action, adventure, animation, comic book, fantasy, movie, movie review

June 3rd, 2018 Movie – Wonder Woman (2009

wonder woman 2009

Man, why can’t DC make their live action movies as good as their animated ones. I know it is a pipe dream but it would still be nice. Anyways, in 2005, DC started a line of animated movies, separate from the earlier movies that were all related to the animated cartoons started by Bruce Timm. Today’s movie was the 4th one in the series and the first animated movie to really focus on the female member of DC’s leading trio. So, let’s see how good of a job that they did with today’s movie, Wonder Woman (2009).

The plot: In Ancient Greece, Queen Hippolyta leads the Amazons against the forces of Ares, God of War. As Hippolyta faces off against Ares on her own, Artemis and Persephone help keep Artemis’s sister Alexa safe, as she is more of a scholar than a warrior, but Persephone loses an eye in the process. Hippolyta continues to fight Ares but knowing that he only grows stronger as the fighting continues, she changes targets and goes after Thrax, the demigod son of Ares and Hippolyta, who is leading his father’s army. Hippolyta decapitates Thrax and when Ares tries to attack her, she gets the upper hand and is prepared to kill him as well. Suddenly, Zeus appears and tells her to spare Ares life and Hippolyta refuses at first but Hera then appears and calms Hippolyta down. She has Ares bound in bracers that disconnect him from his ability to feed off the aura of violence and death that gives him strength. She then offers Hippolyta the island of Themyscira for her and the Amazons to live in peace forever, as guards of Ares prison. As time passes, Hippolyta, feeling the loss of her child, molds one out of clay on the beach and holds it up to the Gods, where a bolt of life strikes it and brings it to life. Years pass and the baby has grown into a woman named Diana, who questions why they are always training when they never fight in any wars. Hippolyta leads her to the prison, and shows her Ares, still bound in chains, and tells her that they must always be vigilant to prevent him from escaping, as mankind has no doubt continued it’s warring ways. In the outside world, USAF Colonel Steve Trevor is on a mission with two other pilots when they are attacked by 6 enemy planes. As the planes fight in the air, all 6 enemy planes are killed but both of Steve’s wingmen are killed and Steve’s plane is damaged causing him to fall towards the sea. Suddenly, Steve sees the Themyscira before him, as someone had punched the mirror that allows it to interact with the real world, and he manages to crash his plane in a lake on the island. After swimming to shore, Steve comes across some Amazons bathing by a waterfall but he is soon attacked by Artemis and some other Amazons before eventually being captured by Diana. Steve is brought before Hippolyta, who uses the lasso of truth to determine how much he knows about Themyscira. Realizing that neither he, nor his government, knows anything about them, Hippolyta decides to send him back to his world. Diana offers to escort him but Hippolyta tells her she doesn’t have the experience necessary for such an undertaking and says they will hold a tournament to determine a worthy emissary. When Diana continues to argue that she will never gain experience if her mother keeps her from doing anything, Persephone suggest she help her guard Ares and Hippolyta agrees with her. As the Amazons prepare for the tournament, Alexa goes to prison and offers to take Diana’s place, telling Diana to keep her identity hidden underneath her warrior’s helmet. As the tournament commences, Persephone express displeasure in Diana shirking her duty and as Alexa tries to console her, Persephone stabs her in the back. As Alexa falls to the floor and lays dying, she sees Persephone open the cell and kiss Ares, who says he has been seducing her for 100 years, then finishes off Alexa. Back at the tournament, Diana ends up winning and when she approaches her mother, she takes off her helmet and Hippolyta says she will make them proud. Suddenly, a guard informs Artemis of Alexa’s death and as Artemis, Hippolyta, Diana, and some other Amazons head there, they find Ares and Persephone have both fled. Diana weeps over her friend’s body and Hippolyta says that she now has a second task to accomplish in man’s world. Diana dons the armor and lasso of truth and flies off with Steve in her invisible jet and takes Steve to New York. When they arrive in New York, Diana is amazed by some of the sights she sees, especially the sight of children playing, but is also upset at how women are treated as inferior to men. Steve tries to get her to focus on the mission of finding Ares, while continuously flirting with her, and notices an uptick in violent crimes all over the world. Setting the computer to hunt for a pattern in the events, Steve takes Diana to a bar for some drinks, attempting to get her drunk, but she easily out drinks him, then storms out of the bar. When Steve tries to follow, Diana yells at him for proving that her mother was right and showing her the worst out of men, just as a group of muggers appear and try to mug them. Diana easily defeats the muggers and when another figure approaches, Steve tries to take it on only to be knocked aside as it is a servant of Ares from the underworld. Diana starts battling the creature and manages to get the upper hand but it kills itself before it can be forced to talk. Steve searches among the ashes and finds an disk with a symbol on it and Diana recognizes it as the sign of Tartarus. They fly to a mountain in Greece and discover a rebel group that Diana says is the modern incarnation of the Cult of Ares. Working together, they dispatch the guards and head inside the temple, where they find Ares preparing to sacrifice one of the cult members in order to open the gates to Tartarus. Diana tells Steve they have to stop Ares and goes to stop him but Ares casts a spell to bring the two giant harpy statues to life to attack them. Diana manages to kill one of them but the second one grabs her before she can kill Ares and flies off with her. Faced with the choice of saving Diana or stopping Ares, Steve decides to save Diana, managing to get on top of the harpy and throwing a grenade in it’s mouth, then rescuing Diana when it falls. Meanwhile, Ares makes the sacrifice and opens the gate and heads into the underworld with Persephone while Steve flies Diana to get treated for her injuries. In Tartarus, Hades leaves Persephone with Cerberus while he goes to see Hades alone and is shocked to find that Hades has made Thrax his slave but Hades agrees to free Ares from his bonds. At the hospital, Diana regains consciousness and when she learns that Steve chose to save her over stopping Ares, she slaps him and says she was prepared to die for her cause. When she accuses Steve of being willing to accomplish the mission if she was a man instead of a “damsel in distress”, Steve yells at her, saying that the Amazons aren’t perfect either, as he feels separating themselves from humanity was cowardly, and he saved her because he cared for her. The two get closer and seem about to kiss but Diana slaps him again and says they have work to do. In Washington D.C., Ares assembles his army and prepares to wage a war that will cause all of humanity to be slaughtered and allow him to challenge the Gods of Olympus, then sends them after the national guard, who have assembled to stop them. Diana and Steve arrive and begin working on stopping Ares army from destorying D.C. but Diana ends up being captured. Ares moves to behead her, much like Hippolyta beheaded his son but an arrow suddenly knocks the sword from his hand and he turns to find that the Amazons have left Themyscira and come to help Diana stop Ares. As Ares forces move to fight the Amazons, Diana frees herself and continues fighting Ares, getting the upper hand. Meanwhile, the President, feeling the influence of Ares in D.C. says that someone has to pay for this attack and when his intelligence agencies tell him of Themyscira appearing out of nowhere, he orders a nuclear missile to be fired at it. As Diana asks Ares how he will be able to challenge the Gods when he can’t beat her, he tells her of the nuclear missile and how it’s destructive power is like 1000 wars, allowing him to increase his size and strength. Steve sees the missile flying off and gets into Diana’s invisible jet and takes off after it, managing to shoot it down before it destroys Themyscira. As Ares continues to batter Diana, he uses his new found power to summon the spirits of the dead Amazons and sends them to fight the Amazon army, and as each Amazon falls, it rejoins the battle and fights against the remaining Amazons. Artemis ends up fighting against her dead sister Alexa, who continuous says a phrase to her. Realizing that Alexa wants her to say it, Artemis does so and the phrase is revealed to be a spell that removes Ares’s unnatural control over the Amazons. The dead Amazons move to attack Ares but he uses his powers to destroy the dead Amazons. Meanwhile, Hippolyta ends up fighting against Persephone and as Hippolyta kills her and says she betrayed the Amazons, Persephone said Hippolyta betrayed them by denying them the right to have a family or children. Diana and Ares continue fighting and Diana finally defeats him by using the Lasso of Truth to grab Ares and pull him into the path of a bolt of lightning he summoned, then cutting off his head. As Steve lands the plane and approaches Diana, the two embrace and kiss, while the Amazons cheer both them and their victory over Ares army. The Amazons return to Themyscira and Hippolyta comments on Artemis’s attempt at reading a book. She then notes Diana sitting sadly on a bench and, realizing that she misses Steve, hands her back the armor and lasso and tells Diana that she has a new mission, to reopen the lines of communication between man and woman. Diana returns to New York to be with Steve but when they see the super villain Cheetah robbing a bank, Diana quickly changes clothes to stop her, as the newly christened super hero Wonder Woman.

This was a pretty good movie and one of their better examples of their early movies. The voice acting was pretty good, with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion doing a good job as Diana and Steve respectively. I also thought that Alfred Molina did a great job as Ares, putting a lot of emphasis into making him feel like he was truly evil. The plot was good, though it really was nothing more than an origin story for the most part. I did like how they showed how some of the Amazons, personified in Persephone, might have questioned being forever isolated from the rest of the world and, while not saying they wanted all of the physical things, did wish for a normal life and the chance to have a family as opposed to always training for battle like they do. I also thought they made a decent attempt at not making Diana more sexual but then they had to go and through in the scene with her putting on her uniform and you get the one bit where it is nothing more than a “Hey, check out my boobs” moment and it just shot that all to hell. I thought the animation was pretty good and the colors and shading done during the carious scenes, with the battle scenes and the scenes in Tartarus appearing darker to make it fit the dark mood in the scenes. A good animated movie and a good entry into DC’s library of animated works.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review

October 25th, 2017 Movie – Spider-Man 2

spider-man 2

It doesn’t happen often, but I do love it when a sequel is better than the original. I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and was immediately excited to seeSo no it because Doctor Octopus was always my favorite Spider-Man villain. To me, he had a lot of different aspects to his character; being a brilliant scientist and planning things out, while also reverting to a more thuggish approach at times and simply using brute force to achieve his goals. So I went into this movie hoping that they would do the character justice and I have to admit, Spider-Man 2 did not disappoint me.

The plot: It’s been 2 years since Peter Parker became Spider-Man and he is struggling to make ends meet with his life, losing his job and falling behind in his classes. Heading to his Aunt May’s house, Peter is surprised to see Harry and MJ there as May planned a surprise birthday party. As MJ helps May with the cake, Harry comments about how she still seems to love Peter, despite Peter saying he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend right now. Harry then comments about Peter taking pictures of Spider-Man, which is putting a strain on his friendship with Peter as Harry still blames Spider-Man for his father’s death, before inviting Peter to meet Otto Octavius, who is working for Oscorp now. After the party, Peter tries talking to Aunt May about her finances but she dodges the questions and goes to give him some money for his birthday, arguing with him that he needs it more. As Peter takes out the trash before leaving, he finds MJ sitting out back in her parent’s house and they talk for a few minutes, with MJ telling him that she is seeing someone now. The next day, Harry introduces Peter to Octavius, who is working on creating a sustainable source of fusion power, and Peter and Octavius appear to hit it off, spending an hour discussing the project and science in general. Peter has his concerns about the projects safety but Octavius assures him it will be fine and his wife Rosalie invites Peter to the demonstration to see for himself. That night, Peter goes to see MJ’s play but when, as Spider-Man, he is forced to stop a car chase, he ends up being late for the play and unable to get in. As he waits outside to try and talk to her after the play, he sees her kissing her boyfriend and leaves when he notices several police cars going by with their sirens on. As he is swinging through the air, he suddenly is unable to form a web and ends up falling onto a nearby rooftop and after recovering, he still can’t shoot a web so he ends up taking the elevator downstairs and walking home. The next day, Octavius gives his demonstration, revealing the mechanical arms that he will be using to help with the experiment. When a magnetic surge destabilizes the experiment, Peter quickly changes into Spider-Man and rescues Harry before trying to unplug the device. Octavius sees Spider-Man and uses the arms to swat him away, trying his best to regain control of the experiment, but another surge causes the nearby windows to explode and Rasalie is killed by the shards. When Octavius turns to look at her, another surge hits him and fries the inhibitor chip that keeps the arm’s AI from leaking into his own brain before Spider-Man is finally able to unplug the device and shut down the experiment. Octavius is taken to the hospital, where the doctors try to remove the arms and harness from him as they have been fused to his spine, but the arms come alive on their own and proceed to kill all of the doctors. The arms then help rouse Octavius, who cries out in grief and breaks out of the hospital and heads down to the docks. While there, he realizes that arms have gained sentience and that they are talking to him, convincing him to rebuild the device and he refuses at first but soon agrees with them. The next day, Peter and Aunt May are in the bank to try and refinance her home loan when Octavius attempts to rob the bank. Peter changes into Spider-Man and tries fighting him off but his powers start to fail again and Octavius is able to escape, taking Aunt May as a hostage. Spider-Man chases after him and continues fighting while trying to save Aunt May and he finally is able to do so while Octavius is able to get away. That night, Peter is working for the Bugle as a society photographer at an event honoring Jameson’s son John and he learns that John is MJ’s boyfriend. When Peter gets a moment to talk to MJ alone, she tells him that she can’t keep hoping something will happen between them and comments about how her friend who said he would always be there for her is never there. As the party continues, John announces that MJ agreed to marry him and Peter is forced to take a picture of the couple, then is confronted by a drunken Harry, who blames Peter for taking everything from him while covering for Spider-Man’s part in his father’s death. As Peter is swinging through the streets, his powers disappear again and he falls to the street. After seeing a doctor, who says there is nothing physically wrong with Peter and it might just be in his head, Peter decides to give up being Spider-Man, throwing his costume in the dumpster where he had last fallen. With the pressure of being Spider-Man no longer there, Peter is able to refocus in school and shows up to MJ’s play, surprising her. After the play, the two walk and Peter asks her to dinner but MJ says that she is with John and it isn’t fair for Peter to think things will change just because he showed up at her play. As Peter continues his life of not being Spider-Man, he is constantly forced to choose not to help people, such as walking away when he sees someone being mugged. After going with Aunt May to Uncle Ben’s grave, Peter is sitting with her at her home and tells her the truth about what happened to Ben, and how he let the robber that killed him go by without trying to stop him and the guilt he has been carrying ever since, causing Aunt May to walk away as she accepts with what he told her. Meanwhile, Octavius finishes construction of his device and goes to see Harry about getting the fuel needed for it and Harry agrees to give it to him in exchange for Octavius bringing Spider-Man to him so he can kill him. Elsewhere, Peter sees a burning building and starts to walk by but when he hears that a kid is trapped inside, he goes in to try and save her. Peter manages to rescue the little girl but nearly dies in the process and when he learns that someone else had been trapped and died in the blaze, he starts questioning whether he made the right choice. Peter gets a message from Aunt May and when he heads over there, finds her packing her things, saying she decided to go ahead and move into an apartment but tells Peter she doesn’t blame Peter for Ben’s death and appreciates the courage it took for him to tell her what happened. After trying an upside down kiss with John, MJ meets up with Peter to talk and asks him to kiss her but they are interrupted by a car flying through the window. Peter saves MJ and they watch as Octavius approaches them, telling Peter to have Spider-Man meet him before knocking Peter into a wall and taking MJ hostage. Peter breaks free from the rubble and finds that his powers have returned and he grabs his costume from Jameson, who had bought it off of bum that had found it and had it displayed in his office, then goes on to face Octavius, with their fight carrying on to the top of a subway car. Octavius causes the subway to go out of control, then jumps onto a building to escape, leaving Spider-Man to try and stop the runaway train. Spider-Man eventually manages to stop the strain, though the strain almost causes him to fall to his death but he is saved by the train’s passengers, who try to defend him from Octavius but Octavius easily brushes them aside and knocks Spider-Man out. Octavius carries Spider-Man to Harry and leaves him for Harry to kill while he takes the tritium needed to fuel his device. Harry rips off Spider-Man’s mask and is shocked to discover Peter is Spider-Man and after Peter frees himself, asks Harry where Octavius is, saying what is at stake is bigger than the issues between them. Spider-Man heads off to Octavius’ lair just as Octavius activates his machine. He attempts to rescue MJ but Octavius spots him and the two start fighting again. Spider-Man is able to stop Octavius and unplug the machine but the device continues to function. Spider-Man approaches Octavius and asks for his help in stopping it, taking off his mask to reveal he is Peter. Octavius attacks him at first, but Peter convinces him to help and Octavius uses the arms to sink the device in the river, drowning himself in the process. Meanwhile, Peter saves MJ from the debris and after making their way to safety, he admits that he still loves her but because he will always be Spider-Man, and will have enemies that might hurt her to get to him. When John arrives with the police, MJ reunites him but watches sadly as Peter swings away. Meanwhile, Harry is drinking when he has a vision of his father telling him to avenge his death and Harry throws his drink through the mirror, discovering his father’s hidden lair with all of his Green Goblin material. The next day, MJ stands up John at the altar and heads to Peter’s apartment, telling Peter she is free to make her own choice and face the risks being with him and the two kiss before they hear sirens and MJ tells Peter to go after them, watching as he swings away.

Spider-Man 2 met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ”¬†Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original.” Since the movie came out, it has been judged as one of the best comic book movies of all times among the various critics. In spite of receiving better reviews from the critics, the movie did not fare as well at the box office as it’s predecessor, earning $783.8 million off of a $200 million budget.

This is definitely a great movie to watch and deserving of all of the praise that it received. The acting was really good, with Tobey Maguire (Peter), Kirsten Dunst (MJ), James Franco (Harry), and Rosemary Harris (Aunt May) all did good jobs in reprising their roles. I thought Alfred Molina was great as Doctor Octopus and did a good job of showcasing the character’s intelligence as well as his arrogance. The story was very good, showcasing a lot of character development in Peter as he struggles with his life as Spider-Man and his life as Peter Parker. On a personal note, I thought the nod to Superman when Peter was trying to stop the subway train was really funny. I also liked Harry’s obsession with killing Spider-Man started driving him to the same madness that plagued his father (much like in the comics). The special effects were definitely improved in this movie and did a great job blending CGI and stunt work for the various fight scenes. About the only thing I didn’t like in this movie was how they were portraying MJ, but I can’t really say why it bugged me. My personal gripe aside, this is a fantastic movie that can stand up to any of Marvel’s recent movies (and definitely most of DC’s) and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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