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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review

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Wonder Woman 1984

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah
Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lorenzano/Maxwell Lord
Robin Wright as Antiope
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
Director: Patty Jenkins

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.

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Wonder Woman 1984 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. I liked the Wonder Woman movie released back in 2017 and I was interested in the follow up movie, set in the 80s, and once again directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot in the lead role. After some delays, it actually ended up being released right at the end of 2020, and I got to see it in the cinemas. Despite some mixed to positive reactions, I really liked it.

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Wonder Woman 1984 is a very different movie from its predecessor. Whereas that was a gritty war movie, 1984 is a very bright, occasionally goofy but nonetheless heartfelt movie. Some might call it cheesy but I find it earnest and endearing and joyful. As someone who does prefer darker tones, I liked the approach for this movie. It is very reminiscent of the blockbusters of the era it is set in. The story has a surprising amount of depth and is entirely based on characters and the decisions they made. I particularly liked the character journey that Diana went on. There are plenty of plot devices and MacGuffins, and can definitely feel a bit silly and clichéd at times. The writing itself can be a little messy. It is long at 2 hours and 30 minutes in length, very long, but I appreciate it being this long rather than 10-20 minutes shorter. The first half and definitely the first act is quite slow. Not that I wasn’t interested during those parts, but you do feel the slow pacing. By the time it reaches the halfway point however, it really picks up. I’m one of the people who actually quite liked the final act of the first Wonder Woman, even though I do see issues with it. The final act of 1984 does work a lot better however, and by the end is emotionally satisfying. Make sure to stay in cinemas for like a couple minutes after the movie ends for a mid credits scene, it’s worth it.

MAGIC HOUR

The acting is generally good, but it really comes down to the 4 major actors and characters. Gal Gadot once again is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, and playing a Diana who has spent many decades on Earth since the first movie ended. I know some people are mixed about her acting, but I think Gadot improves with every appearance as Wonder Woman, making this her best performance as the character yet. She embodies the character really well and definitely sells her emotional moments really well, especially in the second half. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor after his character’s death in the first Wonder Woman. In 1984, Trevor really is more of a supporting role compared to his part in the first movie. There are some complaints that some aspects about his return especially with regards to his relationship to Diana is rather ethically questionable (to say the least) and I can’t really argue with any of them. That aside, his line delivery and humour is great, and Gadot and Pine once again share great chemistry together. I particularly like how Diana was the fish out of water when she first comes across mankind and Steve was the one guiding her through, and now the roles have sort of reversed as Steve finds himself in the 80s. The villains in Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord and Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah are definitely a step above the villains in the first Wonder Woman. Pedro Pascal performs his role incredibly well. His performance is hammy and over the top for sure, but he’s very entertaining and stands out among the main 4 actors. There’s also a lot more to his character that’s not shown in the trailer, in fact I was surprised at the amount of screentime he got. There are some parts of his character which do feel familiar and a bit undercooked, but Pascal’s performance made him great and firmly one of the best villains in the DCEU. Kristen Wiig also plays her role very well, even though her character goes on a very familiar arc. Nonetheless it was handled a bit better than I thought it would. I am uncertain about some parts of her role in this movie, and without getting into it, it’s strange seeing her essentially work as a secondary antagonist considering that Cheetah is known as being one of Wonder Woman’s most known villains. Hoping to see more of her in a sequel or something.

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Patty Jenkins returns to direct the sequel, and once again she does a good job. Losing the dark and grittiness from the first movie, 1984 embraces the 80s to great effect, with bright and vibrant colours. There’s actually not a huge amount of action, at least when compared to the previous movie, it’s definitely more story focused. When there is action, I did like those scenes generally. From what I remember, my biggest issue with the action in the first Wonder Woman was the use of slow motion, which got quite distracting. I didn’t notice a huge amount of slow motion in 1984, but I will say that the wirework sometimes made characters feel very floaty. The CGI at times is a little iffy but on the whole I think it was good. Hans Zimmer composes the score, and as you’d expect it’s really good and fits the movie quite well, even if it’s not one of his best work. There are actually two moments that work quite effectively. One is “Beautiful Lie” which was taken from Batman v Superman’s score, and the other wasn’t composed by Zimmer and is instantly recognisable. Both are used in key moments, and their respective tracks elevated those scenes to whole other levels.

MAGIC HOUR

Wonder Woman 1984 is entertaining, joyful, heartfelt and I had a great time with it. It’s certainly a bit messy, more so than the previous movie, but it’s also more ambitious and I got more out of it. The directing, acting and story just all generally worked well for me. It’s among my favourite movies in the DCEU, I’m definitely up for the third Wonder Woman movie whenever that does come out.

Unbreakable (2000) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains medium level violence.
Cast:
Bruce Willis as David Dunn
Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass
Robin Wright as Audrey Dunn
Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn
Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

A security guard (Bruce Willis), having been the sole survivor of a high-fatality train crash, finds himself at the centre of a mysterious theory that explains his consistent physical good fortune. When news of his survival is made public, a man whose own body is excessively weak (Samuel L. Jackson) tracks him down in an attempt to explain his unique unbreakable nature.

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I only watched Unbreakable once but with director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film Glass coming out soon, a movie tying together this movie and his other movie Split in the same universe, I decided to check out Unbreakable again. At the time of its release, Unbreakable was considered to be a disappointment compared to director Shyamalan’s previous film, The Sixth Sense (which got him noticed as a director). Nowadays its considered one of his all time best movies and maybe even his best, and for very good reason.

Unbreakable was really ahead of its time, especially when you consider the state of superhero movies in the lead up to its release. While the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the Michael Keaton Batman movies existed, the rest of the comic book movies leading up to 2000 were films like Batman and Robin and Spawn. This is a more realistic take about comic book superheroes. Had this been released around 2005-2008, this would’ve been acclaimed as a masterpiece and a different take on superheroes. However, it was released at a time when comic book movies were still finding its way, so people really didn’t understand or catch onto this movie as fast. M. Night Shyamalan plays with comic books, it’s clear even from this that he has a deep knowledge about comic books and applies some of the tropes and aspects into the lore in this movie. Despite some of the larger than life concepts, it understands that it’s a smaller movie, based in reality. It’s essentially a story about Superman realising that he’s a superhero but they make it as grounded as possible. There is also a twist at the end, as typical of Shyamalan, and it really works (won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen Unbreakable yet). In terms of problems with the movie, I guess there are moments that are a little drawn out and lost my interest a little bit, mainly some conversations, but there’s only a few of those moments.

Bruce Willis’s performance here as the lead character of David Dunn is one of his best, if not his best. It’s a very subdued performance, it’s not showy at all but you can clearly see his emotions come across and he’s very convincing in his arc. Samuel L. Jackson also gives one of his best performances as Elijah Price, someone who is determined to prove that David is a superhero of sorts. Jackson is very subdued here compared to his other characters and he’s actually quite convincing in the role. Despite some of the outlandish things that his character claims, the way Jackson delivers them actually seems believable. The supporting actors were also good, with Robin Wright and Spencer Treat Clark as David Dunn’s mother and son serving the story quite well.

M. Night Shyamalan knows what he’s doing behind the camera here. The cinematography was great, on a rewatch I really noticed that he used a lot of long takes with small movements or zooms, especially during conversations. I’m not sure why he did that but it just felt right. Shyamalan once again seems very familiar with comic books and it’s very apparent in his direction. Whether that be the clear use of colour like green for David Dunn and purple with Elijah Price, the way some things are framed to seem like something straight out of a comic book, or other things along that line. James Newton Howard’s iconic score here is absolutely incredible and added so much to the movie. As fantastic as Unbreakable is, I’m not even sure that it would’ve reached this level of greatness without it, that’s how much it elevated the movie.

Unbreakable for me is without a doubt Shyamalan’s best movie yet, his writing and direction on top of the great performances (especially form Willis and Jackson) were outstanding and really works. With the boom of comic book movies nowadays ever since really 2008, Unbreakable has aged incredibly well. Early buzz surrounding Glass has been divisive but I’m on board with whatever Shyamalan has in mind for the conclusion of this story.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language and sexual themes
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as K
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
Ana de Armas as Joi
Sylvia Hoeks as Luv
Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi
Mackenzie Davis as Mariette
Carla Juri as Dr. Ana Stelline
Lennie James as Mister Cotton
Dave Bautista as Sapper Morton
Jared Leto as Niander Wallace
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.

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Blade Runner 2049 was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. It’s a sequel to a sci-fi classic 35 years in the making and it has some talented actors involved with big names like Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto. But most of all, Denis Villeneuve is directing, and he has made some excellent movies, with them being some of the best films of their respective years (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival). So naturally I was curious about how it would turn out. Blade Runner 2049 truly surpassed my expectations, with the direction, acting and story, it blew me away. This isn’t just the best movie of the year and one of the best sequels of all time, I might also go so far as to call it a masterpiece.

I really can’t reveal too much about this movie, I can’t even really talk about what this whole movie is about as there’s so many plot points which could be considered spoilery (thankfully the trailers don’t contain any spoilers either). So I’ll do my best to not give away too much. You don’t necessarily need to have watched the original Blade Runner to understand what’s going on, but it is a bonus for those who have, you’d be more familiar with this world and be able to understand more about what’s going on (and you’ll have a better experience overall). This movie really is a continuation of the original Blade Runner story, its not been modernised or re-energised to appeal to a conventional movie audience, which I love. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green and the story is really great, exploring interesting new ideas while delivering a very compelling story. Doing a sequel to Blade Runner isn’t easy, you have to make it true to the original but at the same time deliver its own story and not try to just repeat what was done previously. It also must expand on the world built on from the original film and also be a good as a film in itself while not end up being just a setup for more potential sequels. This story thankfully hits all the right notes and the story is incredible. It does have some ambiguity and some questions that aren’t necessarily answered by the end but that could possibly be left to the audience’s interpretation as to what the answers are. That’s all I’m willing to say about it. This movie is longer than the original, with it being around 2 hours and 45 minutes long and while I definitely felt the runningtime, I was glued to what was going on every second. Don’t expect it to be a fast sci-fi flick like the trailers may have pitched it as, this is still a neo-noir mystery science fiction film. With that said, the pacing is handled much better than the original, while it is quite slow in its pace, every moment seems like it matters. It doesn’t ever have moments that seemed to drag on for no reason like the original film. As someone who likes but doesn’t love the original Blade Runner, I thought 2049 was better. Make of that what you will.

Blade Runner 2049 has a great cast, the characters they played were fascinating and they were cast perfectly. Ryan Gosling is once again great, here he plays Officer K, the main character who’s a Blade Runner. Gosling plays every scene perfectly, especially when he’s learning all this new information, he can convey so much with just a single look with no dialogue at all. Make no mistake, this is really K’s story and Gosling was the perfect actor for this role. Harrison Ford is very much a supporting role in this movie but he does have an important role in the story, and Ford does some of his best acting ever. More supporting actors with Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Robin Wright, Dave Bautistia and Jared Leto all are great. All stand out with their unique characters, and that’s all I’m willing to say in a spoiler-free review. Without naming specific people, I would’ve liked to have seen more of them but they all served their purpose to the story well.

Denis Villeneuve is the director of Blade Runner 2049 and as I said previously, his previous work on film has been remarkable, 2049 is no exception. Everything from the visuals, to the lighting to the sound and the camerawork is pure cinematic genius. There is so much attention to detail, there’s nothing out of place. This is among Villeneuve’s best work, along with Arrival and Prisoners. This is hands down the best looking movie of 2017. Cinematographer Roger Deakins does incredible work here and deserves so much praise. This film looks so beautiful, it feels like a lot of the movie weren’t using CGI, and everything looks amazing. There isn’t much in the way of action but whenever its on screen its good. The score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is also great, at times it feels like the original Blade Runner soundtrack and overall fitted the film incredibly well.

Blade Runner 2049 is so far the best film of the year, and with already some incredible movies released in 2017 that’s saying a lot. Denis Villeneuve and his talented cast and crew has created an incredible sequel that surpassed the original in every way. It stands on its own as a masterpiece of sci-fi, I guarantee that decades from now its going to be a classic film that ages well. When it was announced, a sequel to Blade Runner was called one of the worst ideas to ever be made. After seeing 2049, I have to say that it was one of the best ideas ever made. Avoid any spoilers, avoid really reading or watching anything relating to this movie and see it as soon as you can. Also watch it on the biggest screen possible. You won’t regret it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Acts of cruelty & rape, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomvist
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger
Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger
Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode
Robin Wright as Erika Berger
Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman
Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger
Director: David Fincher

After being successfully sued for libel by a wealthy industrialist, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) leaves his magazine Millennium and accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to write the Vanger family history. What Henrik is most interested in learning however is what happened to his niece, Harriet Vanger, who he is certain was murdered by a member of his family in the summer of 1966. Mikael takes on the task and moves into a small cottage on the Vanger estate. Blomkvist eventually believes that her disappearance might have something to do with some serial killings that took place 20 years before she disappeared. He begins to decipher some of the clues Harriet has left behind and decides to get an assistant, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the woman who did the very thorough background check on him for Vanger. Together, they learn of some of the Vangers deep, violent secrets.

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I haven’t read the novels by Stieg Larsson or watched the original movies, but just from watching this movie, I should get around to looking at them sometime because of how much I loved this movie. David Fincher was the perfect director for this film, creating a chilling atmosphere and overall, a film that is always captivating and interesting with never a dull moment.

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Starting with a sleek, stylistic and dark opening animation which is accompanied with Trent Reznor and Karen O’s cover of Immigrant Song (Originally by Led Zeppelin) the film never lets up in being completely interesting. When you go into this movie, expect a dialogue driven movie, like Zodiac (another Fincher movie) but yet it is much more captivating. It is also worth knowing that this is a mystery movie that has a lot of details to take in. The film also mostly jumps between the perspectives of Lisbeth and Mikael before they meet about halfway into the movie. Despite the film being a bit long at 2 hours and 40 minutes I still was interested throughout the entire runtime. The film also concludes with a fitting ending that has me itching for the sequels.

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Rooney Mara was absolutely fantastic in this movie. From her performance alone, I can see that her character is extremely hard to portray but somehow, she pulls it off. Mara managed to really transform herself to become Lisbeth and on screen, she lives and breathes her. She has successfully managed personifies one of the most complex and interesting characters I have watched on screen. Daniel Craig is also really good here who also has great chemistry with Rooney Mara. Other actors like Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are also really good in their roles.

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David Fincher’s films always look great and this movie is no exception. The locations in Sweden are well made and the film looks downright beautiful when it takes place in winter. Incredibly, some of scenes used CGI, when all of the film looked like it was filmed with none of that. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also really good and sets the mood for the location, particularly in the snow.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proves again that David Fincher knows what he is doing behind the camera. It may not be the most pleasant film to watch but it is always eye catching with beautiful cinematography, a captivating tone and brilliant performances, mostly notable that being of Rooney Mara’s. It’s extremely hard for me to find any flaws in the movie and I’m looking forward to the sequels and I hope they get made.
9/10