Posts Tagged ‘chris pine’

Diana Prince (Lilly Aspell, Gal Gadot) is working as an archeologist in Washington DC in 1984. At work, she meets Barbara Anne Minerva (Kristen Wiig) insecure fellow anthropologist, who is asked by the FBI to look into the significance of some stolen artifacts. It is here where Barbara discovers a dreamstone that grants wishes to whomever possesses it. Barbara makes a wish, but tells no one about it, and Diana makes a secret wish too. Soon conman, infomercial specialist Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) find out about the dreamstone, and seduces Barbara to get it. He wishes for his phony oilwells to gush with oil, and they do, making him an instant millionaire. Does he stop there? No, he flies to Egypt, and attempts to wish for all the oilwells that Emir Said Bin Abydos (Amr Waked) owns. Is he satisfied with that? No, he wants more. Can Diana and Barbara team up to stop Maxwell Lord before he accrues too much power? What about Diana and Barbara’s wishes, do they come true?

Wonder Woman 1984 aspires to be a repudiation of the greed and excesses of the 1980’s, but it’s such a shallow and superficial look at the decade, including a cartoonish look at Ronald Reagan and his goals, that when the critique comes, it packs no punch. It’s factually wrong about at least two major inventions, and it sends very mixed messages about women and power, that women with too much power need to be feared and not respected. It’s also troublesome that the only African American characters are a homeless man who Barbara takes pity on, and a little girl in a mall. Wonder Woman 1984 should have been about a woman using her extraordinary powers to make the world a more just and equitable place, but Diana Prince is once again a bystander in her own film. Her wish with the dreamstone says more about sexism in 2020, than the whole movie has to say about the 80’s. Diana doesn’t even get to fly her own invisible plane. Hollywood screws the pooch again.

The acting is only average. Gal Gadot puts in another serious, earnest performance as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, but the script traps her in a forced romantic entanglement, and asking Gadot to emote about love is a bridge too far. Chris Pine gives another flat, emotionless performance as Steve Trevor, yes he’s in the movie, don’t ask how, better yet don’t watch the movie. Pine has been given all these iconic roles, Steve Trevor, Captain Kirk, and he’s basically frittered them away. Pedro Pascal goes way over the top as huckster Maxwell Lord, unlike his fine understated performance in Season 1 of the Mandalorian, this was his chance to shine, in a major motion picture, and he blew it. Similarly, Kristin Wiig who was hilarious in Bridesmads, tries to add a comic touch to a comic book character, and it doesn’t really work, she goes from nerdy wallflower to power hungry woman, (i.e. Poison Ivy) and the transition isn’t very convincing.

The direction is awful. The 2 ½ hour length is unmanageable. The 10-minute opening sequence is the best that this movie has to offer and that is not a compliment. The action sequences after the opening sequence are downright boring and look like every other comic book movie ever made. One of the climactic action sequences is filmed at night, and the viewer can hardly see anything that’s going on. In between all those badly filmed action sequences is a movie about nothing important, slowly paced, which reduces its star to a supporting actress. A terrible directing effort by Patty Jenkins, who actually moves gender equality backwards by going through the motions on this film.
Wonder Woman 1984: Wonder why it was made.

spiderman spiderverse

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a typical teen from Brooklyn, he likes his tunes, he hates the magnet school he goes to, and he has an artistic streak, which he likes to express by painting murals in the subway. One day, while finding a spot for his latest mural with his Uncle Aaron, (Mahershala Ali) Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider, but he convinces himself that it’s a regular spider, after all Peter Parker (Chris Pine) is  patrolling the city, so why would there be a need for another Spiderman?  But then, Miles feels his hands getting sticky and all of a sudden, he can climb walls, but he’s clumsy, which ruins any chance he thought he had with the new girl at the magnet school, Gwen. (Hailee Steinfeld)

Just as suddenly as he got his powers, Miles finds himself in a warehouse fighting Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) with Spiderman.  Peter/Spdey tells Miles that Kingpin has a supercollider, and he is trying to open up different dimensions to bring back Kingpin’s wife and kid.  Peter gives Miles a key and tells him to use it to destroy the supercollider if he doesn’t make it out of this battle alive.  Kingpin has already succeeded in opening up five dimensions.  What else has Kingpin succeeded in doing?  Does Miles get to use the key to blow up the collider?

Spiderman Into The Spiderverse is an interesting take on Spiderman, but as hard as the writers try to make Miles a laid-back cool guy, they fail.  Miles uses spray paint to create art, lives in the cool borough, Brooklyn, wearing  the ever-present ear buds, leaves his shoes untied , it’s all meant to make him relatable to teens everywhere.  Having said that, it’s important to have an Afro-Latino superhero on screen, just for the message that it sends to all kids, that they could be heroes regardless of their race, ethnicity, or the neighborhood they grow up in.

Undoubtedly, the really cool character is Gwen Stacy, but she takes a backseat to Miles, despite having the vastly more interesting backstory.  And the other character like Penni Parker, are woefully underdeveloped, and are only in the movie to bring in a certain demographic, in the cynical way movies are made these days.  There’s a twist to the story, but the ending is as expected, and I suspect there will be sequels aplenty.

The acting is good, voice acting is difficult.  Shameik Moore does  a good job as the gangly clumsy Miles, trying to fit in and find a way to use his new powers.  Mehershala Ali does his usual fine job, as Uncle Aaron, the cool uncle, he really does bring all his skills to any role he plays.  Hailee Steinfeld does a good job as Gwe, she does a good job of keeping her mysterious and distant, the unattainable girl.  Brian Tyree Henry does a good job as a supporting actor, playing Miles’ supportive overprotective dad.  The father son bond is evident in Henry’s performance.

There are three directors in this movie.  The animation is great, eye-popping comic book animation, which is probably why it won an Oscar, but the pacing is awfully slow for an action flick.  The performances are good, but the actors deserve more credit than the directors for that.

Spiderman Into The Spiderverse:  A web of intertwined characters.

wonder woman

Diana, (Lilly Aspell, Emily Carey, Gal Gadot) is princess of the Amazons, a band of fierce female warriors, who live on an island, with no men.  She wants to train to be a warrior, but her mother Queen Hippolyta  (Connie Nielson) forbids it.  So Diana gets training from General Antiope (Robin Wright) behind her mother’s back.  One day, American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes through the barrier that keeps the island from being visible to others and into the ocean.  Diana saves Steve and learns that Steve is an American spy on a mission to end a secret German chemical weapons program, spearheaded by General  Ludendorf (Danny Huston) and Dr. Maru, (Elena Anaya)  and end World War I.  Steve has Dr. Maru’s formula for the mustard gas, and has to deliver the book to British intelligence.  Diana believes that someone on the German side is really the Greek God of War Aries, who is trying to prolong the war and kill as many humans as possible.  Diana’s mission is to find and kill Aries. Does Hippolyta allow Diana to leave the Amazon’s island and travel with Steve to the front?  Does Steve accomplish his mission to stop the chemical weapons from being used?

This could have been a classic movie, but it sends all kinds of mixed messages.  One is a message of a woman imbued with great powers to stop the human race from annihilating itself, which is a wonderful message.  But if Wonder Woman is so powerful, why does she need help from a man?  Then, the writers want to superimpose some kind of messy love story within the superhero genre.  This kind of genre mixing rarely ever works. It’s been tried in Superman with Lois Lane, and Spiderman with Maryjane, with varying degrees of success.  In the context of this movie, the love story actually undercuts the female empowerment story.  There are also silly scenes that overemphasize Diana’s femininity.  Other than the lead character being a woman, this is a pretty generic superhero film, and the ending is pretty generic as well.  And if anyone thinks that being a woman makes Diana a pacifist, you haven’t watched a Hollywood superhero movie lately, this movie is very violent.

There is one redeeming aspect to Wonder Woman, and it is the performance of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince.  Her earnest, sincere, heartfelt, and serious (that’s a compliment) performance make this movie worth watching.  While most superhero actors are looking for a tagline, Gadot conveys the genuine feeling to the audience that Diana only wants to help people.  Her naiveté is refreshing as well.  If this movie stands out, it is because of her.  Chris Pine is not so lucky, he gives the standard hero performance, but he’s supposed to be an American spy who infiltrates the German military not once but twice.  He doesn’t even try a British accent to blend in to British society, and his German accent is weak.  His ham handed performance almost steals the movie from Gadot, Chris Pine, this wasn’t your movie.  He seems to have forgotten that Gadot is the focus of the film.  Robin Wright has a small role as the woman who trains Diana, but the role is too small to make an impression.

A big deal was made that Wonder Woman was directed by a woman.  The fact is Patty Jenkins added very little to this movie that is different from a man directing the same film.  There’s a backstory, an over reliance on special effects, and a long, long running time.  What exactly is the difference between this movie and Captain America’s origin story?  Not much and so why should Patty Jenkins deserve credit for directing a standard issue superhero movie?  She shouldn’t.  The only outstanding performance is by Gadot, and the pacing is slow at times.

Wonder Woman:  Wondering Why It Wasn’t Better.

into the woods

Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) battles her stepmother (Christine Baranski) to go to a three day festival given by a Prince. (Chris Pine)  Red Riding Hood (Lila Crawford) steals cookies and bread from a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) to feed to her granny.(Annette Crosbie) She must evade a hungry wolf (Johnny Depp) to get to grandma.  A boy named Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) sells his cow for some magic beans from the baker. The baker and his wife are childless.  A witch,(Meryl Steep)  who keeps a girl with long hair named Rapunzel  (Mackenzie Mauzy) locked in a tower.  The witch says she can give the childless baker and his wife a child, if they bring her something milky white, something red, something golden like corn, and golden slippers.  Does Cinderella get her prince?  Does Red evade the wolf?  What happens to Jack and his magic beans?  Does Rapunzel get out of the tower?  Does the baker and his wife have a child?

This is what some people call a fractured fairy tale, I call it a morally ambiguous fairy tale.  The characters may seem familiar, but things are not as they seem, thanks to a twist near the end of the film.  These characters may end up happy or not, but their lives are far from perfect after the twist.  If there is happiness to be had, these characters will have to work for it.  If there is a theme it is about child rearing, how to be a good and consistent parent.  It’s an interesting take on these well-known Grimm fairy tales. The music enhances the story, makes it livelier in some circumstances provides exposition.  If there is an issue with this movie, there are too many characters, and some of the characters have very little development.

The acting is generally good, with Meryl Streep giving a standout performance, with Emily Blunt giving a complex, multi-layered performance.  The younger actors, Daniel Huttleston  and Lilla Crawford also give strong performance,  Chris Pine tries very hard, but neither his voice or acting seems up to the task. Johnny Depp has a great cameo as the wolf.

The direction gives this story the proper eerie feel, the pacing is good and the songs are well-staged. The kids will enjoy the songs, they might not understand the subtleties of the movie, but they will enjoy the fairy tale aspect of the movie.

Into the Woods:  A Knotty Tale.


Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) rescues Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a primitive planet, but reveals the Enterprise to its inhabitants, thereby violating the Prime Directive of non-interference. Spock reports him and Kirk gets demoted to serving as first officer under Captain Pike. (Bruce Greenwood) While Kirk is demoted a bomb goes off in London, at Starfleet storage  facility.  As Starfleet command gathers to try to find out who bombed the storage facility, the Starfleet gathering is attacked by John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch)  who, after killing Pike escapes to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos.  Kronos is on the edge of the neutral zone, but Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) gives Kirk the Enterprise back armed with Marcus’ newest weapon, the photon torpedo. Marcus wants Harrison killed, and possibly to start a war with the Klingons that he feels is inevitable.  Kirk wants to capture Harrison alive, and just when he is on the verge of doing that, Harrison turns himself in.  Who is John Harrison?  And why would he turn himself in after killing many members of Starfleet command?

I did not like Star Trek Into Darkness, to tell you why would ruin the movie and I don’t want to do that.  I want you to be outraged, just as I was outraged that the studios greenlighted this script.  The writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindeloff, think they can spew some terms like Prime Directive, and planets like Kronos and the fanboys would be delighted.  Well, I wouldn’t call myself a Trekkie, not in the convention going sense, but I have watched all the episodes of the original tv show and at least 4 of the movies, so I’m pretty conversant about Star Trek.  I find the reveal in this movie insulting as a Star Trek fan, and a movie fan.  And I think anyone who has seen the show and the original movies would feel the same way.  I was wondering why this movie didn’t gross that much in the first weekend, now I know.  See it if you want, but Iron Man 3 is a much better movie.  Chris Pine makes a good Kirk, he’s a much better actor than William Shatner, almost anybody is. Zachary Quinto annoyed me, he sounded like he was doing a feeble impression of original Spock Leonard Nimoy.  Benedict Cumberbatch was great as Harrison, he was the only saving grace in this movie.  He is equally good in a much better BBC tv show called Sherlock.

Here is my review of season 1 of Sherlock. Check the show out if you can.

The pacing of Into Darkness lags, especially towards the end when the excitement should be building, that is the fault of Hollywood’s newest hot property, JJ Abrams.  I hope he does not do to Star Wars what he did to this installment of Star Trek.  I really hope he has better ideas, for Star Wars fans, and moviegoers everywhere.

Star Trek Into Darkness:  JJ Abrams is in the dark about what makes a good sequel.