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

Nacho Libre (2006) Review

RATING: 3/5

A monk skips his church duties to become a luchador, in order to make sure the orphans have a better life.

Real soft spot this one has on me.

The movie, revolved around Jack Black. Without him, I’m unsure if the movie would have still worked. Black was a complete joy to watch. Delivering such memorable moments and quotable quotes. The stretchy pants, the corn-smacking, eagle eggs, all of that was pretty funny.

As far as the rest of the cast, it was hit or miss, mostly miss. Outside of Nacho, his sidekick Stephen was certainly funny in some scenes. Especially when he screamed like a girl while in the ring. He didn’t deliver as much memorable material as Nacho, but still earned a place. When it came to the other characters, there were scattered comedic moments, but a big problem with them was that there was very little in terms of their personality. The movie didn’t go in-depth with them or make one care about them in the end.

There was good music presented. Like the opening song “Hombre Religioso (Religious Man)” by Mister Loco and of course, “EncarnaciĆ³n,” sung by Jack Black himself. Lots of the songs fit the movie in terms of tone, mood, and the location for where the film was shot.

The film did display some nice cinematography. One got to see some beautiful wide shots of the Oaxaca landscapes. There was good framing whenever the church/orphanage were pictured. Colors were popping and radiating from the screen. Which it should seeing that the sport of “Lucha Libre” shown was all flash and show.

Now with the Luchador scenes, I say there was some good choregraphed moves. My favorite was when Nacho and Stephen were fighting those two lion-gremlin luchadores. As mentioned prior, the girlish screams from Stephen were funny, as well as the dirty moves done by or done to Nacho. That’s not to say there wasn’t any bad choreography. There were times where one can clearly see the punches and kicks didn’t land. There were points of sloppy editing where it can ruin the pace and flow. In particular the Battle Royale scene where there was so much fighting happening all at once.

While I did like the film utilizing its practical stunts and effects, the couple times where CGI was used was an eyesore. I mean the scenes which it was used was understandable, but the quality of it was noticeable. I’ve watched the movie quite a few times and only now I’m just seeing it.

The execution of the plot was beat-for-beat. It followed the “liar reveal” tropes. I would say “School of Rock” handled it better. The character progressions were choppy. In the climax, Nacho got stronger through the power of love, friendship, and convenience, while the Ramses guy got weaker in a fraction of a second. Stephen was Nacho’s yes man for a majority and he received a rapid change of heart on orphans. Like the editing, the pacing and flow of the plot was scattered.

Despite a plentiful of flaws the movie threw, on a personal level there’s a special place in my heart for it. The awkward, quirky, crude, and ridiculous nature definitely won me over. Black owned the movie and it’s hard to imagine the film without him. It’s also hard to imagine that the film was inspired loosely by the story of “Fray Tormenta.” A priest who spent many years as a Luchador to raise money for the orphans he was caring. While the movie doesn’t do that the real-life story any justice, it was still enjoyable and fun to watch. For me there’s a good-size rewatchability factor. I recommend it for sure.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

The Polar Express (2004) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

A doubtful little boy hops aboard a train ride to the North Pole to wonder if the mythical Christmas icon himself exists.

Some deem it as a Christmas classic, while others say it is rather dated and very standard with its delivery. For me, the latter seems more appropriate.

The visuals and effects were mixed across the board. Around the time of its release, it was deemed revolutionary with the film’s reliance on motion-capture. Though honestly, 16 years after, it did not age well. The expressions shown by the characters didn’t look convincing and sometimes it can be rather creepy if the camera held onto a face for extended periods. Funny to think Pixar films such as “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2,” and “The Incredibles,” which that one was released the same year, had CGI models that emoted way better than the “realistic-depiction” that this was trying to replicate. Goes to show that better, isn’t always better.

With the rest of the visuals, they can be nice, detailed, and beautiful at times. The snow sparkling in the forest, the Northern Lights, the detail on the train, etc. The cinematography at times can be very good. Especially at times whenever its following a certain person or object of interest. It would follow the subject wherever it would go from A to B.

There were two main settings, the Polar Express and the North Pole. One was shown fine, while the other was majorly disappointing. The North Pole was the one that appeared decent. I’m all for seeing different interpretations and this wasn’t too bad with its city of elves. There were buildings, a large globe with t.v sets showing the kids of the world, and a present-making factory which led to the sled drop-zone. The operations of getting the sled with the presents lifted in the air and carrying it was cool seeing.

The other setting, the one which this movie was named after, was not good. When it came to the train operations, I wish one could have gotten to see more. We got to see the dancing hot chocolate chefs, the engineers, and a glimpse or two of the other cars of the train, but that was it. The film was more focused on the main boy and his two friends. One doesn’t get perspectives from the other kids. The best example was the intense rollercoaster scene. The movie tells what happened after, rather than shows during. Thus making the journey feel hollow.

The lack of depth continues with the characters. The children were the ones I have the most problem with, as they either ranged from bland or annoying. I would say the adults were the most enjoyable, they brought the most life in the film. Primarily the Conductor and the Hobo. Both of whom played by Tom Hanks who did a pretty good job.

As far as comparing the movie with the book, the movie definitely placed scenes in here that either benefited some or dragged the experience down. I mean I understand the filmmakers needed to add more substance seeing that the book was only 32 pages. Like I said, adding substance to the train operations was a good idea. But there needed to be a lot more of it. I mean the kids were given a couple cups of hot chocolate and no food, come on. The main kid having doubts and questions about whether or not everything he had seen was real, was executed blandly. The world-building of the North Pole was nice. The Hobo was a fun character and it did raise questions on who exactly he was. The film placed some background info on that Billy character, as opposed to the more crucial ones. Not for the main one which the film started with. The action scenes were nicely done, but I could see how they might have been there to spice up the source material onto the screen. In terms of differentiating from the book, I say it wasn’t handled too well. Some new elements got to shine more than the other new elements.

Pacing and editing was an issue at times. Like when the Conductor was punching the tickets in a matter of seconds. The nerdy kid in some way getting to reach the three main kids to the pile of presents faster. I mentioned before the camera tracking of certain objects was cool, but what exactly does it add? Is it to show the visually nice scenery of the woods or the Arctic? Is it to boast on the film’s technical and “revolutionary” achievements (for the time)? Also the odds of that ticket flying back to the train, with all of the mess it went through, is astronomical.

A couple times there were musical pieces, The hot chocolate one was kind of pointless. Billy’s singing was a heart-warming one. When it came to the rest of the sounds of the movie, it was decent. It for sure did the best at immersing one in the environment.

Being an achievement in the technology used in the production, can only get one so far. There were good merits. At times it felt like a Christmas epic, with the various, nice-looking locations and environments shown. The substance thrown in here, to add to the original source material, worked in some areas but wasn’t expanded upon in the others. Resulting in a Christmas classic that could have been really special if the potential was fully reached.

YouTube: LoneCentric Productions/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Review

RATING: 4.5/5

Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, grows bored and tiresome of Halloween. To a point where a comforting, warm-hearted, and jolly makeover is in need.

Revisiting this classic from my youth was something special.

A perfect example of a musical that I like. Generally I’m not a fan, but if the songs work, then I’m along for the ride like this film. The songs sung, what I can say, many of the tracks are upright classics. From “This is Halloween,” “What’s This,” “Poor Jack,” “Kidnap the Sandy Claws,” and of course, “Oogie Boogie’s Song.” Each track was catchy and memorable in their own way. One would be singing along with the tunes during and after the film that’s for sure. They delivered the right tone and emotion for the scene it was incorporated in. Composer Danny Elfman brought it home when he came in singing.

In terms of visuals, there was so much stuff to awe and ooo over. It was simply fascinating to look at the distorted and macabre scenery, the multitude of characters, and to be amazed by the gorgeous, fluid stop-motion. The moment when Jack was walking on Spiral Hill, with the immense moon shining in the background, was an iconic shot. Other eye-popping scenes were Boogie’s lair and Christmas Town. Everything felt alive. One couldn’t look away for their was so much flavor and style. Especially in the montage sequence of Jack’s presents terrorizing the families.

As mentioned the film boasted impressive scenery, which that impressiveness transcends onto the unique look of the characters. The People of Halloween Town had their own memorable quirk and cool design to make one stand out amongst the others. There was Sally, the Mayor, the Vampires, the zombie baby (Braindead reference possibly), Zero the ghost dog, the orange/black python, the werewolf, the town band, the trick o’ treaters, etc. A vast sea of characters.

The best two in my opinion, were Jack and Boogie. They stole the camera. They had the best music and best character moments. Boogie’s time was short, but incredibly sweet. His cool design and the way he carried himself with his flamboyant and sinister vibes make up for the screen time. Jack, was the character, who owned the film. His development from A to B was understood clearly. A being stuck doing the same routine on annually basis. He wanted to change things up badly. While his attempts and ideas were there, his execution brought him down. But in the end, he was thankful of what he done and him being what he’s famous for, was the only thing he was good of. Jack was proud of what he tried to accomplish, which one can respect. If a person did try something new and it doesn’t favor them in the end, they can say in the end at least they put in the effort in doing something different.

Granted the movie was extremely easy to follow. Easy to a point where one would definitely say, including me, the film was basic and not allowing any form of depth. Again it is and maybe I could have wanted a notch more clarity in the world and the characters. Though I think the simplicity was needed. It’s a basic story that had the capability of resonating with lots of people. The whole experience felt like watching a children’s fairy tale. Now with that, I’m not saying this film was mainly meant for kids. It can be for everyone. Plus, what are the odds of watching a movie that can be watched on two holidays? That’s extremely rare and it was nailed perfectly. The juxtaposition made things even more enjoyable to watch.

You know after watching this, I had no idea Santa Claus was called “Sandy Claws” by the people of Halloween Town. Also, when is there going to be another time where Santa shouts out “Happy Halloween.”

A Halloween and Christmas movie classic. It had very nice visuals, memorable music, gorgeous stop-motion, and a basic, yet very satisfying story with nice characters. Tim Burton was a favorite of mine as a child and it felt so good to revisit him. With talks of a sequel, I’m not sure if I want one. It’s best to leave this film alone. If one hasn’t seen it, watch it now. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

Happy Holidays to all!

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic