Wonder Woman Film Review

The last time a female superhero starred in a movie was 2005, and that was Elektra… Am I nervous? Yes… Am I excited to see Gal Gadot though? Hell yeah!

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Female superhero movies have not been kind to us. The last one, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, was in 2005 and has been one of the worst Marvel movies ever. A year before that, we had Halle Berry’s Catwoman, which was one of the worst DC movies ever. So despite the announcement of a film about THE ultimate superheroine, I was hesitant.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, the film centers around Diana (Gadot), princess of Themiscyra, a hidden island populated by Amazons and led by Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). After saving American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from crash landing, she gets exposed to the bloody reality of World War I. Thinking that Ares, the God of War, is behind all of this, Diana leads Trevor back to London and hunts Ares, whose death would stop all the hate and fear of the Great War…she believes.

Gal Gadot delivers as Princess Diana. Just one look at her and you’ll agree that she is truly a princess. Her portrayal in this film is much more naive and innocent compared to her previous portrayal. This is totally different from her firm and worn-out character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Once the action starts, she reminds us how we liked every second of her in BvS. It is very obvious, however, that she still needs to train her acting skills. There were key emotional moments in the film which did not hit its mark because she can’t deliver the emotions.

The film is so different in style compared to the other three DCEU films. The humor is much more natural. It does not feel forced (Suicide Squad) or too out of place (BvS). Much of the humor is provided by Chris Pine and Lucy Davis, who portrays Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy. The shots are definitely more colorful than the other films. One look at Themiscyra and you will agree that it is indeed a Paradise Island.

I also love how they revealed Wonder Woman’s costume. They teased the costume multiple times, but when it was time to show it…BOOM! I was actually trying to reach out to Gal Gadot… It feels like the time I watched 2014 Godzilla.

The action pieces were also amazing to watch. There were three big action sequences and a few smaller ones scattered around the film. It felt raw, powerful, yet graceful at the same time. However, it has too much slow-mo. It came to the point that I was reminded of 2014 The Legend of Hercules, a movie with horrible and lazy use of slow-mo.

I also like the easter eggs and shoutout to past DC films/properties. My personal favorite was the 1978 Superman reference.

Though a lot of people I know (and reviews I read) does not like the last part where it centered on love (as a theme), I personally like it. In fact, I cried when Wonder Woman had a short speech on how love is the only cure for the problems of mankind. It is a heartwarming callback to creator William Moulton Marston’s original idea for the character. After playing a lot of Injustice and Injustice 2, it is such a pleasure to see a loving Diana again.

However, much like the three DCEU films that preceded it, this film still has a problem regarding pacing. If the MCU has a problem with its villains and, as of late, overuse of its humor, DCEU seems to have a problem with its pacing. I understand it is an origin story, but some scenes could have been cut short (not removed, to be clear). The film could have been 20 minutes shorter.

Also, though I said it was an MCU problem, the antagonists of the film is too underdeveloped. Screen time is at a low for the bad guys. Thus, it gave us little to nothing to understand their motivation. We simply know that they are…evil.

SPOILER ALERT

Lastly, I do now know if it was a coincidence or purposefully done, but a blonde soldier named Steve riding a dangerous plane that could destroy a city/country and sacrificing himself in the process sounds too Captain America: The First Avenger to me.

Wonder Woman is a film that exceeded expectations. It brought the DCEU back to its knees. Though it still has the ever-present pacing issues, this film is truly the best DCEU film so far. Justice League has a lot to live up to…because Wonder Woman is indeed…

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 Film Review

In just two films, the GotG franchise has achieved what The Fast and the Furious has lazily attempted in eight: showcasing the value of family.

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Director James Gunn attempts to recapture the surprising success of the first GotG film.  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista return as the core members, while Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, and Pom Klementieff join in on the action.

After their victory against Ronan the Accuser, the Guardians of the Galaxy gained fame all around the…galaxy. After a conflict against the Sovereign, the Guardians meets the father of Peter Quill (Pratt), Ego the Living Planet (Russell), who has Mantis (Klementieff) as servant/company. As father and son bond for the first time in three decades, the rest of the Guardians discover something sinister in the shadows…

The very first scene of the film reminded me of the unsung character of the previous film: the soundtrack. As expected, the soundtrack of the film is fantastic. Most of the time, it is very retro, but very emotional in a few (more to that later).

James Gunn managed to juggle an ensemble of characters again. Each character had a time to shine (much more in a positive light compared to the first one). Further backstories were given to Gamora (Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Bautista), and Rocket (Cooper). I personally like the Drax-Mantis chemistry in the film. Most of the jokes I like were from scenes harnessing the energy of that tandem.

But without a doubt, the scene stealer of the film is Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). The character went such a huge development that his very first scene immediately made me watch him intensely. His relationship with Peter went deeper in this film.

Visually, GotG2 is one of the most colorful in the MCU franchise. It is vibrant to watch, and each world/ environment is designed well.

Also, the typical Marvel humor is present. I mean, if you need to show someone the typical Marvel humor, show GotG.

SPOILER ALERT

As written in the intro, GotG2 managed to tug at my heartstrings with the theme on fatherhood. Quill explores his relationship with his two dads: the biological (Ego) and the father figure (Yondu). And each relationship is both tragic when you think about it.

For me, this is the most emotionally gripping film in the entire MCU franchise…A surprise considering the negative comment I have for it…

However, it seems that the film sacrificed simple story structure to make room for the Marvel humor. The film had no BIG conflict until its last 30 minutes. Everything is just a series of unfortunate events that leads to the Guardians meeting Ego. Most of the action sequences are caused by the sub-plots that are scattered in the film. Let me be clear. It is funny and entertaining! But looking at it in an objective perspective takes a lot away…

Also, it infuriates me to see a few scenes with obvious green screen use. This is a BIG budget film, by the way.

Though the space/sky battles are good, the hand-to-hand action scenes are still too choppy. Every piece of movement gets cut! It makes it so hard to follow the action. HOLLYWOOD, learn from your Eastern brothers!

And another (though it’s super nitpick), the character of Adam Warlock is teased in a post-credit scene, but it totally ignores a former tease of the same character in Thor: The Dark World.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun and emotional ride but lacks the decent structure of its predecessor. Add the same problems it had in its first run (fight scenes). This film is…

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Saban’s Power Rangers Movie Review

The colorful gang of teenage superheroes returns after 22 years since the first movie.

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After almost two decades since its conception, the Power Rangers franchise aims to relive its glory days in the form of a reboot.However, since its announcement, its biggest opponent is ironically the extremely heavy nostalgia fans of the original have.

The story follows the typical Power Rangers plot. A group of five teenagers (with real attitude) are recruited to be trained as the next generation of Power Rangers, an intergalactic force assigned to protect the Zeo Crystals. However, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), the rogue Green Ranger of the previous generation, aims to steal the Zeo Crystals for her own nefarious reasons.

A movie about a group of teenagers, whether or not it is a CGI fest or an indie, relies heavily on the chemistry among the characters. I had doubts at the start of the movie because the reason why they all met is such a fortunate coincidence. But as the story progresses, the group starts to be organic, which is one of the main reasons why the original MMPR worked so well.

Bryan Cranston as Zordon is a big gift for Power Rangers fans. Cranston used to do voice work as some of the monsters in MMPR. Apha 5 (Bill Hader) is not as annoying as I remember (haha); however, I still need to adjust to his new design. Rita Repulsa is more vicious as ever! Off-screen murder and a jaw attached to her staff made me realize this will not be that cheesy Rita.

The moment when the Zords are charging to Rita’s location just gave me such an energetic fanboy moment. The original Power Rangers theme will always have a place in my heart.

I’m having a on-again/off-again relationship with the movie’s soundtrack. There are some moments were the music does not fit the scene; there are some moments where it’s just perfect (Bootstraps’ Stand By Me).

The fight scenes were shot too close and in shaky cam. It’s too hard to focus on the action if the movie itself won’t focus on it. The scene where they fight Rita’s putty monsters lost the grand scale it should have because the cameras focused on the Rangers rather than the situation they are in.

Also, the fight between the MegaZord and Goldar felt nearly nothing. Sure, the “Zords Combine to make Megazord” shot is awesome, but the fight itself feels extremely slow. I believe the filmmakers took their cue on Pacific Rim, but the way it was delivered was painful. (SPOILER) add the fact that Goldar was mainly defeated because of a German Suplex….

Lastly, it pains me to see that what should have been a normal Krispy Kreme product placement turned into a pivotal part of the plot. During the climax, when one of the Rangers commanded to never let Goldar reach Krispy Kreme, I absolutely cringed.

Power Rangers is a film built on nostalgia but has managed to present something new. Despite its stars’ chemistry and amazing costume designs, the film is loaded with problems in its action sequences and a blatant product placement. This is …

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Logan Film Review

Tears fall as the X-Men film universe says goodbye to Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman.

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Director James Mangold (Knight and Day and The Wolverine) teams up with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in what could possibly be one of the highlights of the X-Men franchise. As the last X-Men film for both Jackman and Stewart, Logan should be viewed whether or not it is good.

In 2029, Logan (Jackman), whose healing factor has greatly declined, now works as a chauffeur, lives with Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and takes care of a senile Professor X (Stewart). Soon, they meet Laura (Dafne Keen), a mysterious girl with a blatant similarity with Logan. They soon find themselves on the run and protecting Laura from a group of mercenaries known as the Reavers, led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).

Hugh Jackman goes all out in this film. This is definitely his best Wolverine film and his best portrayal of the character. You really feel the toll of his weakened healing factor. His walk is limp; his body is bruised and scarred; his face is definitely rugged. Logan has seen and experienced a lot… and most of it is bad.

The same goes for Charles Xavier. He really looks vulnerable.He has a hard time speaking. He regularly experiences seizures. He really looks old.

In fact, they both look old! It’s such a painful sight to see these two beloved characters in such a dilapidated state.

Meanwhile, Dafne Keen is surprisingly amazing as Laura. She expressed both innocence and ferocity in her scenes. She had more character development than a lot of characters in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The action sequences and fight scenes are brutal in its execution, and it truly deserves its R rating. For the first time after 17 years, we finally get to see what Wolverine does best: slicing and dicing.

The tone of the film is obviously different compared to the rest of the X-Men movies. It doesn’t follow your typical superhero story.

However, the film suffers from the same sickness the Marvel Cinematic Universe is having: weak antagonists. Logan’s internal conflicts are obvious… yes- his age, weakened healing factor, and his rejection of being in a group/family (again). But the people who are in his way (external conflicts) only appeared as minor grievances.

Also, given that this is the last appearance of Jackman and Stewart in an X-Men film, it bothers me greatly that there are a lot of questions the film left unanswered. Some of them are continuity questions; some of them are new ones.

Logan is a great sendoff to Jackman and Stewart in roles that they have played for almost two decades. It has great character development, brutal fight scenes, and a new character with full of potential. However, it suffers from the same problems the X-Men film franchise suffers. Because of that, this film is…

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Doctor Strange Film Review

The MCU delves into the mystical art of CGI…

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The fourteenth film in the series, Doctor Strange is Marvel’s latest contribution to the superhero genre. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen, this film attempts to offer something new to the MCU table.

The film is about arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange…I mean, DOCTOR Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch)… looking for ways to heal his brutally injured hands (car accident). His search led him to Kamar-Taj, where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who offers to teach him sorcery. Meanwhile, a rogue student of the Ancient One, Kaecilius (Mikkelsen), attempts to open a portal that will welcome Dormammu, the ruler of the Dark Dimension, to our world.

If you want your eyes to feast the evolution of CGI, watch this. The multiverse, the dimensions, and the scenery manipulation were visual ambrosia. The chase scene was a hell of a trip!

The usual Marvel humor is ever present in this film, and most of them worked. Wong (Benedict Wong) and Strange’s chemistry works well, which makes that Adele/Beyonce jokes work.

MINI-SPOILERS

However, the film suffers again from Marvel’s ultimate nemesis … WAS (the Weak Antagonist Syndrome). Besides Loki, MCU’s list of bad guys are forgettable. And even when Dormammu shows up, he was presented as an even weaker bad guy.

Doctor Strange has amazing visuals and good action, but weak villains drag the MCU films away from truly being great. This film is…

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Suicide Squad Film Review

Yet another DC film that is divisive to fans and critics…

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Director David Ayer gives us Suicide Squad, the much hyped and much anticipated DC film. It serves as the follow up to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And given how divisive that film turned out, this film has a lot of expectation to live up to.

The film starts with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), an intelligence operative who proposes for an elite team of supervillains to send in dangerous missions. After an ancient entity wreaks havoc in Midway City, Waller calls on Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to lead Task Force X, a team consisting of the marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), the insane Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the pyrokinetic El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), the boomerang-wielding thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), the cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and rope-expert mercenary Slipknot (Adam Beach).

The actors were clearly having fun filming this film, especially Margot Robbie, Jared Leto (who plays The Joker), and Jai Courtney. There is a lot of chemistry between the characters.

There seems to be a new take in the Joker-Harley relationship, and it might upset some fans. In fact, I am a bit cautious about it. But if they ever make it compelling and intriguing in the next movies, then that’s fine with me.

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but Jai Courtney was really enjoyable in this film (Whooo, fire!). Hernandez and Smith give us a human side to supervillains in the forms of El Diablo and Deadshot. Davis gives us a cold Amanda Waller who takes the “means to an end” approach very seriously.

Killer Croc, however, is definitely there just for the team to have a “tank” character. He did little for the plot…

Undoubtedly, there is more humor in this film compared to the two DCEU films, and it worked most of the time. However, Killer Croc’s jokes/humor seems to be forced and awkward to say the least.

There seems to be trouble with pacing though. The first half of the film was perfect as it sets up the characters really well, but once the antagonist started to cause destruction, a lot of things happen quickly.

Suicide Squad is undoubtedly the best DCEU film so far, but Warner Bros. Pictures still need to step up their game if they want to catch up to/exceed Marvel’s success. Because of this, this film is…

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