Showing posts with label dc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dc. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Everything You Need To Know About Wonder Woman 1984

In 2017, director Patty Jenkins's paved the reawakening for female-led superhero franchises with a solo Wonder Woman film. As more details have come to light about her follow-up film, the Amazons served us an early New Years gift with the epic trailer to Wonder Woman 1984.

Celebrating the bad-ass first look and all its easter eggs, here are some things you should know going into the movie and some things we can question about what might be in store for Diana Prince.

Spoilers and theories are included beyond this point - you've been warned!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Joker (2019) Makes Clowns Of Us All

Box office dominance, Academy Award victories, and a stream of superhero movies slated for the next five years. All signs point to comic book movies not going away any time soon. As traditional filmmakers call out the formulaic scope of CGI thrills, it seems like the genre is still due for a timely swing in a different direction - a grim character study, subtle comic mythology, and a thought-provoking message about the state of the world. Joker is the first to step up to the plate, and then misses the mark on such an impressive scale, I was left laughing until it hurt.

Living in the slums of Gotham City with his troubled mother, social outcast, party clown, and aspiring comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) struggles with his mental illness. As ruthless street punks, his boss, a late night talk show host, and society seemingly have out for him, Fleck wrestles to fulfill his aspirations of putting on a happy face and making the world smile. Subsequently, the ostracization he endures drives him closer to becoming the nihilistic criminal he abhors.

Director Todd Phillips leaves the comedy world behind to take on a complex comic book icon who blurs the lines between villain and anti-hero. In pop culture, Joker's earned a status of cool by swatting at the privileged classes while having a laugh at the city's expense. Despite his unhinged personality and behavior, Joker's maddening method to the chaos easily gains legions of fans who believe anarchy can dismantle the system. By following in The Dark Knight's footsteps with a gripping portrayal, Phillips tries to tackle mental health for the Joker's origins. But the root of his film's problems is that there's not much here except untapped potential.

To start, the story preemptively bets we'll automatically be on his side simply due to the plethora of reasons for how Arthur's unending and mounting suffering - a traumatic brain injury leaves him with a condition where he's triggered to laugh at the most inopportune times. Residing with his mother who has her own mental health problems, he's a relative shut-in with no social skills or social life. He gets beat up at his job, the people he works with hates him, and just when you think life couldn't kick him down anymore, it does, and he increasingly doesn't have any more ha-ha-ha's to give. Despite what he faces, Arthur supposedly has aspirations to make Gotham better than what it is - to be kinder, less cynical, and make people smile. But when given the opportunity to truly step in and help others, he doesn’t. He remains focused on himself, internalizes all the world's problems around him, and then starts violently lashing out.

What ends up happening here is that the film does little to give you something to root for why Arthur might not or shouldn't have a breakdown even though it's inevitable. Phillips's only draw for tension is that Arthur's stability is cracking or cracked beyond the point of no return, and we're just there to ride it out. In turn, the city of Gotham itself and every supporting character no matter if they are a group of Latinx kids, a dwarf, another white guy at Arthur's gig, or a single mother of color exists purely to be a bystander of Arthur’s destruction. He doesn't even take a public stand against the film's biggest foe-in-the-background Thomas Wayne who wants to use the 99% as his own white savior project, but Arthur gets the credit for it for a real crime he committed that happens to go "viral." Anything that potentially appears good for Arthur is eventually twisted into a device that doesn't aid him and never intended to do so in the first place. This is advantageous for a film that aims to use the final straw as a climax for his breakdown; it's a disadvantage when Arthur's non-existent non-movement for peace or chaos is so incidental, the explosion of rebellion feels inserted into the plot rather than a result of his actions. Gotham exists so much in Arthur's peripheral that his mob of copycat clowns is just violence as a means to a disturbing end.

While I’m all for a film exploring how a character can't pick themselves back up again despite their best efforts or their mental state used to shift plot structure, alter timelines and create illusions (Memento, Black SwanShutter Island, American Psycho), Joker relies on a performance that's absolutely hollow in carrying out its intentions. Despite his massive weight loss and vacant expressions, Phoenix is shockingly void of a personality and internal struggles, and especially “finding some real”. His cringe-worthy laughs and abstract dances mean to signal his increasing loss of reality, but remains a repetitive running gag that doesn't stem from any real source of psychosis or deeper expression of self. Phoenix's lack of depth only calls back to why Heath Ledger’s version delivered a fulfilling complex portrayal - it wasn't just the voice and make-up that got him the Oscar, but every laugh, lie, and seed he planted had a resonating motivation to turn Gotham in on itself. For Phoenix, there’s nothing going on beyond the veil of Arthur’s misfortune (several of which are his own silly mistakes and not imposed on him because the world is ~evil~).

With Phillip's overall direction that manages to maintain an even pace without utilizing an iota of tension or action to support it, Joker isn't a total waste. In the middle of all the tomfoolery is a script by Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver that's terrifyingly relevant to our current era of Arthur Fleck's in the news. There are small tricks with his transformation and the setting that creates a palpable and enigmatic energy where you're waiting for something exciting to happen - the NYC atmospheric edge of the 1970s, the idea of his laugh as an uncontrollable response, the thinnest re-examination of Arthur;s connection to the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. Besides the clown make-up and the inclusion of Batman characters, that's all you're going to find of DCEU here. Surrounding the scraps of a decent script is an an all-encompassing cinematography by Lawrence Sher and heart-pounding score by Hildur Guðnadóttir that makes Joker hard to turn away from, and delivers on being different than the formulaic superhero movies we're used to.

Phillips and Phoenix admirably attempts to solve the superhero flick problem by making a non-CGI spectacle, but they barely graze the surface of anything they’re trying to say. Instead of digging deep into Fleck's development into Joker, the movie parks itself on the corner and dances down the street while the film world goes up in flames. As much as Arthur wears a mask to the rest of the world, Joker wears one too - by trying to make a point about the disenfranchised (white males) without actually making one. It's also unsurprising that this becomes an example of the pseudo character study we're left with when following ex-producer Martin Scorsese's idea of traditional storytelling - genres actually blur together. In the end, Joker’s too boring to be considered brilliant, not worth the hot-take hype culture, and too pointless to be cancelled. It just makes clowns of us all.
Rating: ★☆☆
Have you seen Joker? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Trailer Reaction: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Between Pennywise the dancing clown in Stephen King's IT and a reboot of DC's supervillain Joker, clowns are all the rage in Hollywood right now. But one version that broke out of the pack and revitalized the trend a few years ago was Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn in the critically panned Suicide Squad.

After a highly anticipated wait for her own solo flick, the trailer for Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn has finally dropped. The results are exciting and controversial, to say the least.

Here's a look at the trailer, some info of the plot and characters, and my own reaction. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Geek, And You Shall Find (2019) Celebrates the Power of Superheroes Within

Geek, And You Shall Find (2019)
Superhero Faces Productions / Geek, And You Shall Find
Superman. Spider-Man. Captain America. Wonder Woman. These are just a few super-heroic characters who have become beloved icons for children and adults alike. From the famous Hall H at San Diego Comic Con to breaking box office records, it’s almost impossible to believe the arduous and inspiring evolution of geekdom. And yet, fandom not only started with the humble origins of comic books, but has also catapulted the way in which we navigate our everyday lives and the world around us.

Geek, and You Shall Find explores the fascinating past and future of comic books. Its creators and their stories have made a lasting impression on generations of readers, but where did it all start? How do the stories we love reflect society and vice versa? What can we truly gain from admiring characters that wear masks, don capes, and try to save their fellow man? Superhero Faces Productions journeys into the depths of Marvel, Westeros, Star Wars, and more to understand the life-changing impact behind our galaxy's biggest fandoms.

Starting with The Great Depression and the initial creation of Superman, Geek, and You Shall Find uncovers the rich history of beloved larger-than-life characters becoming an antidote and answer to society's greatest ordeals: war, racism, class disparity, immigration, and gender inequality. In speaking with the late Stan Lee, George R.R. Martin, Roy Thomas, and Kevin Eastman, the documentary examines the rise and challenges the comic book revolution has overcome and still faces. From censorship to international conflicts, comic books have not only withstood the test of time but also influenced reality far more than we could ever consider. Beyond the breaking down the timeline of how comic book creators imagined the fictional heroes we revere today, the film also implements Joseph Campbell’s heroes journey and how it mirrors our lives in mythological terms.

Drawing strength from comic books is no different than seeing ourselves in religious, historical, or public figures. Despite the fantastical or science-fiction approach to reflect the best and worst traits humans possess, comic books aren't often recognized as 'real' entertainment. When examining political issues, expanding inclusion, and challenging the status quo, the genre's critics are often the first to protest that 'serious' issues don't belong in their fandom. Outside of connecting with the genre's 'godfathers', the documentary also features creators standing up for what they believe in, psychologists  using comic books to help patients deal with trauma, and fans reaching out to each other for support and camaraderie. The worlds escape with on-screen and on the page prove to inspire real activism, practice compassion, and break barriers with their personal views.

As a self-proclaimed geek, it’s difficult to not find one area of my life that isn’t influenced by movies, books, or shows. When we connect with superheroes, Jedis, hobbits or wizards on their adventures, we become a part of their story and vice versa. Their ability to face against greedy corporations, evil masterminds, and stand up after being knocked down gives us strength to handle our own setbacks and victories. By participating in fandom over the years, I've grown out of my introverted cave to express my love of pop culture to write, cosplay, and try to inspire others to be the best that they can be. Comic books re-affirm what I love about fandom is as true and meaningful as I think it is for myself and fellow geeks as well.

Geek, and You Shall Find celebrates the rich history of storytelling in general and profound lessons and transformation comic books has on humanity. Superhero Faces Productions creates a positive affirmation about our unique passion for storytelling, and also invites those who don’t believe in the power of geek culture to reconsider. Their work maintains a wonderful balance of personalizing fandom from its roots to its present day success. We might not literally have spiderwebs shooting out of our wrists or take it to the streets against caped villains. But when we geek out, we are embracing a part of our identities in a whole new way and reminds us to embrace the superhero within.
Rating for the film: ★★★
Have you seen Geek, and You Shall Find? What do you think?

Please Note: I was provided with a screener in exchange for an honest review. Geek, and You Shall Find is available to watch on Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, and Google Play.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

UPDATED: Is Wonder Woman 1984 Going Meta? and Other Thoughts about the Non-Sequel

Wonder Woman 1984 Gal Gadot
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
We have another year to go before Patty Jenkin's highly anticipated return of Wonder Woman hits theaters November 2019. As more production stills and filming locations surface online, I'm already wondering what in the world is going on in this sequel - a surprising return? nods to George Orwell? Kristin Wiig as the villain? Here are some theories of what may be coming in Wonder Woman 1984. Spoilers and theories are included beyond this point - you've been warned!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Aquaman (2018) Trailer Reaction

Despite the massive success of Wonder Woman, the recent DC universe hasn't had it easy with its other critically-panned installments. Just when you might think a goliath had lost its bite, in swarms Aquaman to rekindle the momentum and become one of the biggest hits at San Diego Comic Con. Naturally, this inspired me to celebrate the movie coming out with a trailer reaction.

Let's splash into this majestic underwater kingdom and check out the trailer!

Are you ready to go to Atlantis?  *flaps her fins*

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How to Treat 2018 like No Man's Land and Kick Butt In the New Year

Wonder Woman No Man's Land Inspiration
One of the biggest, empowering moments in superhero films for 2017 comes from Wonder Woman and its depiction of No Man's Land.

If you haven't seen the movie, here's a little non-spoilerific refresher: During World War I, Amazonian princess Diana Prince heads to the frontlines looking for the God of War Ares, but starts witnessing the unflinching violence humankind is capable of. As the Allied forces stands off against German troops, neither having gained new ground for a year, local villages suffer from their occupation. Prince wants to help everyone she can, but companion Steve Trevor tells her that it's not possible to cross the forbidden terrain known as No Man's Land. Shielding everything the enemy can throw at her, she's able to move their soldiers ahead. Along the way Diana transforms into the Wonder Woman as we know of her: powerful, courageous, wise, a leader and team player.

No Man's Land became one of the most significantly inspiring scenes not only for the year but for moviegoers and Wonder Woman fans everywhere. By following her gut instincts and leading the pack, we were reminded that barriers can be crossed with compassion and determination. Here's some tips on how to treat the new year like No Man's Land - believe in yourself, try new things, don't let anyone limit your potential, and kick some butt in 2018. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Favorite Movies from 2017 (So Far)

Can you believe we're more than halfway through 2017 already? This nugget of a realization made me think of the movies I've seen so far. Plenty of good, enjoyable movies have come out already, and a lot more promising ones are on the way. I'm hoping the next few months expands this list since it's pretty short right now, but here are my favorite movies from the past several months. What movies stick out in your mind this year? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017) Is The Superhero Movie We've Been Waiting For

For decades, frustration mounted as Hollywood churned out franchises, reboots, and spin-offs for male superheroes while a comic book icon Wonder Woman was shelved. Sometimes it felt like her time would never come, but it's moments like this when we realize the anticipation, worry, and excitement was worth it. Everything had to align with the director, actors, and story, not so we could just get a female superhero movie just to have one, but because it needed to be good.

Thank the movie gods. Wonder Woman isn't just good, it's amazing.

No longer waiting on the sidelines, director Patty Jenkins dives into the origin story of the Amazonian goddess Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). As a daughter of Zeus molded out of clay, Prince was born on a paradise island Themyiscra populated by female warriors and hidden from the modern world. Though shielded from mankind's penchant for destruction, she trained for the day when another war would arise. When trouble swings by in the form of spy-pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) revealing humanity's fate in the midst of World War I, Prince departs from her homeland to put an end to the brutality.

Blending an origin fable and fish out of the water into an empowering warrior, Prince is the heroine of her story. Told through a splendid cast, deep well-rounded script, and sharp direction, Wonder Woman blazes a trail for superheroes and movies in general.

Leading the movie with ease, Gadot in the titular role is absolutely effervescent. It's not just the inspiring qualities her character possesses which makes her so damn lovable and invigorating, it's the actress's innate ability to be funny, endearing and bad-ass. Critics might point out her sheer beauty as an asset to play this icon, which she is, but her performance is everything Wonder Woman's reputation is based on: graceful, courageous, animated, and wise. As natural as it is for Chris Evans to don Captain America's shield or George Reeves to don Superman's cape, Gadot was made to wield the Lasso of Truth.

Her performance is aided by a glorious script which gifts Prince with the hero-myth treatment typically reserved for male protagonists of any genre. By her looks, personality, and prowess, she might be labeled as perfect, but Prince's beliefs grow and shift; she's confident as well as doubtful; her empathy is a virtue but a liability; she's human as much as she is a goddess. As much as we are obsessed with superheroes, their humanity makes them relatable. And to superheroes, humans are their way into understanding their purpose. Impressively, she journeys from a young girl holding onto glorified idea of combat to an idealist struggling to understand humans less-than-kind motivations, to a matured super warrior.  In the midst of such an ugly world filled with death and destruction, she is a source of love, sacrifice, and compassion as an agent of good. It's impossible to not walk away feeling like you've witnessed an incredible transformation. AKA THE FEELS.

In light of the ridiculous backlash to the women's only screening, and the complete ignorance that women and people who identify as women, in general, aren't as worthy as men, Wonder Woman is an acceptable example of feminism, and what it can look like in the world, especially movies. Equality is not the irrational idea of opportunities being taken advantage of at the expense of others; it's women and minorities moving into open spaces that are, by default, possessed by men. It's offering everyone the ability to identify with characters in all of their glory and flaws; who are fully dimensional and well-rounded; showing a woman can take the lead with confidence and not to feel belittled or others to feel less than; for a man to not always be in control. Though it definitely could've had more diverse representation, the legacy of the comic books and television series lives on, no doubt making women's dreams come true on the big screen.
Prince wouldn't be as impactful if it wasn't for the supporting players backing her up all the way, whether their screentime is limited or lengthy. For the former, Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright as mother and aunt, respectively, set Prince on her path of valor and warmth. They're protective, loving, and ruthlessly skilled in combat. For the latter, Pine as Trevor is aware he's there to support Gadot but also be her leading man, and melds wonderfully opposite Gadot. Their friendly banter grows seamlessly into a sweeping romance, building a perfection combination of ying-yang, head vs heart, cynical vs optimistic, but bonded in their resolve to do right in spite of unspeakable horrors. Prince might be holding the reigns, but she doesn't do it alone.

Wonder Woman, both the character and the movie, comes along at a time where inclusiveness is being lost to hate and putting 'the other' in their imaginary place at the bottom of the totem pole. It's the superhero movie we didn't just deserve, but wholeheartedly needed. Her kindness, strength, determination, and power is a symbol for everyone who identifies with their sheer humanity. The story itself has a great equal pace, drawing parallels to another origin film Captain America: The First Avenger, which encourages the little guy towards a destiny greater than himself; where their heroics have to find a balance to the evil some people are capable of. Mixing action, humor, and romance, Jenkins makes the superhero movie fun again, more focused on the adventure than dropping easter eggs and tying franchises together. Jenkin's tough, funny, smart, and powerful flick possesses the power to make us all heroes just like Diana Prince: compassionate, curious, brave, and bad-ass; to own who we are and to believe in each other. At the end of the day, we're all in this together.

Rating:★★★
Have you seen Wonder Woman?
What did you think?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wonderful Artwork Celebrating Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Artwork Gallery
The Wonder Woman movie is on its way. And if you haven't seen the trailer, but I know you have, right? RIGHT?! It's sparked bold, beautiful and kick-ass artwork across the web. Warner Bros Studios created a beautiful collection of submissions from all over the world. I like to do the same thing around here, so let's celebrate the new release with amazing fan art collected from talented and creative artists. All credit is given to their owners. Click on any image or the link underneath to see more work by the original creators. Like what you see? Feel free to share in the comments. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017) Trailer Reaction

I’d love to know what galaxy you’ve been living on, if you didn’t know Wonder Woman is getting her own movie. WONDER WOMAN HAS HER OWN MOVIE.

This summer, director Patty Jenkins will bring Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to the big screen. The long-awaited adventure centers on the Amazon princess' origins while growing up and training on the island of Themyscira. When she learns about the events of World War I from an American military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who's washed ashore, she leaves home to stop the war.

Previously released trailers over the past year have been nothing short of exciting as they’ve hinted at Wonder Woman flying solo. This latest one finally deserves a proper trailer reaction ‘cause I can’t contain my thoughts. Can you? Let’s check it out! What do you think – feel free to share in the comments!