Wonder Woman (2017)

Director: Patty Jenkins

Writer: Allan Heinberg (Screenplay) Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, Jason Fuchs (Story)

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Tagmaoui

 

Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: DC Just Kicked Marvel’s Ass

 

Story: Wonder Woman starts in the present day (this works because we know Wonder Woman is part of the modern-day fight) where Diana (Gadot) receives the original photo of her with fellow soldiers Steve Trevor (Pine), Sameer (Taghmaoui), Charlie (Bremner) and The Chief (Rock) during the First World War.

This launches us into a flashback as Diana recounts her training under the greatest Amazon Warrior Antiope (Wright) first against her mother Hippolyta (Nielsen) wishes but soon with open arms. When Steve crashes into the oceans surrounding their island, he comes telling stories of a great war raging. Diana decides it is her destiny to fight to save the innocent and joins Steve in battle, but the outside world is nothing like she had expected and soon she will learn the politics, bravery and horrors of a modern war as she goes in search of Aires the God of war that she believes in causes it all, while Steve is on a mission to stop the latest weapon spreading. Can Diana unlock her destiny and become the hero the world is looking for?

 

Thoughts on Wonder Woman

 

Characters/PerformanceDiana is the warrior that wants to fight to save the world, always pushed to improve her abilities, she learns more about her true self on this adventure, while also having comical moments of not understand but reality checks by others. As Wonder Woman, she is the weapon we all came to see as he highlight of Batman v Superman and just continued to grow our love for this character. Steve Trevor is an American spy, he knows about the new weapon which could end the war and will do everything to stop it from causing more casualties. He is a good man that is showing Diana the way in this world. Hippolyta and Antiope are good character even if they fall into the typical mother and trainer routine. Ludendorff gives us the villain that will do anything to win the war however violent it is. The rest of the characters all either add laughs, menace or surprises to the story.

Gal Gadot is wonderful in this role, she is beautiful, naïve and can kick ass to save people all without blinking an eye. Chris Pine is a brilliant choice for this role as brave American not full off himself either. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright fill the middle-aged roles well both look beautiful and offering the advice from their characters. Danny Huston is easily one of the best go to guys in Hollywood for a villain role and he doesn’t fail to deliver. The rest of the cast all do great jobs throughout.

StoryThe story is an origins story but this time it is our aged mentally Diana looking back on what made her want to protect humans from war. This is also a brilliant war movie showing how unknown eyes would be in complete shock and terror in what they are seeing from the humans in battle. The story does feel grounded when it is just Diana witnessing the war but when she becomes Wonder Woman it turns full comic book which is good for the world created in this universe of DC characters.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is a mix of slow motion action sequences and big war set pieces, each one improving upon the last. The only negative in the action comes in the final battle. The adventure puts us on the mission to try and stop the war. The fantasy comes from Diana’s belief in Gods both good and evil being behind the war.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different environment Diana must enter after leaving her paradise, if it was London, the Front during war or the war bases which battles take place on. This helps us understand each decision Diana is making.

Special EffectsThe effects all look fantastic from start to finish of this movie and full expect to enjoy what you see.

Final ThoughtsAs a comic book movie, this is simply fantastic, wonderfully shot, powerful story that drives Diana to uncover her destiny and enjoy character. But as a major fan of the little things here, if this is Diana remembering the events how does she know what Ludendorff is up to? This of course is just being picky and is a question thrown around when people talk Titanic too, so we are in the top ranks of films here.

 

Overall: DC might just have won the battle this year with this brilliant addition to the superhero genre.

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War Machine (2017)

Director: David Michod

Writer: David Michod (Screenplay) Michael Hastings (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Anthony Michael Hall, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Ben Kingsley, Scoot McNairy

 

Plot: An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Comedy

 

Story: War Machine starts as highly respected and inspiration General Glen McMahon (Pitt) getting recruited to Afghanistan to see how the war is going over there, Glen brings his trusted men Pete Duckman (Hayes), Cory Staggart (Magaro), Greg Pulver (Hall), Willy Dunne (Cohen), Matt Little (Grace) and Andy Moon (Cyler) to bring the base together fixing the divide and keep the American side of the war happy back home.

We watch how Gen McMahon looks to recruit enough soldiers to make his plan to stop the problems happening in Afghanistan by using the counter insurgence tactics which have famously never worked before. Glen leads his close-knit group around Europe to find the rest of soldiers required from the allies of the United States as he continues his idea of peaceful removal of insurgence instead of just killing them.

 

Thoughts on War Machine

 

Characters/PerformanceGeneral Glen McMahon is assigned to Afghanistan to finish the war against the insurgence, he is respected and gets results by doing things his way. He wants to change things and make it feel like a war over a holiday image he sees it looking like. Greg Pulver is the loyalist man to Glen, he has been by his side from the start and is a loose cannon at times. The rest of the characters do all include the type of figures you would expect all getting the screen time required for the characters importance.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt is fantastic in this leading role showing us he can do comedy through a straight-faced role. Outside of Pitt it would be fair to say everybody else does a good job through this film fitting the chemistry required for the role.

StoryThe story is part parody and part light-hearted humour of how the war in Afghanistan could look like, more politics than conflict. We do also get the reality of war thrown at us and this shows us just what the problem with the war in Afghanistan. The story does feel long in places as this is two hours long but it is worth it for the reality check it gives.

Comedy/War The comedy comes from the reality check of how naïve the war in Afghanistan was, it’s not a laugh a minute it is a laugh of that was stupid wasn’t it. The war side of the film comes from trying to solve the problem without conflict.

SettingsEach setting looks good for the film and shows us just how this was for the soldiers would have come off comfortable for the soldiers over the previous wars.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that is worth watching, it does have good moments on reality but it also has the moments that show how pointless the battle came off as.

 

Overall: One to watch.

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Christopher Lee Weekend – The Wicker Man (1973)

wickerDirector: Robin Hardy

Writer: Anthony Shaffer (Screenplay)

Starring: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp, Rseell Waters

 

Plot: A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Classic

 

Story: The Wicker Man starts as Sergeant Howie (Woodward) flies to Summerisle a remote island of the coast of Scotland to investigate the case of a missing child Rowan Morrison. Howie finds the island to be very strange and not the most welcoming to strangers but they understand he is the law. While Howie continues to see the strange events on the island Lord Summerisle comes to the inn to see Willow (Eklund) the Goddess of love.

Howie meeting the Lord discovers that the island has created its own beliefs against any Christian ones he has with the belief that the Pagan way of life is no longer respected the way the island follows it.

Finding himself stranded on the island Howie gets to experience the May Day festival which would give him all the answers to what happened to the missing girl.

The Wicker Man is considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time and watching it you can see why. The horror comes from how a cult can have such a belief in something that they could become the most dangerous group imaginable. The story does a very good balance between religion beliefs and how they can cause the difference between people which we see in the shocking finale which will forever go down as one of the most shocking in horror.

Woodward is great as the detective with the Christian belief that is trying his hardest to do everything by the book. Christopher Lee gives one of his most terrifying performances as the lord of this cult staying calm and fully believing everything his character is doing is correct. The rest of the cast are all great without being anything truly stand out apart from Eklund who plays the very seductive character with the famous dancing scene.

 

Overall: One of the boldest and bravest horrors ever made.

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We Make Movies (2017)

Director: Matt Tory

Writer: Matt Tory (Screenplay)

Starring: Jordan Hopewell, Matt Tory, Zack Slort, Jonathan Holmes, Anne Crockett, Matt Silver

 

Plot: A heartfelt and hilarious comedy chronicling the ups and downs of a group of college students who spend their summer making a movie for their town’s Film Festival.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Friendship, Filmmaking and Funnies

 

Story: We Make Movies starts as we follow the student director Stevphen (Tory) as he goes about preparing for his latest film with his best friend and odd jobber on set or associate producer Donny (Hopewell), the two are being followed by a film crew to learn how this film making process happens.

With his script in place Stevphen heads to his star Garth (Holmes) to recruit him once again, while getting a chance to work with a new method actor Leonard (Slort) and bringing in Jessica (Crockett) while waiting for a leading lady of his choice to come along.

This is a long summer of work preparing for the local film festival filled with plenty of ups and downs.

 

Thoughts on We Make Movies

 

Characters/PerformanceStevphen is the controlling ambitious director who believes he is the next big thing in movie making. Donny is the assistant and best friend of Stevphen who comes off very naïve to the world. Garth is the long-suffering star of Stevphen’s movies that just goes along with the idea. Leonard is a new acquired method actor that has high demands, poking full fun at the ideas of what we could see actors demanding silly things to be the star of movies. Jessica is the sent to stay with Donny and grabs the attention of all the guys, she does become the leading lady to keep herself busy for the summer.

Performance wise, I feel all 5 of the main cast all give good performances, handling the comedy which mostly comes in dead-pan style gets executed wonderfully to make us believe on what is going on.

StoryThe story follows the 5 friends as they set out to make a movie over one summer to enter into a film festival, we see the ups and downs, the friendships that will be tested to achieve this. Seeing the film making process taken to a tongue in cheek style works because we do follow the documentary team film the team at work and how things look from the outside.

ComedyThe comedy all comes from poking fun at the film making process, the over the top beliefs we have gotten to know from the star’s stories and everything that could go wrong along the way.

SettingsThe film is all set within the small town as it shows how the friends can work together to have fun and make movies through the long summer breaks.

Final ThoughtsThis was a fun a movie that does get the laughs, while the friends get to show off their creative minds.

 

Overall: This is one for the fans of comedy movie making.

Rating

 

 

Studio Ghibli Weekend – When Marnie Was There

manirDirector: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Writer: Keika Niwa, Masahi Ando, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, David Freedman (Screenplay) Joan G Robinson (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanaki Matsushima, Susumu Terajima, Toshie Negishi

 

Plot: Upon being sent to live with relatives in the countryside, an emotionally distant adolescent girl becomes obsessed with an abandoned mansion and infatuated with a girl who lives there – a girl who may or may not be real.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Roller-Coaster

 

Story: When Marnie Was There starts as we meet 12-year-old girl Anna Sasaki who has been struggling to fit in at school becoming distant from her whole family too. Looking for a cure Yoriko her Aunt sends Anna to the family Kiyomasa and Setsu on the coast with fresh air away from the busy city.

With the beautiful landscape becoming the inspiration for Anna’s latest artwork she becomes fascinated by a mysterious abandoned mansion on the marsh. Investigating Anna meets the girl who lives in the mansion Marnie.

The two become best friends but it soon leaves Anna wondering just whether Marnie is real or not because without this friendship Anna feels almost empty in this world.

 

Thoughts on When Marnie Was There

 

StoryThis story is one of the very best from Ghibli, it does lose all of the wild fantasy elements and at its core is one of the sweetest heartbreaking dramas you will see in recent years. The story focuses on the problems a foster child is suffering with through after her parents and grandparents all die, our character can’t find her way in the world but one summer changes all of that for her. How everything unfolds will bring a tear to your eye once you see the final outcome of this story.

Family/MysteryWhen you look at the family side of the story we get to see just how difficult being a foster child can be and you add in the mystery of just who is Marnie to this young girl real, imagine or a memory.

CharactersAnna is a perfect character for lead in a film, she is a struggling young girl who hasn’t understood her place in the world struggling with anxiety and depression with no one around she believes she can turn to for help. Marnie gives Anna the out she needed so much from her life bringing the positive she never knew she has in her. I will say the rest of the characters are mostly typical characters you would see around town who all help Anna with her problems.

SettingsThe animation gives us the most beautiful settings away from the busy lifestyle in the small country village.

AnimationWhen it comes to the animation Ghibli always give us such a perfect style of animation and this is no exception from the brilliant study.

Final ThoughtsThis has to go down as one of Ghibli’s best pieces of work a pure down to Earth story that will make you smile while the tears roll down your face and pure emotional roller-coaster.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Stunning Unforgettable, Tragic, Charming and Important all just a few words to describe this film.

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