Wonder Woman

This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

If I’m going to be truthful, I have to admit: I am a bit tired of superhero movies. Not to say I don’t enjoy all of them, sometimes watching a superhero movie brings everyone together for a fun time. My problem is that there is simply too much nowadays. More and more heroes are being picked from the comics to have their own films and franchises with multiple contract deals and crossovers. After a while it is hard to keep track of and follow. The stories tend to feel too similar and follow the same formula. None of these films have stuck with me, until now. Not until the story of Diana Prince finally graced the silver screen. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (played by Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, who has been trained since childhood to be a great warrior. Her sheltered life on the island of Themyscira abruptly ends when a pilot (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the shore and tells of a “war to end all wars” going on in the outside world. Diana must leave her home and discover her true powers in order to end the war and save all people.

Right from the start it is clear that this is not your average superhero movie. Right down to even the posters, which show Wonder Woman in strong, dominant poses, the film portrays the character as nothing else but a fighter, a hero. It’s not about the fact that she is a woman, though it is both important and sad that this is the first female-led superhero film, the first to be directed by a woman at that. The film focuses instead on Diana’s journey to becoming the famed Wonder Woman. In the end, it is Diana discovering her true powers and destiny that help her become who she is and help her overcome the struggles she faces while fighting both her small and big enemies. How inspiring it is, to see such a strong woman single handedly run through no mans land from the trenches of war, fired at constantly with bullets as she deflects them all and fights back. The result is one of the most breathtaking sequences in modern-day action film.

What sets Wonder Woman apart from the other DC comic films, that have not exactly been met with the same universal praise and success? First I believe having a female director makes a world of a difference, someone who can successfully guide a film to focus on a woman’s strength and ability. Patty Jenkins direction is fantastic. Second comes down to basic storytelling. Wonder Woman’s story execution is flawless. The film explores Diana’s past, with rich characters that shape her character, while also introducing new ones to transition her into the next phases of her battle. The steady but quick pacing allows for just the right amount of exposition and action to create a balance between the two that other DC and superhero films have previously lacked. Nonetheless the story still manages to provide humor, heart, and surprises all while incorporating stunning action sequences. Seriously the action sequences are amazing.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. There is no one else more perfect for the role. She is able to seamlessly blend both her lovable innocence and naivety as someone new to the human world with her warrior strength and intelligence. She views the world with a childlike curiosity and a heart that believes in the inner goodness of people. Gal’s Diana is a symbol of love, truth, and justice and it is a pleasure to watch it all unfold on-screen. Chris Pine is great in the film too, as the American pilot who acts as Diana’s link to the outside world as well as her love interest. Pine acted as the perfect supporting character to Diana with strong chemistry between the two. They played off each other perfectly.

I loved seeing Diana’s childhood and training on the island with the Amazons as well as her action packed war scenes, but perhaps what I appreciated most was Diana’s battle within herself. Her quest for justice was only made stronger when she realized the true power she held inside. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero movie. The story, performances, direction, and action all made for an enjoyable and inspiring film that can be appreciated by all audiences. Wonder Woman is the superhero we have been waiting for and I cannot wait to see what is in store for her. I recommend everyone to go see the film!

ALL IN ALL: Wonder Woman packs a punch with fantastic action, humor, and heart.

Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston

Run Time: 2 hrs 21 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

image from: http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

 

The Conjuring 2

I love scary movies. I really do. I will admit that I only started watching them a while ago after trying to seem cool to my friends, but I have grown a deep love for the horror genre. The Conjuring series is no exception. I love the first Conjuring film. It is easily my favorite scary movie. Director James Wan, who has also directed classics like Saw, Insidious, and surprisingly Furious 7, is a master of suspense and thrills. The film does not rely on blood and gore but rather well-timed scares and growing suspense that provides a throwback to classic, old school horror films. Back at it again, The Conjuring 2 is no exception.

Directed by James Wan and based on a true story, The Conjuring 2 (2016) has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens now travel to London, England in order to help a single mother and her four kids who are being plagued by a malicious spirit.

I want to refrain from comparing The Conjuring 2 too much to the first film, but I can say for a fact that I enjoyed the first film more and found the sequel to be less scary. Do not get me wrong, The Conjuring 2 is a scary film. There were moments that genuinely made me jump. The suspense and thrills were strong. However, it lacked that fresh feel the first film possessed, perhaps due to familiarity.

The film felt somewhat messy, in its plot and visuals. There were scares but almost too many. Let me explain this. The first film drew out the suspense and packed in scares that were not as frequent but packed in a very strong punch. However for example in The Conjuring 2, the first few scenes that featured the demonic entity (I do not want to describe it any more so as not to spoil much), were absolutely horrifying. The film then made the mistake of showing the entity way too often to the point where it was no longer scary by the end of the film. The scares felt repeated and unnecessary at times.

The Conjuring 2 also felt a bit long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the film is a pretty average length but the pacing made it feel otherwise. A majority of the film was The Warrens along with other investigators trying to determine if the happenings were actually supernatural or not. Though this debate was actually a large part of the real life Enfield Case upon which the film is based upon, less of the film could have been devoted to that aspect. That being said, I found the first Conjuring to be a bit more believable than the second one. Also for those who have already seen the film, those Crooked Man visuals really took away from the tone and reality of it all. Shannon Kook who played Drew Thomas, the Warren’s assistant, in the first film had a small role in the second but really should have had more screen time in my opinion.

Nevertheless, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel. Again, James Wan is a master of horror so of course there are some great moments. I especially love his use of the settings and dark corners, making the audience really train their eyes and question, “Is there really something there?”. Though I was a bit thrown off by it, the film also focused many times on Ed and Lorraine’s relationship which was a nice breather from the suspense at times. Overall The Conjuring 2 is a well done addition to the Conjuring franchise and the horror movie library.

ALL IN ALL: Though not as strong and terrifying a film as its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel with some worthy scares and surprisingly warm themes.

poster from: http://diymag.com/media/img/Film/C/The-Conjuring-2/_1500xAUTO_crop_center-center_75/the-conjuring-2-poster.jpg

Sisters

So while everyone else this past week swarmed the theaters to see the latest Star Wars movie, I ended up going with some of my sistas to see Sisters! I love Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as much as the next person so of course right from when I first saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to see this movie someday. Now it is probably a movie I would have waited to rent and watch after it came out of the theaters, but nevertheless Sisters gave some great laughs.

Starring Amy Poehler and Tine Fey, Sisters has the two as sisters who plan to throw one last epic house party before their parents sell their family home.

Sisters was not necessarily great really with some gags that seemed to try a little too hard and pacing that felt pretty slow at times. Overall I still enjoyed it though. Tina and Amy once again successfully teamed up and proved their dynamic duo status. There were scenes that made me cringe and others that had me laughing out loud which seems to be the reasonable mix of emotions for most comedies nowadays. The supporting cast was also great with standouts including Maya Rudolph and of course John Cena, who was surprisingly and most probably my favorite part of the film.

While it does try to surpass its limits and reach that outrageous level of comedy more than once, Sisters was a pretty funny movie. Would I recommend seeing it in theaters? Probably not necessary, but do watch it sometime if you are looking for some great laughs. The overarching theme of the bond between sisters is one to appreciate.

ALL IN ALL: Though not the best comedy film, Sisters does provide genuine humor and scenes that can warm your heart and have you laughing out loud all at the same time.

Inside Out

Okay so has anyone else been disappointed with Pixar ever since Toy Story 3 came out in 2010? To me, that was the last true and great Pixar film and ever since then the quality and creativity of their works have decreased greatly (mainly due to them relying on sequels, many of which are going to be in production soon as well). I am so happy to say though, that Inside Out has returned Pixar to its’ former glory!

Set in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl Riley, Inside Out explores how her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)- try to lead her through life as she moves with her parents from the Midwest to San Francisco.

Let’s first start with the animated short that comes before every Pixar movie, for Inside Out it was Lava. Lava was such a cute story about two lonely volcanoes looking for love that I almost cried by the end. So obviously my emotions were already peaked by the time the movie actually started, and boy did they go on a roller coaster ride! I really loved Inside Out. The concept is so original and something I feel only Pixar would be able to come up with and actually put into motion. The director, Pete Docter, also directed Monsters Inc. and Up, so it is again obvious that he is a creative genius. I was constantly amazed by how unique the movie was and it only attests to the amount of time it took to develop the story. Kudos to the whole crew!

The film was super deep too, especially when you really think about it after watching. The whole idea of sadness being essential to achieve happiness and all emotions being involved in memories and experiences is pretty profound and also complicated. I sincerely doubt if the many kids in the theater really understood what was going on so it is a good thing that the characters were all brightly colored and that there were lots of funny moments. That being said, the animation was really cool to see up close since all the emotions had an almost pixelated, energy look to them. I read it took 8 months to achieve Joy’s “sparkly aura” and the team almost threw it out in the end, so again kudos to the animation team.

Amy Poehler was fantastic as Joy and a great leading character/emotion. The others were also fantastic with Lewis Black’s Anger emotion getting some of the funniest lines in the movie. However the breakout star was really Phyllis Smith who voiced Sadness. Sadness turned out to be the most important character in the film and became the film’s other lead, which I loved. The fact that Sadness resembles Smith was cute but Smith’s voice acting to me was top-notch and the best performance.

Inside Out had all the best emotions and gave me the feels too. There was love, lots of laughs, and yes sadness (two words: Big Bong…people who saw the movie will understand the distress I went through because of Bing Bong). Above all was a core message about growing up and how hard it is, but the themes of family and being yourself added some much-needed warmth. I do not know how well little kids responded to the movie, especially since again the story got deep at times, but I do know people of all other ages can definitely enjoy Inside Out.

ALL IN ALL: Inside Out is a triumphant return for Pixar with an amazingly creative concept, great voice work, and emotions that run high all throughout the film.

image from: http://cdn.movieweb.com/img.news/NEMye3g3VuXNQM_1_1.jpg

 

Jurassic World

As said in our last post, let’s get into the summer blockbusters people! We shall start with the number one movie at the top of the box office currently: Jurassic World! I got to see it with a couple of friends yesterday and let me tell you it was a real treat.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World is set 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park and takes place on the same island of Isla Nublar where a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has been running for 10 years. Chaos ensues when a genetically modified dinosaur, Indominus Rex, breaks loose and creates havoc across the park.

Jurassic World to me was that kind of classic summer movie. It was a lot of fun to watch! There was great action, little bit of romance, drama, DINOS. The dinosaurs and special effects looked good to me, though I cannot imagine filming and having to scream and act scared to a nonexistent dinosaur.

Chris Pratt was a “bad-ass” (as referred to in the movie) leading guy and was very likable so kudos to him. Bryce Dallas Howard also did a nice job, but I need to complain about her outfit in the movie. High heels..really? You expect me to believe she lasted that whole day in high heels and even outran a T-Rex in them? No, just no.

At times, the movie tried to take on too much, like having an emotional moment between two young brothers about their parents’ pending divorce. It was obvious though it was all for the sake of character depth and was simply unnecessary in the end. Ain’t nobody got time for this! It’s dino time! Also, you would think that these people would learn to not open up that island again but noooo apparently humans still think they can control dinosaurs. Number one lesson learned from this movie: always listen to Chris Pratt.

ALL IN ALL: Jurassic World is a fun, dino-filled film that is to be simply enjoyed, not examined.

Oh, almost forgot this…  dino Seriously the best part of the movie, my friends and I doubled over laughing during that scene!

image from: http://screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/jurassic-world-own-raptors-poster.jpg