Wonder Woman 1984 – Review

WARNING: SPOILERS !!!

Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on December 25th on HBO Max. Directed by Patty Jenkins with Gal Gadot returning for the starring role, many people have relatively mixed feelings on the film. In this post, I will be breaking down the movie based on themes, storyline, and character portrayal, all in a review based on my opinion.

To start, Wonder Woman 1984, as many films and television shows of this century do, takes place in the 80s, thus the title. However, the film’s title brings up a different point as well. 1984 is a year that is commonly brought up in pop culture, as it is the title of George Orwell’s iconic 1949 political dystopian novel. Despite the implication of a possible dystopian setting, Wonder Woman 1984 seemingly just used the title as a simple play on words, well, play on numbers in this case. As stated, the film takes place in the 1980s, which is commonly described by fashion and flare and, while not entirely accurate, neon. By way of fashion, I thought that Wonder Woman 1984 did a good job with the characters’ wardrobes, especially Diana’s and many of the passing civilians (ex: the random groups of punk kids seen in various part of the city). On a different note, I am not entirely sure why the movie was based in the 80s when the time in which it took place played no significant role. In a sense, it felt as if it was a cheap grab at people’s attention in an attempt to profit off of 80s nostalgia. For example, the 2017 Wonder Woman film took place in 1918, as the plot essentially revolved around World War 1. This makes sense, however, the 80s had no greater significance in Wonder Woman 1984. This factor of the movie bothered me because I felt as if the movie had taken place in a different time, it could have depicted Wonder Woman as a part of another historically significant event.

Moving on to the actual plot of the movie, I was not entirely sure what to expect, as the trailers did not reveal much about the story itself, but now that I have seen the movie, it is safe to say that I was not very impressed. This is attributed to the lack-luster plot that was pretty much a superhero retelling of the Monkey’s Paw, which is actually mentioned in the movie, ironically enough. I say this because the movie revolves around an ancient artifact called the “Dream Stone,” which will grant each person who touches it one wish. . . a wish that comes with a major cost. In my opinion, this type of story has been overused, but if written correctly, can still be very engaging. However, despite there being a stable category and structure for this “wish that comes with a cost” plot, Wonder Woman 1984 still manages to poorly execute it. This overused and poorly executed plot set the stage for a very predictable movie. As one can expect, each main character wishes for something that ends up taking a serious toll on them in the end. For Barbara Minerva, who wished to be like Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), had superhuman strength gifted to her, ultimately turning her into the villain Cheetah, using the “With great power comes great responsibility,” prompt for the umpteenth time. On the other hand, Diana wished for Steve Trevor to come back to life, which, as we have learned from various other movies, is just about the worst thing you could do, considering the fact that the character brought back from the dead always has to die again. Finally, Maxwell Lord, the main antagonist of the film, wishes to become the Dream Stone itself, so that when he coaxes people into wishing for things, they’ll come true, ultimately making hundreds of things come true in his favor, instead of just one. These conflicts carry throughout the entire film, considering the fact that even when Diana and Barbara learn that the Dream Stone was made by the fictitious god of lies and chaos, Dechalafrea Ero, and was the cause of the collapse of many civilizations, they both refuse to retract their wishes, furthering the dilemma and pretty much summing up the personalities of the characters in this film.

Regarding a more in-depth analysis of the way the movie portrayed each character, well, each character is disappointing to say the least, which is not exactly the fault of the actors, rather a result of poor work from the writers. For instance, Barbara Minerva ends up being the film’s secondary antagonist, but her evolution from regular civilian to villain is all to quick and honestly just does not make much sense, as the first (possibly only) person she killed technically was an act of self-defense. In the case of Diana, she appears to be trapped in an infinite sadness due to the loss of Steve Trevor and is plunged into a further depression when he technically dies again. This would not have been an issue, only the entire movie revolved around Steve Trevor’s death and portrayed Wonder Woman as someone who was completely reliant on one person to be able to live her life. As the New York Times put it, “The sequel to the 2017 hit finds Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, pining for love and saddled with a movie unworthy of her.” In general, I did not find this version of Maxwell Lord to be terribly boring, but his redemption at the end of the film was extremely anticlimactic. Now, Steve Trevor, of course, did not change much because he, well, did not have time to change, but there is a specific plot hole regarding his character in this film: when Steve Trevor was brought back to life due to Diana’s wish, he did not come back in his physical body, meaning that he technically manifested into the physical form of another and appeared as that person to everyone. This, however, does not make much sense to me considering the fact that no one questioned the sudden withdrawal of this man from work, social gatherings, etc., in addition to the question of where did he, himself go? We know that his physical form was being somehow used by another, but where did everything else about him go? What further confuses me is that at the end of the movie, he appears again, this time as himself, meaning that everything just went back to normal. Perhaps this is one of those movie moments that simply is not meant to be questioned, but I dislike large plot holes such as this, as it takes dimension away from the film at hand.

Overall, I believe that entertainment is entirely subjective and my opinion could be the exact opposite of another’s, but I find Wonder Woman 1984 to be one of the most disappointing movies that I have seen in a while, and my expectations were very low. If you are reading this to determine whether or not to watch the film, which I doubt you are, I suggest watching it and seeing how you feel about it, but I did warn you (haha).

Birds of Prey Movie Review

Earlier this week, I watched the DCEU’s most recent movie, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  The film, directed by Kathy Yan, hit theaters on February 7 and has had mixed reviews.  Surprisingly, some fans of the many Birds of Prey comics were actually pleased with the movie, while others felt as if it was far from their expectation of a good comic book film.

In my opinion, it was an entertaining movie with hints of comedy and awesome fight scenes, but I do feel as if the plot as a whole was focused too much on Harley Quinn, considering that the “Birds of Prey” weren’t actually working together until the last two minutes of the film.  In fact, that’s one of my only issues with it.  It wasn’t actually a Birds of Prey movie, it was a Harley Quinn movie.  I might have enjoyed this movie even more if instead of promising the Birds of Prey, they just completely labeled it a Harley Quinn film.   However, I would have rather the movie been a Birds of Prey movie, with the members as the main characters.  To me, the film would have been even better if they had switched up the dynamic of Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya (later on The Question) and Harley, so that they were the main characters and Harley Quinn was just a side character.

Another thing I noticed throughout the film, was that the main antagonist, Roman Sionis (A.K.A. Black Mask), was much different in the movie than in comics.  For example, in the film, Sionis acts more like a snobby rich kid, as opposed to a world renowned super villain, as he is in comics.  In addition, in the film, Victor Zsasz and Sionis work together in their evil schemes and also appear to be friends, when neither have ever even interacted in any other DC story.  In my opinion, if Zsasz is going to be in a movie, he should be the main antagonist as opposed to somebody’s henchman or employee, since he is actually more violent and creepy than many DC villains, despite not having any powers or special abilities.  Another character who had no connection with Sionis in the past, who did in the movie is Black Canary.  Black Canary wasn’t always a hero, but she never worked for or with Black Mask.  However, I understand that these changes were a creative decision by the creators of the film.

Despite me wishing that the movie was more focused of the Birds of Prey and that some things were more comic accurate, I actually really enjoyed the movie!  I think it has been one of the better movies that the DCEU has put out in the recent years.

Birds of Prey Official Movie

Over the past few years of writing on this blog, I’ve posted a few things about a possible Birds of Prey movie, as they are one of my favorite teams within the DC Universe.  As mentioned then, the movie would follow the vigilantes and heroes that form the Birds of Prey, such as Batgirl, Black Canary, and the Huntress.  Well, now, the movie rumors have been confirmed, the first teaser having come out in the early summer and the official trailer being released in this past October.  While news of the movie made me excited at first, after watching the trailer, in my opinion, the movie seems to focus too much on Harley Quinn, and the movie’s title was even changed to: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  In fact, the whole movie seems to be about Harley Quinn’s newfound independence, which follows the Suicide Squad movie’s story line, as opposed to the comics.  Personally, I feel that despite Harley Quinn being a good character in the DC Universe, she gets almost too much recognition, and even seems to be made to outshine the Birds of Prey in the Birds of Prey movie.

On a different note, the other characters from the movies seem to match up to their comic counterparts from what I’ve seen so far (which ins’t much).  Other characters confirmed for the movie are the following:

  • Black Canary
  • Huntress
  • Renee Montoya (The Question)
  • Cassandra Cain
  • Black Mask
  • Victor Zsasz

Below is the official trailer

Shazam! Movie Review

Warning: Spoilers!!!

 

Yesterday, I went to see Shazam at my local movie theater, but before I start my review, here is some background.  Who is Shazam, A.K.A Captain Marvel?  Something interesting to consider about Captain Marvel (Shazam is the name of the wizard who gave Billy Batson his powers) and the Shazam family, is that originally they weren’t created by DC, but by a minor comic company called Fawcett Comics.  Fawcett was popular around the Golden Age of comics, but started to die out after the late 1940’s, so Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson, the founder of Adventure Comics (later turned into Detective Comics, then DC), bought all the rights to the characters.  It’s interesting because there was actually once a lawsuit of Nicholson versus Fawcett  regarding Captain Marvel being a copy of Superman, but Fawcett then brought a counter-suit against Nicholson suggesting  Lex Luthor was a copy of their own bald, bad guy, Dr. Sivana, before the sale of the characters.  After the companies merged, there were also complications about Marvel’s new hero, also Captain Marvel, having the same name as Shazam, even though DC’s Captain was almost 30 years before Marvel’s.  Anyway, here are my thoughts of the film and how I think it could have been better.

To start, I will say that Shazam was, in fact, an entertaining movie.  Whether or not it was completely comic accurate is a different story.  I did like that the movie was a comedy as well as a superhero film, and for a DCEU movie, it was considerably good.  It was definitely more light-hearted and fun as compared to previous DCEU movies such as Justice League, and was higher quality, as well.

Despite it being a entertaining film, I feel that it could have been more so, if the plot itself didn’t feel so rushed.  I feel like the process of Billy obtaining and controlling his powers went by a little too fast, since the movie was supposed to focus on Shazam’s origin.  Although I felt it was rushed, it did hit key points about the main antagonist, Dr. Sivana, but his character was a bit different from how most fans remember from comics.

In comics, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana was a mad scientist with a genius level intelllect and a knack for developing strange and experimental technology.  In the Shazam movie, however, Sivana is given much more, almost supernatural, power because he “controls” the Seven Deadly Sins, which were originally their own characters, not allies with Sivana.  In more recent comics, the mad scientist can see magical forces with his eye, but that is just about the height about his magical properties.  In the mid-credits scene, the movie teases Mister Mind, who is another super villain and ally of Dr. Sivana’s.  I, personally, think that the film should have stayed a bit more on target with Dr. Sivana’s abilities, but he was still an intriguing villain, nevertheless.

Something else that was changed from comics was Billy’s origin, but a factor that we must consider when we look at the movie compared to comics is the timeline.  The first publication of Shazam was actually in the same year WWII started, which was 1939, so since the comics were American, one can expect that they would make their own hopes possible through the fictitious hero. An example of this is winning the war.  A good part of Captain Marvel’s crime fighting career was actually battling Nazis.  This was a shared story plot with all of the Shazam family, especially Freddy Freeman, or Captain Marvel Jr.  The comics only used Nazis as major villains because of the time at which they were written, so the movie follows New 52, which modernized every DC Comics character, except Hellboy and other characters who have a set time period.

Although I would have liked the movie to be very comic accurate, with every movie adaptation, there are going to be some minor or major changes. Also, something that I really thought was missing from the movie was action.  Yes, there were fighting scenes, and yes, there were explosions, but I feel like the some of the best parts of the movie were shown in the trailer.  This is just because when I saw some of the scenes, like when Billy is getting his powers, when he is testing his powers, and during the fight with Dr. Sivana, I didn’t get the full effect because I had already pretty much seen them in the trailer.  I also think that the ages of the characters were a bit messed up.  For instance, in comics, Billy Batson is around eight to ten years old, and in the movie, it is stated that he is around fourteen to fifteen.  This makes the change from Billy to Captain Marvel less drastic, and therefore, less ironic and funny, but there was still enough of an age difference for it to be entertaining.

On the other hand, my favorite part of the movie was when the rest of the Shazam family got their powers.  And power wise, it was accurately done because each member possesses one of the traits that Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel have.  Once again, this is based on the New 52, so this Shazam family is very different from the original.

For example:

Darla Dudley – Super Speed

Eugene Choi – Lighting Manipulation

Pedro Peña – Super Strength

Freddy Freeman – Flight

Here is a side by side comparison of the some of the characters and their associated characters from the movie:

 

Billy Batson:

Image result for billy batson comics Image result for billy batson shazam movie

 

Captain Marvel:

Related imageImage result for zachary levi as shazam

 

Freddy Freeman:

Image result for freddy freeman dcImage result for freddy freeman shazam movie

(There is also a version of Freddy Freeman which actually looks more like the one from the movie, but it isn’t New 52, or the newest version.)

 

Captain Marvel Jr.

Image result for freddy freeman dcIMG_0405.jpg

(Once again, there is an alternate version of Freddy Freeman who the actors resemble more, but that version was featured in the original publications, so I’m confused as to why they would make the whole movie based around New 52, but than have the original Freddy Freeman, but the original version is featured below.)

Image result for freddy freeman dc

(As you can see, the art looks much older.)

Dr. Sivana:

Image result for dr sivana comicsImage result for dr sivana shazam movie

 

Shazam (the wizard):

Image result for shazam wizard comics Image result for shazam wizard movie

 

Overall, despite this movie having made major changes from the comics, it is still a fun and entertaining version of fan favorite heroes, and I totally recommend seeing it!

 

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What is Brightburn?

DC Comics has many upcoming movies for 2019, but one of them leaves people sort of confused.  The trailer for Brightburn was released in early December, and people have been questioning it since.  The film is directed by James Gunn, who directed both Guardians of the Galaxy movies and was recently fired from Marvel.

The concept of the movie is: What if a being like Superman came to Earth, but isn’t a hero, rather is something sinister?  While the film makes it clear that the boy, the main protagonist of the film, is not a part of the Kent family it does, however, show that he possess abilities similar to Superman’s, potentially meaning that this child is most likely a Kryptonian.  While we know that he is not raised as Clark Kent because of small hints throughout the trailer, such as the family’s mailbox that says Breyer, and people calling him Brandon, there is a potential that he could still be Kal-El.  The film is just simply playing with the idea that Bruce Wayne/Batman had in the earlier DCEU movie, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is that aliens aren’t to be thought of as saviors.  Long story short, the movie is based on a Kryptonian becoming a villain, instead of a hero.

At first, I was not sure if I would be a fan of the idea of this film, given that it does not follow a comic series, but as I investigate the movie further, I have been intrigued by the concept and overall tone of the movie.  I can foresee this type of film as a trend for newer superhero movies.  For example, Marvel’s upcoming film, The New Mutants, is supposed to leave an unsettling feeling in the viewer, along with the DCEU’s The Trench.  All three are similarly labeled as part of the horror genre.

SHAZAM! Teaser Trailer

Last month, the teaser trailer for the new Shazam movie came out.  The trailer is very informative on what’s to come in the movie and even revealed who the main villain will be: Dr. Sivana.  I am looking forward to seeing it, but personally, I think that some of the actors are a little too old for their roles, considering that in comics, Billy Batson is 10, and in the movie, the actor is 15.  I hope that in the movie, like in the comics, all the kids get powers, not just Billy Batson.  I would love it if, at some point in the movie, Black Adam makes an appearance or cameo.  Overall, if the movie is anything like the trailer, I think it will be worth watching.

 

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Birds of Prey Movie

Recently, people have been spreading rumors about a Birds of Prey movie, directed by Cathy Yan, which would hit theaters in the years to come.  Even though the Birds of Prey tv show (2002 – 2003) was short lived,  the success of the Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth comic series, would make a movie based on the team would be a great addition to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe).  Actress Margot Robbie who played Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad has talked about possibilities for the film, including that the Birds of Prey might team up with the Gotham City Sirens who quite possibly have their own movie in the works.  Sources also say that the movie might be rated R which would make it more appealing to older audiences which in my opinion is a poor idea.  The only characters that have been confirmed are Harley Quinn and Black Canary with rumors of Batgirl.  I personally think they should seriously consider adding the Huntress, too.

 

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Batgirl Standalone Movie

Great news! Recently there has been a post that there will be a Batgirl standalone movie.  It will be directed by Joss Whedon, who also directed Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The casting is not yet public, but there is a rumor that there will be a Ben Affleck Batman cameo.  This news gets me really excited because Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) hasn’t been in anything live action since 1968.  The actress who played her was Yvonne Craig.  Now the movie will be based around Barbara Gordon (the first Batgirl), and there also might be a Nightwing cameo.  The release date is not known, but since it was just announced about 5 hours ago, and they don’t even have a cast yet, the movie should come out in around a year and a half to two years.  Hopefully this movie will live up to big fan’s (like me) expectations.

 

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