Review of Wonder Woman

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After listening to my boss wax lyrical about Gal Gadot’s beauty, for an entire shift, I decided to corroborate his claims by taking a rare trip down to the local cinema. The screening of Wonder Woman was my destination – Warner Bros’ latest attempt at getting moviegoers to love their DC cinematic universe. I was expecting a stimulating experience given that the film stars a former beauty pageant winner who is playing a heroine created by a chap who apparently was into bondage.

SYNOPSIS

Anyone who has had the misfortune of watching Batman versus Superman knows that Wonder Woman looks great for her age. A photograph uncovered by Bruce “Caped Crusader” Wayne revealed that the supermodel crime-fighter hasn’t aged a bit since she made her debut in World War I. This 140-minute flick chronicles how the Amazonian warrior got involved in the conflict. It all started one fateful day when a Yankee spy named Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) crash-landed on the secluded island of Themyscira.

The isle’s inhabitants rescued Steve from a platoon of German soldiers, who were after the clandestine notes in his possession. Armed with just bows and arrows (Themyscira is populated solely by women so they are understandably primitive) the island’s defenders prove their girl power by defeating the gun totting Krauts. After interrogating Steve they learn of the Great War being waged across the sea. Hoping to stop the atrocities Themyscira native Diana (Wonder Woman) decides to leave her paradise homeland and escort Steve back to Britain.

ACTION & COMEDY

One of the reasons why Wonder Woman is the best DC movie, post the Dark Knight trilogy, is because it isn’t overly serious. There are plenty of chuckles to be had when Diana reaches the UK. Some humorous moments include Diana shopping for a new wardrobe and Steve recruiting colourful allies at the pub. Many of the jokes revolve around Diana’s obliviousness to local customs, such as how women are treated like second-class citizens. Be aware that the story is set during a time when women hadn’t secured voting rights. How unjust! Both genders should be permitted to participate in elections. Youngsters however should be barred. Just look at all the mischief they caused during recent polls.

Apart from the comedy I also enjoyed Wonder Woman’s action. It was fun seeing the dainty Israeli hurl panzers at enemies, deflect machine gun fire with her bracelets and bash German skulls. Serves them right for being sore losers over the Brexit outcome! The villains Wonder Woman battles are hard to take seriously though, as they are so cartoonish. Main antagonist Erich Ludendorff is so evil that he not only shoots subordinates, but he also cackles with glee when trapping rivals in a room containing an airborne toxin. For the lulz he tosses a gas mask into the chamber just to see the group scrap for survival.

VERDICT

My rating for Wonder Woman is a 3.5 out of 5. Back when the casting was announced I wasn’t sure that Gal Gadot would be up to the role, but she proved me wrong. The only times her lack of acting chops were noticeable occurred during moments were she had to convey anguish or fury. She does however look ravishing in Amazonian attire and the more modest garb of a 1918 lady. Unlike Henry Cavill’s Superman, this version of Wonder Woman does come across as a true hero. Even when ignoring the plight of others would be advantageous Wonder Woman has no qualms about leaping in and protecting the weak.

The only reason I am not awarding the movie four stars is because of the ending. Just like Man of Steel, the studio went for an explosive climax that dragged on for way too long. It didn’t help either that Wonder Woman’s final adversary looked ridiculous, due in part to some ropey CGI. Other than that I was impressed with Wonder Woman. A deserved hit for Warner Bros and I appreciated that (unlike an SJW Marvel comic) the heroine wasn’t used as a vehicle to shove feminism down our throats. Fingers crossed that Wonder Woman signals the advent of more female superhero blockbusters. If done right they don’t all have to turn out as bad as Electra or Cat Woman!

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

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Welcome to The Otaku Judge, your best source for reviews on the latest movies. Today I am critiquing Guardians of the Galaxy, which um… came out almost three years ago! Yeah I am a little behind on the Marvel cinematic universe, but what better time to watch this film than now when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has just hit cinemas? Featuring a group of lesser-known superheroes, the titular Guardians of the Galaxy comprise of five intergalactic misfits led by Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. Quill (played by Chris Pratt) is the team’s sole human. He grew up amongst the cosmos and became a rogue after being abducted by space pirates at a young age. Yarr.

OVERVIEW

Guardians of the Galaxy begins with Star-Lord pilfering a mysterious orb right under the noses of some unfriendly aliens. Unbeknownst to him the sphere houses a powerful Infinity Stone, which Kree fanatic Ronin the Accuser desires. When Star-Lord attempts to sell off the orb he is intercepted by Ronin’s underling Gamora and a pair of bounty hunters named Rocket and Groot, who are after the price on outlaw Quill’s head. The ensuing battle royale that follows is eventually quelled by the Nova Corps police force, culminating in the rowdy foursome getting incarcerated. Whilst serving time at the Kyln penitentiary Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket and Groot encounter an inmate named Drax whose sole purpose in life is to kill Ronin, as payback for the murder of his family.

The above mentioned quintet patch up their differences and agree to team up in order to escape prison, cash in on the lucrative Infinity Stone and give Ronin a good kicking. Thus the Guardians of the Galaxy are born. Star-Lord shuns modern technology in favour of listening to music on a Walkman. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora. After being Uhura in Star Trek she now assumes the role of a green skinned beauty (the kind that Kirk likes to bang.) Drax is the humourless strongman who takes everything too literally. Rocket is a crotchety racoon that uses his gift for tinkering to construct weaponry. His best pal is the humanoid tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel.) Out of the entire cast Diesel had the easiest time memorizing lines because his character’s vocabulary is limited to the phrase “I am Groot.”

VERDICT

My rating for Guardians of the Galaxy is a four out of five. The movie wasn’t the tour de force that word of mouth had led me to believe, but overall it was above average when compared to other mindless popcorn flicks. I appreciated seeing Marvel expand their horizons outside of Earth for a change and even if the plot is nothing special there’s never a dull moment thanks to the brawls, spaceship dogfights and moments of hilarity. My favourite Guardians were Rocket and Groot, which probably doesn’t say a lot for the live action acting given that they are both CG characters… and one of them can barely speak! That said I think Dave Bautista acquitted himself well in the role of Drax. Compared to other wrestlers turned actor, he may lack Dwayne Johnson’s charisma but he still made me chuckle by playing the straight man very well.

Tradition decrees that I close off a Marvel Studios movie review by lambasting the villain, so here goes. Just like Malekith in the Thor sequel, Ronin is nothing more than a generic baddie coated in makeup. The motivation for his evil acts is barely explored, so it feels like he is only there to give the heroes someone to beat up. In one brief cameo appearance upcoming Avengers antagonist Thanos exuded more personality than Ronin did in two hours. Thanos gives the air of someone not to be trifled with, even if he has trouble keeping his lackeys under control. Over the course of Guardians of the Galaxy’s story Ronin double crosses him and the same goes for his two adoptive daughters. Man, it’s so difficult to find reliable henchmen these days!

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

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What a shame that Tony Stark didn’t use his vast wealth to purchase a DVD copy of Terminator 2. If he had the billionaire philanthropist playboy would have learned what a bad idea it is to develop AIs. When the Avengers wrestle away control of Loki’s sceptre, from the clutches of Hydra, the genius also known as Iron Man uses the Asgardian staff to complete his Ultron programme. Stark hopes to delegate the responsibility of protecting Earth to machines. Unfortunately for him the plan backfires when Ultron gains sentience and a powerful robotic body. In a twist you can see coming a mile away, Ultron determines that the best course of action for saving the planet is to eradicate the globe’s biggest threat… namely the human race!

OVERVIEW

I am starting to suffer a little from robot fatigue. After watching the first two Iron Man films I have had my fill of superheroes battling evil versions of Tony Stark’s armour. Ultron and his army of replicas regrettably has Marvel reusing that idea yet again. Given the rich selection of comic book villains available to choose from, I can’t help but wonder why some other antagonist wasn’t picked instead for a live action adaptation. On the plus side Ultron has some flesh and blood underlings assisting him in the form of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The enhanced humans (don’t call them mutants or Fox will sue) have made a pact with Ultron as they blame Stark Industries for their parents’ deaths. Scarlet Witch has the power of boobs, energy projection and mind manipulation whilst Quicksilver is a speedster who is less cool than his X-Men movie doppelganger.

Given that the synopsis outlined above is fairly straightforward you might be wondering how the writers stretched out the plot into a 140-minute feature. The answer to that question is dull side stories. After being relegated to the role of indoctrinated lackey in the first Avengers flick, Hawkeye is given more screen time courtesy of some family scenes. What’s this? Clint has kids and a wife? Wow, how riveting… not. Another sub-plot that I didn’t care for was the crowbarred romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner. If Banner was still played by dreamy Ed Norton I could understand why Widow would be physically attracted to him, but it’s more of a stretch when Mark Ruffalo is playing the part. Perhaps the Beauty and the Beast love story was inserted to give geeks, who flock to these films, hope that poindexters can indeed attract supermodels.

VERDICT

My rating for Avengers: Age of Ultron is a three out of five. Thanks to the flashy action and funny one-liners the movie is entertaining. Avengers Assemble was more enjoyable however, as it was better paced and had the novelty factor of being the first A-list superhero team up. It’s probably for the best that director Joss Whedon has since left the Marvel cinematic universe, because the MCU releases that followed his departure have been more to my liking. When compared against Age of Ultron I found Ant-Man, Civil War and Doctor Strange to be wittier, smarter and more original respectively. Whedon relies on quips and character deaths too often when it comes to filmmaking. The end result is stories that are fun at first, but lack substance the longer they go. Maybe that explains why all his shows end up getting cancelled?

Blaming Whedon exclusively for Age of Ultron’s faults would be unfair though. Regardless of who was sitting in the director’s chair, there is no escaping how the source material hamstrings Age of Ultron’s script. The tale of a mechanical protector who turns on his creators is fine for a sixties graphic novel, but comes across as cliché in 2015. Ultron’s portrayal doesn’t help matters either. Despite appearing sinister in the trailers, thanks to James Spader’s vocal delivery, in the movie itself the character comes across as goofy. Like a teen with daddy issues, he is prone to outbursts whenever Stark is mentioned. Poor Tony. Everyone hates his guts. I still don’t get why Quicksilver wants him dead. It’s not Stark’s fault that someone used his weapons to kill mummy. That’s akin to hating the Volkswagen CEO, instead of the driver, when an automobile squishes your cat.

Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Right now it’s a good time to be a geek. Not only are we getting flooded with endless superhero films, but we can also expect new Star Wars movies for the foreseeable future. Rogue One is the second Star Wars flick to get released since the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. This predecessor to A New Hope (also known as The Force Awakens with crappier special effects) has Gareth Edwards showing George Lucas how to properly direct a Star Wars prequel. During the prologue we see how scientist Galen Erso is forced out of retirement to assist with the development of the Death Star. Poor guy, I can really sympathize with his plight. Just like Galen I too am forced to serve an evil empire, on a daily basis, in order to pay the bills.

OVERVIEW

You can’t have a Disney made Star Wars adventure without a Mary Sue so let me introduce you to Galen’s daughter Jyn Erso. Rogue One’s heroine is freed from incarceration by the Rebel Alliance, early on in the film, in the hopes that she can track down her dad and procure blueprints from him that may reveal a weakness in the planet busting weapon he has created. Escorting Jyn on the mission is Latin spy Cassian Andor and a reprogrammed Imperial bot named K-2SO. Out of the trio K-2SO is my favourite character. He is for all intents and purposes C-3PO, if the gold plated android wasn’t a pussy. I couldn’t help but laugh whenever he would announce how bleak things are. K-2SO is the type of machine that will blurt out painful facts like “only 3% of your followers will read this review.”

Over the course of the story three more companions join Jyn in her quest. The first of these is Imperial defector Bodhi Rook who, during an interrogation scene, has the displeasure of having ear sex with a hentai tentacle monster. Freelance assassin Baze Malbus, who wields a laser cannon, becomes the team’s muscle. He is the best friend of blind monk Chirrut Imwe. In a film devoid of Jedi, Chirrut is given the responsibility of imparting sagely guidance to his teammates. Despite being handicapped Chirrut is adept at quarterstaff combat and his strong faith in the Force seemingly allows him to evade blaster fire. Like K-2SO, Imwe gets to deliver some amusing lines. I had to chuckle for example when captors covered his face with a hood. “Are you kidding me? I am blind!” he exclaims.

VERDICT

My rating for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a four out of five. This movie eclipses the George Lucas prequels thanks to its more mature presentation. Yes there is some humour, as mentioned above, but thankfully none of the gags are puerile slapstick performed by an annoying Gungan. The comedy is used sparingly and works to offset the gloom of what is arguably the darkest Star Wars cinematic offering to date. Another plus in Rogue One’s favour is that it doesn’t go overboard with CGI. One of the more impressive feats the visual effects crew pulled off was giving Guy Henry the facial features of Grand Moff Tarkin. If technology continues to advance at this pace we will soon only require the services of voice actors, as a computer can render human bodies. Nolan North, who already appears in every video game, will star in all blockbusters too!

Filmgoers who recently attacked Ghost in the Shell and Dr Strange for whitewashing should have no complaints with Rogue One. The diverse cast includes pilots of both genders in addition to Asians and Mexicans – proving that the galaxy isn’t exclusively inhabited with people who speak in British accents. I’m not fussed about SJW politics though. My only concern was watching a good Star Wars movie and in that regard Rogue One delivers. I liked how the plot addressed the Death Star flaw many people have commented on for years and the cameo appearance of Darth Vader. Although brief, Vader’s screen time showcased how menacing the Sith Lord can be. The way he stalked Rebel soldiers was akin to a horror movie villain slashing down victims in space. It’s just like Jason X… only not terrible.

The Wolf of Wall Street Review

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Clearly I have chosen the wrong career. Instead of dealing with stressful customers for chump change I could have become a stockbroker and earned millions by spending other people’s money. That’s the lesson I learned from watching Martin Scorsese’s 2013 hit The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on a book that chronicles Jordan Belfort’s infamous career, what we have here is a Scarface like rise and fall tale. Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, strikes it rich via unethical practices before squandering it all on hookers, booze and drugs. Perhaps things would have turned out differently had Belfort’s mentor not been a coked up loon whose strategy for success involves masturbating multiple times a day? What hogwash. If constantly spanking the monkey equals mega bucks then why am I always broke?

OVERVIEW

Jordan Belfort’s life on Wall Street didn’t start well, as his time at L.F. Rothschild came to a swift end on Black Monday. Not to be confused with Black Friday (that joyous date when you can murder shoppers for a discount television set or tacky Amiibo) the 1987 crash dubbed Black Monday saw global share prices plummet faster than Trump’s approval rating after a Middle East missile strike. Thankfully for Belfort the moneymaking schemes he acquired at Rothschild served him well when he decided to ply his trade in selling penny stocks to gullible clients. With his investments netting him a staggering fifty percent commission, Belfort amassed enough funds to found the Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm in partnership with his cousin loving neighbour Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill.)

Most people would be satisfied with a mansion, family and healthy bank balance. Jordan Belfort wasn’t however and that greed is what ultimately led to his downfall. Stratton Oakmont’s complicity in money laundering didn’t escape the FBI’s attention and Jordan’s adulterous escapades eventually wrecked his marriage. In his defence though, I think most guys would divorce their missus to shag Margot Robbie. And shag her he does in scenes where we are treated to the sight of Harley Quinn full frontal nudity. You’d think I would hate this womanizer who bamboozles innocents, but thanks to a funny script and DiCaprio’s charm I couldn’t help but respect Belfort’s success. I do feel bad for the victims of his scams, but based on what this film shows many of them must share the blame for allowing themselves to be duped by glorified telemarketers.

VERDICT

I am awarding The Wolf of Wall Street a score of four stars. The movie is great, but it is something I would only recommend to mature audiences. I dread to think what kind of message this flick could impart on impressionable minds. Given the tame punishment Belfort received for his wrongdoings one could argue that conning people is worth the risk. A short prison sentence is a small price to pay for years of intemperance, were you indulge in prostitutes, fast cars, dwarf throwing and narcotics. One could leave this film with the impression that drug taking is not only harmless, but also a great way of enhancing your productivity. The adverse effects that illegal substances can have on your health are largely downplayed for laughs and if the film is to be believed overdosing on pills is no worse than chugging down a few Red Bulls.

Leonardo DiCaprio has come a long way from the Titanic days were Kate Winslet heartlessly allowed him to freeze in icy waters. Aided by a talented cast, he carries this movie and shows glimpses of the talent that years later would earn him an Oscar. Congrats Leo, the Academy finally acknowledged your greatness and all it took was eating raw meat plus a spot of bear buggery. Despite my low attention span I found that The Wolf of Wall Street’s three hours flew by. The opener detailing how Belfort amassed his wealth, the second act’s moments of debauchery and the finale were Stratton Oakmont’s board attempt to evade justice kept me glued to the screen. I could gush about this film all day, but will end the review now because typing this post has aggravated my sore wrist. It’s an injury I sustained from vigorous wanking… um I mean stockbroker training.

Review of The World’s End

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Every now and then I receive a notification on Facebook inviting me to a school reunion. I seldom attend the events because interacting with chums you haven’t seen in years can be awkward. People change and it soon becomes apparent that once formerly close buddies no longer have anything in common. Despite my age I still enjoy video games and cartoons, but the same cannot be said of the people I hung out with during my teens. The majority of them have matured, started families and are climbing up the corporate ladder of their respective jobs. It’s the same deal for Gary King, the protagonist of The World’s End. Life peaked for him when he graduated so he opted to remain a party loving alcoholic. Twenty years later, eager to relive the good old days, he coerces his old gang to join him in tackling a pub-crawl, which they failed to complete back in their youth.

OVERVIEW

The World’s End is the name of the final stop in a pub-crawl, dubbed the Golden Mile, which requires that participants drink a pint from twelve of Newton Haven’s most popular bars. A dozen beers in one evening? LOL. What a lightweight. You gotta pump those numbers up – those are rookie numbers. Anyways, irresponsible Gary King via the allure of nostalgia (and guilt tripping) manages to convince his schoolyard mates to migrate from London to their old stopping grounds for one night, to finish the drinking crusade they started two decades prior. Andy Knightley, Steven Prince, Oliver Chamberlain and Peter Page reluctantly agree to King’s demands, although much to Gary’s chagrin the group only accept after getting permission from their wives. Even worse, Andy’s tipple of choice is rainwater in a glass because he has given up on alcohol.

Gary’s tavern tour starts badly and gets worse as the night progresses. Visiting each saloon is an exercise in déjà vu because the establishments look identical, as a pub chain has bought them all out. The locals don’t recognise the returning King either apart from one landlord who, as luck would have it, recalls previously barring Gary from his premises. Gary is also denied some loving when he bumps into Oliver’s sister Sam. She has no desire to re-enact the passionate shag they once had in a disabled loo. Speaking of toilets, whilst taking a pee Gary gets into a brawl with a stranger. The fight ends with Gary literally knocking the guy’s block off – revealing that much of the town’s populace has been replaced with extra terrestrial automatons! Will the discovery prompt Gary to ride out of Newton Haven? Nah, you can’t drink and drive. Let the pub-crawl continue!

VERDICT

My rating for The World’s End is a four out of five. Once again Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have succeeded in delivering a gut busting British comedy filled with witty banter and sarcastic quips. The later scenes also feature some surprisingly good fight choreography. Pegg is great in the lead role of the Peter Pan like Gary King, who refuses to grow up. He is totally oblivious to the feelings of others and lives just to pursue fun. King may look ridiculous dressing like a Sisters of Mercy band member in his forties, but I can sympathize with his refusal to let go of the past. All that said I cannot say that I still drive the first automobile I ever owned (like he does) or that I still listen to music recorded on cassette. I am happy to see the end of tapes given that vast chunks of my youth were spent waiting for Commodore 64 games to load.

Although the film is brill I should caution viewers that The World’s End is the weakest movie in the Wright directed Cornetto trilogy. I guess the novelty is starting to wear off, as The World’s End borrows ideas from its predecessors. Like Hot Fuzz the story hinges on a town’s dark secret and akin to Shaun of the Dead there are pub-based scraps fought against enemies that are no longer human. Viewers who were enjoying a tranquil comedy about estranged friends reuniting in their adult years may not care for the whacky action that follows the Body Snatchers twist, but I personally didn’t mind the narrative’s change of pace. Heck, the sci-fi reveal works for me as I can use that excuse when next turning down a class reunion. Sorry, I’d love to attend your shindig but I can’t due to the threat of alien robot invasion.

Review of Ant-Man

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It’s a shame that Spider-Man is Marvel’s most recognisable character because ants are by far my favourite insect. Huh? What’s that? Spiders aren’t insects? Bah, shut up. No one likes a smart aleck. Anyways, for those of you who don’t know Ant-Man (Hank Pym) is a superhero that can shrink in size and command bugs to do his bidding. Back in the eighties Pym retired from public life, as he feared that the tech responsible for his powers could fall into the wrong hands. Twenty years later Pym gets word that his protégée Darren Cross has designed a suit capable of turning soldiers into deadly Lilliputians. Cross plans to sell his invention to some unsavoury characters, so it falls on Pym to steal the suit before the transaction can be finalized. Hank is however too old for this shit.

OVERVIEW

Like an elderly Bruce Wayne passing the mantle of Batman to Terry McGinnis, crotchety Hank Pym needs to find some new blood to don his Ant-Man jumpsuit. He sets his sights on a thief named Scott Lang, who has previously served time for breaking into Vista Corp’s high security headquarters. Making the protagonist a common criminal may be controversial, but the writers succeed in portraying Lang as a charismatic rogue. Not only is Scott a loving father, but it’s also revealed that the heist he committed was justified. Like a modern day Robin Hood, Lang broke into Vista Corp to refund monies that the company had been covertly siphoning away from unsuspecting clients. Man, where was this guy when Barclays pickpocketed my account with sneaky bank charges?

The movie’s final act sees the new Ant-Man infiltrate Cross’ empire with the aims of pilfering his prototype Yellow Jacket suit and purging all research data pertaining to the project. Before that Pym coaches Lang in the intricacies of height manipulation and ant warfare. The training montage in question is rather humorous, even by Marvel standards. No surprise given that funny man director Edgar Wright was the chap who championed an Ant-Man live action film in the first place. Wright didn’t helm the movie himself though, after severing ties with Marvel over creative differences. That’s the same reason a furious Ed Norton cited for leaving the role of Bruce Banner. Don’t make Norton angry. You wouldn’t like him when he is angry.

VERDICT

My rating for Ant-Man is a four out of five. Despite focusing exclusively on superheroes I like how Marvel Studios make their movies feel distinct. Ant-Man for example is more of a heist caper than a traditional costumed vigilante tale. Much of the film’s comedy revolves around the banter Hank and Scott share. Paul Rudd (Lang) delivers the wisecracks whilst Michael Douglas (Pym) plays the duo’s sarcastic straight man. Thanks to Ant-Man’s stature altering talents the action sequences are like nothing I have ever seen before. One showdown takes place inside a briefcase for instance and the movie’s finale sees Lang trade blows with Cross atop a Thomas the Tank Engine toy. Gripes! I don’t think the Fat Controller would approve of that behaviour.

Speaking of Darren Cross, the follicly challenged villain lamentably fits into the underdeveloped Marvel antagonist mould. The writers do however succeed in making Cross a despicable prick that you want to hate. Not only does he experiment on cute lambs, but he also murders a beloved sidekick later on in the film. Corey Stoll wasn’t given much material to work with, but still did a decent job playing the bald evil entrepreneur. Where was this guy when Lex was being cast in Batman versus Superman? Anyways, overall I had a great time watching Ant-Man. Not bad given that a hero who talks to insects sounds goofy. If they made this work maybe Aquaman, who talks to fishes, will be okay too? You must admit that communicating with dolphins is a lame power. Huh? What? Dolphins aren’t fish? Grrr. What did I say earlier about being a know it all?