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

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

Run (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

[SPOILERS]

A wheelchair-bound teen suffering from numerous medical conditions, gets a sense of unease for how her mother treats her.

“Searching” director Aneesh Chaganty continues greatly with his thriller talents.

Performances in the film were really good.

Actress Sarah Paulson delivered in portraying a creepy and threatening mother (Diane). Who would do anything to keep her daughter safe and protected under her.

Actress Kiera Allen, who played the daughter (Chloe), was an interesting character. In the film, her character was portrayed as being smart and it truly showed. She was pretty resourceful in trying to escape her mother. Especially with the scene with her crawling on the roof while having her tools. The fact that she was suffering from all sorts of illnesses and disabilities, added layers in making one care for her so much. One slip-up, fall, or a shortness of breath, would have meant doom for her.

Just like with the movie “Searching,” Chaganty did very well at keeping one invested in the characters and story being shown. The snowball effect was handled nice in showcasing bits of information from Chloe trying to unravel the truth. Pieces were effectively shown while not fully revealed until the basement scene before the climax.

Suspense was definitely present in a number of scenes. One would be edge on what the mother would do with her daughter being extra sneaky. In particular in one scene where the mother was sitting still at the kitchen table as she watched her daughter on the computer. That moment was very creepy.

Speaking of the computer, there was a nice little Easter egg regarding the movie “Searching.” With the Microsoft logo appearing while the computer turned on.

Once the truth bomb of Diane not being the biological parent of Chloe hit, one felt a bit of sorrow and understood where the mother was coming from. Though that didn’t phase Chloe for one bit, from there the momentum built until the end.

The one film that this shared the most in common with was “Misery.” The comparisons were strong. But that wasn’t a bad thing. “Run” played things differently with the wheelchair-bound protagonist and again, there were additional layers to her that made one fear for her even more I think.

As far as the PG-13 rating, I don’t think it was too much of a fault. This was a good example of a thriller with that rating that worked. But there were moments where it unfortunately showed. There were a couple times where the dialogue or acting did get cheesy. It broke some of the tension for me. The best example where I rolled my eyes was when Chloe cussed and the scene cut before she finished. That kind of thing I’ve seen in some movies and it’s not warranted. Only in trailers and even there sometimes it’s not warranted.

I thought the number of diseases Chloe had seemed much. I say only two of the ailments were notably used while the rest were hardly utilized, except in the opening montage.

After Chloe finds out that Diane was not her mother, she for some reason still calls her mom. I feel at that point she shouldn’t be calling her that. Now in the revenge motive in the end scene was fine and it worked. But earlier I felt that she should not be saying that word.

Chaganty showcases for his second feature film, that he can direct and write really good thrillers. The performances were great from the two main leads and tension and suspense were effective at keeping one locked on the screen. Highly recommend it.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Uncle Sam (1996) Review

RATING: 1/5

An undead soldier comes back to life to dress as Uncle Sam to fight off unpatriotic people.

I was expecting cheese, but sadly, there wasn’t enough.

The acting, oh boy. How the general/sergeant at the beginning talked, with his over-the-top gruff voice, perfectly set the stage. This was the thing that was the most laughable. The reactions that many of these actors portrayed was so bad, yet enjoyable. One prominent example was the main boy protagonist stepping on broken glass. There was no way a human being can saw “ow,” while delivering such a lifeless performance. Seriously I think the actual zombie had more life in his delivery than the boy.

I would say the “best” actor was Isaac Hayes, whose most famous for the “Shaft” theme. But “best” would be pushing it way too far. I was surprised Robert Forster, from “Breaking Bad,” was in here. RIP to both of them.

In terms of the character of Uncle Sam, may I ask how in the world did he obtain supernatural abilities? How can he teleport himself while chasing that guy during the sack race? Moving away from him, why does the wheelchair kid have psychic powers? Well I guess it doesn’t matter. What matters was seeing Uncle Sam kill in ridiculous attire, while giving an evil, ASMR voice. But I got to say the Uncle Sam mask in one of the vintage clips in the opening credits, looked creepier than what was shown.

The gore and blood effects were decent. The zombie look of Uncle Sam was, alright. Cinematography was alright and there was some nice long takes. While the teleporting scene made no sense, the scene itself appeared rather seamless which was cool.

My main problem with this was that I wished the movie would have gone more cheesier and cornier. I mean when one hears about a zombie soldier dressing up as Uncle Sam, one is going to chuckle. But the entire presentation and direction proved otherwise. The filmmakers probably wanted to make a legit horror movie because of how the camera movement and low-key music was executed. But the acting and dialogue completely clashed with those two aspects. And that juxtaposition can be amusing, but for me, the “serious” components brought some enjoyment down.

The slasher film was cheesy and ridiculous as one would expect. But there were times when the movie did get slow and rather boring at times. Then again, maybe this was one of those corny horror flicks best seen by a group, as opposed to solo watching. I would say skip to the Uncle Sam scenes and watch portions of some hilarious bad acting.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic