December 27, 2020

MOVIE REVIEW #71 Wonder Women 1984 With Talking Flick Podcast!

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Directed by Patty Jenkins



“Nothing good is born from lies. And greatness is not what you think.” Gal Gadot (Diana Prince)


Patty Jenkins directed and did not write my favorite DCEU film to date: 2017’s Wonder Woman, this go around she pulls double duty and the end result is not as good as the first film which is fine. Jenkins had tremendous pressure laid upon her in 2017 after Zach Snyder underwhelmed with the overstuffed and expensive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Seemingly, Wonder Woman needed to course correct and perhaps save the DCEU altogether. Funny thing about that unfair pressure on Jenkins in 2017 is she met it head on and delivered a truly great superhero film (made my top 5 films of 2017!) with a character that I would argue is not an easy sell (did anyone really think Wonder Women could lead a successful film or a franchise, I mean really??). So, having seen the sequel and read some of the hate (typical divided America loves to hate the DCEU) I can safely say to those haters, chill the f**k out, Jenkins gets a little leeway here, and if anything we owe her a debt of gratitude for producing the only fully formed superhero in the modern cinema version of the DCEU that has real flaws, shows growth, and that we actually care about. 


Director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman and Monster) revisits Diana Prince (a still mesmerizing Gal Gadot) some 70 years after the events of Wonder Woman and some 30 years before the events seen in Justice League; in Wonder Woman 1984 (an interesting time period choice).  This time around Diana is up against (2) major villains, Barbara Minerva (played charmingly by Kristen Wiig), aka Cheetah and Maxwell Lord (a complex and manic performance by Pedro Pascal).  I often cringe when superhero films feel the need to overstuff the movie with too many villains, but this duo, though maybe underwritten at times, works well enough together. Whereas the first Wonder Woman focusses on man’s propensity to be violent and create war, the sequel draws on man’s propensity for greed (“the answer is always more” says Maxwell Lord). Complicating matters is the return of Steve Trevor (just another great performance by Chris Pine) to the franchise. Having Steve back satisfies Diana’s wants, but at what cost? I was skeptical of bringing back the Trevor character that I loved so much in the first in the film, but I have to say even with a shaky narrative about a wish granting, macguffin rock (anyone care how or why Max knew about the rock?), I was having enough fun that I just went with it. I appreciated that greed versus desire leading to a heartbreaking choice, served as the moral center of the film, which is further emphasized by being set in the decade of greed. I have heard the comparisons to Spiderman 3 which I completely disagree with, both Wiig and Pascal do a fine job with the villains (unlike Thomas Haden Church's completely confusing Sandman in SP3), I think they are complex and interesting enough, but Jenkins has to make choices about time and editing and if there is a flaw of the film, it lies there.  The flow of the film can seem choppy at times and I think though Jenkins shows a lot of the excess and greed of the 80’s, there are some missed opportunities in the film (come on Patty give us a few more 80’s tunes!). I actually loved that the climax, though goofy and a little hard to follow, was one without major violence or a truly giant set piece (that comes earlier in a fun car chase sequence that will leave your heart pounding) which is very rare in this DCEU and certainly un-Synder like (I criticized the climax of the 1st film for being too CGI reliant when it didn’t need to be). It is also noteworthy that Jenkins asks you to pay attention to the things that are said in the film, because if you don’t, you may not understand what is going on in that 3rd act. I certainly question the Cheetah and WW showdown, some poor CGI and a weird resolution make it less than spectacular, but I firmly believe Wonder Women 1984 has more good moments than bad in it. I couldn’t help but smile when Diana achieves the heights of her powers in a variety of scenes that to the unappreciative, may feel unnecessary. Jenkins really doesn’t care about brooding or darkness much, she actually doesn’t care about the rules much, she just f**king goes for it, and that more than narrative or style is what sets her apart from the Synder's or even the Favreau's. Wonder Women 1984 is a worthy sequel that reminds me more of Superman II than Spiderman III, more Batman Returns than Batman Forever. It dares to be a little weird, it challenges us to pay attention, and most importantly it makes us care about the protagonist.  Why is Wonder Woman my favorite character in this modern DCEU, because I care about her, and because I care about her, I hope we see more of her. SEE IT!!



(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) WW 1984 is not as good as the first film and it doesn't need to be. Wonder Woman 1984 is a truly wonderful spectacle worth seeing in a theater so as long as you take precautions. Jenkins continues to do interesting and underappreciated work in film (See I am the Night, the TNT series). Although WW 1984 is far from perfect, it is still a very fun ride that achieves growth for the character and delivers a solid message. It is a worthy 6.5 on the The Shawshank Scale (and though she is taking on a Star Wars film apparently, we here at prefer her in the DCEU where she should be running the show for all our favorite DC characters).  Imagine a likable Bruce Wayne or a Superman that shows growth, I firmly believe Jenkins can deliver that. 




Talking Flick on Anchor (WW 1984 Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (WW 1984 Episode) 


East to West with Nick and Rob

December 26, 2020

SPECIAL REVIST OF 2018 REVIEW SOLO: A Star Wars Story With Talking Flick Appearance (Star Wars month is back on Talking Flick!) and New a Christmas Episode of East to West with Nick and Rob

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover  Directed By Ron Howard

What are the odds that Star Wars INC. is just a publicly traded company that will do anything to increase profits for its shareholders even if it means destroying (by over saturation and poor storytelling) one of the most beloved movie franchises in the history of cinema? Never tell me the…eh screw it. Solo (A Star Wars Story) kinda sucked (I don’t want to bury the lead here), Ron Howard (of F**king Apollo 13 and Gung Ho, two of my very favorites) sort of just showed up with half a movie already made (Lord and Miller of The Lego Movie Fame were shockingly fired after spending over a 100 million or so on stuff Disney deemed unwatchable) and he mailed the rest in. A few decent set pieces and some interesting performances could not save this shockingly inessential and frankly boring Star Wars film. I rarely go out of my way to attack a film but this film insulted me. I was always nervous that Disney was just piecing these things together after a shaky but fun Force Awakens felt choppy, then a weirdly edited Rogue One showed up only to be saved by a stellar last 15 minutes, a sloppy and bewildering The Last Jedi didn’t help, and finally the coup de gras, a sleepy, unenthusiastic Han Solo movie seals it for me, they are making this shit up in post (why they need to make 2 Stars Wars films a year is beyond my understanding, oh no wait: money).  Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford but doesn’t totally stink, his character is very poorly written however (what is his motivation again? Is he a good guy? Oh ok your literally spelling it out he is a good guy, please don’t show me the dice again…smh), Donald Glover seems like his Lando is in a different movie, though he is fun to watch, Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke are fine, but what are their characters doing again and why do I care? I mean there are double crosses that could be interesting but are never fully embraced, there is a cool heist film in here but its chopped down to a 10 minute set piece (maybe that train robbery should’ve been the whole film), and there are some fragments of character development (Thandie Newton was great and I liked the robot revolution stuff led by L3—37 voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but nothing is allowed to breath. Disney is so cookie cutter it can’t commit to making anyone good or bad except maybe Paul Bettany who is clearly counting his star wars bucks while evil laughing his way to the bank. We hop from planet to planet so much, (similar to Rogue One) it is hard to follow why we are anywhere and for what reason. Han is seemingly a smuggler who should be a cynical jerk but this movie goes out of its way to run away from that, giving multiple moments to things I’m pretty sure Harrison Ford’s Han would never do (I mean he would crash the Falcon for sure, but give away his loot…um no).  I may be grading Solo on an unfair curve but is it too much to ask to have a compelling and true to the character story ready before the cameras start rolling? Father son Lawrence and Jonathan Kasden  wrote this film, but I have a feeling they were noted to death and I’d bet my Lego Millennium Falcon their script is not what this film ended up being.  I wanted to like this film, I went in with an open mind, and I came out of it utterly disappointed, I took a week to see if I was being too reactionary and now I can safely say Solo is watchable for sure, but it is the first Star Wars movie you don’t have to see (not in a theater, not anywhere), and you will be fine.  Skip It!

 (The Shawshank Scale 1-10) I had a bad feeling about this film, for good reason. Ron Howard I love a lot of your work, but drop the IP stuff and stick with the biopics, never has the galaxy felt so far away. BTW the score was the worst ever in a Star Wars film. I give it a paltry 5.0 on the Shawshank Scale and I will list Solo as the first big disappointment of 2018.  

2020 Update: Upon another rewatch the 5.0 Shawshank Scale score sticks, I mean, it isn't quite as bad as I remember and the bar has dropped a little further since Rise of Skywalker came out and disappointed also, but maybe there is some room to grow to a 5.5 with time. A few set pieces are impressive and there is some interesting casting choices, but it is still a hot mess that it isn't a bunch of fun. I think the galaxy is better off focussing on other things. 

1.       Return of the Jedi
2.       Empire Strikes Back
3.       A New Hope
4.       Revenge of the Sith
5.       The Force Awakens

1.       Solo: A Star Wars Story
2.       Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
T     The Rise of Skywalker


Talking Flick on Anchor (Solo Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (Rogue One Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor (A New Hope Episode)


East to West with Nick and Rob (Ho Ho Ho Now we have a podcast) 


December 10, 2020

SPECIAL REVISIT OF 2009 REVIEW: WOLVERINE With Talking Flick Appearance and New Episodes of East to West with Nick and Rob!

Wolverine (2009) Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber Directed by Gavin Hood

What I said then:

Well the summer is among us, this is what we all have been waiting for (by all I mean probably just me cause I love movies). The one who strikes first with a cool 87 mill on opening weekend...well that would be Wolverine. This marks a string of biggies that will soon follow...May 8th Star Trek, May 15 Angels & Demons, and May 21 Terminator (you know with the guy who flipped out on the set...are you f-ing serious you don't remember that!!) But right now is Wolverine's time. Hugh Jackman got stacked (does he know A-rod's cousin?) for his reprisal as the sharp clawed Wolverine. I am a basic fan of the X-Men movies. All three were solid, the 2nd and third better than the first. By the way this movie basically wants you to forget that Sabertooth (Victor Creed) was in the first flick (it won't be hard to do he was Bane in the fourth Batman). This is a prequel designed to give us the Origin story of the fan favorite "Wolverine". It does a nice job getting us to buy that vengeance, and war has shaped this loner mutant into the guy we all love today. It is a little sloppy around the plot points, but after Fast and Furious, I won't complain too much. the action at times is intense, and too often a little CG heavy. It is saved mostly by the good casting. The pair Jackman and Schreiber as rival half-brothers is pretty cool, though again the story is full of holes. We get a bunch of cool new characters...Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, has maybe the best scenes (though it is awfully reminiscent of Blade 3) and you miss him when he is out of the picture. Taylor Kitsch (from Friday Night Lights) surprised me with a nice portrayal of my comic book favorite Gambit. Danny Huston as Stryker, and Kayla Silverfox as Lynn are both fine as well. It is a swift 107 minutes, that is a little slow at the beginning but keeps you moving along after that. It contains plenty of action, though the editing is choppy and a little confusing. Also it tries really hard to connect to the other movies with Scott Summers (Cyclops) showing up, and a nice young looking Prof. X. Don't be pissed for a spoiler had to know that was coming. Ultimately for the first of the summer it was solid. I thought it could have been done better, but i'm fine with it. I'm happy they got some class actors to do it, if they had cast differently I know I would have slaughtered it in a review. So get your popcorn ready...there's no way in the world I am not going to recommend the first of the summer flick...come on people get excited. Go see Wolverine! I give it a solid 6.5 memorable Morgan Freeman lines from Shawshank (as always out of ten), what if Andy Dufrane had cool Wolverine claws, then he could just cut out of the sewer filled with poop and piss...but then the scene in the rain wouldn't mean as much...sorry Andy can't make it easy for that scene too much, no claws for you.

Food for thought: Would you believe it, I wasn't hungry this time. Up next for Jackman Drive, about a stuntman.

2020 Update: Upon further review this film does not hold up very well to Rewatchability, it lacks in several areas and is overstuffed to a nauseating degree. I still ride for elements of this film, namely Live Schreiber really bringing it, but Gavin Hood perhaps a little over his skis and maybe some sloppy studio interference makes for a watchable but messy ride. 5.0 maybe 5.5 on The Shawshank Scale, one of the worst Star Wars feature films. 


Talking Flick on Anchor (Wolverine Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (Wolverine Episode)


East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes (Magnum P.U.)

East to West with Nick and Rob on iTunes (The Scottish Way)