2017 Summer Movie Review: Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) springs into action in Patty Jenkins’ origin story of the Amazon princess. (Source: Screen Rant)

Wonder Woman has been around since World War II. Not only has the heroine been appreciated by women, but also men. A lot of you might remember the campy show from 1975 starring Lynda Carter, as she saves the world from the Nazis. While Wonder Woman has been featured in a couple of feature-length films (e.g. The LEGO Movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), and straight-to-video animated films, there has never been a live-action standalone film starring her. Until now.

The DC Extended Universe is off to a rocky start. While Man of Steel provided a more twisted take on Superman, it hardly managed to stick with the nature of who he really is. Last year’s Batman vs. Superman had potential to make up for its predecessor’s flaws (including Superman seeing humanity wipe away from his eyes as opposed to saving it). While it did for the first thirty minutes, it resulted in being an absolute disgrace to both Batman and Superman. Suicide Squad, which also came out last year, also became a wasted opportunity featuring a talented cast, clunky action, and horrible exposition. This time, director Patty Jenkins (Monster) and her crew save the day by providing an origin story with heart, humor, badassery, emotion, and bursting with color.

Welcome to the Amazonian island of Themiscyra! Where it’s populated only immortal women, and men aren’t allowed due to war. Diana (Gal Gadot) wants to become a warrior just like everyone else including her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). While her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) does not allow this to happen, Antiope secretly trains her anyway. One day, Diana discovers a plane crash landing in the water. She finds out the pilot is a man. His name is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American working as a spy for the British. Diana learns about the Great War, and thinking Ares, the god of war, might be responsible. With her body armor, lasso of truth, among other weapons, Diana and Steve go to London to save the world from German general Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his minion Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya), also known as Dr. Poison.

Prior to its release, the Alamo Drafthouse decided to hold women-only screenings for Wonder Woman. Not surprisingly, this caused outrage among everyone. While the theater chain never had screenings where men are only allowed for any superhero movie, it’s just a blow to the head in terms of gender equality. The demographic among movies based on comic books are intended for everyone. Wonder Woman is a prime example of being a symbol of gender equality. This movie is no exception. She works alongside men and cares for those around her. Given the movie is set during World War I, Jenkins intended to have the movie set during the height of the suffragette movement in Great Britain and the United States. With its traditional three-act structure, they each have an exhilarating, sleekly-edited action set piece. The scene where Wonder Woman walks through No Man’s Land is one of the best you will see all summer.

From being Miss Israel to starring in Fast and Furious, Gadot has certainly come a long way. She proves that she can be more than just a pretty face. She is charismatic, naïve, and simply kicks ass! Seriously! How can you not get pumped when the electric guitar music starts playing in the background once Wonder Woman heads into action!? (The score is another great one to add into Rupert Gregson-Williams’ repertoire).

Pine’s Steve Trevor provides the film’s deadpan sense of humor as he tries to understand about Diana’s nature, and eventually working with her and his buddies. His motivation serves the movie well, given its gender-neutral state. The supporting characters also have motivations of their own, particularly Ewen Bremner (Spud from Trainspotting) as the Scottish sharpshooter Charlie, who suffers from PTSD.

If the villains had a little more depth, Wonder Woman would have been a perfect movie. This is the first film from the DCEU that I’ll watch over and over again. Bring on the Justice League!

3.5/4

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2017 Summer Movie Preview: June

I hope every single one of you had a great Memorial Day. Going to a local parade, meeting up with your folks at a local barbecue or restaurant, and remembering those who gave their lives in combat. This past month has been something special. I just graduated from college after three years, and beginning my road to life. I’m still trying to see some movies in theaters. Let’s not waste any time, and talk about what has yet to come in June.

June 2

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Source: IMP Awards

Wonder Woman – The DC Extended Universe is off to a rocky start. Before Man of Steel, I was excited to see another rendition of Superman. It looked like a gorgeous retelling of how Clark Kent became the god-like superhero. It seems as if director Zack Snyder misunderstood the origins of one of the greatest superheroes ever. Batman vs. Superman had potential to make up the flaws of Man of Steel, but it ended up being a straight-up disaster.

As much as I hated Batman vs. Superman, I thought Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman was one of the only redeeming qualities. A movie featuring the origin story of Diana Prince, the Princess of Amazon, encountering World War I in front of her own eyes, might be good. Yet again, it might end up being like its predecessor. I’m surprised to hear this movie getting positive reception. I’ll keep an open mind.

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Source: IMP Awards

Captain Underpants – Any one of you remember reading the book in elementary school? I’ve never read any of the Captain Underpants books. Just because this movie features a gifted cast including Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, and Jordan Peele, and having similar animation to The Peanuts Movie, it doesn’t mean it sparks my interest. This movie is easily intended for kids only.

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Source: IMP Awards

The Exception – Lily James is one of the most charming actresses working today. From playing an aristocrat in Downton Abbey, to playing Cinderella, to kicking zombie ass as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, she has a pretty damn impressive resume. Here, she plays a Jewish Dutch woman who falls in love with a German soldier (Jai Courtney) on a mission to protect Kaiser Wilhelm II (legendary Christopher Plummer) from a spy. To be fair, this seems to be a very standard romance taken place in World War II.

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Source: IMP Awards

Churchill – One of two movies featuring the British prime minister (the other being the upcoming Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman, released during the holiday season), this movie follows Churchill, played by Brian Cox, during his rise to power during D-Day. This might be okay due to Cox’s portrayal of Winston Churchill, but I would rather wait to see what Gary Oldman can bring to the screen.

June 9

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Source: IMP Awards

The Mummy – This is the beginning of a new cinematic universe: the Universal Monster “Dark Universe”. It’s going to feature the Bride of Frankenstein (coming in 2019), the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, Van Helsing and Dracula, and the Wolf Man. The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as Nick Morton who discovers an ancient tomb where an ancient princess lies. For someone who has never seen The Mummy with Brendan Fraser, I would rather see this (and the 1930s version) over the ones starring Fraser. On the verge of age 55, Tom Cruise proves he can do just about anything. With him having a showdown with Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll should be a sight to see.

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Source: IMP Awards

It Comes at Night – A24 has distributed one of the best horror films in recent memory with last year’s The Witch. It relies more on atmosphere and the supernatural as opposed to cheap scares. It Comes at Night seems as if this will forget about those terrible horror films that are always coming recently. Some people are claiming it as a “horror masterpiece”. So—let’s hope this delivers.

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Source: IMP Awards

Megan Leavey – This is the movie what Max should have been. The true story of marine corporal Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) whose trains a German shepherd named Rex, and accomplishes hundreds of missions together. After the devastating Fant4stic, Mara went on to do better movies including The Martian. This seems to be a very powerful movie, and something I would definitely like to see with my father (who used to be in the Army National Guard).

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Source: IMP Awards

My Cousin Rachel – When I saw Daphne du Maurier’s name watching the preview for this movie, I had no idea she wrote The Birds and Rebecca. Her stories have been adapted into movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock. My Cousin Rachel seems to be an intense story of an Englishman’s plot for his revenge on his cousin for killing his guardian becoming complicated. I think Hitchcock would be pleased with this.

June 16

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Source: IMP Awards

Cars 3 – I never miss out on a movie by Disney/PIXAR. This animation company has created some of the greatest shorts and movies of all-time; appealing to both kids and adults. While I did enjoy the first Cars for having its heart and soul at the right place at the right time (while some of the comedy fell short), the sequel was the only PIXAR film I hated with a passion. Not only was it a little too violent for a G rating, but this colorful adventure sucked out all the fun. I hate to say this, but Cars 3 will be the only PIXAR movie I will most certainly skip.

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Source: IMP Awards

Rough Night – Oh boy—another raunchy comedy with a dead person involved. As much as I love Scarlett Johansson, it seems she doesn’t give much to it. I swear, Jillian Bell plays the same character in everything that she’s in. Skipping this one for sure.

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Source: IMP Awards

47 Meters Down – The shark-attack movie has always been familiar in the B-movie territory. With The Shallows, it was refreshing to see a good shark movie without any B.S. In my opinion, 47 Meters Down might be a tense survival flick, but it just looks so boring.

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Source: IMP Awards

The Book of Henry – With Colin Treverrow returning to his indie roots, this looks rather standard, by-the-numbers thriller. After his breakthrough roles in St. Vincent and Midnight Special, Jaeden Lieberher has a long career ahead of him (same goes to his co-star Jacob Tremblay). Who knows? Maybe The Book of Henry will become one big surprise. I don’t know.

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Source: IMP Awards

Maudie – After earning an Oscar for her supporting role in Blue Jasmine, Sally Hawkins went on to star in supporting roles in Godzilla and Paddington. Here, she plays a woman from Nova Scotia who gets attention in her small community when she becomes a painter, and admired by President Dick Nixon. This seems to be a delightful little film about following one’s dreams. I will see anything starring Ethan Hawke, even when he does his best attempt at a Canadian accent.

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Source: IMP Awards

All Eyez on Me – The first movie featuring the rapper Tupac Shakur (otherwise known as 2Pac), who became the best-selling rapper in the 1990s until he got shot in 1996. I’m not the biggest fan of rap/hip-hop, but Straight Outta Compton was one of the most powerful movies in recent memory having to do with rap. All Eyez on Me seems to be no exception.

June 23

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Source: IMP Awards

Transformers: The Last Knight (opens June 21) – Ah—back to the franchise that I didn’t care about after the disastrous Revenge of the Fallen. What the hell is Anthony Hopkins thinking to sign on a project like this?

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Source: IMP Awards

The Beguiled – Another remake coming out this summer. Yes, as a matter of fact, this is a remake of the 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as a Civil War veteran seeking shelter at a girl’s school in Virginia, run by Martha Farnsworth, played by Nicole Kidman. Sofia Coppola won the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (the second woman to win such an award). This seems to be one hell of a nail-biter!

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Source: IMP Awards

The Big Sick (expands nationwide July 14) – Today’s comedies have been nothing but tiresome and clichéd as all hell. After receiving unanimous praise at this year’s Sundance, I can say this seems to be a funny and adorable romance. Produced by Judd Apatow, the movie stars Pakistani comedian, played by Kumail Nanjiani, who falls in love with a grad student in Chicago. When a medical scare tears them apart, things get serious. Also starring Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, I’m prepared for a good laugh and tearjerker.

June 30

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Source: IMP Awards

Baby Driver (opens June 28) – OH MY GOD! Can June 28th come quicker!?

Director Edgar Wright, who also wrote the screenplay, always wanted to make a movie that can be carried through by music. He seems to be right at home here with Baby Driver. With a seemingly killer soundtrack, car chases, a marvelous cast including Kevin Spacey, Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx, is there anything else not to get excited about?

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Source: IMP Awards

Okja (opens June 28) – After directing the Orwellian Snowpiercer, South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho returns to his roots of his monster flick The Host with an all-star cast. All I can say is, Wow! This looks to be visually stunning! And certainly more than just your typical monster movie. I look forward to watching it on Netflix!

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Source: IMP Awards

Amityville: The Awakening – After having this being delayed so many times, can I just say that this might be a gigantic flop? And also, Bella Thorne needs a new acting agent, pronto! Moving on.

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Source: IMP Awards

Despicable Me 3 – Great. Another installment to one of the most overrated movies of the decade. In the words of Deputy Sam Gerard from The Fugitive: “I don’t care!”

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Source: IMP Awards

The House – Will Ferrell is bit of a mixed bag. Some people think he’s really funny, while others think he’s really obnoxious. I, for one, like Will Ferrell. Starring alongside Amy Poehler, The House might be okay for a laugh or two.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Baby Driver, The Beguiled, The Big Sick, It Comes at Night, Maudie, The Mummy, My Cousin Rachel, Okja

Least Anticipated: 47 Meters Down, Amityville: The Awakening, Captain Underpants, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, Rough Night, Transformers: The Last Knight

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on several movies for the month of June. Tell me in the comments below on what your most anticipated movies are. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of July at the end of the month. Take care.

Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Two superheroes are about to clash in Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Sadly, the red capes have come to the silver screen.

With years of anticipation, we finally get a movie featuring two of DC’s most iconic superheroes—Batman and Superman—going at it. It does sound like a fun time, right? Not exactly.

Ever since Ben Affleck was announced, he didn’t seem to be the right actor to play the caped crusader. Zack Snyder returns to the director’s chair after giving his own darker take on Superman in Man of Steel (although flawed there is still some mild enjoyment to be found), and Henry Cavill gives a fine portrayal as the title character. I figured Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice might make up for the problems Man of Steel had; making Superman a controversial figure after destroying mankind as opposed to saving it. With a promising beginning, the movie quickly falls apart.

Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is now working at the Daily Planet. The controversy surrounding Superman gets everybody’s attention including Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), whose parents got fatally shot when he was a child. Now, he lives with his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons). As Batman, he fights crime in Gotham City (with a darker side of his own). As his rivalry with Clark begins, they encounter the LexCorp CEO Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), whose diabolical plan known as Doomsday (who looks like a decomposed version of the Hulk) will bring chaos to Metropolis. Along with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), they team up to save the world.

With his unique visual style, Snyder cannot direct a compelling story. It’s a shame given that I have been a huge fan of Batman and Superman for a long time. There is so much potential being put in the two-and-a-half hour running time. As a result, the movie goes all over the place!

When I saw the movie late Saturday night with a decent-sized crowd, I had a lot—I mean, A LOT—of thoughts going on. It keeps raising questions without any answers. There are scenes that are there for the sake of keeping the movie going (e.g. Superman saving the day in Mexico during a Day of the Dead parade). Even though Affleck (who gives a surprisingly emotional portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Gadot exceeded my expectations, they, along with everyone else, are written as thin as a piece of paper. Hell, Batman murders people without any given reason whatsoever. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is a bore, and Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is laughably psychotic—how could he ruin such a great comic book villain? Even though how deadly serious the movie’s tone is, he provides moments of unintentional hilarity especially when he comes face-to-face with the judge (Holly Hunter) prior to Superman’s court appearance.

The faulty exposition leads up to yet another boring CGI-fueled, PG-13 fight sequence consisting of the two heroes throwing fists and crashing through walls. The audiences cares less on who will win. Snyder has created yet another convoluted mess, and it reminds me that I’m glad Affleck is going to direct and star in his upcoming Batman trilogy.

1/4