Review: Wonder Woman

I’ve had a good reason to be hard on the efforts of the DC Extended Universe over the past few years; especially last year considering my thoughts on their previous two pictures: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. This year, the producers of the DC Extended Universe look to turn the page on last year and seek to do so with their first superhero adventure starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

The film opens with Gadot as Diana Prince who receives a parcel from a new friend that compels her to reminisce on her earlier years. From her upbringing on the island of Themiscyra, home to the Amazons, where she was raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta, trained by her aunt Antiope, and encountered a man named Steve Trevor, who would guide her to the world of man on a journey that would change her life and the world at large forever.

To reiterate: I’ve been hard on the DC Extended Universe and I had good reason to be so. Their previous films have compelled me to set the bar low on their films going forward and I had to go into Wonder Woman with a low set of expectations. That being said, I must be blunt: THIS. MOVIE. IS. GOOD!

I must give credit where credit is due. Producers Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg crafted a solid origin story with coming-of-age themes that culminated in a very engaging, charming and the most entertaining DC movie to come out in years! I was satisfied with how they handled this movie; it wasn’t perfect but this was a great effort that really paid off!

I thought that the strength of this movie lied solely with Gadot’s performance meshed with Heinberg’s script and Jenkins’ execution. Wonder Woman is basically looking at the outside world with the perspective of childlike innocence, guided by a man who exposes her to the good and bad that a world at war has to offer someone who doesn’t exactly need to help.

If Gadot’s introduction in Batman v. Superman didn’t sell you on her ability to embody this iconic character, than this movie will most assuredly convince you! It was a treat watching her carry this movie and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Pine is splendid! Whether Diana is trying ice cream for the first time or feels concern or sympathy for the wounded soldiers on No Man’s Land, she just embodies the strength, compassion and innocence in this iconic character and she is relatable to audiences.

While I enjoyed watching this film, I only wish that the film could have done more with the supporting characters such as Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. I also hoped that the film would take more time to explore and examine Themiscyra, the Amazons and their cultures.

The cinematography of Matthew Jensen was solid, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music was satisfactory, Martin Walsh’s editing was solid, the production design of Aline Bonetto was good, Lindy Hemming’s costumes were very good, the visual effects were to my liking and technically Wonder Woman was very well put-together to give this character the strength to stand on her own.

Wonder Woman clearly raised the bar for films coming from the DC Extended Universe because what separates this movie from the films that came before it: fun! This movie allowed itself to have its own natural fun and that allowed the audience to have fun watching it; this is leaps and bounds better than any DC film that came before it!

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

For too long, the fight against the forces of evil has been spearheaded by men. The greatest heroes who have fought for humanity against foes driven to bring hurt and pain to the innocent are great men, but still men. The time has come for a woman to rise against those who would do harm to those who cannot protect themselves. It is time. It is her time! The Princess of Themiscyra, with shield on one arm, a sword in her hand, and a mystic lasso at her hip will rise to bring an end to the war that will end all wars. Diana’s crusade for justice is only the beginning of a journey that will place her in a league of her own. This is the story of a new age of heroism. This is the tale of Wonder Woman.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Written by: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Florence Kasumba, Ewen Bremmer, and Saïd Taghmaoui.

What am I expecting to see?: The last three films produced from the DCEU have underwhelmed to say the least, especially the films that flew under Warner Bros. and DC Comics from last year, so Wonder Woman is going in with an advantage of a low-bar already set. In the limited time we’ve seen her in the role already, Gal Gadot has done enough to sell audiences on her as Wonder Woman and now that she has this feature film to elevate herself, I’m hoping that she has clout to seize this initiative of being a powerhouse film hero in her own right.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!

My #5 Movie of 2014 is:

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

One of the most visually enchanting, technically beautiful and endearing films of the year. Director James Marsh and screenwriter Anthony McCarten take audiences by the hand and poignantly tell an incredible story about a budding cosmologist whose life expectancy is unexpectedly cut in half and the woman who loves him as they traverse this challenging and bumpy road that is paved by the highs of his career and the lows that come with his disease. One of the best adapted screenplays of the year by McCarten, beautifully shot by Benoît Delhomme and features two of the best acting performances of 2014, courtesy of Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawking and Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, The Theory of Everything claims the #5 position on my list of best films of 2014.

Director: James Marsh

Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten (based on the novel by Jane Hawking)

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Simon McBurney, Harry Lloyd, Alice Orr-Ewing, Christian McKay

Crew: Jóhann Jóhannsson (score), Benoît Delhomme (cinematography), Jinx Godfrey (editing), John Paul Kelly (production design), Steven Noble (costume design)

Review: The Theory of Everything

The sound of a thud. The sound of a thud is the inciting incident that spurs the film, The Theory of Everything directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh, adapted from Jane Hawking’s novel by Anthony McCarten.

Eddie Redmayne is Stephen Hawking, who is running across the Cambridge campus in 1963, when he stumbles hits his head hard against the ground, lying motionless for a few short minutes before being escorted to the infirmary by a few classmates. He is then diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given a life expectancy of two years.

Motor neuron disease (MND) are a small group of neurological disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells that control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, swallowing, and general movement of the body. They are generally progressive in nature, and cause increasing disability and, eventually, death.

After he is diagnosed, Stephen’s girlfriend Jane, played by Felicity Jones, makes the choice to stand by her man even though he is given a death sentence. The two marry and have children, while Stephen continues to achieve his doctorate in cosmology, which will be the foundation of his incredible achievements in the field of physics.

Eddie Redmayne (left) and Felicity Jones (right) are the Hawking’s in The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything is a cinematic memoir of the lives of Stephen and Jane Hawking. It goes over the triumphs, trials, tribulations of the challenges the both of them had to face while Stephen’s condition continually declined over the years and Stephen’s achievements gave him worldwide acclaim and prestige.

Particularly, this movie is a chance for audiences to Redmayne and Jones shine courtesy of McCarten’s screenplay, which took him a decade to craft. In all, I found it rather endearing to watch because of Redmayne, who I feel plays on the sympathies of audiences as he immerses himself into his portrayal of Stephen Hawking.

Watching his hand gestures, his walking style, his eyes and listening to his speech habits as his character continues to succumb to his illness is rather touching to see. One can speculate that he is reminiscent of many Oscar winning acting performances such as Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, Jean DuJardin in The Artist, Sean Penn in Milk; Eddie Redmayne gives a truly sincere portrayal of Stephen Hawking.

McCarten’s screenplay is beautifully brought to life by the cinematography of Benoît Delhomme. The scene where Stephen and Jane attend the party, where the bow-ties and the gloves are glowing because of the Tide laundry detergent powder exposed to fluorescent light and the fireworks, and the crane shot of the couple dancing on the bridge is so elegantly well-done and contributes to the overall visual aesthetic of the feature.

The film’s approach to Jane is rather curious to behold. Where other movies would have potentially vilified Jane, Carten’s screenplay makes her seem rather human as she juggles her life raising her children and caring for Stephen while fostering romantic feelings for her choir director Jonathan Jones, played by Charlie Cox; Felicity Jones portrays this person so well that is is clear to interpret how overwhelmed she is by the situation and there is a fragility to her interpretation of Jane Hawking that makes her performance believable.

The Theory of Everything is perhaps the most inspiring British film I’ve seen since The King’s Speech because perhaps both films share so many parallels in terms of visual and thematic design. James Marsh should be proud of this picture because it begins in such an earnest manner and ends so cleanly as if McCarten and Jane Hawking wanted it that way. That is to say that there are no negative feelings towards anyone and I find that quality of the picture so rare, that it is truly a commendable achievement in of itself.

Audiences who don’t really have a clear understanding as to who Steven Hawking was, will gain a great sense of admiration and appreciation for who he was and what he accomplished as a physicist and an author as well as who the people in his life were and how they helped him along throughout his incredible life.

The rest of the supporting cast including Harry Lloyd, Alice Orr-Ewing, David Thewlis (who seems to be channeling Professor Lupin from the Harry Potter series), Simon McBurney, Christian McKay, Maxine Peake are basically reduced to props; they are in and out of the picture so incrementally that during the course of the action, the audience barely remembers that they are even in the picture at all.

The Theory of Everything is justifiably one of the year’s most pleasing pictures on account of the acting and the writing especially. It was a very beautifully well-done motion picture.

Movies of the week: The Theory of Everything and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1

The life of renowned physicist Steven Hawking is a tale of love, beauty, tragedy and genius. Science was never my personal strong-suit, but Hawking’s reputation is indisputable and the loyalty of his wife Jane is equally so. Director James Marsh and screenwriter Anthony McCarten have adapted Jane’s memoir recalling her life with her husband and have brought it to the big screen starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis and Harry Lloyd. The Theory of Everything is the title of the biopic based on Steven and Jane’s lives together.

What am I expecting to see?: I’ve had my eye on this film for quite some time, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see it until now. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding the lead actors, Redmayne and Jones, and the film itself has positioned itself well enough to contend for the Oscars in a few months. Actually, I’ve heard that it took ten years for screenwriter McCarten to adapt Jane Hawking’s story into a feature-length film and when Steven saw it, he was moved to tears, so it looks like this movie is the genuine article. I hope to come out of this movie, a little more knowledgeable regarding Hawking and I hope this movie is entertaining enough to be considered among the year’s best.

Katniss Everdeen is the Girl on Fire no more. The Hunger Games have been broken. Panem is at a critical juncture and District 13 has stepped out of the shadows and has challenged the Capitol for control of Panem’s future. With Peeta Mellark and Johanna Mason imprisoned by the Capitol, and utilized as pawns to discredit the already legitimate rebellion, Katniss must embrace her new role as the Mockingjay and lead the charge to overthrow the Capitol and end the tyranny of President Snow. Director Francis Lawrence is back to continue the cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ harrowing saga. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt I blazes into theaters this weekend.

What am I expecting to see?: I’m a Jennifer Lawrence fan and I’ve enjoyed her playing Katniss Everdeen. In fact, I’m a fan of Collins’ Hunger Games saga, so I will say that I don’t expect this movie to really surprise me, but I expect this movie to up the ante compared to its predecessors. I thought Francis Lawrence did a decent job with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and bringing him back was a smart call and Danny Strong is a guy I remember from Lee Daniel’s The Butler, and I really hope he brings that power to this franchise. I am fan of this cast including Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Jeffery Wright, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman while I am intrigued to see what these newcomers to the franchise including Julianne Moore bring to the table. Improvement is the name of the game.