Wonder Woman

 

“What I do is not up to you.” – Diana Prince

We start the show in aftermath of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice as we see Diana Prince in a museum, the Louve in Paris, receiving a briefcase from Bruce Wayne. In the briefcase is a note and an original black and white photograph. The photograph is the one seen in BvS:DOJ with Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and the others in a group photo from World War I.  As Diana is looking at the photo, we are taken back in time to when Diana was a little girl.

Wonder Woman takes us on an epic journey as we are introduced to Diana of Themyscira and experience her origin story. We watch with wonder as she grows up as a warrior princess and is first introduced to man. We empathize with her desire to do good in the world and help those who are less fortunate. We laugh at her naivete as she is introduced to the world and the humans outside of Paradise Island. We marvel at her strength as she tackles World War I head on and immediately makes a difference. We fall in love with her as she experiences love for Steve Trevor, and then loses him just as quickly. We cheer as she fights evil and defeats the God of War as she comes into her full strength before our very eyes.

Wonder Woman is easily the best movie of the summer, and of the year up to this point. Her strength, beauty, and charm put this movie head and shoulders above any superhero or comic book movie that has been released. Wonder Woman was the most intriguing part of Batman vs. Superman, and Diana Prince was fully established as a superhero in this movie. It has been a long time coming, and I’m glad she is finally in the forefront in the DC Cinematic Universe.

Go see this movie, go buy this movie, you will enjoy it!

The Dark Tower (2017)

 

“The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.”

One of the most iconic sentences written by Stephen King, and there are plenty, is included in the cinematic release of The Dark Tower. The movie has plenty of great visuals that tie into the written saga of the The Dark Tower and are exciting to see represented on film. There are a lot of story elements taken from the novels and comic books, characters, places, titles, and locations; but this is a different story than we have seen, or read, before.

This is what I would attribute the negative reactions towards the film to. The film tries to play the middle ground, put enough in the story for fans to recognize but also cater to the mainstream audience and play it safe with the story. This is a dangerous idea that rarely pays off. If you are going to commit to a movie as intricate and beloved as The Dark Tower, you’d better commit to appeasing the hard core fans. If you don’t have them in your, you have nothing. Imagine if while creating the Game of Thrones HBO series, the producers hadn’t followed the source material and had tried to play it safe, thinking the audience wouldn’t want to see dragons and sorcery? That series would have died quickly, it is seeing the source material on screen that people fell in love with. The Dark Tower should have followed suit.

I enjoyed The Dark Tower movie and I think that it has potential to open up a whole new universe of stories that people have been enjoying for decades now. I hope that the idea of having TV shows and sequel movies to continue this story is able to come to fruition as time goes on.  But, I did feel short changed as I left the theater, knowing that the source material is so rich and has so much to draw on.  However, I am willing to see where this goes and give The Dark Tower another chance.

I would give this movie a B as I enjoyed the visuals and the opportunity to see these characters on screen for the first time.

LOST Overview

LostBanner“Guys. Where are we?” – Charlie Pace

So begins one of the most interesting, fun, criticized, dynamic, and confusing TV shows in history, and I loved every minute of it! As someone who watched LOST from the beginning Pilot episode through to the very end, I don’t have much criticism for the show, only praise and gratitude that I got to experience this show as it was aired, episode by episode.

I recently binge watched LOST on Netflix and I enjoyed the show even more as I was able to watch the show non stop from beginning to end without weeks and months in between episodes and seasons. One of the mainstream criticisms of the show as it aired, was that the writers and producers were making it up as they went a long. That they didn’t have a clear path for the story and main characters already mapped out. That the show was being written and produced willy nilly. While there is some truth to that criticism, in that pretty much every TV show is made up, created, and written as they go along. I haven’t heard of a TV show that is totally fleshed out and each episode is written before they start filming (except for the rumored and unfilmed Star Wars live action TV show that has 50 episodes written, but have been shelved for a later date due to production costs) , but I guess it is possible.

However, one of the benefits of watching the show as they were creating it over the 6 seasons it lasted, is that there was so much fan speculation and discussion of each episode and season as it aired. There were fan forums and web pages dedicated to LOST and the hype was so intoxicating and addicting, especially those first couple of seasons. It was a lot of fun to be in the middle of all that as the story was unfolded and revealed to the audience.

While initially I wanted to do an episode by episode breakdown of the show, I realized a couple of things. First, doing that while watching it on Netflix diminishes the enjoyment of the viewing experience. Most of the episodes end in a cliffhanger that makes you want to watch the next episode right as the episode ends. To stop and write up a review of that episode you just watched isn’t very enticing and I wasn’t motivated to do so. I’d rather just cue up the next episode and get lost in LOST. Second, there are already fan websites and Wikipedia pages dedicated to breakdowns of each episodes and how the episodes, characters, and themes are interrelated and dependent upon each other. You can spend hours going down various rabbit holes dedicated to the show. I didn’t want to replicate that here on this blog.

Then I thought about reviewing each season as a whole and the various themes of the show and discussing my favorite plot points, characters, etc. But then I decided against that for the same reasons as stated previously for not doing the episode by episode breakdown. So I finally just decide to write some thoughts about the show as a whole and about how much I loved it while watching it the first time and the second. I may decide to do a more in depth discussion at a later date, as I plan to watch the show again at some point in the next 3 or 4 years.

This post serves as an prelude that overall show review, as the show review will be lengthy and I don’t want add that length to this post. I will be posting a review of the show as a whole, but then I plan to post thoughts on the characters and storylines as well. So click on the following links and take a journey to the Island.

  • LOST show review
  • Characters of LOST
  • LOST storylines

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

 

“There was a time above. A time before. There were perfect things. Diamond absolutes. But things fall, things on earth. And what falls, is fallen. In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”

As Batman vs. Superman starts we are shown a prologue that plays an important role in  the story and has major repercussions for the rest of the movie. I haven’t seen too many prologues that have such an influence on the rest of a film as this one does. In this prologue we are shown the death of the Bruce’s parents at the hands of Joe Chill, we see Bruce’s discovery of the caves near his home, and we see the final battle of Kal-El and Zod in Man of Steel but from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. This is a lot of ground to cover in the short 10 minutes that is devoted to these scenes.

The prologue starts with the Death of Thomas and Martha Wayne while the haunting score of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Beautiful Lie’ plays during this scene. We also hear the above quoted dialogue from an older Bruce Wayne during this scene.

In regards to the death of the Wayne’s, this is a scene that has been shown many times on the big and small screen. I myself have seen it four times in various formats prior to this movie. However, I believe this one is the most impactful of the ones that have previously been shown. This scene focuses solely on the mugging and murder of the Wayne’s. Only one word is spoken in this scene, “Martha”. This scene focuses more on the loss of Martha Wayne and how a little boy had to watch his mother die. While Batman Begins had focused on the relationship between Bruce and his father, Thomas, this movie is more about the loss of Martha. This scene is juxtaposed with the funeral of the Wayne’s and in this film, Bruce discovers the cave full of bats near his home during this time. As Bruce discovers the cave of bats they end up carrying him up to the light and out of the cave as the older Bruce says “In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”  These two short scenes are the essence of Batman and are the impetus of how he comes to be. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman because his parents are killed and he desires to right this wrong for the rest of his life.

From there we jump ahead in time to the events that we see at the end of Man of Steel (2013). Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis via helicopter from Gotham and witnesses first hand the final battle between Zod and Kal-El while driving on the streets of Metropolis. Bruce has an office building full of friends in Metropolis that he is trying to reach as Metropolis falls apart around him due to the World Builder wreaking havoc in the city. As Bruce reaches his office building, he is too late as he witnesses Zod destroy the building with his laser vision. Bruce can only watch in horror as his building collapses killing his friends and coworkers. Bruce then makes his way to the building to try and find survivors. He helps a security guard, Wally, who is trapped in rubble. He also is able to save a young girl from being killed as debris collapses almost killing her. As Kal-El and Zod continue to fight in the sky above Metropolis, Bruce watches with hatred towards these two aliens who are destroying a city and killing innocents.

This is the moment that Batman starts planning to stop Superman. This is the moment when Batman vs. Superman starts. A common complaint of this movie is that there were only a small amount of actual fighting between Batman and Superman. When in reality, Batman vs. Superman starts 9:50 into the movie.

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

Zack Snyder does an excellent job of tying in Man of Steel to this movie and propelling the overall story forward. Including this prologue scene setting up Bruce Wayne’s hatred of Kal-El and what he did to Metropolis was a smart move in more ways than one. Not only does it move the story forward, Snyder validates one of the biggest complaints from Man of Steel. This complaint is about the wanton destruction of Metropolis during the final battle and the major loss of life. Snyder doesn’t attempt to excuse or explain why it happened, but instead infuses those complaints into Bruce Wayne and his motivations for Dawn of Justice.

Before this horrific moment, the public and even Bruce Wayne did not know of Kal-El and his existence on Earth. Then all of a sudden in a matter of days, the world changes and these aliens are destroying cities and people are dying as a result of their feud. Dawn of Justice deals directly with this fear, from Bruce Wayne and others being scared of what Kal-El can do, to the media having a heyday with biased reporting and trying to pit half of the population against the other half. In real life we can’t even have a presidential election without arguing and protests, with the media fueling hatred for the two parties to go against each other. Imagine if an event such as what happened in Man of Steel actually happened and how the media would cover it and try to influence the population. I imagine it would happen pretty close to what is portrayed in this film, half of the population would hate Superman, the other half would love him and the media would do all it could to demonize the other half it doesn’t agree with. I believe this to be a genius move by Snyder and the story writers. This isn’t your father’s 1978 Superman feel good story, and nor should it be. A lot has changed in 35 years and a modern retelling of Superman should reflect that.

 

 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman-v-superman2

“Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”– Lex Luthor

Batman versus Superman. When this title was announced at San Diego Comic Con in 2014, it blew my mind! I was eagerly awaiting the announcement of a Man of Steel 2 movie, but this! This, my fellow nerds, was paramount to the Second Coming! Then to top it all off – Wonder Woman was announced to be a part of the movie too!

Batman AND Superman in the same movie?! The Man of Steel AND The Dark Knight at odds one with another?! Wonder Woman fighting alongside the two most iconic superheroes of all time?! Finally! This will be the first time The Trinity would appear on the big screen for fans to enjoy. For the first time we will see Diana Prince in action on film. The potential for greatness and movie making history was finally announced! And let me tell you, this film did not disappoint.

Wait, WHAT?! What is this you are reading? I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Am I truly reading a review of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that isn’t disparaging the film left and right?” or “Am I understanding this correctly? This guy actually LIKED this movie?!” The answer is yes, you are.

But all joking aside; yes, I did enjoy this movie from the first viewing. I saw it multiple times in the theaters, four times in fact. I would’ve gone once or twice more had I had the time to do so. I bought the Ultimate Edition when it came out on home video and my appreciation and enjoyment of this film grew even more. The storyline and character development was fleshed out to be more fulfilling and robust with the Ultimate Edition. If this Ultimate Edition had been released in theaters, I believe it would have been better received.

I intend to break this film down into various parts from beginning to end, as well as to write a character analysis for each of the main players in the film, over the next few weeks. To discuss and analyze everything this movie event has to offer would be too long for one blog post. I will attempt to win over those that dislike, are ambivalent, and even hate this movie; as well as reinforce the greatness of this movie with those that do enjoy it. I’m looking forward to this experience as I delve deep into this film, which in my opinion could be considered the greatest movie of 2016. It’s only competition being Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

But at the end of the day, if you don’t like the film – that’s fine, if you do like the film -great! Either way, life will go on and Warner Bros. will continue to produce and release films from the DC Universe for those that enjoy them.

Listed below are the topics I will address and expound upon, I will activate links to the various topics and characters as I finish writing them.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 2 – The Setup

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 3 – Investigations

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 4 – The Plan is Set in Motion

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 5 – War

Bruce Wayne/Batman

Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman

Lex Luthor

Lois Lane

Alfred

Zod/Doomsday

Dr. Strange

“Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.” – The Ancient One

“Which is?” – Dr. Strange

“It’s not about you.” – The Ancient One

dr-strange

 

Dr. Strange takes us in a different direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe than we have been in before, but yet still has the same origin story formula that has been used in prior movies. The difference is that with previous Avenger characters, such as Iron Man, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow etc., these mortals become superheroes based on their human abilities, as well as with their technology that they are able to create. Even to some degree, Spider-Man, Captain American, and Hulk, are the result of bio-technology that has been created by other men.

Dr. Strange takes a different route, one that doesn’t involve mortal technology, and is closer to Thor than any of the other Avengers. While using what could be considered magic, Dr. Stephen Strange is able to harness energy and power from other dimensions. The movie does an acceptable job of explaining what this power is and where it comes from. This explanation lends itself to a more pragmatic practice, than a magical practice.

Cinematically, it takes a different route as well, visually I would best describe it as Inception combined with The Matrix. The chase and fight scenes that take place throughout the film are amazing and fun to watch!

As Strange studies and learns more from the magical tomes of The Ancient One, he is able to gain the knowledge needed to use the magic to access other dimensions as well as the astral (spiritual) plane. This area is one that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) hasn’t covered before. Opening this door allows for a whole new branch of stories. I think that this possiblity of alternate dimensions combined with the storylines of Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy will keep the MCU fresh and provide many opportunities for different types of antagonists for the heroes to battle with.

SPECIFIC SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT

As a movie, Dr. Strange hits all the marks that you would expect from a Marvel Universe movie. It was funny, emotional, engaging, action packed, and furthered the overall storyline of the MCU. (Dr. Strange is considered Chapter 2 of Phase 3) I believe the most important reveal in this movie is the revelation of and the inclusion of the last Infinity Stone – the Time Stone, that is embedded in the Eye of Agamoto. This Stone allows for Dr. Strange to manipulate time throughout the film as he faces off against the villains.

So far we have five of the six Infinity Stones that have been revealed: the Space Stone (the Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger), the Reality Stone (the Aether from Thor: The Dark World), the Power Stone (the Orb from Guardians of the Galaxy) and the Mind Stone (Loki’s scepter/Vision’s power source from The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron). The one remaining Infinity Stone that is yet to be revealed is the Soul Stone.

These stones are what eventually Thanos uses to attempt a takeover of the Universe, a conflict that is slowly arriving and will be shown in The Avengers: Infinity War. Before then, we’ll see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 in May 2017, then Spider-Man: Homecoming in July 2017, then Thor: Ragnorak in November 2017. While the Soul Stone will most likely be revealed in one of these movies (probably in Thor: Ragnarok), I’m curious to see how these three movies will play into the overall story.

Dr. Strange adds more great characters to the MCU, and with the mid-credit scene, we see that at the very least, Strange and Thor will be teaming up in the near future. Rumors are out that Strange, Thor, and The Hulk will be featured heavily in Thor: Ragnarok (Thor 3). It’s a small step from there until Strange is featured in the next The Avengers movie.

This Dr. Strange movie is a step in the MCU and while it is great as a standalone movie, this movie is definitely a set up for future Marvel stories. With Strange learning how to use his power and mastering his arrogance, he was then able to defeat Dormammu and become the next Sorcerer Supreme.This story sets him up for future MCU movies as described previously, as well as a sequel, with Mordo being the next villain. In the comics, Mordo, aka Baron Mordo, is a major villain for Dr. Strange. In this film Mordo becomes disenfranchised from the path he was on with Dr. Strange and with the action he took against Pangborn, in the end credits scene, Mordo will definitely be a thorn in Strange’s side for any future stories.

I enjoyed Dr. Strange and felt that it was well directed and was a great origin story for a character not too well known in the general public’s eye. Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor were great in this movie. Now, Tilda Swinton. She did a great job as The Ancient One, and her performance was well done. It was just weird seeing her as a bald woman. I was constantly distracted by her bald head. Now this is coming from a bald person, so I can relate to the baldness. But some people (man or woman) just have strangely shaped bald heads, and she came across as one of those persons (as far as I know she isn’t bald in real life and it was a makeup job), so maybe my criticism should be against the make up person. I don’t think that it matters if The Ancient One was Asian or not, I applaud the decision to make The Ancient One a female, and like I said, Ms. Swinson was great in the role.

I recommend watching this movie and buying it when it comes out on blu-ray. I hope you enjoy watching it and piecing it in to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline as much as I did.

The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I recently read The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson as it has recently been released in the anthology book, Arcanum Unbound: The Cosmere Collection. 

The Hope of Elantris follows a group of citizens of Elantris as the final events of Elantris unfold. It is a behind the scenes look at a group of children and their caretaker, Matisse, from inside the city of Elantris during the final battle of Elantris.

As the soldiers attack Elantris, Matisse is able to take the children of Elantris to safety and is able to use her wits to keep them safe. Matisse was able to distract the soldiers by drawing an Aon that drew their attention and they began to pursue Matisse instead of the children. Just as the soldiers were about to hurt Matisse and make her Hoed, all Elantrians were healed and they were able to defeat the attacking soldiers and emerge victorious.

The story was quick and easy to read, and while didn’t provide much additional information to the overall story of Elantris, it was good to revisit the story. I read it right after finishing Elantris and felt that while it added something to the overall story of Elantris, if you were to never read The Hope of Elantris you would be just fine too.

I recommend the story if your able to get your hands on it, as it would take about 20 minutes to read it.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

emperorssoul

 

Return to the Cosmere world of Sel in the novella of The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. The story of Elantris and this one both take place on Sel, but are not overtly connected and don’t rely on each other narratively (at least at this point). This novella was recently released in the collection of stories, Arcanam Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson.

In The Emperor’s Soul we are introduced to a new magic system and a new civilization. We meet Shai who is a thief and a Forger, who is being held captive for theft by a group of nobles who need her to restore the Emperor’s soul to him. The Emperor was attacked by assassin’s, and while he still lives, he is in a coma and unable to speak. A bargain is struck with Shai that if she is able to restore the Emperor, they will let her go.

The magic system that Shai is able to use is called Forging. This requires that the Forger learn all she can about her subject and recreate memories, habits, opinions, etc. and put them into a soulstone stamp so that the individual can use this soulstamp on a daily basis to remind them of their lost memories.

Most of the story takes place in Shai’s room that she is being imprisoned in while creating the soulstamp for the Emperor. While this sounds kind of boring, it’s actually filled with great character development, political intrigue, and interesting world building. The story takes place over a period of 90 days, but moves really fast and has great pacing.

While The Emperor’s Soul is only a novella and takes place in such a confined area, there is so much information learned about this newly introduced Rose Empire of Sel. The devil is in the details as they say. I guarantee you’ll be reading this one over and over to try and figure out how it not only connects with Elantris, but the rest of the Cosmere.