Critique VS Criticism: The Ever Changing Art of The Review.

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Criticism is as old as the arts themselves.  We humans love to voice our opinions on the world around us just as much as we enjoy taking in all the sights and sounds.  However over the past century with the advent of things such as film and television we have seen much of our efforts in this aspect dedicated to both the analytical dissection of these mediums as well as the unabashed praising or crucifixion of works depending on our outlook of them.  In modern times with the advent of the internet age any of us for better or worse have the ability to do this with ease. “Everyone is a critic” as we finally see the old saying come to fruition.  While this can be a positive thing as it helps give us a diverse range of voices and opinions towards a work I also personally feel there has been a negative effect to this as well in regards to the actual profession of film criticism.

 

In theory a proper critique of a film is an analytical dissection of the work, with the reviewer going through and sharing what they saw as strengths and weaknesses in the film and giving their piece on what possible paths could be taken to avoid any potential repeats of these mistakes in the future.  While still subjective as all opinions are a professional critique is meant to be more or less similar to a teacher grading or reviewing a students work.  It is meant to come from a good and helpful place, it is meant to be a way for those who enjoy a form of art to contribute their voice to help it grow and improve in the future.  More or less critique is meant to be a good thing, not a bad, even if the overall review of a work is more negative than positive, it still comes from a good place.  This however no longer seems to be true in modern film reviews for the most part as helpful critique is far too often set aside for more brash, cruel and mean-spirited criticism on sites for easy clicks.

 

Modern film Criticism often goes beyond helpful or professional analytical critique as many big sites and names put aside calm professionalism and instead bathe in the volatility and toxic miasma of modern internet culture. And while a desire to be more casual and honest with ones opinions is indeed admirable, the fact that for better or worse many of these professional critics and big sites can have an effect on the box office of a film to some degree is a dangerous thing given the fact that there is increasingly blurred line between a traditional “professional critic” and the rest of us ranting and raving on our blogs, twitter & YouTube channels.   The truth is though we need that divide stable to some degree. We need film critics to be more analytical and balanced in their criticism of film instead of spending so much time and effort to attempting to destroy a film before it even comes out or attacking it or anyone who enjoys it long after it  is released.  Again, critique should come from a good place, a desire to see the form of art you enjoy improve and succeed in the future.  I know all to well film can easily disappoint and emotions are just as much as part of what make a film good or bad for us as the characters and the narrative.  But even with that in mind it is important for mainstream critics to be better then the rest of us on the internet, for their reviews to not be born out of spite, but to come from a place of good intent the same way a good teacher would want a student to improve.

 

In closing I beseech thee dear reader to take all reviews in modern time be they from some nobody like me or a big wig on Variety or Rotten Tomatoes with a hefty cup of tea. At the end of the day art in any form will always be subjective and no one can truly decide weather a film is good or bad in your eyes but you.  In an age when very few critics are much better than a twelve year old or a madman like myself rambling on twitter, the best person to trust about your feeling towards a film, be it positive or negative is indeed yourself.

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Thoughts on: Wonder Woman (2017)

  Warning: This Post Contains Spoilers!

 

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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!