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 though the movie could have depicted Wonder Woman being apart 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 is just about the last thing you are supposed to do, and ends up having to lose him all over 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 ancient 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 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).

Stargirl TV Show Review

On May 11th, DC Universe’s original TV show, Stargirl, premiered on the platform, as well as the CW.  The show was officially announced around November, but there had been rumors about for years prior (its release was inferred to be postponed due to its switch to becoming a DC Universe original).  After the initial release, many viewers have stated that it looks more promising than other DC shows, such as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which had mostly negative feedback.  In this post, I’ll be going through some comparisons between the TV show and Stargirl’s actual origins, along with some highlights of the show in general.

 

Stargirl’s Comic Origin

Like most other DC characters, Stargirl has multiple versions and adaptations, but I’ll be explaining the most commonly referred to one, A.K.A that of Courtney Whitmore.  This was the first version of Stargirl to ever appear; she made her debut in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999).  The character was created by Lee Moder and Goff Johns, who based the character’s appearance and name on his sister (also named Whitney), died in a plane crash three years prior.  The Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. comic series follows a teenage Whitney who discovers the costume of the iconic Star-Spangled Kid in her new home, which she moved into with her mother and step-dad, who admitted to once working with the Justice Society of America.  Courtney takes the costume and goes out wearing it in spite of her step-dad, who she resents for moving them across the country, away from her hometown.  Her step-dad then builds the robot sidekick suit S.T.R.I.P.E., in order to assist in her newfound crime-fighting duties.  Shortly after, Courtney finds what’s known as the Cosmic Staff, which belonged to her father, the original Star Spangled Kid, but later known as Starman.  When Courtney finds out that Starman was her dad, she dawns the name Stargirl, in his honor.

Surprisingly enough, the Stargirl TV show follows this plot line almost exactly, so far, while maintaining the necessary creative freedoms that all adaptations need. In fact, the first two episodes have already covered most of this origin, leaving lots of room for introducing some of Stargirl’s foes.  Multiple members of the Injustice Society of America have already appeared, such as Brainwave, Wizard, and Icicle.  I personally liked the intro to the pilot episode, which included cameos from multiple JSA members, such as Wildcat, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Night.

Overall, personally, I already like the show, even though only two episodes have premiered.  Others seem to agree, as well.  Since its release, the show has received mostly positive reviews, and many fans have high hopes for what’s to come.

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.

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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Review: DC Universe Streaming Service

On Batman Day (September 15), DC Universe was released, and it has lived up to my expectations, for the most part. . .  Here are my Pros and Cons for DC Universe!

Pros

  • Right away, I was happy to see that there was an app because it makes viewing the service on your phone a lot easier
  • There is a huge selection of animated TV shows and movies available
  • The older TV shows on it, like Wonder Woman (1970’s) and Batman the Animated Series (1990’s), were remastered, so the graphics and audio were a lot better
  • There will be original shows coming out like Titans, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, and Young Justice Season 3
  • The comic book selection is massive and literally has hundreds of comic books which include new ones, classic ones, and even some of the first ones ever published
  • There is an encyclopedia option where you can find out about practically every character in all of DC Comics
  • There is an option to view merchandise and collectibles that are exclusively available for purchase by DC Universe members
  • The $7.99 price per month or $74.99 per year (a year and three months if you pre-ordered it) is pretty average for a streaming service, and I don’t think it is as bad as it could be

Cons

  • Although they app works pretty well now, at first it kept on crashing, and it still does sometimes
  • On my phone, I can’t use the service on the website because it just keeps on saying to open or download the app
  • There is a good amount of live action movies on the service, but some of them are only on it for a limited time, so I don’t think there are as many on there as they made it seem
  • The original shows aren’t out on the streaming service yet, and depending on when you buy it (if you bought it for a full year), you might not get to see some of them
  • The option to look at the exclusive merchandise isn’t fully functional yet
  • I wish that there was a way to download the app on things like game systems (similar to how you can with Netflix and HULU), so that people could watch it on an actual TV if they don’t have Apple TV

Overall, I love DC Universe, and I would totally recommend it to the ultimate DC Comics fan.

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Review: Green Lantern vs. Sinestro Lego Set

Recently, I purchased the Lego Green Lantern vs. Sinestro set.  I really like Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and that is why it caught my eye.  This is one of the only  Lego sets that has Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) or Sinestro in it, but there has been one with Green Lantern (John Stewart).  This set came with Green Lantern, Sinestro, Space Batman, Green Lantern’s Jet, Hal Jordan’s Lantern, and a yellow lantern prison cell. All together it has 174 pieces.

What I liked about it is that it is really well designed, complete with two stud shooters and two stick shooters on the wings of the jet.  There is also a “break away effect” on the yellow lantern prison cell.  I also enjoy that on each face there is a happy/calm face on one side and a mad/angry face on the other.  Each of these sets comes with a free comic book as well.  Overall, I really like this set, and I totally recommend it.

 

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Review: The Lego Batman Movie

On Sunday, February 19, I saw the Lego Batman Movie.  I absolutely loved it.  The plot line was based on the villains in the Phantom Zone and how they were going to reign havoc upon Gotham.  I specifically liked how the movie made references to the Batman movies in the past.  It was really funny, and I enjoyed that Lego Voldemort was in the movie because I am a big Harry Potter fan as well. I thought it was hilarious when Alfred Penneyworth told Batman, “You have been through many of these awkward  stages in your life, including the early 2000’s, the 80’s, and that weird one in the 60’s.”

What I didn’t enjoy about it is that technically Barbara Gordon was supposed to be Dick Grayson’s age, and in the movie she was Bruce Wayne’s age.  Although I think she would be a good candidate for commissioner, she never became commissioner.  I also like the fact that there were other Lego characters in the movie, but they do not exist in the DC Universe.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and it was pretty good.

 

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