Wonder Woman

wonder woman

Despite having the more recognizable and universally familiar characters in comic book lore the DC cinematic universe has had a less than stellar debut.  Beginning with “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman:  Dawn of Justice” while commercially their films do well, critics have widely panned each new installment in the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU).  While “Wonder Woman” hopes to buck the trend at least critically, the studios’ lack of investment in marketing this film have led many to believe that more could have been done to sell this movie.  Based on the previews, Wonder Woman plans to give movie goers many of the thrills they look forward to in summer movies.  The familiar DC property should be enough to give the DCCU the much needed boost it is looking for before “Justice League” premieres later this year.

A few words about Wonder Woman:

  1. Great action – Since this movie begins with the earliest of origins for little Diana Prince, viewers get to see glimpses of the Amazons both training and in battle.  Early on this is done using both well choreographed fight sequences as well as good use of slow motion during busy action scenes.  There are several scenes early on when the Amazons are fighting that are breathtaking to watch.  However when the solo scenes of Wonder Woman in action are shown, they are clearly the main course and it is not disappointing.  Not only are the scenes crafted to show that she is a capable fighter but many times they allow Wonder Woman to truly be the hero that viewers would like her to be.
  2. Above average treatment of women characters. – There are a few tropes here that some feminists may cringe at.  (as a man there were a couple of scenes/lines that left me wondering if there could have been better execution.)  However for the most part women are treated as warriors and strong and not as sex symbols which is refreshing to see.  While many of the warriors are “Scantily clad” in the film, it is taken with great care to note that they are dressed to fight, rather than to stand and be seen.  There are few times where Wonder Woman is allowed to be the savior of the men in the film, and the men are happy to have her to do the saving.  Chris Pine’s character who is shown being defensive of Wonder Woman for the majority of the movie, actually pushes her forward to do the fighting when he realizes she is far more effective at dispatching enemies than he or his crew is.
  3. Good acting from Gal Gadot (and Chris Pine) – The most I’ve seen Gal Gadot in before this film was the “Fast and the Furious” franchise where she is basically used as functional eye candy.  (this is to say a beautiful woman who can also do some stuff, but is clearly being used more for her beauty than for her capability)  Her first turn as Wonder Woman in BVS:  Dawn of Justice did not require much acting from her besides action scenes and a few exchanges with Bruce Wayne.  In Wonder Woman, Gadot is doing much of the emotional heavy lifting of this film.  While much of her character is shown through dialogue exchanges, in some scenes she is required to convey her feelings through a look or a sound and she executes both very well.  Gal Gadot brings great presence to this character and at times just being on screen swallows up the people around her which is not a bad thing for this movie.  Her gravitas along with the professional levity of Chris Pine, who is basically playing an offshoot of his character from Star Trek work very well together.  Gal Gadot playing the straight man and Chris Pine peppering the jokes allows for a very satisfying combination.
  4. Solid plot – This plot was not overly complicated.  It was easy to follow and made sense as far as the overarching themes it was attempting to convey.  That being said, at times the dialogue was a little corny to say the least, however this didn’t hurt the film.  Along with a little corny dialogue there are a few plot holes as well, however these will only bother the most hardened of comic book fans and some of us more neurotic critics.
  5. Little rough in terms of character development. – If there were any real complaints about this movie it would lie in the character development.  There were a couple of times where I questioned the motivations of the characters on screen and had no real answer as to why they were doing what they were doing.  This isn’t necessarily a game changer, but a few times there were characters introduced who seemed to be on screen to do “a thing” then just leave, which doesn’t allow the viewer to really connect with them.  For the largest characters in the movie, this isn’t necessarily the case but even with Chris Pine’s character he largely seemed to show up and begin completing tasks rather than give us any backstory to make us connect with him.  This again, will only bother some of us more neurotic critics.

This was a good movie.  It was a good superhero movie.  It was a good DC movie.  It is a good entry against the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has been pummeling DC for years now.  This bodes well for the future of the DC cinematic universe.  With all that being said it was also very refreshing to see a woman kicking butt more than the men were, and in many cases kicking the butts of men all over the screen.  This is a good movie that allows women to shine and show that being the hero as a woman means that you can do the same things men do without having to be a “sex pot” (unless you want to be).  I left this movie feeling pretty good, entertained, and ready to see more of Wonder Woman.  I will most certainly be adding her comics to my collection and plan to see this movie at least one more time with my mother and sister.  Bring your kids, especially your daughters (but your sons will appreciate it as well), bring your spouses, and even your pets if that is possible.  4 of 5 stars.

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Time Well Spent Episode 06 – Breve Part 2

Please enjoy Episode 6 of the Time Well Spent with Ronald podcast.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Star Wars continues the story with its first big budget feature length spin-off.  ‘Rogue One’ bridges the gap between episodes 3 and 4 of the main canon and tells an adjacent story in the star wars universe.  While this story doesn’t assists main canon its primary goal is to flesh out the rich star wars universe.

A few words about “Rogue One: A Star Wars story”;
1.  Visually stunning – Every shot in this film was beautifully done.  Wide sweeping shots of spacecrafts flying and landing.  Full color landscape shots of planets and space battles.  Detailed graphics, an amazing blend of costume design recognized from the original trilogy coupled with advances in film technology made for a very appealing visual aesthetic.
2.  Paper thin plot – This film had the difficult task of going from one fixed point to another fixed point with little room for latitude in the storytelling.  This means the plot was very rigid and there was little room to develop the characters on screen.
3.  Weak character development – due to the weak plot, characters while having a backstory did not have quite the depth as those in the main canon.  This did not mean you do not care what happens to them, but rather your acquaintance with them is a bit rushed.  Individually there is little attachment, however being invested in the main canon and the mission of the characters in the film allows you to care about what they intend to accomplish.  This is enough to attach you to their fate as the film continues.
4.  War tone, very different – In no other Star wars film has there ever been a greater sense of the stakes at hand than in rogue one.  This film does an excellent job of reminding you that the rebel alliance and the galactic empire are at war.  This is war in which people are dying in order to accomplish their goals.  Not just dying offscreen or in a way that allows you to be shielded from the reality of death but rather death in a very realistic and palpable sense.  This tone is completely different from other Star wars films in this regard.  (That being said there are still jokes and it’s still a lot of fun at times)
5.  Great action – the battle scenes in this movie are brilliant.  Going back to the first point visually the space battles are easy on the eyes however even the blaster ground battles are very lengthy fast paced and enjoyable.  There is only one scene of light saber and force battle carnage, however it is well worth the wait and is especially satisfying.  Advances in film technology make battle scenes much more realistic and easily viewed.  It does not feel campy any longer, but like what you would imagine a futuristic space battle to be.
6.  Leans into tragedy – If the original series and prequels are the tragic tale of Anakin Skywalker then this film continues to tell a bit of a tragic tale.  That’s about all that can be said here without being a spoiler.
7.  Solid fan service ( cameos, lines, music) – while there is no scrolling text to begin the movie, there is plenty of fan service done here.  From the cameos, to the extremely well done CGI “cameos” to the music to the obligatory line stated in every single Star Wars film, this movie did fan service right and every moment was well received.
The movie started slow, but ended well.  It was an extremely solid movie that did an excellent job of expanding the Star Wars universe.  This was a tale told in the world of star wars that tells us that many more individuals made sacrifices for the rebel alliance than movies can be made.  This tells us that the Star Wars were filled with many more stories that could be told for years to come. (cha-ching says Disney)  You can bring your kids but it’s not the romp that the other films were so it may be a little intense for the youngest of children.  3.5 of 5 stars.