Film Review: Wonder Woman

By Olivia Armstrong (@starcadet96)

The general mantra among comic book and movie fans at the announcement of a new DC movie these days seems to be “please, don’t suck”. That mantra was amplified tenfold with the announcement of Wonder Woman. Not only has DC had a mixed reception with audiences and a fairly poor reception with critics since Christopher Nolan’s Batman days, but this is the first time DC was finally putting their biggest heroine front and centre on the big screen.

There’s been a long debate about female-led comic books movies and how few there are and how the ones that do exist tend to be on the terrible end of things (see; Catwoman, Elektra, Supergirl (the movie, not the well-received tv series) etc.). There’s obviously been plenty of bad adaptations of male superheroes as well but that still hasn’t stopped them being made on a consistent basis, whereas developers and focus groups seemed to determine the tired stereotype that female-led superhero movies don’t do well because the focus was on a female character and not because the movies themselves were simply awful and poorly made. So there was a lot riding on this movie; not only for DC to redeem themselves with critics and audiences but to show that a profit could and would be made from a film about arguably the most well-known female superhero of all time.

Despite only having a small role in one of DC’s previous films Batman Vs Superman, many audiences and critics who disliked the film admitted that Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was easily the best and most exciting part of the film and it reawakened the desire among fans for her to have her arguably long-overdue solo movie. Come June 2017, it finally appears that DC may have cracked their questionable track record and for the first time in a while have delivered a truly great superhero movie.

The key element of what makes this film succeed where previous DC films have failed is all in the tone and presentation. DC have received a lot of criticism in their previous films for being too focused on being edgy and dark and as a result coming off as unpleasant and boring. With this film, however, the lead character’s idealism and strength are what drives the narrative. The tone is lighter, incorporating some genuinely humorous elements in the first half but the darkness and grit are still there, distancing it from its competitor Marvel. The film is set during WW1 and doesn’t shy away from showing that, with both the visuals and themes of Diana’s (Wonder Woman) character arc as she learns about the nature of humanity and war when she leaves her peaceful life among the Amazons to help the people of Earth.

And yet, this darkness does not swallow the film due to the spirit of the character. Instead of annoyingly edgy and nihilistic, the film opts for being actively hopeful and inspiring. It looks at this darkness and actively rejects it, which is far more inspired than any preachy rant about the dark nature of humanity which has been heard umpteen times. Just the visual in the scene of Diana rising and walking through no man’s land against soldiers and gunfire feels like a powerful sigh of catharsis to those who claimed this film couldn’t work. It perfectly exemplifies the strength, nobility and justice that Wonder Woman stands for and it’s played as a straight, cheer-in-your-seat cinema moment.

Gal Gadot is perfect in the lead role. Any doubt from her previous appearances for her ability to hold her own movie is completely dashed. She perfectly captures Wonder Woman in every enjoyable light she can be seen in. She’s an incredibly strong, one-woman army who will show no mercy to who she is up against and the film doesn’t play this down, which is wonderful to see. And yet at the same time, she shows such a strong sense of empathy and desire to see the right thing done. Therefore, when her morality is questioned and she goes through an arc of discovering the humanity and inhumanity of war, it’s a legitimately engrossing struggle, almost like it was being told for the first time. At the same time, her charm and enthusiasm are so endearing as she learns about the world of man and how different it is to the world of the Amazons. While she gets some strange looks, the characters around her don’t sneer or belittle her; they instead explain how this place is different to her home and what is simple differences in culture and what legitimately makes no sense in the time era (such as gender roles, expectations and even racism).

She also has a strong supporting cast to work with, with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (an American spy attempting to stop the German weapons of war) and a later group of misfit soldiers who join them in trying to take down the German General Ludendorff (whom Diana thinks is really the God of War, Ares) to stop him using gas to wipe out the allied forces. Diana and Steve work well off each other and the team assembled feel a genuine connection that makes them enjoyable to watch. There is also a twist at the end concerning the villain which actually ties very well into the core themes of Diana’s moral struggle and, while the ending battle can feel a bit fatiguing, the execution is done well enough and wraps up the arc nicely.

Whether this is the start of a true redemption for DC in movies or simply a combination of all the right things at the right time remains to be seen. Both this and Lego Batman are being taken as signs that the criticisms are being listened to and improvements are being made. But in any case, Wonder Woman stands as the best DC film of the decade and the adaption the character always deserved. It blasts through all cynicism and delivers a great helping of idealism and hope. Despite the valid criticism of their past projects, DC can hold this film up proudly as a true example of “that’s how you do it”.


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Get Your 80’s Tunes Ready! Star Lord Set To Appear In Infinity War

Who here has seen Guardians Of The Galaxy? Of course you have! The abnormal sci-fi action flick from Marvel was one that many thought would be the first flop by the studio yet it somehow exceeded everyone’s expectations and etched the quote “I Am Groot” into everyone’s subconscious.

We’ll be getting a sequel next year but many have wondered how the Chris Pratt fronted crew would play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe considering their location. Thankfully fans have been given some sort of indication as the directors of Infinity War, think how big The Avengers was and times it by a thousand, have revealed that Star Lord will be making an appearance. In an interview with comicbook.com, the Russo brothers stated:

“The movies are intended to be a culmination of everything that’s happened before in the MCU so you don’t want to get into spoilers but I’m a big fan of what James Gunn has done. Star-Lord is a fantastic character and Chris Pratt is an awesome performer so you’d be very excited.”

So there we have it, everyone’s unlikely favourite space thief will be making an appearance alongside a whole bunch of other members of the MCU. It was also confirmed that Thor would be returning as well so it seems like regardless of what happens in his upcoming film Ragnarok, we’ll be seeing more of the god of thunder for years to come. Whether you think that’s good or not is up to you.

Who do you want to show up in addition to Star Lord? Personally I’d love to see Daredevil tag along but let me know what you think in the comments down below and follow this blog to keep yourself in the know about all things entertainment!

Thoughts On: Marvel Cinematic Universe

A new cinema powerhouse is fated to face the same demise as any empire: how can they stop it?

It was only a matter of time. When I was watching the latest Civil War trailer, I was happy with what I saw, everything that was happening confirming my excitement for the film’s release at the end of April: Iron Man and Captain America fighting? Check. Black Panther being added to the roster? Check. An inevitable divide within the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Check.

However, it wasn’t until the final seconds of the trailer that excitement levels for me went through the roof, leaving me in a similar state that I was left in back when the very first film for Marvel’s favourite web-slinger came out. I’m of course talking about Spiderman finally getting his big screen reveal.

“HOLY FUCKING SHIT” was my immediate response and the reaction I gave after watching the trailer repeatedly was pretty much identical. Finally we have Spiderman in the MCU, donning a suit that is beautiful fan service to anyone aware of the original style of Spidey’s look in the 60’s animated series as well as his original look in the comics.

However, the more and more tweets I saw about Spiderman, claiming that his look was awful and that he sounded too young, I started to realise how askewed some fans priorities are. Exile me if you want but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far from perfect and the empire that it has become won’t collapse because of how cheap Spiderman’s costume looks: it’ll be our resistance to criticising these films.

Before I start listing all the issues I have, it’s important to point out that I do enjoy superhero film and Marvel’s are no different. Guardians Of The Galaxy was hilarious and engaging with a soundtrack that is undeniably perfect for the film and Captain America: Winter Soldier is one of the few films from the MCU that I could recommend to anyone, even those who detest superhero films.

However, if we want to see these films improve then we must realise that they’re not perfect. Nothing is and to live by the opinion that something is perfect sets up the very thing you love to become the very opposite of it and my biggest gripe with the MCU has to be the villains.

A problem that has been ever present in these films since Day 1, villains are seen as a total afterthought in the grand scheme of things. Ask someone to name a nemesis from a MCU film that isn’t Loki and they’ll be struggling, not because of their own bad memory but because of how poorly developed these villains are.

What makes this even more bittersweet is the fact that these villains are played by wonderful actors. Mickey Rourke, Guy Pearce, Tom Hiddleston, it’s a total injustice that Marvel and Disney waste the potential they have. Marvel can make great screen adaptations of villains as shown by Spiderman 2 and Daredevil which has not only irritated myself and many others but even George R.R Martin, author of a little fantasy series you may know that started off with Game Of Thrones, threw his hat into the ring:

“I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man. Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.”

How good your villain and hero are is irrelevant however when the plot itself is severely lacking and this is another pitfall that Marvel have yet to address properly.

If you don’t know what a Macguffin then it’s time for a little lesson. A Macguffin is defined as being “a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation”. A Macguffin goes by many names in the MCU, most typically the Tesseract or an infinity gem, and it has resulted in the predictable, formulaic stories we see more in these type of movies.

“Superhero x fights supervillain y to get object z to save the planet/universe” could sum a vast majority of Marvel films and while there has been some tweaks to the formula, Ant Man managed to make it more of a heist film than all out battle, that feeling of Deja Vu never seems to go away.

Speaking of Deja Vu, it seems like oversaturation is a word Disney and Marvel can’t seem to find in their dictionary. Although not all of these films are theirs, the amount of superhero films present no doubt spawns from their actions. Ten Marvel, eleven DC as well as other Fox owned properties are set to be released in the next four years alone with many others still to be announced.

All of this wouldn’t be a problem if directors were allowed to make the film they wished to but the fact of the matter is that isn’t the case. Edgar Wright, director of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, left halfway through Ant Man due to creative differences, no doubt down to how every Marvel film intertwines, something that is undoubtedly cool as it makes the movies feel like they’re important in the grand scheme of things.

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I’m not alone in what I’ve said and I’m not trying to take some hipster approach as I’ve said before that I thoroughly enjoy superhero films but I am aware of their faults. While there is leeway for things like scientific inaccuracies in a world where a man can turn into a huge, green monster, there is no excuse for poor villains, plot and planning.

It’s not too late for Marvel to deal with these problems as all they have to do is focus more on what the director feels is right rather than the producers who seem more concerned on quantity rather than quality. Phase 3 of the MCU is set to kick off with Civil War and it has been teased that this will change the future of these films.

I can only pray that this is the case.

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