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!

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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.

Joss Whedon sends up the Bat-signal for BATGIRL!

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Image by shamserg

Filmmaker Joss Whedon’s last two forays into the superhero genre, The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, were hits as far as I was concerned and as far as the world was concerned, he retired from the realm of heroes after Ultron made its way into theaters.  I never expected to hear this news though and it’s surprising and exciting: Whedon will produce, write and direct a standalone Batgirl movie!

Batgirl first appeared in DC Comics in 1967 as Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon in “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” by writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino.

Now in the past few weeks, Batman’s presence in this expanding DC Cinematic Universe has certainly opened up many doors. For instance, The Batman, starring Ben Affleck, has roped in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves to helm the project, which has been delayed due to rewrites and other circumstances, the character Nightwing will be given his own standalone feature and now this?! Color me excited!

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Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Batgirl will be DC’s second film with a female-driven lead, the first being Wonder Woman and I for one, am certainly looking forward to seeing how Whedon will shape this film going forward. At this juncture, Whedon leading the project is the only details I can give; there are no actresses or actors attached, nor any mention of a specific story that will be adapted for this film. Furthermore, there is no telling when this movie or The Batman or Nightwing will make its way into theaters.

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!

Updated: Rick Famuyiwa Will Not Direct The Flash

I’m going to be honest, my stock in the DC Entertainment Universe right now is low and not much of anything, except Zack Snyder getting a demotion or termination, is going to restore it, but yesterday I received a little bit of news that truly piqued my interest.

Image by RattledMachine

The Flash will be featured in Justice League, portrayed by Ezra Miller who already made his brief debut in Batman v. Superman, but a few weeks ago Seth Grahame-Smith left the standalone The Flash feature over creative differences, much like Michelle MacLaren did with the Wonder Woman feature. DC and Warner Bros took time to find a suitable replacement for MacLaren in Patty Jenkins and they did the same for The Flash by landing Rick Famuyiwa, credited for acclaimed indies such as The Wood, Brown Sugar and last year’s smash hit at Sundance, Dope.

Image by Africultures

Warner Bros is looking for the right chemical mix on its superhero picture line based on the DC Comics heroes that started with Batman V Superman, and the feeling internally was that Famuyiwa provided a vision that would resonate with young viewers and that vision was very compatible with the script that the studio is moving toward the starting gate with. That vision was executed to strong reviews in Dope, the 2015 film about a young geek trying to survive in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood

I LOVE this move! Dope was one of the best films I saw in 2015 due to its fresh approach, savvy direction and excellent execution all around and I credit Famuyiwa for such an excellent change of pace picture. I can’t wait to see what he can bring to The Flash; perhaps that fresh and funny appeal from Dope will rub off on the rest of the films in the DCEU lineup. Justice League Pt 1 will bow in theaters on November 17, 2017. The Flash races into theaters on March 16, 2018.

Update: It has just been brought to my attention that due to creative differences with producers, Rick Famuyiwa has elected to leave The Flash, thus marking the second time the superhero feature will be without a director. It also puts the timetable to get The Flash into production into jeopardy as Warner Bros. now races to find a suitable replacement.

Five Reasons Why Zack Snyder Should Not Direct Justice League

Image by Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

It has been almost a month since I witnessed firsthand the cataclysmic meltdown that was my most anticipated film of 2016. In case you missed it, I went into my screening of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, thinking that this movie would take off like a harrier jet capable of breaking the sound barrier. Instead, the result was worse than the Hindenburg if you ask me. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice laid the foundation for the DC Cinematic Entertainment Universe, that will set forward the foundations of films such as Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps, Ben Affleck’s standalone Batman feature and (hopefully) Shazam! (If Dwayne Johnson can seriously commit to the project). Again, it has been a month since the fallout and the more I think about it, the more I believe that the future of Justice League Pts I and II, would be in better hands instead of Zack Snyder’s. I have, at least, five reasons why Zack Snyder needs to be removed, demoted, replaced, whatever you wish to call it!

  1. He has taken the franchise as far as he could-With Man of Steel & Batman v. Superman, Zack Snyder has sewn the seeds of a universe that could reap vast sums of money for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. He’s laid out Superman’s revamped and reimagined origins story, he has effectively introduced Batman and other key members of the league, but I feel that he has gone as far as he could go with this and furthering his position at this juncture and leaving Justice League in his hands, I feel is a recipe for disaster. I think Zack Snyder has taken this enterprise to a place where he or the powers that be (the executive producers at Warner Bros.) need to sit down and find someone else to give Justice League the gravitas it deserves.
  2. Justice League needs more than just visual appeal!-“Pretty to look at but not much beneath the surface,” no I’m not describing a stereotypical supermodel, I’m describing Zack Snyder’s body of work thus far. Be it 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder always has this tendency to favor the aesthetic visual tone of his films at the expense of subduing the plot and that cannot happen with Justice League Pts I and II! These two movies have a lot riding on them and they need a filmmaker who can appropriately balance the visual and the narrative in order to win audiences over, whether they liked Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice or not. There needs to be a compelling plot that can draw audiences in and drive the films forward and it needs to balance with whatever gorgeous imagery will come.
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    The results speak for themselvesBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice shattered records on its opening weekend, which isn’t surprising considering many, including myself, had high expectations for the film when it was released. The next weekend, it’s box office earnings plummeted amidst of mostly bad-to-mediocre reviews and word of mouth. Next thing we’re hearing is that Warner Bros. is planning to reshuffle its release volumes considering that they haven’t had a great degree of success with their pictures, not to mention they didn’t see the profitable returns they were hoping for from Snyder’s anticipated superhero outing. Now attention turns to Suicide Squad, which coincidently had to implement reshoots to infuse a little humor in an abundantly dark plot. The studio recognizes that there is an issue that needs to be addressed, which leads to

  4. Actions must have consequences-When Fantastic Four bombed-and boy did it!-director Josh Trank was thrown in the proverbial “director’s jail” along with all of the baggage he brought with him during production. The aftereffect was that it cost him his opportunity to direct a Star Wars movie, supposedly Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t so much as bomb but extremely disappoint yet Zack Snyder is reportedly confirmed to be locked in to direct Justice League Pts I and II. With the fallout of his highly anticipated sequel-of-sorts to Man of Steel, growing more and more, there needs to be consequences for what happened. I’m not saying “fire him” but I beg the producers at Warner Bros. to sit down and actively discuss the idea of “finding a director who can bring Justice League to its zenith that is not Zack Snyder.”
  5. Image by Warner Bros

    Zack Snyder’s movies just don’t do “it” for me-When I was in high school, almost everyone was going gaga over 300. When I finally had my opportunity to see it, my impression was “really? This is what everyone was going crazy over?” My next Snyder film I believe was Watchmen and that wasn’t exactly a winner for me either. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole was alright, Sucker Punch was dreadful, I appreciated Man of Steel for what it was but it was certainly different, and you all know my stance on Batman v. Superman. My track record with Zack Snyder’s films is not good and I cannot express how much I don’t want to hate Justice League when it arrives in theaters! As a fan of comic book mythology you cannot imagine how much I don’t want to hate Justice League! I want Justice League to hit the grand slam when it makes it into theaters and I want to love Justice League Pts I and II! Under Zack Snyder’s direction, that is venturing into particularly dangerous territory!

I want it on record saying that I’m writing this out of respect of the work Zack Snyder has done so far and out of concern about the future of the DC Cinematic Entertainment Universe. I thought the Supergirl crossover with the CW’s The Flash had more entertainment value than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice; that’s just the place I’m coming from. Here is the lineup for all of the DC movies going into the future. Count on the fact that I’ll be in line waiting and ready to blog about all of them!

Image by Warner Bros

“Suicide Squad” – August 5, 2016
“Wonder Woman” – June 2, 2017
“Justice League: Part 1” – November 17, 2017
“The Flash” – March 16, 2018
“Aquaman” – July 27, 2018
“Untitled DC Film” — October 5, 2018
“Shazam” – April 5, 2019
“Justice League: Part 2” – June 14, 2019
“Untitled DC Film” — November 1, 2019
“Cyborg” – April 3, 2020
“Green Lantern Corps” – June 19, 2020

Seth Grahame-Smith To Write/Direct The Flash (Updated)

Image by Sean E. (DC Comics)

Days after Marvel announced that they hired a director for one of their upcoming films, DC Comics and Warners Bros. respond with a director announcement of their own. The studios are planning a feature length feature of The Scarlet Speedster, a.k.a The Flash, who will be played by Ezra Miller. Miller is rumored to cameo in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice as Barry Allen (possibly) and now he has someone who will craft and guide his story in Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith will make his directorial debut with the superhero feature.

Grahame-Smith is the author of such genre mash-up best-sellers as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But he also also made a name for himself as a screenwriter, especially at Warners, where he is writing Lego Batman.

Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Grahame-Smith is also credited with a few TV credits including directing a few episodes of The Hard Times of RJ Berger and he is also tied to the Tim Burton flick Dark Shadows. Initially, the writers of The LEGO Movie, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, were slated to write a treatment for The Flash but elected to move on to work on the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Series. The Flash arrives in theaters on March 3, 2018.

Update: Just saw on The Hollywood Reporter, that Seth Grahame-Smith has decided that he can no longer be involved in the project. Like Michelle MacLaren who was set to direct Wonder Woman, Grahame-Smith is leaving the project over “creative differences.” The studio will retain Grahame-Smith’s script, based on a treatment courtesy of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, but the studio will begin the search for a new director.