UrbanRhetoric

UrbanRhetoric

6.13.2017

Wonder Woman


Let's be clear, Gal Gadot is straight fire.  I mean she could have been onscreen, sitting on a plain ole chair slowly reading Tolstoy in the original Russian - backwards - and I would be enthralled from the opening credits to the post-credit extras (if there were any... but there are not, so dont stick around Wonder Woman for that).  She's that sexy.  With all the hype and anti-hype by so-called "purists" (better known by their clinical term "maxima haterificus") that Gadot is too thin to play the amazon warrior princess, I went into the movie with a healthy dose of skepticism as to whether it really could be pulled off by someone so striking but relatively unproven as a headliner.

When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice dropped, I was sure the best part of the movie would be Batman busting Superman's Kryptonian a$$ets, but (although Ben Affleck sucks as Bruce Wayne/Batman) I was never so happily wrong as when I found out that Gadot had completely stolen the show.  Her scenes were BY FAR the best of the film.  It should be no surprise that Wonder Woman is doing so well in the box office.  She crushes the competition out in theaters (Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien: Covenant, and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II) and demolishes every female comic book superhero, sci-fi action I have ever seen - no exaggeration.  Then again, that is not exactly the highest of hurdles.  At the charter school I work at, they ask the kids to write and cite their pieces of evidence, so please see (or do not see) the following:

Elektra (Verdict - WEAK all WEEK and 2x on Sunday)
Aeon Flux (Verdict - Wack AF)
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Ghost in the Shell (cultural misappropriation aside - I skipped this bs 'cuz it looked lame) 
Verdict - Exit polls say... this lands squarely in Wack County, Wackland 
BloodRayneUltraviolet + (Halle Berry's prank of a film) Catwoman
Verdict = WACK, WACK, and Supremely TRASH (respectively)

VITALS
Patty Jenkins (Monster) - Director
Alan Heinberg (if you ever saw a Shonda Rhimes show, you know his writing)- Writer
Zach Snyder (300 and Sucker Punch) - Story By
Gal Gadot - Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine - Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen - Hippolyta
Danny Huston - Ludendorff
Robin Wright - Antiope
Elena Anaya - Dr. Maru

IF YOU MUST KNOW:
(And I'll keep this part brief...) Steve Trevor crashes and finds himself being rescued by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.  If ONLY... He brings with him tales of a war that that endangers humanity. Diana, much to the chagrin of her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen) leaves her Amazonian sisters and paradise home to fight the great war.  Of course, Diana is convinced that Ares, the god of war, is behind this great war - I said she was fire, I didn't say she was perfect... (She's Gal Gadot, not Jade Eshete - if you don't who she is, check out Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency).  Having spent most of her life, from adolescence to full grown womanhood, training harder than any amazon has ever been trained, Diana ready to fight whoever.

SPOILER ALERT

Image result for antiope wonder womanAntiope (Wright), Diana's aunt and chief trainer - the baddest warrior woman on the island -catches a bad one and the war (WWI) is brought directly to the Amazon's shore. Diana feels compelled to join the fight to save humanity and her big fish out of water story begins there as she begins to scratch the surface on the breadth of her powers.  She works with Trevor (Chris Pine) to uncover and foil a plan by the sinister Ludendorff (Danny Huston) to use a new weapon of mass destruction that could slaughter millions.

Wonder Woman has always been one of my favorites, but for absolutely no feminist reasons.  Sure, I was in love with Linda Carter's Wonder Woman reruns when I was a kid because she was half-naked; but I had respect for Wonder Woman since she was flying her invisible jet on retrospectively lame, and occasionally racist, Super Friends -
There's about a million reasons to love Wonder Woman.  She's a woman.  She's not some alien who comes to earth and basically is a better human than humans.  She's a princess, but not a spoiled little rich brat (in the way Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark are... no shade).  She gets her powers from birth - albeit by via deities.  Wonder Woman was a dope AF superhero because she stood for the best of humanity and always fought for what was right and could always do whatever her male counterparts - especially if that counterpart was lame ass Aquaman - could do, and often do it better - and look good doing it.  I have always had an affinity for strong women in comics, films, literature (fiction or fact).

This film could be summed up in the scene when Diana poses this question -
And, back in ye olde London, England, when Trevor's secretary explains to Diana Prince what she does as a secretary, Diana quips poignantly.  What's awesome about this superhero is that she doesn't walk into the world of men assuming the cultural gender roles are rules to be obeyed or honored.  She just does what she does and she's unapologetic about it.  That... reminds me of my closest female friends and relatives.  The men around her, who were also relatively heroic in their own right, failed to act when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but Diana literally pops on a headband, pulls out a sword and gets busy.  It's this sort of dichotomy that smacks you upside the head and makes Wonder Woman so incredible as a character and more than tolerable despite her genuine goodness.  When anti-heroes and anti-heroines abound (Batmans, Ironmans, etc.), Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is the truth.  She's the reason why my smartest and coolest female have "always loved WW" and even dressed up like her for Halloween (I see you, pemora - that pic on IG is priceless!); even for those who didn't read comics at all, they know, respect and love WW.

ASIDE: Superman cannot beat Wonder Woman, you dig? Some may argue it, but he can't. SUPERMAN... and his only weakness is Kryptonite - and possibly corny women.  Wonder Woman bests Superman, who is supposedly the best of us and she does this after being trained by a bunch of kickass women in a paradise shrouded from the realm that contains men.  There's something something poetic and compelling about a character like that.  It's no wonder (pun unintended) that this movie resonates with men and women.

Thankfully, this film was directed by a woman who understands that no one (men or women) enjoy one-dimensional characters or one-dimensional movies enough to make it a success across demographics.  Patty Jenkins captures the right amount of humor, drama, and nuance.  The film isn't perfect, but it really is very good.  Impressive even because of all that it managed to do.  It redefines a genre without being pretentious, self-aggrandizing. or smug in it's own political correctness.  It goes a bit off with the Steve Trevor-Diana Prince romantic piece near the end (but those concerns are merely stylistic).  It also drags a bit with the big fight scene.  The twist is good, but it was not unpredictable which is really a writer + director problem - it's tough to camouflage that kind of thing without completely avoiding any foreshadow, but they have a lot of screenwriting power behind the movie, so it would have been awesome for me to be properly misled.  I was not.  Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is the second best movie of the year (and the only one I've seen better is a different genre).  Aside from Get Out, I haven't seen a movie better than Wonder Woman this year, but the summer is just beginning...

IMTHATDUDE gives Wonder Woman: 4

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.



5.20.2017

Alien: Covenant

Image result for alien covenant
So, I wisely went to peep this flick last night (sans my expected company, since she has issues with seeing scary movies after a certain time of night and I have issues with people who are still scared of movies when you're more than a decade past drinking or voting age).  

I usually prefer to see movies alone because of my well documented history of film snobbery.  It's a good thing too because I really wanted to grab a pen and start writing down all the random stuff I saw that either made me scratch my freshly shaven, bristly dome, or bite my lip in utter confusion.  

For fans of the franchise, I'll say this - no Ripley or Dallas, no Sgt. "Look into my eye" Apone, no Vasquez, no Hicks or Hudson, and no James Cameron, but at least it was No PROMETHEUS!  For that, salute - Ridley Scott (Director).  If you had a bunch of big ass bald pale alien giants doing things that didn't make a hell of a lot of sense again, I'm convinced you would have murdered this franchise.  This movie could be best be called Redemption.

VITALS

Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, American Gangster... but also Exodus: Gods & Kings - Yikes!) - Director
John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall) - Writer
Dante Harper - Writer
Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Assassin's Creed) - Walter/David
Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy, Selma) - Karine
Katherine Waterston (Taking Woodstock, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) - Daniels
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Watchmen) - Oram
Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, This is the End) - Tennesee
Amy Seimetz (You're Next, Upstream Color) - Faris

IF YOU MUST KNOW
Image result for alien covenant movie artSo, I believe we left off just a bit after this happened - 
So after the Prometheus flick fiasco, we find ourselves watching the crew of the Covenant, a ship full of dumb ass colonists (mostly white folks), head towards an extremely remote but habitable planet they are to terraform and prepare it for future generations of humans. 

Clearly, there is no way they're getting my people on a space slave ship.  You can add all the Carmen Ejogos you want to, we not falling for your Jedi mind tricks.  I'd be staying my black ass right here on Earth - you can keep your interstellar gentrification.  It starts off all artesenal shops and log cabins with no curtains in a new, rustic world, and ends up like this -
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*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Anyway, the crew of the Covenant gets abruptly awakened by a tragically unexpected event in deep space.  The event threatens the mission of the Covenant to bring its cargo of thousands of dumb ass colonists to their distant destination.  Fortunately, they discover a planet that is far closer with a much better likelihood of successful colonization - it cuts seven years off of hibernation from them.  What could possibly go wrong? 


It is there that the real danger begins.  David (Fassbender) has survived and plays host to the intrepid crew investigating the planet, but not long after, they find these things waiting for them >>
Image result for alien covenant movie art

Again, SPOILER ALERT...

The planet ends up being a planet filled with the dead bodies of the giant bald white aliens.  It's where David and Dr. Shaw headed to at the end of Prometheus in search of the ancient race of aliens they believed to be responsible for the evolution and development of human beings.  

You can guess the results.  Yes... damn near everybody dies.  Stop acting like you thought people would get out of this okay.  When was the last time somebody walked away from an encounter with the Aliens?

The writers couldn't resist the urge to connect antiquity with a mythology it began developing in Prometheus (I can respect that, even if I don't like it); they had David citing Shelley's  Ozymandias.  Interestingly, there are a bunch of different little tweaks and twists that they give us in this movie that make it worth seeing for fans of the series.  If you are not a fan, it probably doesn't do much for you.  In fact, there was nothing remotely scary about it.  The scare factor in this movie was far below that found in Get Out (which is AWESOME, buy it or see it if you still can in the theater).

The best thing about Alien: Covenant was the fact that the movie returned to its roots of stomach popping, evil synthetics, butt kicking female leads, and space colonization.  The lack of action allowed everyone to be actors and not let the special effects smother the generally exceptional talent level of the actors in the movie.  That's good...right?  Yes and no.  The lack of action in an Aliens movie makes for a fairly boring movie and this was only saved by the abilities of Ejogo, Crudup, Waterston, and a couple of others.  Alien: Covenant ends up on that directly on the borderline between drab and semi-compelling.
Image result for alien covenant movie art
The bad things were the little details (like how Walter was stitching himself with the stapler which made a lot of sounds of staples, but when they showed what he was stitching... nada), or people doing stupid stuff, or how the foreshadowed deaths, betrayals, and twists were not remotely surprising (like how they all but told us what the end would be as soon as we see David).  More importantly, there was not one sympathetic character; by that, I mean I didn't give AF if they all got mercked and they basically did.   The thing about the first two movies was that they made the characters so well-rounded that you actually liked a few of them and disliked others.  In Alien: Covenant, everyone but David - who we already know was a turd from the time he put his nasty finger in that glass of water in Prometheus - was good at heart, caring, willing to risk their life for each other, and blah blah blah.  Yet, there was not one line from Alien: Covenant that is memorable or quotable.  People who never saw Aliens can quote lines from it:

 - Get away from her you, b!tch!
 - So, why don't you put her in charge!
 - Is this a bug hunt?
 - He's coming in... gee, I feel safer already.
 - There's some juicy colonists daughters from their virginity.
 - It was a bad call, Ripley.  It was a bad call. 
 - Is there anything I can do?/I don't know, is there anything you can do?
 - Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked.

And one of my personal favorites:

 - Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?

The list goes on.

Go see it if you're a fan.  If you aren't a fan, skip it and wait for it to pop up on-demand.  It's not a rush out and see flick (like I did), so I guess I'm going to have to find a way to let my friend slide for chickening out on this not-scary scary movie.  

IMTHATDUDE gives Alien: Covenant: 3

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.