Thoughts On “Wonder Woman” The Movie

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS NOT SEEN WONDER WOMAN AHEAD.

What I liked: 

Wonder Woman herself. I admit I had many misgivings going into this movie because Hollywood can be notorious about writing terrible female characters. Particularly in films about women.

Diana was an excellent well-rounded character that, while ignorant about our world, wasn’t a moron. She was a vivacious warrior, but she also had a great amount of empathy for everyone. Especially the innocent.

I love that they showed that you can have a great deal of emotion without it crippling you. In fact, Diana’s passion and kindness were what drove her throughout the course of the movie. As well as her unshakeable confidence in her own abilities.

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Me after this movie

The romance. Okay, so I know a lot of people that are complaining about this, but I really enjoyed the relationship between Diana and the Captain. No, I guess it didn’t necessarily need to happen, but the way that they did it worked very well. It was a very organic and I could genuinely see the chemistry. While it’s heavily implied they had sex, there was no sex-scene. This could be because of the rating, but I think it’s because they wanted to focus more on the mechanics of their relationship rather than the carnal element. My favorite scene between them was the boat scene where they’re having a quiet moment together. It was a great character-developing moment.  It didn’t take anything away from the film and Diana didn’t turn into a ditzy idiot because of it, and for this I am happy.

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The fight scenes. Maybe there were too many scenes of Diana and the Amazons doing barrel rolls in slow-mo, but damn if it didn’t look awesome. I loved seeing the fluidity of their moves. It was more like watching a dance recital than a battle (in a good way) and it’s in keeping with their culture. They are a society of warriors so all of this is second nature to them.

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The music. As soon as I heard Wonder Woman’s theme while she was taking out those Nazis, I was cheering. It’s so powerful and personalized. I already have it on my phone and have been listening to it while zipping in and out of traffic on the way to work.

They address sexism , but don’t beat the audience over the head with it. It was a concern of mine going in that they were going to overcompensate with the “girl power” aspect of Wonder Woman. This is another foible of Hollywood. They have to reinforce the concept that a woman is powerful to the point where they sound almost self-conscious about it. However, that was not the case here. While many male characters balk at the idea of a woman being involved in a war, as soon as the ensemble cast see her in action all their doubts are assuaged. We don’t have to be reminded every two seconds that this is a woman and it’s remarkable that she can do these things.

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The message. Yes, the “are humans worth saving” concept has been done before, but it was done so well in this movie. Especially when it’s revealed that Ares actually hadn’t done anything to start this war, he just planted the idea into the heads of humans. I was honestly curious about how they were going to approach the concept of Ares influencing humanity because it was obvious he isn’t the reason why humans fight each other.

Steve’s sacrifice. I hate that Steve died, but I know why he had to. I’m glad they didn’t pull some deus ex machina crap and have him come back to life either. The way that they filmed his final moments really got to me. The way that he hesitated just before pulling the trigger showed us that Steve wasn’t a conventional superhero, he was just a regular guy trying to do the right thing. He didn’t want to die but he was willing to do so because it meant others would live. We might not be able to see ourselves in Wonder Woman, but we can definitely see ourselves in Steve. I can also appreciate that his death meant that there were actual consequences for all of this. The heroes don’t just get to have their cake and eat it to.

Okay, now that I’ve given this movie a tongue bath, time to talk about the things I didn’t like or had a problem with.

What I didn’t like:

They use the “Fighting Is Too Dangerous” Cliche. What makes this worse is the fact that it doesn’t really go anywhere. The mother just ends up accepting it as soon as Diana takes off for the land of mortals. It also doesn’t make that much sense. In the event that this with Ares war did happen, which would be better: for her daughter to be an exceptionally skilled fighter or for her to be a sitting duck when Ares comes around? I get that motherly inclinations aren’t always logical, but…seriously.

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Dian’s aunt dying is kind of brushed under the rug. No, I didn’t necessarily want to sit through another death-of-a-mentor scene, but it was kind of glossed over in the grand scheme of things. She doesn’t even mention her again in the rest of the movie. It’s just kind of….this:

Diana: NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO- And now I’m over it. ADVENTUUUUUURE!!!

They use the “Repeating a Line Another Character Said Previously To Establish A Lesson Learned” cliche. “It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe.” I don’t know why movies keep doing this. It’s not particularly clever and yet screenwriters keep doing this. 

Diana’s CGI battle with Ares. Don’t get me wrong. Most of the battle was awesome. However, there were certain places where you could obviously tell that neither or the actors were actually there. Especially towards the middle/end when she uses her whip on him.

The reveal that Diana was a goddess is kind of an anti-climax. I will admit, I was surprised that God-Killer was a fake. However, when it was revealed that Diana was a goddess and only a god could kill another god, I just thought “oh.” And that’s it. Nothing about her character really changed for me.

Overall Opinion: 

I loved this movie and had a pretty difficult time coming up with things I didn’t like about. There were a few nitpick here and there, but it was a great movie and (I hope) it will be a harbinger of better female superhero movies to come.

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Thoughts on “My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE NOVEL.

As an avid fan of du Maurier’s Rebecca, I have to confess that I was a bit disappointed with My Cousin Rachel.

It started off very strong with little Philip coming face to face with the corpse of a man who had been hanged for murdering his wife, a scene which instantly hooked me into the story as it seemed to indicate that shit was going to go down.

Unfortunately nothing that happens in the novel thereafter really has as much of a punch as the beginning would seem to indicate.

What I did like: 

Du Maurier does a fantastic job of setting up atmosphere and generating feelings of unease as well as mystery. I think she also does a magnificent job of creating characters and relationships. None of them came across as flat or one-dimensional, even the side characters who didn’t do all that much.

I award du Maurier bonus points for writing a male for the lead. As someone who often struggles writing for members of the opposite sex, I thought du Maurier did an excellent job of capturing the mindset of a 19th century Englishman. If I had no indication as to who the author was, I most likely would have thought this book was written by a man.

The pacing is excellent too, never focusing on any one scene for too long.

What I didn’t like: 

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of build-up for not a lot of pay-off. It became clear as soon as Philip recovered from his “illness” that du Maurier was not going to go balls-to-the-wall as I was hoping she would do.

What puzzles me is why Rachel allowed him to get better. Was it because the writer needed him to? I’m so confused.

Also I’m disappointed there was no final confrontation between the two of them where Rachel dropped all pretense and showed Phillip her true colors. Perhaps that would have been a little too soup opera, but I think it would have been more satisfying to see the real Rachel for a moment, instead of just the repercussions of her actions.

It  would have been so interesting to see how she interacted with someone who has her confidant, a.k.a the doctor. You could make the argument that it’s creepier because we don’t know but…I disagree. I think more would actually be better in the case of this story.

Overall opinion: 

This was by no means a bad book, I’m just disappointed because I know it could have been better. If it had been just a little bit more I would probably rank it up there along with Rebecca which is one of my favorite horror novels of all time.

I’m curious to see if the movie does a better job on delivering on scares. Based on Hollywood’s track record, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

Why I’m Disappointed By Neil Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning”

Perhaps I’m just whingeing over semantics here, but I had to get this off my chest.

When I purchased the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s book on short stories I was very excited. Not only am I a fan of Gaiman’s writing, I am also a big fan of his narration. His dulcet tones and faint English accent make him a perfect narrator.

I was preparing myself for another boring day of organizing charts upstairs at the dermatology clinic where I worked and I needed something to listen to in order to keep the monotony from reducing my brain to yogurt.

So I placed the charts on a table, plugged in my earbuds, and I began to listen.

Gaiman gave a perfect introduction into this collection, explaining how he’d come to discover the term “trigger warning.” He conceded that, while trigger warnings may be well intentioned, sometimes we need to read things that make us uncomfortable, that force us to ponder imponderable things, see the world in darker hues.

He warned us readers (or listeners in this case) that what we were about to read would likely disturb us.

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I listened for several hours, nearly finishing the book in it’s entirety during a single shift. It was interesting, imaginative, captivating, visceral, everything a book should be. However, there is one thing that it was not: triggering.

I loved the stories, loved the narration, but I kept listening with a growing sense of expectation. Is this the story that’s going to trigger me? Is this the story that’s going to challenge my preconceptions about life and put me on a 2001: A Space Odyssey styled journey to self-discovery?

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The answer to that would be a nope.

Again, I loved the stories, in fact I consider this the best short-story collection I’ve ever read.

But with a title like Trigger Warning you expect something a little more…triggering. That’s not to say they weren’t disturbing. There are stories with murder, revenge, cannibalism, monsters, stalking, etc. They’re horrifying and dark with lovely twists and turns, but nothing I wasn’t expecting from something written by Gaiman.

And they were not what I was advertised.

Now, it’s not Gaiman’s responsibility to make sure that I, specifically, have all of my desires met. He is perfectly entitled to write what he wants and I believe he he does an excellent job of it.

However, let me explain why I was a bit disappointed.

There has, I think, been a shortage of books and stories in recent years that truly push the envelope. Books and stories that challenge ideas and behaviors that we see routinely in our day-to-day lives.

In our new easily-offended world there are any number of taboo subjects that deserve to be explored, but it would seem as if  no one has the nerve to tackle them in a literary capacity in a long while, lest someone get their grandma panties in a wad.

I was hoping that Gaiman, in his uniquely stylized way, would touch upon such subjects or, at least, ignore the restraints that these perpetually offended people insist writers use. Nonetheless, there wasn’t much in his book that would truly “trigger” someone, provided that person doesn’t live in a perpetual state of duress.

I just wanted something a little more challenging. I wanted Gaiman to approach the likes of Lovecraft or King and throw down the gauntlet, saying, “No, gentlemen, this is scary.”

I’ve read a handful of the Sandman comics, I know what he’s capable of.

I only wish he’d gone balls-to-the-walls the way he did with that series.

Or Coraline.

Now that would have been truly triggering.

Opinion: Peter Capaldi is Leaving Doctor Who and That’s a Good Thing

As crappy as it is that Peter didn’t get a fair shake at being The Doctor, this decision to leave is for the show’s benefit.

Doctor Who has been in dire need of a direction change for years now and I think it would really benefit from a clean slate. Many people are complaining that ageism is somehow responsible. That the reason people haven’t been tuning in is because Capaldi is an older gentlemen and not a handsome hero like Tennant or Smith.

“Go back to your Twilight fanfictions!” they cry.

However, it’s pretty clear that’s not the case. The reason I don’t care about the show anymore isn’t because the actor playing The Doctor is older. I don’t care about the show anymore because The 12th Doctor is…kind of annoying. Sometimes he can be funny and, in rare moments, charming. But his character went from being this dark, almost Valeyardish Doctor to just being a grumpy curmudgeon that wants everyone to get off of his lawn.

I really wanted to see how dark The Doctor could be, but it seems like the writers were too scared to go all in. To make matters worse, the humor they used for Capaldi’s Doctor just…didn’t work. It’s like Steven was still trying to write lines for the 11th Doctor. It was cringey. Seriously cringey.

Also his character hasn’t really gone through a compelling metamorphosis like The Doctors past. He just essentially became another character entirely with no hint of natural progression.

Capaldi’s a good actor, but a good actor can only do so much. If a line sucks, a line sucks. It doesn’t matter how much passion you put behind it.

If I had to sum up Capaldi’s tenure as The Doctor, I would say “wasted opportunity.” And that’s if I were being charitable. If I wasn’t, I would call it….well…”dull.” There were moments where I thought this Doctor was beginning to come into his own, but then he would almost immediately retreat back into his veneer of grumpiness.

I don’t wish Capaldi any ill will and I don’t blame him for the show’s downfall. However, I think his leaving is best for the show.

Here’s to hoping Chibnall can give Doctor Who the kiss of life and make it the hearts-stopping, family show that it used to be.

Fingers crossed.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” SPOILER FREE REVIEW

I had my misgivings about this movie the first time I saw the trailer. Sure, I wanted it to be good, but I was concerned about having a universe that’s so spectacularly British expand to the other side of the pond.

However, this story…this story was great.

From the beginning, this tale hits the ground running and does not stop. There are some quiet moments, but it is very plot heavy for the most part.

The pacing, I think, was one of the movie’s greatest strengths. It didn’t give the audience any opportunity to become bored. Screenwriting and novel writing are very different animals, so my concern was that it might be too slow or exposition heavy. This did not turn out to be the case. There was a lot of action in this film, especially with apparitions. God, the apparitions in this film were beautiful.

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While I loved this movie, I will grant you there was one problem that stuck out the most: the characters.

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t dislike these characters. The problem is you can tell there’s so much untapped potential to them, but the main focus is on the plot rather than exploring their identities. While I love Newt, there’s hardly anything you learn about him throughout the course of the movie that you can’t derive from the trailers. What you see is pretty much what you get.

The two characters that suffer the most from being underdeveloped are Tina and Jacob. I like these characters but I want to love them. I think that if these characters had been played by less capable actors, they wouldn’t have been nearly as likable.

If I were honest, there are moments that are totally predictable, but not so much that they ruined the film. There were some genuinely heartwarming and funny moments. I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did, but I am very glad that I gave it a chance out of loyalty to the Harry Potter franchise.

Overall, I give this movie a solid A.

While not always original, it is most definitely spell-binding.

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