‘Atomic Blonde’ Movie Review

atomicblonde_01

Buckle up, Friends! ‘Atomic Blonde‘ hits theaters this weekend and it hits hard!! Are you an action movie fan? You’ll love it. Do you enjoy films with a strong female lead? This is for you. Perhaps you can’t get enough of movies based on comics and graphic novels? Done! You love all things 80’s? Check! Perhaps you just enjoy spy movies with a bit of a twist at the end. Again… you’re covered. Of all of the summer releases so far this year (and we’ve had some doozies), ‘Atomic Blonde’, for my money, may be the best one yet! Set against the backdrop of Berlin during the final days of the Cold War, this highly stylized and masterfully shot film stars Charlize Theron as MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton who is tasked to bring back the body of a fellow agent and complete his assignment by getting a microfilm that could tip the balance of world power.

atomicblonde_05

Throughout the movie, there is the typical spy fare including double agents, car chases, dizzying fights, glamorous settings and action aplenty. James McAvoy is lovably despicable as the Berlin station chief who uses his position to further his own desires and goals. It’s always a delight to see Sofia Boutella on screen and she perfectly plays the still somewhat green French agent assigned to Berlin. The cast is rounded out by the always outstanding John Goodman as CIA liaison Emmett Kurzfeld, Eddie Marsan as Spyglass, Toby Jones as MI6 head Eric Gray and Roland Moller as KGB chief Aleksander Bremovych. Beautifully filmed by director David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a slick and stylized roundhouse kick to your senses. The soundtrack featuring such 80’s gems as “Voices Carry“, “Under Pressure“, “Der Kommissar” and “99 Luftballons” fit seamlessly into the action and help propel the film’s 1 hr 55 min run time along at an effortless pace. Speaking of effortless – Charlize Theron makes the incredibly choreographed and downright brutal fight scenes look like a perfectly practiced dance from which even Jason Bourne could learn a thing or two.

Atomic Blonde (2017)

The casting of this movie couldn’t have been better and Charlize Theron demonstrates, yet again, how suited she is for playing the role of total badass. I can only imagine the delight from Antony Johnston and Sam Hart (who created the graphic novel “The Coldest City” on which the film is based) when it was announced that Charlize would be playing the lead role. As a fan of all things 80’s, the movie was a delight for me and I probably would have reviewed the film favorably just on those merits. The fact that it was breathtakingly beautiful, brilliantly acted and buoyantly fun means that I cannot, in good conscience, rate ‘Atomic Blonde’ anything less than a 9.5 with a half point taken off for some incredibly slight cliche tropes of the spy genre. If you are wanting to see some exciting thrills this weekend on the big screen, then ‘Atomic Blonde’ is just the woman for you!

atomicblonde_07

 

 

 

Advertisements

Legion M Celebrates Stan Lee

stanlee_imprint_01

It was a whirlwind of a day! Stan Lee was honored during an Imprint Ceremony at The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood amid a day of fanfare that concluded with an epic party at “The Tony Stark Mansion”high in the Hollywood Hills. Legion M, the world’s first ever fan-owned film company, put together the whole event which was also sponsored by The Nerdist, TCL, IMAX, Audible and many more. As an investor in Legion M, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the day’s events and am able to tell you first hand what a truly amazing time was had by all in attendance. The event began at 10am with artist Rob Prior deftly crafting a custom art piece featuring Stan Lee’s face surrounded by images of Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Spider-Man. Afterwards, the celebrities began to show up including (from L to R below) Todd McFarlane, Kevin Feige, Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Chadwick Boseman and Clark Gregg. ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy‘ director James Gunn was also in attendance but did not speak at the ceremony.

stanlee_imprint_03

Following the event, all in attendance were invited to a screening of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming‘ on the giant IMAX screen at the TCL Chinese Theater. After that, it was time to clean up for the big party at “The Stark Mansion” up in the Hollywood Hills later that evening. The venue was gorgeous and was decked out with all sorts of Marvel-ous decor including a life size Iron Man statue, a giant poster of Stan Lee that was specially designed for the event, vintage comics under glass display cases, a TCL gaming lounge featuring a wide array of Marvel Comics themed video games and more. A few hours after the party got underway, the guest of honor made a fashionable entrance and then took to the stage to say a few words to the crowd of fans and celebrities who had come to celebrate his career and legacy.

There was live music, a tribute video featuring congratulations and well-wishes from the likes of Mark Hamill, Sir Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Tom Hiddleston and many more. This was followed by a champagne toast, a huge Marvel themed cake, more art by the amazing Rob Prior and plenty of fun that lasted well in the wee hours of the morning. There were no strangers at this party. Everyone was glad to be there, very friendly and a good time was had by all. Did I mention the cosplay? Professional cosplayers were all over and each one of them brought their A-game to honor the man who invented the characters to whom their costumes paid homage. Some of the Marvel mainstays represented included Invisible Woman, Hercules, Black Panther, Phoenix and even Loki himself (who tried to eat the entire cake by himself). For more images and video from the Imprint Ceremony and the Hollywood Party, check out my YouTube page! (Feel free to subscribe while you’re there.)

It was a day that will always be remembered and a night that will be impossible to forget. Once in a great while, a man like Stan Lee comes along who is an inspiration to many, a champion of us all and a true icon to the world. He gave us thousands of larger than life characters and so many classic tales to entertain generations upon generations of readers. I listened to many people tell me what Stan Lee meant to them and how he and his work changed their lives in so many unique and special ways. That is why he is being honored. That is why he is being celebrated. His life wasn’t always easy, but his determination coupled with his imagination fueled the way for him to become the person who, at the age of 94, is recognized by a grateful public for leaving the world better and richer than it was before he came into it. His is a legacy that will stand the test of time and for me, personally, will always be seen as a super hero greater than any of the ones he created in his lifetime. So, from this fan: Thank you, Stan Lee, for teaching me how to be a better person, how to think big and how to never give up on your dreams. Excelsior!!!

stanlee_imprint_02

 

 

Jodie Whittaker Is The 13th Doctor!

13thdoctor_01

After much anticipation and rampant speculation on the big reveal of just who would be Peter Capaldi‘s replacement when he departs ‘Doctor Who‘ during the show’s upcoming Christmas Special this December, it was finally announced earlier today that the role of The Doctor would be taken over by accomplished actress Jodie Whittaker. You may have seen her in such series as ‘Broadchurch‘, ‘Black Mirror‘ and ‘The Smoke‘. Now she will be taking on her biggest role yet as the 13th Doctor in the longest running sci-fi series in history. The new show runner who will be coming aboard beginning with the upcoming Series 11, Chris Chibnall (who worked with Whittaker on ‘Broadchurch’), called her “our number one choice” and said her audition “blew us all away.” The reaction to the casting of a woman in the role has been met with both applause as well as anger with some fans even stating that they would no longer watch the show. Addressing the backlash, Erica Lear, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society‘s social secretary stated that it’s now the job of the new series to change the minds of people who are unhappy with this decision.

jodiewhittaker_01

Whenever a new Doctor is announced, there are the typical tears from those who have grown accustomed to the current Doctor (I will personally admit to shedding a tear or two during 10th Doctor David Tennant‘s final episode.), but everyone who is a fan of the show has been through it now as many as 11 times now. Change is inevitable and change can be good. Whether or not people accept change is up to each individual person. Arguments can be made both ways and even those connected to the show admit a certain… trepidation regarding this latest regeneration. Sebastian J. Brook, who is Doctor Who Online‘s site editor, acknowledged this by saying: “I must admit, I’ve always been of the opinion that the Doctor is and should be a man. He has always identified as male in the series, and after 50+ years, it’s certainly going to take some getting used to, but I support the show and Jodie is a fantastic actress, so she gets my full support, too.” I myself wonder how much of this “backlash” in regard to Whittaker’s casting is less about gender and more to people just not liking change. After all, there was a lot of vitriol directed Daniel Craig’s way after it was announced that he would be taking over the role of James Bond back in 2005. Luckily, many in the Doctor Who community have been very supportive of the announcement with several previous Doctors taking the time to weigh in on the casting.

7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy took time to congratulate Jodie on her winning the coveted role of everyone’s favorite Time Lord (Time Lady?) and 6th Doctor Colin Baker also tweeted his approval by way of paraphrasing HIS Doctor’s first words upon regeneration. He then went on to tweet admonishment towards those fans of the show who threatened to no longer watch due to the casting of a female Doctor:

dwtweet_02

Several companions from throughout the show’s history have also expressed their support for Jodie Whittaker after the announcement was made. Tweets from Katy Manning (3rd Doctor’s companion Jo Grant), Louise Jameson (4th Doctor’s companion Leela), Janet Fielding & Nicola Bryant (5th Doctor’s companions Tegan & Peri, respectively) and Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill (11th Doctor’s companions Amy & Rory) all show the support for this changing of the guard that many feel has been a long time coming.

Many fans, however, are not at all pleased with the result and tweets have ranged from displeasure to decisions to stop watching to just downright nasty. But again, as Colin Baker suggests: perhaps they were never true fans after all. To me, ‘Doctor Who‘ has always been about change and understanding. For my part, I am excited to see what dynamics and quirks Jodie Whittaker will bring to the character just as I am intrigued by the direction in which new show runner Chris Chibnall will take the stories. As long as the series stays true to it’s core of being an absurdly fun and outrageous sci-fi adventure show, then no one should truly have any reason to complain. Not that it will stop some people. But for those who insist that The Doctor MUST be a male, I would remind them of the words of the 7th Doctor when he said: “I’d hate to live my life by some boring old rulebook like you do.” Allons-y!!

13thdoctor_02

 

‘Wish Upon’ Movie Review

wishupon_02

A new horror movie hitting theaters this weekend is ‘Wish Upon‘ from the director of ‘Annabelle’ and starring Joey King as Clare Shannon who, as a young girl, saw her mother hang herself in the attic. Now, as a teenager living with her father (played by Ryan Phillippe), she has to deal with being an unpopular outsider besieged by the “cool kids” at her school. But all that changes when her father finds an unusual antique while out dumpster diving and brings it home to his daughter as an early birthday present. Soon, Joey begins realizing the object’s power to grant wishes only to later find out that each wish comes with a terrible price.

wishupon_03

The premise itself sounds ominous and worthy of a good horror movie, but the execution of the plot is rather lacking. While the film has one or two truly gut-churning moments, the overall story never delivers any real scares and thus falls short of hitting the true “horror movie” benchmark. The acting is fine throughout the cast and Joey King solidly delivers her role as the girl who finally fits in and then, maddingly, is unable to relinquish her newfound status even when faced with the consequences of her actions. Ki Hong Lee also delights as the ersatz suitor who attempts to help Joey find out more about the mystery of the device’s origin and to keep her from becoming another victim of its frightening legacy. The ending of the film should leave most audience goers feeling satisfied by the outcome but the rather lackluster steps taken along the way to get there will probably make the total trip feel less than worthwhile.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m sad to say that ‘Wish Upon’ only receives a 5.5 from me, based mostly on poor execution of an otherwise solid idea.

wishupon_03

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Movie Review

transformerslk_03Monday evening, I attended the press screening of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight‘. Now, I grew up with Transformers. I watched the cartoon series every weekday when I came home from school, I had the toys, I saw the 1986 movie when it came out in the theaters and I still, to this day, own the entire run of Marvel Comics 1 – 80 with all of the specials, crossovers and 3-D issues. When a live-action film was announced back in 2002, I was intrigued. When I finally saw it, I was crestfallen. And each time a new installment of the franchise comes out, it’s like Michael Bay himself is stripping away another layer of my soul. With all of that said (because I believe in full disclosure) this latest entry of the franchise may be the very worst ‘Transformers’ film yet. I wish I was kidding. And BTW: I would say that this review might contain spoilers if not for the fact that nothing I tell you could possibly spoil this movie any more than the studio already has. Let’s begin:

 

The story opens during Medieval times with a epic, fierce and fiery battle. I was hoping this would be a story involving possible time travel like the comics did in issues #33 and #34 and perhaps even lead into a Hasbro Cinematic Universe by bringing in ROM The Space Knight in some fashion. The always fabulous Stanley Tucci shows up again (just a cameo this time around) as the “wizard” Merlin begging a Transformer for help in battling the enemy army of King Arthur. The Transformer gives him a staff that will allow him to control a Transformer dragon. We then jump ahead to present day and the whole movie quickly devolves into what can only be referred to as “explosion porn”. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow but we are introduced to some new characters (Isabella Moner, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins, Santiago Cabrera) sprinkled in with the familiar faces (Mark Wahlberg, Glenn Morshower, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro). All of these actors are phenomenally talented people and do as good of a job as they can within the film, but sadly, the writing and dialogue are such that they merely insist that “this person cares about this person” and “a bond is now formed between these 2 characters” and “this group are now uneasy allies”, etc, without ever letting it happen or even giving the actors time to emote anything which translates to the audience never truly being invested in any of it. The film hurries along during it’s 2 hour and 30 minute run time but because everything is so rushed and jumbled you get the impression that a lot was left on the cutting room floor including a coherent plot. If you can overlook ALL of that and just decide that you want to spend nearly 3 hours of your life on mindless “fun” and watching stuff get blown up, then this is the film for you. Allow me to go full “Stefan” on you for a moment and tell you all the things you’ll see in this movie:

stefan_01

Knights, Vikings, Submarines, Nazis, Aston Martins, robotic ninja butlers, jet fighters, abandoned churches, drones, poor attempts at humor, car chases, pyramids, bullet time, space battles, zero gravity environments, secret passages, Anthony Hopkins giving people the middle finger, children being sassy and the love child of BB-8 and Wall-E. Oh, and did I mention that Earth is Unicron? Yeah… Just to give you an idea of how bad this movie is, Cybertron is moving towards Earth with the intention of merging with it. Mind you, according to the film, only the final event of the merge will be what kills people. No mention is given to the fact that a large celestial object being in Earth’s atmosphere would cause massive cataclysmic damage as gravity goes haywire and the tides sweep over the land, etc. Heck, even the 80’s cartoon episode “The Ultimate Doom” took basic physics into the equation when this same thing occurred. But nope! It’s a bright sunny day as the military fighters attack the focal point of Cybertron’s energy transfer just a few miles above Stonehenge.

transformers_ultimatedoom_01

In one of the more ridiculous scenes (which is saying something), Josh Duhamel and Megatron meet with a group of lawyers to negotiate which of the Decepticons the U.S. Government is willing to release to help them track down Mark Wahlberg’s character. We end up getting a ‘Suicide Squad‘-esque ripoff as an introduction to these Decepticon characters, one of whom was imprisoned for bank robbery. <eye roll> Basically this movie resembles something that a group of 14 year-old boys made while hopped up on Red Bull and Fun Dip in order to entertain a group of 10 year-old boys. Of the films I’ve reviewed so far this year, I’d actually put this one below ‘Baywatch‘ and only give it a score of 3 out of 10. If you’re somehow invested in this franchise, if you’ve sat through the last 4 and want to continue your streak or if the A/C in your home isn’t working and you just need someplace cool to sit for a few hours without the need to think about anything, then please, go see this film. Otherwise, you may want to give this one a very:

hardpass_01

 

MegaCon Orlando 2017

megacon_02

Another con in the books! MegaCon Orlando 2017 was a success. It was well attended and had a great variety of vendors, artists and guests. The main draws for me this year were actors Brent Spiner (‘Star Trek: TNG’, ‘Outcast’), Nicholas Brendon (‘Buffy’, ‘Criminal Minds’) Caity Lotz (‘Mad Men’, ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’) & Tom Cavanagh (‘Ed’, ‘Royal Pains’, ‘The Flash’) and comic creators Bob Layton, Scott Snyder, Greg Rucka and Howard Chaykin. But the guest list had a very impressive number of celebrities including the always popular Stan Lee and the cast of ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard‘ just to name a few. There was a lot to try and get to this time as I was only able to be there for Friday and Saturday of this 4 day event but I was determined to make the most of my time.

Knowing Saturday to always be the busiest day of any convention, I went to the celebrities to try to grab interviews that I could use for Saturday’s live broadcast of my radio show (follow me on Twitter @GeekToMeRadio for details on how to listen each week). I was able to get a brief interview with Nicholas Brendon as well as Greg Rucka and Howard Chaykin. Saturday was significantly busier and there were a great number of celebrities in attendance (some can only do Saturday and Sunday). The staff was very helpful but information wasn’t readily available and some volunteers could only offer educated guesses instead of solid answers to some of my questions beginning with “Where do I go for my press credentials?” to “Where do I find Bob Layton?” Another thing I noticed was the lack of signage in the line-up area for the celebrities. Most other cons have some sort of stand-up sign detailing when the celebrities would be at their booths and what the prices were for autographs and photos. These were not to be found anywhere on the floor and the program did not have pricing listed either. This caused some confusion for a few guests who made it up to near the front of the line before being told they had to pay money for a selfie (granted, they should have known this, but still…).
Another surprise I had not expected was being told that all of the press and interviews were already done. Considering I was emailed and asked for my “wish list”, I assumed that I might get the chance to interview one or two of the 12 celebrities I had inquired about in my reply. Finally I found the set up a little wonky. There seemed to be more room than needed in the autograph area for the celebrities but a little cramped in the vendor area and at Artist Alley. The need to walk around the entire building to enter in the nearly empty back area rather than using the ample room in the front hall also seemed to be a waste of space and I heard several other con goers voice the same complaint. Overall, I’d have to rate MegaCon Orlando a 6 out of 10 compared to other cons I have experienced this year. There was great potential, but seemingly a lot of missed opportunities and hiccups as well. Hopefully next year will be better.

megacon2017_01

 

‘Cars 3’ Movie Review

cars3_01

That’s right: ‘Cars’ now joins ‘Toy Story‘ in a very exclusive club of Pixar trilogies with the release of ‘Cars 3‘ which arrives in theaters this weekend. It’s been 9 years since the first film raced into the cinema. Evidently that’s enough time for one-time great Lightning McQueen (voiced again by Owen Wilson) to become a thing of the past as new generation of high-tech racers begin to take over the track. McQueen’s newest rival is the slick and streamlined Jackson Storm (voice by Armie Hammer). One by one, Lightning’s contemporaries begin to retire as they are unable to keep up with the new kids on the black. Lightning refuses to give in and ends up wiping out, unable to race for the next 4 months as he idles around his home in a base coat of primer. After a pep talk from his girlfriend Sally (voiced by Bonnie Hunt), Lightning decides to get back to it with help from new sponsor & financier Sterling (voiced by Nathan Fillion) who, with the help of trainer Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) aims to secure Lightning’s legacy… as a spokesman.

cars3_05

Unsatisfied with this arrangement, McQueen makes a deal with Sterling: Let him race one more time and, if he wins, then HE decides when he retires – not Sterling. Reluctantly, Sterling agrees and McQueen sets off to rediscover his mojo as Cruz reluctantly tags along. After some road trip worthy hijinks involving accidentally entering into a demolition derby and seeking out his mentor Doc Hudson’s mechanic & crew chief: Smokey (voiced by Chris Cooper), Lightning makes his way to The Florida 500 and his last chance to beat Jackson Storm.

cars3_03

The previews that I’ve seen so far made the movie seem like it was a bit darker than previous ‘Cars‘ films or any other features from Pixar for that matter. While the movie wasn’t dark, it definitely had moments that I found… depressing. (I say that as someone in their middle-age years who may be able to relate a little TOO well to what Lightning is experiencing.) The comic relief of Mater (voiced by Larry The Cable Guy) was present and there were certainly fun moments but the film definitely had a heavier feel than previous installments of the series. As is to be expected from Pixar Studios, the voice acting was pitch perfect across the board and the animation was flawless and smooth. Of course this is an animated film so it’s not necessarily going to surprise anyone that the story line offered few surprises with one slight exception to the ending of the film which I can’t mention without spoiling the final outcome (which I am very careful not to do in my reviews). With ‘Wonder Woman‘ now entering her 3rd weekend at the box office and with the number of kids who will be clamoring to see anything from Pixar, I would expect that ‘Cars 3’ will take the #1 spot at the box office thus relegating ‘Wonder Woman’ to 2nd place. Overall, while the movie was enjoyable, I don’t think it was anything innovative or special enough for me to give it anything but a 6.5 out of 10.

cars3_04

‘The Mummy’ Movie Review

mummy_01

Admittedly, Universal was taking a risk with this film. It was another reboot of a movie that has been done (not counting spin-offs) 5 times since the original debuted in 1932. But for the most part, I think the risk paid off for them. If you are looking for a fun, new summer movie, then this updated version of ‘The Mummy‘ may be the one for you. The opening excitedly sets the stage for what I was hoping would be a good old-fashion horror movie that quickly takes a bit of a turn and heads more into the action, adventure realm that the Brendan Fraser one was (only less stylized). Tom Cruise is Nick Morton, a military man who also deals in black market antiquities with the help of his partner Chris Vail, played wonderfully by Jake Johnson. While looking for treasure in a hostile part of Iraq, they end up discovering a hidden Egyptian tomb (which is odd since they are in what used to be Mesopotamia.) The military comes in to assist along with archaeologist Jenny Halsey, from whom Nick stole the map after a one-night stand. Halsey (played confidently by actress Annabelle Wallis) realizes that it isn’t a tomb, but a prison. In an effort to quickly extract their findings before insurgents sweep in to overtake the area, Nick unknowing releases Ahmanet (divinely portrayed by the sublime Sofia Boutella) which begins to allows her, and the curse she carries, to awaken!

mummy_03

The whole idea behind this reboot is to make a connected movie universe using Universal Pictures “Monsters” in an effort to mimic the success enjoyed by Disney with their Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a concept I think would be a lot of fun if they get it right. Overall, with one or two hiccups in this movie, I’d say they are off to a decent start. This means we may end up seeing a Dracula VS The Mummy film or Creature From The Black Lagoon VS The Wolf Man feature in the not too distant future. Given the success of their “Monster” brand, it sounds like a gold mine of an idea and the writers and producers did a great job giving us a little taste of what that might look like within the course of this film along with a great turn by Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry (wait for it…) Jeckyll.

mummy_04

From the premise of this being an opening gambit for what they are referring to as their “Dark Universe“, the film does a fine job in setting the stage. All of the acting is solid and the Easter Eggs given (more in-your-face than subtle) are still very cool to behold. The plot is a little choppy and some of this new Mummy’s powers are rather inexplicable given what we are used to from previous versions of this creature that we’ve seen. I also would have rather seen a more horror laden film as opposed to the action-adventure flick sprinkled a little too heavily with comedic moments that we actually ended up with in the final product. That being said, I think that most people will enjoy ‘The Mummy’ for what it is and be able to look forward to what monster Universal has in-store for us lurking in the cinematic shadows.
**TWO THINGS TO NOTE**
1) I saw the movie in 3-D and I will say that it was NOT a movie that needs to be seen in that format. If you have a problem with 3-D viewing or just don’t want to spend the extra few bucks for the upgrade, do not.
2) There are NO post-credit scenes. I stuck around until the very end hoping to see something since this is the beginning of a connected universe but, to my dismay, nothing was shown. Feel free to head to your car as soon as the first credits begin to roll.

mummy_02

‘Wonder Woman’ Movie Review

wonderwoman_16

FINALLY!!!!! Finally, after two lackluster attempts to launch a movie that successfully captures the true spirit of the DC Comics characters that Warner Bros has in their stable, finally they get a win. A true win in every sense of the word. ‘Wonder Woman‘ is outstanding which not only lit the embers of hope for the struggling DC Cinematic Universe, it blazed them into a raging inferno. This is a film that not only truly captures the essence of Princess Diana of Themyscira, it perfectly balances exactly what she was meant to be: an emissary of peace, a symbol of hope and a warrior without peer. Patty Jenkins is to be commended for her insightful directing and for carefully crafting a comic book movie that stacks up solidly against some of rival studio Marvel’s top-rated films to date.

wonderwoman_18

Within the seemingly fast span of the film’s 2 hour 21 minute run time, we get a comprehensive origin story, a fully-fleshed out cast of characters, a compelling narrative that is neither too simple nor overly complex and a stunning finish that hits all the proper notes that one would hope to see from a movie that has been as highly anticipated as this one. Gal Gadot brings Wonder Woman to life before our eyes and carries herself throughout the film with the proper poise and grace of the warrior she is supposed to be while still displaying those small signs of understandable uncertainty as she takes on the new world into which she has flung herself. Chris Pine is his usual charming self and displays an understated urgency to his role as Steve Trevor. It’s always a pleasure to see Robin Wright on screen and her versatility as an actor shines yet again in this role as the Amazon General Antiope who takes it upon herself to train Diana for what is to come. The villains played by Elena Anaya and Danny Huston are classically evil and never over-the-top or silly (looking at you Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor).

wonderwoman_19

I have been saying for some time now how much of a DC Comics fan I am and how desperately I want the films to be good. Now, I am proud to say that they are getting there. Whatever the formula was that brought us this nearly perfect comic book film needs to be the formula that Warner Bros and DC stays with going forward. At no point did the movie ever drag, it never felt too dark or heavy (which is interesting given it was set against the backdrop of The Great War) and, perhaps most importantly, it raised the bar for future films to be headed by a female lead. I am very, very pleased to say that ‘Wonder Woman’ scored a solid 10 with me and it will also be the first film from the DC Cinematic Universe that I will be going back to see in theaters for a second time. And maybe a third. Possibly a fourth. The only downside I foresee is that we’ll now have to deal with all of the people who are suddenly Wonder Woman fans just like real Cubs fans had to put up with when the team finally won the World Series this past season. #WWFanProblems. (P.S. There were, sadly, no stingers or post-credit scenes at the end of the film so feel free to disperse as soon as the credits begin to roll. You’re welcome.)

Wonder Woman (2017)
Gal Gadot

Review of ‘Arrow’ Season 5, Episode 23: ‘Lian Yu’

arrow_08

So the Season 5 Finale of ‘Arrow’ ended with a BANG. Quite literally. We witnessed the end of Oliver Queen’s 5 years away with the flashbacks concluding in his escape from Constantine Kovar who had followed Oliver back to Lian Yu to torture him. Oliver then kills Kovar, manages to signal the boat that was scheduled to pass by and be “rescued” from the island. We even witness a touching moment as he calls his mother, Moira Queen, to inform her that he is alive and on his way home. It was great to see Susanna Thompson return for the scene and put a nice coda on Oliver’s “5 years in hell.”

Moira Queen wasn’t the only familiar face we saw in the finale. Manu Bennett returned to play Deathstroke (now free of the Mirakuru that turned him evil) & Nick E. Tarabay reprises his role of Digger Harkness who Oliver recruits to help him, Nyssa & Malcolm free his friends and beat Adrian Chase once and for all. The finale was breathless, exciting and seemed to shift effortlessly between flashback to present day even more so than past episodes.  Whether this is due to the flashback sequences finally catching up to where the series first began or if it was just the nature of the action in this particular episode is anyone’s guess. Everything that this season had been hinting at or building up to finally came to a head. It was great seeing Oliver ally himself with his former enemies and rivals and we got some spectacular battles as a result including the NEW Black Canary (played flawlessly by Juliana Harkavy) VS Black Siren (an evil version of Laurel played by fan favorite Katie Cassidy) as well as a battle between Talia Al Ghul and Nyssa Al Ghul. The final battle between Team Arrow and Prometheus’ gang was excellently staged and climaxed with a showdown between Oliver & Chase as the latter attempts to escape on a boat with Oliver’s son, William.

IMG_1380[1]

Meanwhile, Felicity & Curtis have realized that Chase rigged the entire island to be blown up with plastique explosive charges set ALL OVER the island and if Chase dies, the bombs will go off. Oliver manages to wound Chase without killing him in order to save William but Chase is once again “ten moves ahead” and uses a hidden gun to kill himself. Oliver and William watch in horror from the boat as explosions rip across all of Lian Yu making it appear that none of Oliver’s friends could have possibly survived. The episode, like the one that preceded it, was pitch perfect and may very well be some of the finest comic book television that we’ve been treated to since ‘Arrow‘ kicked off this small screen DC Universe just a hair under 5 years ago. Obviously we are left with questions about who will survive the events witnessed here as well as what, if anything, will take the place of the flashback sequences that have become a staple of this show? It seems like the adrenaline fueled finale has somehow closed the book on the first volume of the story of Green Arrow and leaves us open to a bold new direction for the show and the characters’ storylines. The hard part now will be waiting to see how the show and the characters move forward from here in a way that we have yet to witness in the “Arrowverse” to date. Regardless, THIS is how you do a season finale and I have no choice but to score it as a perfect 10! Bravo to the entire cast, crew and all of the writers. You all have surpassed yourselves and I, for one, can’t wait to see how you top this.

IMG_1375[1]