by Jai Hutchison
“I am the man who can.” Wonder Woman
Director Patty Jenkins
Story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg & Jason Fuchs
Screenplay by Allan Heinberg
Based on the character created by William Moulton Marston
I was already disappointed that I was going to be away from London and back up north visiting my home town, which doesn’t have an IMAX, when the new Wonder Woman movie was released, so you can imagine how annoyed I was when on top of this the cinema actually called me up to say that they had cancelled their opening night screenings due to a low number of bookings! Not impressed. However, I saw it a couple of days later in 3D; but I was surprised to see that the numbers were again very low. Could it be that Diana, Princess of Themyscira is not drawing in the crowds? Or are the people of Dundee just not going to the cinema these days? Well either way, here we go with my thoughts on DC’s latest extended universe feature.
Personally I am not a huge fan of Zack Snyder. I started feeling this way ever so slightly with Watchmen but then I saw Sucker Punch and there was no going back. However, I am a big Wonder Woman fan, and with others (Heinberg and Fuchs) also having worked on this story and screenplay, I figured maybe Wonder Woman stood a chance.
When we last saw Diana Prince it was in 2016 in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. We left her discussing the future possibilities of the Justice League of America with Bruce Wayne as he asked her to help him track down the others like her, which Lex Luthor had acquired evidence of. The new Wonder Woman movie however, does not pick up where we left off; it is an origin story. We begin in Paris where Bruce Wayne is having the original picture that Diana had been looking for in Dawn of Justice, delivered to her. We journey through this picture and into Wonder Woman’s past discovering her story, where she came from, and how it was she came to be living among us.
We begin on the home of the Amazons: Themyscira. It is a beautiful setting, mostly filmed in Italy. Here we learn of Diana’s creation. How her mother, the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta molded her from clay and the Greek God Zeus gave her life. We watch as she grows in age and strength, and against her mother’s wishes starts to train with Antiope. Fortunately, in time Hippolyta agrees to Diana training with Antiope, as long as she trains her harder than any other Amazon before her, which means that Diana is prepared for what is to come, at least physically, when she is drawn into the madness of WW1 when a spy crashes into Themyscira leading a trail of Germans after him. The spy, Steve Trevor explains the war to the Amazons leading Diana to believe that Ares, the God of War is responsible for it and that only the Amazons can defeat him and protect mankind. This takes Diana on a journey with Steve to the war, to our world, and to discovering who she truly is.
The actual story of Wonder Woman I really enjoyed. Although I guess you can’t really tamper with that too much, and Heinberg executed the screenplay pretty well here. The Amazons were incredible and their training and fight scenes looked great in 3D. I saw the movie in both 3D and 2D and I recommend the 3D for the battle scene on Themyscira (Although if I had the option to I’m sure I’d be recommending it in IMAX); this scene is actually more impressive than the final battle scene towards the end of the movie. It’s a battle between the Amazons and the Germans and it is visually stunning and impressive.
Portraying the role of Wonder Woman is Gal Gadot. Although director Patty Jenkins had her doubts about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman at first, she now believes that Gadot is a “magical gift”, as she stated in an interview with Playboy. I found her to be just flawless. She was made for this role in every aspect; from being visually stunning to depicting the character of Wonder Woman she is just fantastic. I particularly enjoyed her naivety and the humour within that when she first meets Steve Trevor, the first man she has ever seen, and also when she first arrives in London where her behaviour and attire are completely out of place. She is fierce and delivers a spectacular performance; Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, it’s as simple as that.
Starring opposite Gadot is Chris Pine. I am not usually a big Chris Pine fan. Starring in movies such as The Princess Diaries 2 and Just My Luck, put him up there as a cheesy chick flick actor for me. However as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman I quite liked him. He wasn’t overly cheesy and the romance plot wasn’t too over the top so it was ok. It turns out that Pine however, was almost not in the movie. The book Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film includes an interview with Zack Snyder and he talks about his thoughts on the movie's earlier drafts. “Early on we talked about whether or not we would bring [Steve] into the story,” Snyder said. “Steve is so deep in the mythology that after some debate we found that just like Wonder Woman needs Steve, we needed Steve too. We need to be able to look at Wonder Woman through the eyes of the audience.” It’s great that Snyder kept Steve Trevor’s character in the movie, it’s unfortunate however that they didn’t think about dropping some other characters from the movie.
What let this movie down for me were Lundendorff and Dr. Poison, particularly Dr. Poison. I haven’t seen Elena Anaya in anything else previously so I can’t fairly comment on whether it was the fact that she is a terrible actress, or if the part was just poorly written and directed. It got to the point where I found Dr. Poison just comical and I could not take her seriously at all. Scenes where Lundendorff and Dr. Poison where playing opposite each other were even worse. Their chemistry was awful, their acting poor and the plot weak. These two were a poor attempt at distracting everyone from the real bad guy.
Balancing out the negatives Lucy Davis as Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy was brilliant and very funny, but unfortunately she did not have that many scenes. I would of loved to have seen a lot more of her in this movie. It was an unfortunate case where all her best bits were pretty much all the bits that we saw in the trailer. Another casting option that I thought was brilliant was Ewan Bremner as Charlie, he also brought a lot of humour to the movie; he along side Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) and Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) were Steve’s companions, fighting alongside Steve and Diana in the war.
Overall Wonder Woman was a good origin movie, definitely one of the better DCEU movies I have seen and a huge improvement where Zack Snyder is concerned. Another slight disappointment however was at the end of the movie. I waited until all of the credits had passed and there was not an extra clip in sight, so save yourselves some time guys- there are no post credit scenes after this movie. But still, I have hope for the future of the DCEU and I am excited to see Justice League later this year.
by Jai Hutchison
“I’m Mary Poppins Ya’ll!” (Yondu)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Director: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn
Based on the Marvel comics by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
The Guardians are back for what we hope will be a fun filled, action packed, side splitting adventure of a movie! And for the most part, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 holds up to that. Returning to our screens for this second instalment is Chris Pratt as our Guardians' leader Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as the stunning Gamora, Dave Bautista as the quirky Drax, the cocky Rocket voiced by Bradley Cooper, and melting our hearts is Baby Groot voiced by Vin Diesel. When we first rejoin our Guardians, they are mid-battle with an Abilisk: an inter-dimensional monster that eats energy sources.
After they defeat the Abilisk and get Nebula, the Guardians set off only to be attacked by the Sovereign’s drones due to, as Drax reveals, Rocket stealing some Anulax Batteries. Oops! But thankfully a mysterious ship passes by, defeating the entire Sovereign drones, saving our Guardians and allowing them to make a sharp exit, and a crash landing on a nearby planet. This mysterious ship however follows the Guardians onto this planet, and we discover that aboard the ship is Ego the Living Planet, played by Kurt Russell. Ego is a celestial and a member of a primordial race with god-like powers, and beyond that, he is Star-lord’s father. This is where the main plot of the movie stems from: Star-Lord finding his father and discovering his celestial heritage.
Although the main story focuses on Star-Lord’s relationship with his father, there are several other stories that take place throughout the movie. In this more intimate sequel there is an ongoing theme of family. As well as finally discovering his biological father and going through a variety of emotions with this discovery, Star-Lord also goes through a journey of self-discovery and questions his relationship with Yondu, played by Michael Rooker. Yondu also goes through quite a transition in regards to which side he is on and what his priorities are throughout this movie. We are also given an analysis of the relationship between sisters Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, and Gamora, including how Thanos affected their history as well as their present relationship. In the first movie their sibling relationship was portrayed quite black and white with Nebula being the bad guy and Gamora the good, however it is a lot more complex than that, and we really get to see that in this movie.
As well as our beloved Guardians, there are also some new additions to the cast line up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As mentioned we meet Star-Lord’s father, Ego, and with him he brings Mantis. Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, is an empath and she also has the ability to manipulate the emotions of others. She has lived alone with Ego since a very young age and due to this does not know how to interact well with others. She does however bond well with the Guardians, especially Drax, adding to the awkward dynamic of the group, which works really well.
There was one new character that for me did not work. Actually let me rephrase that. I was not a fan of the actor playing the role of Stakar Ogord. I was really disappointed with this casting. I don’t know what happened here, I mean the guy can barely talk, never mind act. I think maybe his agent called up Sarah Finn (casting) and said something along the lines of “err.. Sly has always wanted to be in a Marvel movie, it’s on his bucket list, please?” Money talks right? For me Sylvester Stallone was the only thing in this movie that did not work and that I did not enjoy.
Just like with the first movie, this one too is packed with visual effects. And if you are planning to see it, I recommend you do so in IMAX. The scenes are presented in an expanded 1.9:1 aspect ratio, which allows audiences to see 26% more of the image than in standard movie theatres. If that isn’t enough to convince you, you can watch director James Gunn HERE giving his IMAX explanation. Gunn also states that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will have “the biggest visual effect of all time”. Speaking with Empire Magazine about the sequel, the director spoke proudly of the work involving Ego The Living Planet and stated:
“We have over a trillion polygons on Ego’s planet. It’s the biggest visual effect of all time. There’s nothing even close to it. Which is cool.”
The movie is impressive visually and I would recommend that you see it in IMAX, but I don’t think it compares to what we saw visually in the MCU movie Doctor Strange.