Another negative is it never explains why the titular lost village was lost in the first place or why the male and female Smurfs ended up creating their own separate societies.

 

Overall Smurfs: The Lost village is step in the right direction for the cinematic interpretation of the series, given not the leap it needed but progress is progress and I can’t fault it for wanting to play it safe after the last two less than Steller outings.

 

So far the film has had a fairly weak U.S. opening with only fourteen and a half million earned the opening weekend, but unsurprisingly has done better in the international box office with 40 million earned.  And I for one would urge others to go see it as I would much rather see more fully animated Smurfs films as opposed to what they were doing before hand and despite what you may hear it is much more worth your time and money then talking babies and yet another soulless live action remake of a animated Disney classic.  But hey, that’s just my nerdy opinion.

Thoughts on: Kong: Skull Island

Kong-Skull-Island-Final-Official-Trailer-6

Warning: This post may contain spoilers

Disclaimer: The views in this post are solely my opinion.  King Kong, Skull Island and all related content are property of Warner Bros. Legendary and Universal Pictures.

This past Friday, Kong: Skull Island launched in theatres nationwide.  It is the second film in the Legendary/WB Kaijuverse series as well as the first King Kong film to hit the big screen in roughly twelve years.  Is it a film worthy of the King Kong legacy, or is this ape a false prince!?  Lets find out.

 

In terms of negatives, thankfully there aren’t very many, the only thing I could think of off the top of my head is some of the soldier characters are all pretty generic and one dimensional,  though given that most of them end up being cannon fodder this makes sense, but it would have helped the film to give more then a couple of them a defined personality.  Also Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the leader of set soldiers and the one who ends up being the human villain of the film is a fairly stereotypical villain to the point it gets ridiculously over the top , also the CG effect used to make Kong and the other beasts at times does seem a bit off and other then Kong himself some of the monsters look more like beasts who walked out of a video game as opposed to ones made for a film.  But overall these are minor complaints in the big scheme of things and in no way ruin the film as a whole.

 

Kong: Skull island has a lot of positives going for it, it is finally an original story with the Character and not yet another rehash of the same old tired tale, it also serves as a decent prequel and set-up to Godzilla and the other upcoming Kaiju films in a way as it takes place in 1973 as opposed to the modern day.  The actors all give genuinely solid performances especially John Goodman, John C. Riley & Jason Mitchell who all help bring some fun and life to the cast.  And while true Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are fairly subdued in terms of line reading most of the time, they do execute their roles well enough to make you care about their character’s survival.  Kong also thankfully has a pretty active role in the film, unlike other monster movies which show more of the humans then the title creature, Kong balances out its time well between the humans trying to survive the island and Kong fighting various other not so gentle giants, ranging from a giant squid to the main threat of the Skullcrawlers

 

As for story and structure, things are fairly straight forward, John Goodman’s character believes Skull Island will finally help him prove that monsters exist and the group piggybacks on another scientific expedition to the island under the guise of geological surveying.  After that it is your typical survival story mixed with your typical giant monster story, but that is by no means a bad thing as both are well executed and both the Kaiju and survival aspects of the film are well balanced out  for the most.  Kong may not fight a T-Rex like in days of old, but his fights with the squid and the Skincrawlers, and the human soldiers fights with a giant spider and deadly mini pterodactyl like birds are all fairly entertaining ones.  Like most stories things escalate up to the end point where Kong ends up facing both Samuel L. Jackson and the leader of the Skincrawlers which is as large as him.  The film of course is given a happy ending with Kong defeating his foes and the remaining humans successfully making it off Skull Island.  The film also gives us a nice little easter egg at the end as Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are told Kong wasn’t the only monster out there and we see pictures of cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan & King Ghidorah.

 

Overall if you are a King Kong or Kaiju fan, I would say the film is indeed worth checking out.

Thoughts on: Logan

WARNING: This Post Contains Spoilers!

DISCLAIMER: This Post is Solely My Opinion.  Wolverine/Logan and all other characters are property of FOX and Marvel Entertainment.

loganheader-1

 

  On March 3rd 2017 Logan opened in theatres nationwide, and has quickly become the most successful solo Wolverine film to date, as well as one of the most successful X-Men films in the domestic box office joining the likes of Deadpool and Days of Futures Past.  Today we will take a look at the film to see if it holds up after all.

 I’ll go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first.  One thing that really bugged me about the film was the stereotypical and somewhat racist undertones the film had at times.  In the very beginning of the film Logan is confronted and gets into a fight with a group of Hispanic gangsters, because of course when you are in a town in Texas that is near the border the criminals have to be Hispanic.  I will give the film credit for trying to balance things out by having this incarnation of X-23 aka Laura being half Hispanic herself, and they do have some jerky white rednecks for Logan to intimidate/beat down later on, but that still doesn’t negate the sour taste in my mouth the opening scene left.  It also doesn’t help that when Logan’s evil clone X-24 is sent to kill Charles Xavier the innocent African American family that Logan and co were spending the night with basically become cannon fodder as the monster kills them off one by one.  And then there’s the fact that Charles Xavier himself is killed off in a very anticlimactic way which is kind of disrespectful to a character so important.  So yea, between all the pointless death and pseudo racism, even if it was unintentional  Logan does have some elements that leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

  On the positive side however, I will say the overall script of the film is solid, the story is basically a western with superheroes, we see Logan as a grizzled old man taking one last job to try to get his daughter to the Canadian border so she can meet up with other young mutants and find sanctuary, all the while being tracked by a group of mercenaries, evil scientists and an evil clone. Hugh Jackman also gives one of his best performances in the role yet, we see a more vulnerable and more human Wolverine who is still just as stubborn as ever despite the Adamantium in his body slowly killing him due to his healing factor slowing down to a crawl.  We also see him doing his best to keep Charles Xavier, who seems to be suffering from strokes that make his psychic powers go crazy, alive and well. Throughout the film there are many emotional moments both large and subtle that really help you sympathize with Logan despite his jerky attitude as well as constantly rooting for Laura, Logan and Charles to make it through, even though you know by the end of it at least one of them won’t.  The film has just the right amount of action, dark humor, drama and heart tugging moments to keep you engaged with the story, and as things escalate by the time you get to the end you get a genuinely satisfying fight scene with Logan and the kids fighting all the forces that have set out against them, which ends with a tear jerking moment between Logan and Laura.

 In terms of technical aspects of the films, as it doesn’t have to be as overly dependent on computer generated special effects as other superhero films, we get a more down to earth and organic feel from the story, and the music, sound, pacing and cinematography all blend together perfectly to hit all the queues as needed.  The only real nitpick one could have is that like with many modern action films it can be a bit overly dependent on explosions at times.   Modern Hollywood’s obsession with destruction aside though, the film looks, sounds and runs smoothly from act to act.

  So yes, even though Logan is rough around the edges in some spots it is a genuinely well written and well executed film.  It is a strong last hurrah for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character, and for the most part genuinely deserves the praise it receives.  If you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend doing so.