Wonder Woman 84 (2020)

RATING: 1.5/5

Wonder Woman’s journey to discover herself is pressured when a great force comes to show her deepest desires.

Wasn’t much a fan of the first one, but I thought it was decent nonetheless. However its leagues (no pun intended) better than its sequel.

The initial twenty minutes I have to say were a good introduction. There were a good introduction on how things were going downhill when it came to the pacing, narrative, acting, etc. The two intros, including the Themyscira Olympics and the heroic saves by Wonder Woman, dragged for quite a while. I mean I was stunned for how disinterested I was. The Olympics scene felt like it should have been placed in the first movie. Sure it included the one theme/message that will come back toward the end, but the whole scene went on too long. In addition it included a certain Golden Armor that doesn’t pay off greatly in the climax. It looked cool, but honestly it could have been any special Amazonian weapon/artifact and it would have made the same, unimpactful difference. The heroic saves weren’t any better. As it included some pretty bad acting especially from the mall robbers. The movie should have skipped or cut out sections from these scenes.

Continuing on with the acting, it was pretty mixed. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was still good. As too was Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor. So the heroes were good, but the villains were a different story. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord was fine and he certainly did bring some entertainment factor. Because of that there should have been just one antagonist, as opposed to two. Kristen Wiig as Cheetah did alright. Her initial goofy and nerdy personality got old and annoying real fast. Her transformation into a more dominant and fearsome persona wasn’t anything special. Or original in that it took cues from “Batman Returns.” In the long run I didn’t really care for the character. To which I think the movie itself had the same feeling as the character just outright vanished with no mention after the climax. Her goofiness in the scenes discovering her newfound powers didn’t offer a chuckle in the slightest. In fact, a lot of the humor didn’t land. Whether it was from scenes with Cheetah or Steve Trevor being fascinated with the 80s.

In terms of the scope, the sequel looked and felt bigger than its predecessor. I think it boiled down to some really good cinematography and nice, colorful visuals. When the world was falling apart with the abundance of wishes, the movie showcased impressive panning and wide shots, to really capture the magnitude and severity of the situation. Riots broke out, people panicking, looting, nukes flying, it all around madness. The movie brought the feelings of 2020 as a whole in those scenes. Though the bigness didn’t leave much of an impact sadly. A majority of the film felt flat due to the slow pacing, long runtime, and uninteresting dialogue. Situations more or less happened and that was it.

But beyond the chaos, there were other scenes of interest that looked cool. Lord in the climax being the center while a windy vortex encircled him and a scene where Wonder Woman began to fly for the first time. On a visual standpoint, the latter was the one that stood out to me the most. I believe it was the case because it reminded me of “Superman (78).” Colors were sparkling and popping. There was almost a majestic or mythical feel, which made sense considering the background behind the character of Wonder Woman. Unfortunately if one were to look at the context when it related to the film as a whole, it made no sense whatsover. The rest of the visuals sometimes looked awkward. The best example was Wonder Woman running straight at the camera in the chase scene in Egypt. There was a film grain used in some scenes. But for the most part it was pointless as a lot of scenes didn’t have that filter.

Narratively speaking, there were a number of unexplained things or plot holes littered throughout. As I mentioned earlier, after the climax Cheetah, even after reverting back to her human form, was never mentioned again. The unexplained connection between the bank robbers and Lord? Lord finding out about the crystal entirely? Wonder Woman being able to fly so suddenly and not using it for the rest of the DCEU? Cheetah, figuring out Diana’s identity so suddenly? Granted it could be refreshing but it didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Wonder Woman getting weaker? From what I could gather, the crystal was stripping her powers and transferring it to Cheetah. To which I say why does this need to happen? Can’t the crystal duplicate the powers without making Wonder Woman vulnerable. In the climax, how is Lord granting all the wishes with no physical contact as seen prior throughout the film? How is Wonder Woman able to talk to the world with Lord and her lasso as a transmitter? How is Lord not bleeding excessively from the hundreds of wishes? What happened to the crystal after all the wishes were renounced? Why does Steve Trevor need to take over another man’s body to come back?

There were so many plot holes and unexplained things that disrupted the plot. It was also why those things kind of, in some way, ruin some continuity with the rest of the DCEU.

The mid-credits scene featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, which was extremely bitter sweet. Emphasis on bitter because her cameo in this movie truly hurt.

A disappointing sequel and one of the worst, if not the worst of the DCEU films. A few performances were good, some visuals were beautiful, and the cinematography at times was nicely done. A longer runtime doesn’t always make a film feel or look grandiose. It can also lead to a project that can feel dull, flat, and uninteresting by the end. A major misstep and I’m curious of what Wonder Woman 3 will be like. Hopefully, a positive overhaul is enforced.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A supernatural character haunts the dreams of teens to exact his revenge.

A slasher, at the time, that definitely took the genre to new areas.

The character of Freddy Kruger was something special. Robert Englund delivered a performance that only he could pull off for a character like this. Unlike Jason, Michael, and Leatherface, the character was given words to say and the manner he delivered them fit well. A dark, sinister, and black-comedic performance definitely gave this slasher an edge in personality.

As far as his design, easily recognizable. Now I do want to bring up “New Nightmare (1994),” for the Freddy design in that movie was originally going to be used here; while I do like that look more, the look here was still something I enjoyed. I love the knife glow aesthetic and the burnt appearance. It for sure had nightmare-type qualities, which was good for terrorizing the dreams in the teens.

When it came to the rest of the characters, they weren’t bad. In fact, like in “Halloween (1978),” there was some likability for the teen characters. I like the character of Nancy, as she was unraveling the truth behind what was going on and her plans in stopping Freddy. The history of what went down told by her mother was interesting in gaining insight of what happened and where it eventually led to. And, of course, this was the movie that introduced the public to one of the most popular actors working today, Johnny Depp. Now with most debuts, I’m not expecting hugely awesome performances. His performance, as Glen, was not bad. As I said, there’s likability with him especially when trying to help his girlfriend Nancy.

Now the one element that set the movie apart from slashers at the time, were the supernatural elements. To which I would say it was rather mixed. The film played games of reality to the viewer. Like a person wouldn’t know they were watching a dream as they assumed it was real. I say some of the transitions between the real world and dreams worked rather seamlessly. Primarily when it came to the character Tina walking out of her home and confronting Freddy in the alley. I would say the transitions worked in the first and third act. But for the second, the transitions felt abrupt. Thus I knew right away that I was in a dream.

When it came to the look or the effects done for the dream sequences, again, it was rather mixed. There was really cool effects that fit the dream and supernatural atmosphere. Like when Tina was forcefully being dragged up the wall and onto the ceiling in her room. Freddy pushing against the wall as he watched Nancy sleeping. The jet column of blood shooting out from the bed. These were done very well.

Where it did lose me was the look of the dreams. Thankfully the sequels did a better job at creating some wacky and distorted imagery as what dreams should be like. But in the first film, it felt lacking. The creativity was sorely missing, as the sets appeared very much like the real-world with little change.

The story of how Freddy turned from a human to a dream demon was never explained. Neither was why he was doing the things he was doing. But for the “why,” one could dive deeper to gain a feel when the backstory was being said. So for that, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t explained directly. Though the “how,” I felt that was something New Line Cinema did to bait the audience for sequels, to come and watch until the sixth installment for actual explanation. Which can be a tad annoying sometimes for other franchises. Going back to “explained directly,” the plot did feel predictable. The moment Glen told Nancy about how to conquer monsters in dreams, I knew exactly how the movie was going to end.

While I did like Freddy, his agenda in the movie was scattered. Specifically for how he approached Nancy. My main issue was why he didn’t kill Nancy earlier on. There were many opportunities for him to do so. There was a time where he actually scratched Nancy’s arm, but he doesn’t kill her. For other slashers, one “could” make a “valid argument” as to why the killers didn’t straight up kill the final girl. But here, it felt more in one’s face.

Something worth noting was that the scare factor wasn’t there for me. There were creepy moments; the best one had to have been the dream scenes revolving Tina. But I wasn’t on edge as say “Friday the 13th (1980)” or “Halloween (1978).” It kept my interest throughout, but I didn’t get any chills. An aspect that could possibly tie to the pacing, which felt quick for me. It took some time to establish a setting or environment, but not enough to really let the ambience or atmosphere envelope me.

An interesting and refreshing take on the slasher genre for the time. The film had good performances, showcased an iconic horror villain, the plot was intriguing, it had some creep value, and delivered some cool effects. However the movie was bogged down by some lack of creativity, the intriguing plot had questionable elements, and some of the slasher tropes felt more apparent here than others. But still, if one hasn’t watched this classic, give it a watch. One won’t be disappointed.

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Friday the 13th (1980) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

The superstitious day brings forth blood, screams, and fright onto camp counselors.

Ten years ago, this was my first introduction to the Slasher genre. It’s been far too long.

The intro was nicely done. It perfectly summed up the type of the film one was going to receive. With its cinematography, music, direction, and of course, the kills.

Taking directions from “Halloween” (1978), there were plenty of POV shots utilized for the killer. A good use of this was during the introduction as the camera was hovering over the sleeping children. Other cool ones were when the killer would be observing the counselors from afar while hiding behind the trees.

Outside of POV’s, unlike “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), the movie took patience and let the camera sit to capture some very nice wide shots of the environment. These were effective in peaceful moments when displaying the scenic wilderness of Camp Crystal Lake. As well as creepy moments whenever the film needed to convey a sense of loneliness for a character in the scene. It was in those nerve-wracking scenes the camera showcased nice tracking when it followed a character’s every single movement. There weren’t any fast edits or jump cuts to disrupt the mood.

Music in the film was really good. The famous “ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma, ma” is one of the most iconic scores in horror history. But besides the theme, there were a few other pieces that delivered the goods at keeping the suspense flowing throughout.

The movie had a few jump scares, but for the most part, director Sean S. Cunningham’s direction seemed focused solely on giving the viewer a sense of realism. There were plenty of moments sprinkled throughout that bad horror filmmakers today would do to ruin the chills. Perfect moments to add unnecessary jump scares but they weren’t present which was surprising. While aspects of this parallel to “Halloween” (1978), there were things in here that made this movie stand out.

Makeup artist Tom Savini really brought forth the terror with his skills. The kills in this were cool. With the axe to the head or arrows to the body, it was executed well. The best kill in this involved the knife going Jack’s neck in the bed. That still gets to me rewatching this. The reveal of Bill’s body pinned against the door by arrows was quite a surprise, even after forgetting it a while back.

One aspect that definitely stands out from “Halloween” (1978) and other prominent slasher movies that came before/after, was the reveal of the killer herself, Pamela Voorhees. At the time in 1980, it must have been quite something to have a woman be the killer. It’s a shame that a vast majority of slasher films, leading in the 80s and beyond didn’t experiment. But she was good in the movie. As her motivations were understandable and actress Betsy Palmer did good at portraying a crazed mother bent on revenge. The film did a clever job of keeping her reveal tightly-wrapped until the end.

As far as the other actors, there wasn’t anything deep for them, notably the camp counselors. However compared to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), I will say the characters in this were a bit better. It was probably due to their performances or how the dialogue was written. Cunningham stated that he wasn’t looking for great actors, but in the very least, find people who were likeable and relatable. To which I say it was pulled off fine. So yes, the characters in this weren’t too bad.

Not to nitpick or pick apart questionable things, but I have to. Mrs. Voorhees being behind the tree while the character of Alice walks by, was highly unusual. Well maybe that correlated to the scene where that one cop toward the end was talking about the bad things that happen on Friday the 13th. Maybe some supernatural force was fueling Voorhees, IDK.

There were some pacing issues in a few scenes. There needed to be more development, not just with the characters but maybe some other portions of the plot.

Approximately forty years ago, this movie came out. To this day the lawsuit of who owns the rights to the characters portrayed still persists. With no end in sight. But with that said, the film had great cinematography, classic music, some nice performances, nice direction, and it did one or two things to make it stand out amongst the slashers around the time. While being somewhat of a ripoff of “Halloween” (1978), this was still a nicely done horror movie and horror classic that one should see.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic