Hear Her Roar! (Wonder Woman Review)

On any other day, if you were asked who comes to mind when told to think of a “female superhero”, it’s almost always gonna be her. For a character as iconic and trailblazing as Wonder Woman, there were many failed attempts to bring her into the live action mainstream media (save for the 1970’s television show starring Lynda Carter). So when the DC announced that she was getting her own movie, many people cheered while a bunch of us groaned. Remember, this was the studio that brought us such instant classics such as The Green Lantern (in his CGI costumed glory), Batman V Superman (MARTHA!!!) and Suicide Squad (This is Kitana!! She’s got my back!). In their defense, they also brought us the Dark Knight Trilogy. And now, they gave us Wonder Woman

I was so glad to leave the theater when the credits rolled. This is not only a desperately needed win for DC, but once again proves that women (both behind and in front of the camera) can lead the charge in a big blockbuster film, as well as finally giving Wonder Woman her overdue spotlight. Here you got great character development, excellent direction, intense action scenes and of course, superb acting from the whole cast, with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine deserving special recognition for their roles here.

The film follows Diana, Princess of Themyscira, as she embarks on a journey with pilot Steve Trevor after he crash lands near her island in the midst of World War I. Diana leaves behind her utopian home for our complicated world and learns that she must do all that she can to put a stop to the war. If you weren’t sure if you liked Gadot from her few scenes in Batman v Superman, this film ought to put those doubts to rest

Gadot fits the role of the Amazonian Princess perfectly and adds her own touches to make it hers alone. She can be both nurturing, but aggressive, naive, but wise, graceful, and full on warrior mode. She also manages to get a couple of laughs along with Pine who serves as the comic relief in their adventures. Another thing I noted while watching this move is the shift in tone compared to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. While those movies turn the bleak factor up to 11, there is a surprising sense of hope by the end of the movie (which is sad when I’m talking about superhero movies that are sorta meant to invoke hopefulness to their audience, but I digress).

In an interesting move, the film balances its superhero elements with war movie features as trench battles and gun fights take center stage during the big action scenes. I also really liked the structure they went with for the film, which presents all the events as a flashback so we learn more about Diana and how she became the woman we met in Batman v Superman. This makes her character more matured, as we see how far she has come and changed since her first days in our world and where this can lead in future films. She’s portrayed as a war hero in the same manner as how we view our veterans, except she’s got superpowers and is immortal.

Now, no film is without its flaws. The many slow motion scenes that occur during the action both highlight the beauty of the scene, but there were so many of them that it got a little distracting after a while. I’m assuming producer Zach Snyder must be behind that, while director Patty Jenkins was probably forced to compromise. This only justifies my fears that Snyder is the main problem of the DCEU. Though no fault of its own, the exposition does drag the film a little in its first act. That I can excuse only because the film wanted to explain Wonder Woman’s place of origin in more detail. If you can muster through it, you’ll be fine.

Other than that, this film definitely sets the bar for other DC films to follow and I cannot wait to see what else Gadot will do with the character. She’s pretty much become the main reason I’m considering watching the Justice League movie. With a couple of applause worthy moments, Wonder Woman is a delightfully refreshing thrill ride with a star making performance from Gadot.

Remember to always dress right to fight!

Rating: 4.25/5

 

Thank You Hugh (Logan Review)

17 Years

Hugh Jackman has been playing Logan/Wolverine for 17 years, and by god, it was an amazing ride. It’s difficult enough for directors to find actors who are able to play a character well, but even less so to find an actor who fits so well into a role, that just watching it happen before your eyes feels like magic. You really can’t imagine these characters being played by someone else (Heath Ledger as the Joker, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, or almost everyone in the Harry Potter movies)

Logan is meant to be Jackman’s final performance as everyone’s favorite curmudgeon mutant, as well as Patrick Stewart’s final appearance as the wise telepathic Charles Xavier. Both actors are marvelous here as their old characters, but whom have gone through rough times over the course of more than a decade. Logan’s healing factor is receding, the adamantium that coats his skeleton is beginning to poison him and he’s now working as a chauffeur. All while having to take care of Professor Xavier who has seemingly gone senile and is losing control of his telepathic abilities. They are also accompanied by Calaban (played by Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant who’s ability is to track other mutants.

Their lives are uprooted by the appearance of Laura/X-23, a young mutant who resembles Logan and needs to be brought to a safe haven no one is even sure exists. She is played by 12-year old Dafne Keen, who is remarkable here. Equal parts bad ass, likable and adorable, Keen definitely holds her own while paired up with Jackman. The film turns into a road trip/ chase film as our heroes our pursued by the menacing Donald Pierce (played by Boyd Holbrook) with intentions to capture and kill Laura.

Perhaps, the most obvious thing I loved off the bat was, because of the film’s R rating, Logan is able to be his true visceral self. Bloody, foul mouthed and unleashed, this is probably the best portrayal of Wolverine ever shown on film. Despite that, this is also the most sympathetic we’ve seen of the character. Not just because of his weaker state, but because we see him take on more of a father figure to Laura and Professor Xavier.

Also noticeable is the complete change of tone compared to the previous films. While the rest of the X-men films felt more action packed and were prone to over-the-top moments, Logan goes for a more bleaker realistic look that emphasizes the gravity of our heroes’ situation. Whether in the middle of the desert or deep in the woods, there’s always a sort of desperate aesthetic that shadows the film, even during its warmer moments. It definitely makes this film stand out compared to the other films in the series

Without spoiling the ending, I will say that it is a fitting, if painful, send off for Logan and Hugh Jackman.The final battle is both satisfying and gripping, with all the players involved getting their time to shine. If you are even slightly susceptible to tears, you might wanna bring your handkerchief.

In all seriousness, even at his lesser films (*cough Origins: Wolverine) watching Jackman playing Wolverine for almost two decades was a joy to experience. We only get these occurrences once in a while and they rarely last as long as Jackman did with Logan. As the that old saying goes “All good things must come to an end”

Thank you Hugh

Rating 4.5/5

ALWAYS keep the flash on (Get Out Review)

I wasn’t a devoted viewer of the hit comedy series Key and Peele, but I have enjoyed the few skits I did see and was aware of the show’s acclaim, citing its biting satire and relevant social commentary.

So when I heard that Jordan Peele, a noted comedian, wanted to direct a horror film, my interest was piqued. I love it when comedians take up something that is outside their spectrum; Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine, Robin Williams in every dramatic role he takes on, and Louis CK’s own show when it gets pretty deep. With Peele’s debut film Get Out, I gladly have another entry to add to that list.

The film follows Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) driving down countryside with girlfriend Rose (played by Allison Williams) to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). Chris and Rose are an interracial couple and he voices his concern that Rose’s parents are unaware that she is dating a black man. Though Rose assures him that there’s nothing to worry about, Chris’ suspicions start to grow true as her parents and the housekeepers (all of them black FYI) act strangely around him.

From the first scene of Chris and Rose together, you know that the topic of race is taking center stage. But part of the brilliance of the film is the way Peele uses it as the source of most of the suspense, tension and some comedic moments sprinkled in the relieve said tension. You can almost see it start off as a skit for his show, but then it grew into something new.

Daniel Kaluuya has been a favorite up and coming actor of mine since seeing in the Black Mirror episode “500 Million Merits” and Sicario. He is likable, funny and shows immense star potential in this film, only complimented by his co-stars who are all up in their A-game. I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Speaking of funny, a shout out to Lil Rel Howery for his role as Chris’ best friend Rod for providing some of the best comic relief I’ve seen in a while. Every scene he’s in has gotten the audience dying of laughter.

Get Out is an effective Social Horror film that is a breath of fresh air for the genre and inspires lot of interesting ideas. Jordan Peele has proven that he’s got as much talent behind the camera as he does in front of it and I can’t wait to see what other concepts he’s got in store. The cast nails their roles just right and the film gives out some interesting messages about the nature of race, relationships and identity. That twist at the end by the way is as bonkers, messed up and creepy as you can expect from the mind of Jordan Peele.

Side Note: To anybody who might find this film offensive or racist in any way or for any reason, I just got two words for you: Get Out

Rating: 8.5/10