WONDER WOMAN – Power in Grace

wonder_woman_ver6_xlgBoth critics and audiences have been lauding Wonder Woman, the newest film in the DC Extended Universe, as a revelation and a transcendental piece of filmmaking poised to usher in a new era in cinema.

I think these reactions are a bit overhyped and inflated, because it is supposedly the first female-centric superhero movie (even though it isn’t), and the first of the genre to be directed by a woman (which, again, it isn’t). That is not to say the film isn’t without merit or worthy of praise.

Is the movie good? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Definitely. Is it the transcendental, glass-ceiling-shattering piece of art that many critics and moviegoers are lauding it as? No.

Wonder Woman is a good movie with great moments. It’s fun, charming and full of exciting action. It reminded me of a DC era gone by – the Christopher Reeve / Michael Keaton days. There are times I think it’s the best DCEU film. But then there are times when I still think Man of Steel was better.

Man of Steel was interesting but in a completely different way. It was a contemplative, realistic look at a character that had a certain perception in the public consciousness, and I liked where it was going (where it ended up is a whole other story). Wonder Woman had a lot of heart, which is what Man of Steel and its follow-up lacked, and that’s what made it good.

I have never really found Wonder Woman the character particularly interesting, even as a comic reader. Her powers and weapons always seemed kind of hokey to me (an invisible jet – really?). However, she was the true highlight of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And if Zack Snyder succeeded doing anything in that movie, it was making Wonder Woman actually cool.

But what made this new film exceptionally good were its thematic elements. Wonder Woman was about more than just an Amazonian princess, but about the nature of humanity, actual female strength, and the power of grace.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES – A Father’s Life for Me

17015800_10154981836668830_529268610073059017_oThe Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of consternation to movie fans. It started off very promising in 2003, with one of the most unique films to come in a long time – totally reinventing and reviving a whole genre of movies that had been on the outs in the popular culture (ironic considering the source material was a theme park ride – not a usual source for strong content).

And then the sequels came. That’s where the divisions started.

If one is into the universe, one could overlook the relatively inferior sequels and just go along for the ride. They are all fun in their own ways – even the worst one, At World’s End. Then there are others who cannot abide the lack of thought and quality some of the films have. I am in the former camp, with the Pirates sequels, for the most part, satisfying my taste for swashbuckling adventure.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth film in this franchise, is a passable Pirates sequel. I enjoyed it. It’s not the best Pirates film by any measure, but it’s not terrible. In the spectrum of the Pirates films, with Curse of the Black Pearl being best and At World’s End being worst, Dead Men Tell No Tales ranks number three on my list – right after Dead Man’s Chest.

Dead Men Tell No Tales has just enough of everything you love about the Pirates films to make it a pleasant experience: ship battles, supernatural elements, comic pirate hijinks, romance, familiar faces, and Jack Sparrow comedic moments. It also contains a longstanding thematic tradition of these films: the role of a father.

THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

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