Tag Archives: Danny Huston

Wonder Woman (2017) Retrospective Review

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Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] violence
Cast:
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis as Etta Candy
Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer
Ewen Bremner as Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock as Chief
Director: Patty Jenkins

Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) of an all-female Amazonian race rescues US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Upon learning of a war, she ventures into the world of men to stop Ares, the god of war, from destroying mankind.

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With Wonder Woman 1984 not too far away, I decided to check out the first Wonder Woman movie from the DCEU again. From my first viewing to my third viewing, my opinion on the movie jumped from considering it one of the best comic book movies, to just really liking it. So I needed to know for sure, and from watching it again, I think it’s still good.

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With this review, I get the freedom to talk more about spoilers freely, though there isn’t a huge amount to spoil. The plot isn’t unpredictable, and is pretty typical of that when it comes to origin stories or other fantasy stories that are similar. However, it is the first time we are seeing Wonder Woman in live action, and looking at it like that, it’s very well handled. I will admit that on repeat viewings when you know what’s happening, the pacing does feel a bit slow honestly, that’s what I felt the second and third times I watched it. Maybe it’s because 3 years since I last watched it, but I enjoyed it a little more this time, though it still has that problem. Wonder Woman does the whole fish out of water thing once Diana leaves Themyscira, which has been done many times, but the movie does make it entertaining to watch. The setting with World War 1 was fitting for this story, as well as refreshing as opposed to the commonly used World War 2. I do have some issues with the third act with the movie, and unlike most people, it’s to do with the story than the visuals or action. Much of the movie is Diana hunting down Ares, believing that he alone is the reason for everything bad that mankind is doing, particularly with the war. After killing Ludendorff (who she believes is Ares), she discovers that it doesn’t change anything, and that it seemed to be mankind doing it themselves. It is quite an effective moment and I liked the subversion. However later the real Ares shows himself and there’s a big battle between the two. I do like how he plants ideas for war rather than directly being the ones who starts the war. However, after the death of Ares, there’s a moment where everyone just stops fighting (including the German soldiers) and it just seemed to contradict the message and almost seemed to imply that it was Ares after all who caused it. Over time I have grown warmer on it, and took it as everyone reacting after watching literal gods battle to the death on such a large scale, though I guess they could’ve handled that aspect a little better. The strongest scene and probably most iconic scene is that of the No Man’s Land scene around halfway into the movie, on both a directing level and a story level, as well as a moment for Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot straight up is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, she embodies the character perfectly, and I like the arc she goes on throughout the story. Chris Pine is just as good as Steve Trevor, honestly Pine probably made this role even better. Gadot and Pine are among the best on screen pairing I’ve seen in any comic book movie, and they share great chemistry. Those two had by far the strongest characters. The rest of the characters range from average to decent, but were all performed well. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are really good as Diana’s mother and aunt respectively in the first act. The group of people that Diana and Steve team up with are okay but forgettable. Danny Huston and Elena Anaya made for some over the top yet entertaining villains. They aren’t great but they work alright for the story. David Thewlis is the secret villain Ares, who at first appears to be an ally. He really does play the scene well in which he reveals himself to Diana to be the God of War. With that said, he does get quite silly in the actual battle with over the top lines, though he’s still fun to watch.

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Patty Jenkins directs this movie very well. The action is quite good and feels very smooth, particularly with the stunts. It particularly portrays Wonder Woman’s power and abilities really well. If I could find a flaw in the action scenes, some of the slow-motion isn’t used as greatly as it could’ve, making it feel a little awkward at many points. So many people complain about the third act, especially with the use of the CGI. There are parts where it does get messy but I thought it was pretty enjoyable nonetheless. The score from Rupert Gregson-Williams was also great and elevates many of the scenes, especially with the action scenes.

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Wonder Woman is a solid comic book movie, and a really good Wonder Woman origin movie for audiences. It’s well directed, and the cast were really good, especially Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. There are some issues I have with it, and it doesn’t rank among my favourite comic book movies (or even favourite DC movies), but on the whole I still think it’s really good.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Gerard Butler as United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning
Morgan Freeman as President Allan Trumbull
Danny Huston as Wade Jennings
Michael Landes as Sam Wilcox
Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Martin Kirby
Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Piper Perabo as Leah Banning
Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Helen Thompson
Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry
Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.

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I really liked Olympus Has Fallen, it was a throwback to R rated action movies from the 80s like Die Hard and it was entertaining for what it was. I even thought London Has Fallen was okay enough, a noticeable step down from the first movie but I found some enjoyment in it. However I wasn’t exactly really excited for the follow up with Angel Has Fallen. Along with the second movie taking a noticeable drop in quality already, the new plot was quite different from the past two movies, and I was getting Taken 3 vibes from the third instalment, and that’s never a good sign. Having watched it, I can say that it was some dumb fun for 2 hours, probably a little better than I expected it to be.

Angel Has Fallen is another over the top action flick, with a plot that you’ve seen many times before and done better. It’s a different plot from what you’d expect from a movie in this series. This time its Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning being on the run after being falsely accused of trying to kill the president. The sudden change in the type of plot seems pointless but I guess it was a better decision then just doing the past two movies set in different cities. It’s rather predictable in plot and you can get a general idea of where it’s going pretty early on. For example there’s a shadowy secret villain presented during the movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who it is just through process of elimination. Still, it isn’t too much of a problem once you’re 30 minutes into it. Something that’s interesting is that they almost took like a Skyfall sort of approach with regards to how they treat the main character (if you know what I mean), I guess that’s at least something different that they’re doing with this movie in the series but it doesn’t add up to much really. Side note but for some reason it has a mid credits scene as a joke, and I don’t know why they included it.

Gerard Butler once again does pretty well as Mike Banning, he’s got a handle on this character as his go to action role. Seeing as how this is the third time he’s played him and he’s probably going to reprise his role multiple times, it’s working out for him. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman here, he doesn’t even get much to do, despite being the president this time, he’s out of commission for most of the runtime. Nick Nolte plays Butler’s father and he was a standout in the movie whenever he was on screen. Danny Huston makes for a decent villain, his character is pretty one note and nothing special at all, but Huston elevates the role just a bit with his performance. Side note, no, Aaron Eckhart’s character who was the president in the previous two movies doesn’t appear here or isn’t even acknowledged, not a big deal but it was a little weird not having even a mention of him.

The direction by Ric Roman Waugh was fine for a standard action movie. The action is pretty standard but still entertaining. It’s nothing special and the action scenarios aren’t as extravagant as the previous movies, but on the other hand it’s didn’t fall into feeling a little lazy like London Has Fallen did at some point. Some of the CGI was pretty bad at times and could be a little distracting (mainly an early scene involving drones), but I’ve seen much worse.

Angel Has Fallen was what I expected, familiar, generic and pretty silly, but still entertaining enough for what it is. If you liked the other movies in the series then check it out for sure, you’ll no doubt have some fun with it. Otherwise you’re probably not going to get anything out of the third movie. If you haven’t watched the other movies and you’re still interested in it, you can jump right into this with no problem. Recently it was announced that there would be more movies in the Mike Banning/Has Fallen series. While I’m not overly enthusiastic by that proposition, I don’t mind it, they provide some brief entertainment for what they are.

The Aviator (2004) Review

Time: 170 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains adult themes
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn
John C. Reilly as Noah Dietrich
Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner
Alec Baldwin as Juan Trippe
Alan Alda as Senator Owen Brewster
Ian Holm as Professor Fitz
Danny Huston as Jack Frye
Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow
Jude Law as Errol Flynn
Willem Dafoe as Roland Sweet
Adam Scott as Johnny Meyer
Director: Martin Scorsese

Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood movies such as “Hell’s Angels (1930)”, a passionate lover of Hollywood’s leading ladies Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the farther he has to fall.

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I remember when I saw The Aviator for the first time, I watched it because Martin Scorsese directed it and Leonardo DiCaprio was in it. I thought DiCaprio was great and the movie was pretty good, but didn’t remember much from the film, except that it was really long. I knew that I’d appreciate it a lot more when I got to around to watching it again and that’s certainly what happened. I was interested in it a lot more this time, and I think it’s a really great film.

The Aviator is very long at 2 hours and 50 minutes, yet it’s much faster paced than I remember it being. After while you began to notice some parts where it dragged but if you were invested in it as much as I was, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. A successful biopic makes you learn about the real life subject, both what they did and what kind of person they are, while also making you interested to learn about them through further research. The Aviator succeeds at this at flying colours, showing a large portion of Howard Hughes’s life. Part of why Scorsese did so well with this biopic was that he treated it like it was a character study, like some of his past films. Over time we get to learn more about Hughes and his life, as we see him at different stages of his life, at highs and lows.

There is a large and talented cast, and they’re all great here. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Howard Hughes has to be among his all time best work. DiCaprio portrays many sides of Hughes, the filmmaker, the entrepreneur, the aviator, the businessman, as well as his eccentrics and OCD. This entire movie surrounds him, and the work that he’s done here is nothing short of excellent. Cate Blanchett is another standout as real life actress Katharine Hepburn. Although I’ve never seen Hepburn in a movie, Blanchett seemed to have captured the mannerisms, voice and overall character of her perfectly. Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda and Ian Holm make up a strong supporting cast and give memorable performances as well. Even some brief performers like Jude Law, Willem Dafoe and Adam Scott play their parts well.

Martin Scorsese’s direction of The Aviator is excellent as expected. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is outstanding, and the editing by Thelma Schoonmaker here also ranks among one of her best works in a Scorsese movie. While indeed the scenes involving planes and all that are filmed and edited very well, it also works in other regards, such as when Howard Hughes has some breakdowns and issues with his OCD. There are some parts where the CGI really hasn’t held up all that well in the plane scenes (this movie is from 2004 after all), but thankfully these moments don’t last for too long, and don’t take away too much from the overall movie. There aren’t a ton of plane scenes, but the ones in this movie are very well filmed. The score by Howard Shore is also quite solid.

Although it’s recently being regarded as one of Martin Scorsese’s lesser films, The Aviator is great and is worth seeing at least once. On a technical level it’s fantastic, Scorsese directs it incredibly well, and its shot and edited to near perfection. On the whole, it’s also an interesting biopic about a fascinating man, that’s well paced despite its very long runtime. It’s worth seeing even just for Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance here.

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis as Etta Candy
Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer
Ewen Bremner as Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock as Chief
Director: Patty Jenkins

Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

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Wonder Woman was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. Despite the divisive and mixed reaction that its been receiving, I have so far loved most of the DCEU (I loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and… enjoyed Suicide Squad despite it’s countless flaws). No matter their thoughts on the previous movies, everyone was at the very least interested in the Wonder Woman movie. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (who everyone loved in BvS) returns to star in the female led superhero prequel, and its directed by Patty Jenkins, who directed the great and often underappreciated Monster. Not to mention that this is the first live action Wonder Woman movie. So there was a lot to look forward to. I expected a great superhero movie and I got more than that. All the elements you’d expect are here, great action, characters and story. However this movie does more than just that, the way it explores humanity with its (quite frankly perfect) protagonist, results in an incredibly inspiring movie, and also one of the best comic book movies in recent memory.

For those who haven’t seen any of the prior DCEU movies don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to catch up on any of them beforehand in order to watch Wonder Woman. There is definitely a connection between this film and Batman v Superman but it’s for the most part a standalone movie. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long but all things considering, the pacing was pretty good. Yes, I agree with some other people that the pacing in the first act is a little slow but I wasn’t really bored, and I was completely invested throughout the entire runtime. This movie is entertaining, there is a surprising amount of humour and the best part is that it doesn’t ever take away from what’s going on. You will never see an out of place joke in an emotional action sequence. And also, this movie still does have a very emotional centre to it all (more on that in a bit). The film is still dark, it also tackles the impact of war incredibly well, it doesn’t shy away from taking some dark turns. The third act, is yet another explosive action set piece as per typical of DCEU climaxes (as typical of most comic book movies really), but to say that’s all that this segment had to offer would be under-serving it, there is still an emotional core to be found here, it’s not just a brainless action climax.

Now, onto the parts of the movie that truly makes it one of the best comic book movies. This movie is actually pretty straightforward and simple when it comes to the plot, but it’s what’s beneath the movie that makes it so great. First of all is how this movie explores humanity, with Diana as the protagonist, the film explores that aspect excellently. Diana as a character starts off quite innocent, believing that its all one person behind all of humanity’s wars and destruction and without spoiling anything, and lets just say that not everything is how she thought it would be. It feels incredibly raw and unique compared to most comic book movies and was an important and very compelling part of the movie. The other aspect that makes it so great? Wonder Woman is inspiring, in fact I’d say its really the most inspiring comic book movie I’ve ever seen. A lot of people have already called it inspiring so I just want to clarify something: when I say inspiring I don’t mean it’s a light hearted movie with an likable protagonist with good morals. By inspiring I’m meaning how despite all the darkness and odds that the film shows, Diana rises above all odds to be a hero in the best sense of the word. I know I’m being a little vague and not describing it the best way, but trust me, once you see the movie, you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. The best example of how inspiring this movie is shown in the No Man’s Land sequence, that scene alone demonstrates how great this movie is. Wonder Woman falls in lines with the rest of the DCEU, which is why they are some of my favourite comic book movies of all time (excluding Suicide Squad of course), the heroes despite all odds end up being compelling and inspiring, and it is so incredible to watch.

Gal Gadot truly impresses here as Wonder Woman. While she was really good in Batman v Superman, she gets a lot more to do here as a character. She does of course sell the action sequences excellently but it’s her acting that is most impressive. She perfectly captures Diana’s innocence and optimism, it’s incredibly easy to love and care about her. She goes through a lot of changes as the events of the film go on, as she sees the horrors of war that mankind had to offer. I won’t give away too much, but if you remember what I said earlier about this film being inspiring, Diana is a major part of that and Gal Gadot delivered on that part perfectly, so believable and powerful. Wonder Woman is an incredibly empowering character, and is beautifully and fully realised by both Gadot and Jenkins. Chris Pine was also great, he was really entertaining and he had a perfect blend of comedy and drama. He is very funny but there’s also an emotional core to him. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was excellent, this is the best chemistry between two actors in a superhero movie since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Although Pine is the bigger star in comparison to Gadot, he doesn’t feel forced into the movie, he was used appropriately.

A lot of the supporting characters aren’t that complex but they are effective and served the movie well. The Amazonians played by Connie Nelson and Robin Wright and many others were particularly good, I loved the way that the film presented the Amazonians, very memorable and badass despite only really being in the first act. I can’t wait to see more of them in future DCEU films. Other supporting actors like Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock were really good in their roles as well. The villains were pretty good. With Danny Huston as General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Dr Poison, they do act well in their roles (even if Huston does go a little hammy sometimes, especially with his thick German accent). Even though I would say that they are pretty good, they weren’t really great. They really needed a lot more scenes and to develop the characters more, they weren’t that interesting. They were okay overall though, and they served their purpose. Now some will already know of a certain other villainous presence in the movie, I won’t spoil it for anyone who doesn’t know of this character yet. But this villain is by far the best villain in the film. It’s worth mentioning that the handling of the villain on paper looks terrible but in execution surprisingly works well (I’m deliberately keeping this vague). Everything from the performance, to the motivations and writing was so great (bar one unintentionally hammy and hilarious line) and I was overall satisfied with its treatment.

This movie is absolutely beautiful, from the gorgeous island of Themyscira, to the worn torn battlefields on the front line, Wonder Woman looks amazing. The action sequences are fantastic, from the fight choreography to the visuals, absolutely intense and entertaining. A stand out action set piece is of course the aforementioned “No Man’s Land” sequence. I won’t go into much depth about it but I’ll just say that it’s incredible, both visually entertaining and beautiful on a deeper level. It’s probably her stand out moment so far out of all the DCEU, Superman had the World Engine sequence in Man of Steel, Batman had the Warehouse sequence in Batman v Superman, and in Wonder Woman, she has the No Man’s Land sequence. The CGI in the movie was great overall, and was used quite well. While some have complained about the CGI in the third act, it’s not bad by any means, some of it just isn’t fully finished and that’s a little distracting. It wasn’t enough to take me out of the movie though. And plus, even though there is a lot of CGI due to the large scale of the action, the film has established early on the immense scale that the movie is. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was absolutely fantastic. It made the scenes even better, the emotional, and at times beautiful scenes, as well as the large action sequences. Beautiful and epic are the words I’d use to describe the score of Wonder Woman. And for those wondering, yes, Wonder Woman’s electric cello theme from Batman v Superman does make a return, and it is incredibly satisfying whenever it shows up.

Wonder Woman exceeded my expectations. With it’s great lead character, great performances, a compelling and inspiring story and entertaining action, it’s everything that a great comic book movie should be, and more. That’s not to say that there are some issues, but none of it is enough to detract from the greatness of this film. I loved the movie. I wouldn’t say it ‘saved’ the DCEU (as I thought the prior movies except for Suicide Squad were at the very least great), but I will say that is one of the best films in the DCEU, and it’s one of the best comic book movies in recent years. However I do think there is far more to take away from Wonder Woman than how it holds up against other comic book movies. It shows that movies with even simple stories can have so much impact, with Diana’s story being truly compelling and inspiring, despite it being straightforward. This film will also certainly lead to even more excellent female led blockbusters and more female directors getting large projects, which is going to be great to see, a huge step forward for the film industry. Even if you don’t like comic book movies, I do recommend checking Wonder Woman out, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find something to love about it at the very least. Wonder Woman surpassed my expectations and is one of my favourite movies of the year.