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My “Wonder Woman 1984” Review: An (Imperfect) Emotionally Charged Wonder

We’re at a point with superhero movies where the bar has been raised to such a degree that we can’t just call them a passing fad anymore. Love them or hate them, superhero movies have evolved. They’ve developed a complexity and nuance that few genres ever gain, regardless of medium.

Plus, they make billions at the box office. Let’s not forget that. It’s why the Bill Mahers of the world won’t stop whining about superhero movies anytime soon.

Forgetting the whiners and petty nit-pickers of the genre, superhero movies have a higher threshold to achieve to be considered successful. It’s not enough anymore than to just put a famous actor or actress in an iconic costume and replay famous scenes from comics. The story, characters, and themes have to be refined and compelling.

That’s a challenge for any movie, but one that felt far more daunting for “Wonder Woman 1984.” After the success of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which did a masterful job of establishing Diana’s origin and building her superhero persona, this sequel is tasked with building on that foundation.

As someone who loved the first movie and made it a point to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with my mom on Christmas day, I had high hopes for this movie. I wasn’t expecting “The Dark Knight” level of quality, but I was hoping for a worthy follow-up.

Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll say without hesitation that it succeeded. This movie was a beautiful, emotionally driven cinematic experience and a worthy successor to the first “Wonder Woman.”

I say that knowing that some reviews were quite scathing in their assessment of the film. As is my general rule, I never read reviews before I see a movie. As I saw withNew Mutants,” that can wrongly color your perspective. As was also the case with that movie, I was genuinely surprised by the criticisms levied against “Wonder Woman 1984.”

However, I’m not going to waste my time responding to those criticisms. I’m just going to offer my take on why I thought this movie was a worthy follow-up to the first. Like any sequel, its primary goal was building on what the first movie established. In that sense, this movie did succeed.

The setup for the movie is a dazzling spectacle. Like the first, we get a brief glimpse of Diana’s youth on Themysicra. We see her living and growing amongst her Amazon sisters, showing the kind of power and potential that lies within her. It’s a true sight to behold and one director Patty Jenkins fleshes out meticulously.

Within that setup, though, is an important theme. It highlights the importance of truth and doing things the right way for the right reasons. You cannot and should not take shortcuts to achieve your goal. Doing so will always come at a price and incur consequences. It’s a simple, but necessary lesson that kids and adults alike often learn the hard way.

That leads us directly to the main antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord. Played by Pedro Pascal, he comes off as the very antithesis of this lesson. He’s a con-man and a huckster, always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants. That includes tampering with the forces of the gods, which puts him in direct conflict with Diana.

At the same time, this conflict ties closely to another unfolding with Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva. Played by Kristen Wiig, she comes off at first as the very antithesis of Diana. She’s a nobody. She has none of Diana’s power, grace, or skill. She’s basically invisible, only ever getting attention from people she doesn’t like.

This is very much in line with the characterization of Barbara Minerva in the comics. She’s Wonder Woman’s chief rival, but she started out as a friend. She’s even sympathetic to some extent. She’s not looking to become a villain, like Maxwell Lord. She just wants a taste of the power and prestige that she sees in Wonder Woman.

She ultimately gets her chance, as does Maxwell Lord. When Barbara stumbles upon the Dreamstone, a relic imbued with the power from Dolos, the god of lies, that can grant wishes to those who wield it. However, like a typical monkey’s paw narrative, every wish comes at a price.

It closely mirrors the lesson young Diana learned in her youth, as depicted in the movie’s opening scenes. Taking any shortcut to get what you desire will come at a price. You can try to avoid the consequences all you want, but it eventually compounds. The more you try, the worse it’ll get.

Maxwell Lord thinks he has a way to avoid this. He thinks he can get everything he wants by simply making the right kind of wish. That ultimately causes a great deal of destruction. I’d go into detail, but I’d rather not reveal too much. All you need to know is that it’s not the kind of destruction Wonder Woman can stop with her fists and her sword.

What happens with Barbara Minerva is even more impactful. Like Maxwell Lord, she’s unwilling to give up any power she gains. Unlike Lord, however, she’s willing to pay any price to keep it. That’s what sends her down a dark path. It’s also what turns her from one of Diana’s friends into a truly tenacious foe.

These conflicts become very personal to Diana because she too is unable to resist the temptation. She may give so much of herself to others, but she also has desires and wishes of her own. That’s where Steve Trevor, played again by Chris Pine, enters the picture.

His death and heroic sacrifice in the first “Wonder Woman” movie was so powerful. That whole movie really sold the love that blossomed between him and Diana. Even as the years go by, his death still burdens Diana. She cannot let go of that love. She wants nothing more than to have it back.

It’s sad, but understandable. If ever someone deserved a consequence-free wish from all her heroic acts, it’s Diana. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. She still tries. She gets her chance to be with the love of her life again. As with everything else, though, it comes at a price.

That’s the biggest theme of this movie. Getting what you want by breaking the rules or cheating will always come at a price. Even if you’re willing to pay that price, it does cause damage to yourself and others. It’s a painful lesson and one that gives “Wonder Woman 1984” so many emotional overtones.

It’s because of those overtones that this movie works so well. Wonder Woman, by her nature, is a very emotionally driven character. Her love, compassion, and heart are among her greatest traits. They’re as strong as her fighting spirit. The first movie revealed this and “Wonder Woman 1984” builds on that.

Her greatest struggles always have an emotional weight to them. It’s not just a matter of her beating up the bad guy to save the day. One of those foes was once her friend. Another is someone she can’t defeat simply by beating him up. She has to use that uncanny compassion and heart to win the day. That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.

I would argue that’s the most important aspect of her character and this movie captured it perfectly. I really did feel for Diana as she went through these emotional upheavals throughout the story. It brought out her greatest strengths, as well as her greatest weaknesses.

Now, speaking of weaknesses, this is where I also have to levy some criticisms of my own against “Wonder Woman 1984.” I promise they’re not nearly as petty or overblown as some of the other reviews to this movie. Some have complained about the length and tone of the movie. I honestly think that sort of criticism is misguided.

I’ll still say outright that this movie was not as good as the first “Wonder Woman.” This movie was not as concise and polished, in terms of story. There were a number of “and then this happened” moments that made the story seem a bit jumbled at times. In some cases, it relied too heavily on contrivances and suspension of disbelief to move things along.

I get the sense this was done to keep things moving forward from a plot standpoint. I also think there were some difficulties in revealing the ins and outs of godly magic, which is considerably harder to do in a movie when compared to a comic.

None of these shortcomings kept the movie from working overall. Gal Gadot once again carried her role as Wonder Woman with grace and grit. She, Steve Trevor, and Cheetah all had well-developed characters that played their roles well throughout the story. In terms of the most important elements to a good Wonder Woman movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” got them right.

If I had to score this movie, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. It has some noticeable flaws, more so than its predecessor. However, Gal Gadot is still an amazing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is still a great director, and this world they explored together was full of dazzling wonder.

For a year that has been so bleak and dire, it’s just what we needed. For that, I thank “Wonder Woman 1984” and all those who helped make it happen.

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“Wonder Woman 1984” Trailer Is Here (And It’s Wonderful)!

We live in a strange, yet wonderful era when it comes to movie trailers. It’s strange in that sometimes, the trailers are basically the movie. It tells you pretty much everything and if you go to see the movie, you don’t get much more than you got out of the trailer. That’s basically how I felt about “Suicide Squad.”

That’s a downside. The upside, however, more than makes up for it. When done right, a great movie trailer can take your excitement for a movie and turn it up to 11. You might have been excited about a movie already. In the internet era, that’s easier than ever. Then, the trailer comes along and suddenly, you feel like there’s liquid awesome flowing into your veins. It’s a great feeling.

That brings me to “Wonder Woman 1984.” It’s the sequel to the first movie that was groundbreaking in so many ways. I did plenty to praise it when it came out. I even made a wish list on what I wanted to see in the sequel. I didn’t know how much I would actually get when more details came out.

Now, those details are here! The first trailer of “Wonder Woman 1984” has officially dropped. All I can say is, it’s a wonder to behold and if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it at least 10 times, like I did.

Sure, other movies can promise a lot, but can they promise a female warrior demigod swinging from bolts of lightning from a magic lasso? I didn’t think so.

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My (Spoiler Free) Wonder Woman Movie Review

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I’ve been obsessing over it. I’ve been anticipating it. I’ve found any possible excuse to talk about it on this blog, including those involving hidden BDSM undertones. If you still weren’t convinced of how excited I was about the “Wonder Woman” movie, then I can’t help you and neither can Superman. Well, after years of waiting and agonizing over the failures of lesser female heroes, it happened. The “Wonder Woman” movie has arrived.

I’ve been following this movie since the release of its first trailer, making it clear along the way that this is one of the most important movies of the past decade. It’s not just an important step towards making us forget about “Catwoman.” It’s an overdue, understated milestone in the growth of female superheroes and female characters in general.

Wonder Woman is, by most measures, the most iconic female character of the past century. She is the standard by which all female heroes, and many female characters in general, are measured. She embodies the ideals of womanhood, generating hope for some and conflict for others. For her to have waited this long to get a movie while Ant Man of all characters got one is a travesty.

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However long it took and whatever controversy emerged along the way, including those involving armpits, doesn’t matter anymore. The movie has arrived and I made it a point to see it, despite the crowds and overpriced candy. That leaves just one pressing question that doesn’t need the lasso of truth for an answer.

Is the “Wonder Woman” movie actually good?

Well, I’m here to say as part of my official review that yes. It is good. It’s every bit as good as its Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score would indicate. This is not a “Dawn of Justice” type scenario where critics and fans don’t see eye-to-eye. The consensus is clear. “Wonder Woman” is a damn good movie.

What makes it good, though? Well, that’s where it helps to understand the challenge this movie faced, as well as the scope of the story it told. Unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman’s origins aren’t as universally known and again, I’m not just referring to the BDSM elements.

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Most people know she’s an iconic female superhero. Most know she’s a warrior princess from an island populated solely by women. Few people actually know the details of that story or the emotional undertones behind it. Even fans of the old Lynda Carter TV series only ever got part of the story.

This movie doesn’t assume that the audience knows the core of Wonder Woman history or what makes her who she is. Patty Jenkins, the director tasked with deciding which assumptions to make, made a concerted effort to explore both who Diana is and where she came from.

The parts about her being a warrior on an island of female warriors is still there. What makes it resonate is how the movie adds emotional elements to the story. There’s an undeniable innocence at first, seeing Diana as a child, running around her paradise island of Themyscira, eager to see more than others allow her to see.

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This establishes and important tone for the story and for Wonder Woman’s character, as a whole. Even on an island paradise run by women, Wonder Woman dares to break with tradition and do more than what others would dare. She’s willing to test the rules of the Amazons and the rules of men alike. She is, at her core, a free spirit who seeks out wrongs to right and will step up when others won’t.

This makes her emergence as a warrior all the more meaningful because it gives her the strength and means break with tradition and fight the battles that no one dares. She doesn’t just become strong for the sake of being strong. Her training, her desire, and her capacity to kick ass has purpose. She makes the audience want her to succeed.

That kind of emotional resonance never wanes as the larger conflicts unfold. This is where Wonder Woman’s supporting cast really shines, especially in Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor.

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It might have been the trickiest part of the movie, handling how Wonder Woman’s long-time companion and frequent love interest, Steve Trevor, was handled. There have been instances in the comics and cartoons where Steve Trevor has been a beta male. There have also been times where he’s just been an glorified nanny to Wonder Woman, trying to keep her on a leash and not in a kinky sort of way.

That doesn’t happen in this movie. Chris Pine’s take on Steve Trevor is one that men and women alike can appreciate. He’s very much his own character who earns the respect of both Wonder Woman and everyone he works with. He doesn’t just show that he’s worthy of Wonder Woman’s affection. He earns it.

It’s probably the greatest accomplishment of the movie. Wonder Woman’s partnership with Steve Trevor and his allies is all about complementing one another, not hindering one another. Trevor isn’t just some man trying to put Wonder Woman in her place. He and his friends try to guide her through the conflict, doing their part whenever they can and letting Wonder Woman do hers.

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Those looking for a movie that shows Wonder Woman attacking male oppression and exposing men for the pig-headed brutes they are will be disappointed. There are heroic men and villainous women in this movie. There’s no gender agenda at work here. There are times when gender dynamics are explored, but it’s never done with the impression that one is worse than the other.

The movie gets the message and the dynamics right. It gets the characters and their personalities right. Needless to say, Gal Gadot gets Wonder Woman right and looks absolutely stunning in that outfit in every single frame. On top of that, the various fight scenes and acrobatics that go with any hardened Amazonian warrior are a spectacle to behold.

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It checks so many boxes. It has so many satisfying moments from beginning to end. There are moments of humor, including those of the crude, sexual kind. Chris Pine even gets naked at one point. Granted, he’s no Hugh Jackman, but I think most heterosexual women and gay men will be happy with what they see.

So are there any issues with this movie? Is “Wonder Woman” the most flawless work of cinema since “Godfather II?” Well, this is the part where I have to be somewhat petty because this movie isn’t perfect. It does have some flaws, but none of them are overly egregious.

If there are any shortcomings, it’s in the limited time it spends exploring Themyscira and its culture. There is some time spent on the mother/daughter dynamics between Wonder Woman and her mother, but it feels somewhat minimized, as do the rest of the Amazons. Many do get to shine in a few fight scenes, but none get a chance to be all that memorable.

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There’s also the matter of the mythology behind the main conflict. Wonder Woman has always drawn heavily from Greco-Roman Mythology, so much so that it fuels a great deal of Wonder Woman’s iconic stories. However, the mythology in this movie is fairly flat and streamlined. It presents a very simple, bland view of the gods that are so integral to the Amazons. It feels like an oversight, but one that doesn’t derail the story.

Overall, I would not proclaim “Wonder Woman” to be the greatest superhero movie of all time. I would still put movies like “Deadpool” and “The Avengers” above it, but not by much. It is still very much in the top echelon of superhero movies. It is also groundbreaking in that it is the first female solo movie that succeeded where too many others have failed.

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It’s impossible to overstate how critical this movie was for DC Comics, Warner Brothers, and superhero movies in general. “Wonder Woman” had so much riding on it from the get go, but it succeeded. It rose to the challenge. Much like Wonder Woman herself, this movie dared to defy convention and do something special.

If I had to score this movie, I would give it a solid 4.5 out of 5. It has all the right elements. It’s concise, compelling, and satisfying. It is a wonder unto itself. It was a long time coming, but like so many things, it was worth the wait.

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Wonder Woman Origins Trailer

It’s almost here! In just a few more months, Wonder Woman, the most iconic female superhero of all time and secret BDSM icon, is going to release her first live-action movie. Despite what the assholes at the United Nations may claim, this has been a long time coming.

There have been multiple Superman movies. There have been dozens of Batman movies. Hell, even Ant Man got his own movie. That’s right. A hero named Ant Man got a movie before Wonder Woman. What’s that say about us as a culture?

We’ve had to ensure some pretty nasty moments to get to this point and I’m not just talking about the poor reviews that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice got. We’ve had a Catwoman movie that has since become infamous. There has even been an Elektra movie that has since become as forgettable as Ben Affleck’s performance as Daredevil.

There’s no question that the road to this movie has been long and hard, but it’s finally almost here. The Wonder Woman movie is poised to join the world of superhero movies at a time when raccoons and talking trees are finding their way into this genre.

With only a few months left, Warner Brothers released another trailer this past weekend. I would’ve made a big deal of it sooner, but being sick kind of got in the way of that. I’m better now so I’m ready to make a big fucking deal of it now.

Are you done cheering like a school-girl on crack? Good. As a long-time comic book fan, seeing this trailer puts a smile on my face and a boner in my pants. I couldn’t be happier that superhero movies have become the alpha and omega of box office blockbusters. However, I have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of successful female superhero movies.

Wonder Woman can change that. Wonder Woman, being the first and most iconic female hero of the last 70 years, can bring some much-needed balance and sex-appeal to superhero movies. While I doubt the BDSM elements of her history are going to show up in this movie, I’m glad she’s joining the crowded crop of superhero movies that has one too many talking racoon and actors named Chris.

This trailer specifically focuses on Wonder Womans origins. Again, there’s no hint of BDSM, but the core elements are there. There’s Themyscira, her homeland. There’s the Amazons, a society of warrior women blessed by the gods. There’s a weapon that no woman on Themyscira is worthy to wield. Those are all key elements of an awesome Wonder Woman story.

That story will commence this June. Expect me to be among the first in line. Also expect me to write a thorough assessment on this blog, especially if any BDSM moments show up. I imagine they’ll be well-hidden if they do, but at this point, I’ll just gladly accept an awesome Wonder Woman movie that’ll remind the assholes at the UN why she’s one of the most iconic female heroes of all time.

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My Thoughts (And Concerns) On The Second Wonder Woman Trailer

Over the past decade or so, there have been a major glut of superhero movies and for an admitted comic book fan like me, I couldn’t be happier. Every now and then, someone will ask me if I’m getting tired of all these superhero-themed movies. My response usually some form of “Hell no!”

This year has been a damn good year for comic book movies, thanks in large part to the contributions of Deadpool and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s still not over with a Dr. Strange movie coming out this month, but that’s basically another movie about a white guy becoming a superhero. As much as I love superhero movies, I do appreciate a little variety.

That’s why 2017 holds a great deal of promise because that’s where Wonder Woman will finally enter the arena that is superhero cinema. Yes, it’s finally happening. The most iconic female superhero of the 20th century, who just happens to have an origin story with not-so-subtle BDSM undertones, is going to get her own movie. I think I speak for generations of comic book fans when I say it’s about damn time.

I already got wondrously giddy when the first trailer came out. That gave us our first taste of a cinematic Wonder Woman, played by real-life female soldier and overall badass, Gal Gadot. She already proved herself in Batman v. Superman. Say what you will about that movie (and believe me, everything that can be said has), but she was the best part of that movie. She alone made that movie worth seeing.

Now, Gal Gadot is ready to take center stage on her own movie. It’s a movie that promises to explore Wonder Woman’s origin, setting her on the path that eventually led to her arrival in Batman v. Superman. It’s an opportunity to show just how awesome Wonder Woman can be and the trailer only reinforces that sentiment.

Seeing this trailer gave me goose bumps in the best possible way. It got me excited in ways I usually reserve for holidays, parties, and strip clubs. It has all the right ingredients. It has Wonder Woman kicking ass, defending the innocent, and standing up for the values of her people. It’s a beautiful thing and she looks damn sexy doing it.

As excited as I am about this trailer, though, I do have concerns that will likely keep me up until people start whining about it on message boards (and they will because people whine about every superhero movies). I can tolerate and ignore whining. That’s one of the most important skills any comic book fan can learn. With Wonder Woman though, the stakes are a little different.

Unlike Batman, Superman, or Deadpool, there are very different stakes for Wonder Woman’s movie. At least with heroes like Superman and Batman, they have a track record. At times, that track record is mixed. Do I need to remind Batman fans of this?

I’ll avoid scrutinizing that pile of shit, but I bring it up because it sends an important message. No matter how far a franchise sinks or how bad it gets, strong characters will bounce back. Wonder Woman is one of the strongest, most iconic characters in the history of superhero comics. She’s reliant. She can endure more than one blows by Joel Shumacher.

However, it’s not the issues with horrible Batman movies that concern me. It isn’t even the acting capabilities of Gal Gadot or her co-star, Chris Pine. Both are quality actors with a solid track record of playing powerful characters in heroic roles. Gal Gadot already got a head start with Batman v. Superman. So what could possibly be so disconcerting.

It can be best summed up in one word: Catwoman. Anybody remember this? If not, consider yourself lucky.

Why do I bring up Catwoman? Why do I dare reference the abomination that even the Oscar-winning talent of Halle Berry couldn’t save? Well, it’s important to mention because the failure of this movie is part of what set back female superhero movies for so long.

There are many who complain about the absence of female leads in superhero movies. Those complaints aren’t without merit. I certainly wouldn’t lump them in with the typical whining that comes with superhero movies. What gets lost in the complaining though is the context and that context doesn’t have as much to do with sexism as radical feminists would have us believe.

As is often the case, it all comes down to that wholly unsexy force: economics. Yes, I can already sense your eyes glazing over. I can sense panties drying up and boners being killed. Bear with me here. There’s a reason for this and it’s a good reason if you want to understand why Wonder Woman’s movie is so important.

According to Box Office Mojo, Catwoman was a commercial and critical bomb that made only $82 million against a $100 million budget. It’s one thing for a movie to be critically despised. If it loses money, then it becomes an even bigger problem.

Michael Bay movies are among the most reviled by critics, but he gets away with it because movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction make over $1 billion. If Catwoman had made that much money, you can bet that Halle Berry would’ve been in no fewer than three sequels. Hell, Michael Bay may have even directed those movies.

Unfortunately, Catwoman didn’t make that kind of money. As a result, that movie’s failure sent the message that female superhero movies aren’t profitable. They’ll lose a studio money, even if they throw in Oscar-caliber talent. Studios don’t listen to much, but they do listen to money and if a movie doesn’t make money, it may as well be smothered in elephant shit.

This is why Wonder Woman is such an important movie. If it is a success, it’ll prove to Hollywood that strong female heroes can succeed. They can turn a profit. This would be huge, especially for those still pining for a Black Widow movie. Joss Whedon even said he’d return to direct that movie. That raises the stakes for Wonder Woman even more.

If, however, Wonder Woman flops like 2015’s Fantastic Four movie, then that’ll set female superhero movies back even more. That’ll only reinforce the notion that female superheroes can’t hold their own without a strong male lead supporting them. It would be the worst possible message to send to Hollywood, who still control the checkbook.

With that in mind, I eagerly and anxiously await the release of Wonder Woman. She’s entering a golden era of superhero movies. She’s got everything going for her. She got a head start in Batman v. Superman, she’s got a talented actress in Gal Gadot, and she’s got a fanbase who has been hungry for a Wonder Woman movie since Lynda Carter retired.

The stakes literally couldn’t be higher. Gal Gadot, DC Comics, and Wonder Woman have a lot riding on their shoulders. It’s going to take a special kind of female superhero to break through and show the world that women can kick ass. I can think of no one more special than Wonder Woman to make that happen.

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