COVID-19 Crisis: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Crystal Dynamics partners with The Initiative on developing Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot

There sure was a lot of buzz that rocked the Xbox gamers community. This was about the breaking and very surprising news that the Square Enix-owned game developer Crystal Dynamics (best known for the Tomb Raider trilogy of 2013-2018) has joined Xbox game studio The Initiative as a partner on the development of the Perfect Dark reboot being made exclusively for Xbox platforms.

The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics are co-producing Perfect Dark.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from PureXbox.com’s article. Some parts in boldface…

Here’s some breaking news – The Initiative has announced it will be partnering with Crystal Dynamics to help it bring the new Perfect Dark game to the next generation.

Crystal Dynamics is best known for series such as Tomb Raider and was also behind the Square Enix project Marvel’s Avengers. In a follow-up tweet, The Initiative noted how the game was still “early in development”.

Although Crystal Dynamics has a lot of history with third-person action titles, it’s worth noting how this new entry in the Perfect Dark series is still being referred to as a “first-person” spy thriller.

Eurogamer has also pointed out how The Initiative was originally founded by the former Crystal Dynamics boss Darrel Gallagher, and how Tomb Raider reboot director Daniel Neuburger is also part of the Perfect Dark team.

Posted below are the tweets from The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics…

Read closely.

Furthermore, Xbox chief Phil Spencer stated on Twitter: Great to see continued momentum and progress on PD. Thrilled to have Crystal Dynamics partnering with The Initiative.

While it is indeed surprising that another game developer, not owned by Team Xbox, would come in to assist in the production of the upcoming Perfect Dark, it still makes sense not just because The Initiative’s Gallagher and Neuberger used to work for Crystal Dynamics, but also because the ambitious Xbox game studio (formed in 2018) was meant to be small and agile (additional reference here) and be able to work with partners on the production side of things of projects. The Initiative clearly does not have the workforce of 100 to 200 people it needs to make Perfect Dark and that is exactly where the Square Enix-controlled game developer comes in.

Remember Lost Odyssey, the very memorable Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) exclusive on Xbox 360? A lot of gamers remember Mistwalker as the developer of that game in relation to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s (AKA Final Fantasy creator) involvement and studio leadership, and yet the other team involved – Feelplus – is often overlooked. The other Xbox 360-exclusive JRPG Blue Dragon had Mistwalker and Artoon as co-developers. Artoon did much of the software development work.

Going back to Perfect Dark, I speculate that The Initiative will be more focused on the game’s overall design, the planned gaming concept and supervision with Crystal Dynamics doing the software development and other technical aspects of production.  The most recent Crystal Dynamics-developed games I played were the first two games of the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy…the 2013 game on Xbox 360 and the first sequel on Xbox One. I also played Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One but that game was mainly developed by Eidos-Montréal. I should state that I had the most fun playing the Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics even though Shadow of the Tomb Raider had new gameplay features.

While Marvel’s Avengers clearly received a mixed reception from video game review writers and even cost Square Enix a bundle of money, there is still no reason to worry about Crystal Dynamics negatively affecting the development of Perfect Dark. On the contrary, Team Xbox granted its game studios a lot of creative freedom along with continuous funding which I believe will benefit both Crystal Dynamics and The Initiative on making the Xbox-exclusive reboot. The internal attitudes and atmosphere of producing Perfect Dark will be totally different from that of Marvel’s Avengers. I would not be surprised to see Crystal Dynamics learn from their shortcomings during the making of the superhero video game with Square Enix. It should be noted that Gallagher’s history of work and management with Crystal Dynamics will ensure a bond of trust between the Tomb Raider developer and The Initiative. Trust between the collaborators is essential to ensure production will progress and be completed on time. The speculation that Perfect Dark’s production is in trouble (leading to Crystal Dynamics’ involvement) is just nonsense!

With The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics now co-producing the return of Joanna Dark, we can only wait until the next big update of the game gets released. Perhaps at E3 of 2022?

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Dazzler #2 (1981)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Way back in 1981, Marvel Comics had a successful comic book series launch with Dazzler #1 (read my retro review by clicking here) which sold over 400,000 copies and further sealed Dazzler as an advantageous addition for the company’s superhero comics franchise. Dazzler, a creation of a deal between Marvel and a certain record company, debuted in Uncanny X-Men #130 and got involved with the X-Men until Uncanny X-Men #131. Dazzler appeared with Marvel’s famous webslinger in Amazing Spider-Man #203.

Dazzler #1 ended with a brewing rivalry between the title character and Enchantress. With those laid down, here is a look back at Dazzler #2, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler preparing for her big show at Numero Uno, a prestigious disco in the city of New York. Just before the show starts, a huge crowd of people are in attendance and among them are Wolverine, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Captain America, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Tony Stark (Iron Man) to name some.

Just as Dazzler appears on-stage and draws a frenzied applause from the audience, the revenger-hungry Enchantress slowly makes her moves to ruin the lady who outclassed her to be the main attraction of the club. Even with her desire for revenge, the Enchantress decides to use her magic sparingly on Dazzler. In the audience, Peter Parker/Spider-Man begins to sense something is about to happen…

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This shows what this comic book is really about.

The way the story was told is disappointing. This is because the spotlight on Dazzler and her anticipated conflict with the Enchantress got overwhelmed by the amount of superhero filler on the narrative. To be clear, it is fun and interesting to see a mix of the varied superheroes of Marvel together but this comic book ended up being an all-star showcase (X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four members included) than a real, standalone Dazzler story. In fairness, Tom DeFalco showed how skilled he is with plot structuring and capturing the personalities and tropes of the different superheroes (note: unsurprisingly, DeFalco accurately captured Spider-Man’s personality and he went on to be a major force behind Spider-Man comic books) but that does not change the fact that this comic book should have been more about Dazzler.

When it comes to the conflict between Dazzler and the Enchantress, it was executed with no depth at all. Literally speaking, there is not enough meat to consume here and it the conflict really ended up looking very rushed. As if that was not bad enough, there is not enough justification to show Dazzler defeating a monster summoned by the Enchantress.  Considering how shallow the Dazzler-Enchantress match-up turned out, it’s no wonder why there is so much Marvel all-star filler in the script.

As for the late-stage attempt to shift the narrative back to Dazzler, it is rather over-the-top and unsatisfying.

Conclusion

You recognize someone in the audience?

Dazzler #2 (1981) is an example about a creative team’s lack of confidence on crafting a decent story to develop a new superhero and ultimately resorting to fill it with a mix of other superheroes involved which itself symbolizes desperation. This comic book is not really a Dazzler story but an all-star showcase with Dazzler becoming a minor character in her own monthly series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #2 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #2 (1981) is unsatisfactory. Anyone who loves Dazzler or who wishes to discover more of her will be disappointed with this comic book.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Dazzler #1 (1981)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously, I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 which was the first appearance of Dazzler who went on to become one of the most notable new characters of Marvel Comics in the 1980s. After appearing in Uncanny X-Men #131 and Amazing Spider-Man #203, Dazzler became more prominent among all of Marvel’s superheroes as the publisher launched an all-new monthly series featuring her. There is more to that than meets the eye, however.

In his article titled “Dazzler and Me”, Danny Fingeroth wrote: Marvel decided to tray an experiment with the relatively new “direct market” – comic book shops. It was decided that Dazzler #1 would only be available in comic book shops, not at traditional newsstands.

Dazzler #1 sold over 400,000 copies.

Even the top-selling comics of the era sold perhaps 250,000 copies. So, the first issue, anyway, was a major hit.

Apart from the confirmed commercial success of the comic book, it is a wonder if it is still good to read by today’s standards. To find out, here is a look back at Dazzler #1, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler running away from four armed men who had been following her since she left the disco. She finds herself corned at the dead end of an alley as the men approach her. While pretending to be reaching for her make-up in the bag, Dazzler grabs and activates her portable radio which plays music. With the music turned on, she uses her power to convert it all into a dazzling display of light and color which makes the men disoriented.

While swinging nearby, Spider-Man notices the display of light but before he begins his approach, Dazzler makes her move to knock two men out. Another man fires his gun and his bullet ricochets until it hits the portable radio stops the music and Dazzler’s lights altogether leaving her vulnerable once again…

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This page alone establishes Dazzler as a person struggling to make ends meet.

As far as telling a Dazzler story goes, this comic book is the complete package and it’s got very solid writing! Apart from showing what happened to her after her appearances in the Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man series, this comic book formally introduces Dazzler in her civilian identity as Alison Blaire and thanks to efficient writing, it also reveals threads of her past and how her mutant powers manifested. Not only that, readers will get to see the title character as a typical person who is struggling to make ends meet even though she does her best with entertainment as a career.

Strangely, the focus on Dazzler is relatively light in content and the result is several pages of Marvel universe-related filler which shows several other characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine and others present with little to no connection with the title character. The X-Men scene is a nice touch as it will remind readers about Dazzler’s first interaction with them.

As a teenager, Alison Blaire’s power begins to manifest during this particular event in her life.

To build-up the first challenge for Dazzler, this comic book has the Enchantress as the villainess and ironically it also had some room of character development for her. Clearly this was done not only to build up anticipation for the next issue but to make readers root for Dazzler some more. In retrospect, the Enchantress would later emerge as an important figure in 1984’s crossover storyline Secret Wars.

Conclusion

The scene involving the X-Men is a nice touch as it connects with Dazzler’s previous interaction with them.

While it is indeed a product of the early 1980s carrying influences from the 1970s New York club scene, Dazzler #1 (1981) is still fun and engaging to read. Clearly this comic book is a must-have for anyone who loves Dazzler and it should be entertaining enough for geeks who love the 1980s and the Marvel-related crossovers of the time. Very clearly, this comic book succeeded in introducing and developing Dazzler as a person (as opposed to being a super hero) and the background story established fits in nicely with the character’s first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. Very clearly, there is a lot more to Dazzler than her unique super power and her disco look.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #1 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70.

Overall, Dazzler #1 (1981) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at What If #46 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! It’s time to revisit the What If monthly series of comic books of Marvel Comics that lasted from 1989 until 1998. The old comic book I’m about to review involves the X-Men, Cable and more.

Before starting with this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I was never a fan of Cable even though I read lots of X-Men-related comic books that included him. When I think of Cable, I immediately think of the New Mutants and X-Force comic book series.

You must be wondering what has Cable and the X-Men have to do with the old What If issue I’m focusing on. We can all find out in this look back at What If #46, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a tavern in New York’s famous Central Park. Inside, Charles Xavier, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey have a discussion about mutant matters until a small saucer-shaped device flies inside and disrupts everything with its sonic frequency. Suddenly a second flying saucer comes in, touches Scott’s shoe and explodes powerfully killing him, Jean and Xavier. Others got injured by the explosion and the tavern ends up burning.

Outside the tavern, Cable is seen running away and someone points at him as someone who must be responsible for the bombing. As it turns out, the deliberate killing of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey was the result of a division between Cable’s New Mutants and the X-Men in connection to the recent return of Xavier from deep space.

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A brawl between the mutants.

I’ll start with the story Kurt Busiek came up with. This one explores an alternate time in which Charles Xavier returned to Earth (after escaping from the Skrulls in deep space) only to find the X-Men in disarray which compelled him to restore things the way they were. This is not to be confused with his return in the canon storyline of the Muir Island Saga.  

That being said, Busiek explored what would it be like had Xavier tried to resolve mutant matters not only with the team of mutants he founded but also with other teams such as the New Mutants (already led by Cable), X-Factor (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Archangel) plus several other mutants. I really liked the way the mutants reacted to Xavier given his long absence from Earth, how his dream matters and turned out irrelevant to them as individual mutants, and if he still has what it takes to lead them. In some ways, Xavier looked like a politician trying to convince his constituents that his vision is still the best for them and their interests.

What really made the story running was the start of the division between the mutants when Cable rejects Xavier and points out that the X-Men founder’s devotion to appeasement is dooming mutants. All of these led to the shock opening scene and in terms of writing quality, it was all justified.

The scenes that happened AFTER the burial of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey literally raised the stakes for the rest of the comic book. I don’t want to spoil further plot details but I can assure you all that Kurt Busiek’s script is very sold and there is so much to enjoy here especially if you are knowledgeable enough about the X-Men and the other parts of the Marvel Comics universe (note: the Avengers, Stryfe, Freedom Force and Fantastic Four also appeared).

Visually, the work of Tod Smith looks a bit rushed. His art here is not bad but I felt it could have been better had there been more time to polish his work. In fairness to Smith, his drawings on most of the characters still made them recognizable and he showed pacing with regards to the panels and angles used. I should say he does a decent job showing multiple characters fighting each other simultaneously.

Conclusion

If you were a mutant, would you follow Charles Xavier or Cable?

If you ask me, What If #46 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging to read thanks to the strong writing as well as the daring exploration of how the comic’s main story impacts others within the Marvel Comics universe. It has drama, action, intrigue and most notably it explores a new concept about how the X-Men would turn out after the death of their founder. It also raises questions on whether or not the X-Men are doomed without Charles Xavier’s presence.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #46 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint newsstand edition costs $120.

Overall, What If #46 (1993) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

We all know that the 20th Century Fox franchise of X-Men movies has ended and everything cinematic about Marvel’s famous mutants are now in the hands of Marvel Studios. From the year 2000 to 2020, the original X-Men cinematic universe produced a whole bunch of movies (including spinoffs) which ultimately led to uneven results with regards to commercial success, critical feedback, artistry, production values and cultural impact. Even so, 20th Century Fox-produced X-Men movies generated more than $6 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

When it comes to the spinoff movies, I like Logan the best (sorry, Deadpool).

For the main X-Men movies, the one film that really delivered the great stuff and tons of fun for me was none other than X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). For one thing, the movie had two generations of X-Men cinematic performers (the original team led by Patrick Stewart and the newer ones from X-Men: First Class led by James McAvoy) and its story literally had them linked together with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as the living bridge between them. To put it short, it was a cinematic crossover story made with X-Men fans in mind. That film scored highly with critics and most moviegoers, and it grossed almost $750 million worldwide which makes it the highest-grossing X-Men movie ever until now.

It has been years since X-Men: Days of Future Past made waves in the cinemas and through post-theater businesses like Blu-ray, cable TV, pay-per-view, streaming and the like. Along the way, movies like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame collectively raised the standards of Hollywood superhero movies in varied ways. I should state that X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand did not age well.

To find out if the 2014 X-Men film aged well or not, here is my retro review of X-Men: Days of Future Past directed by Bryan Singer with a screenplay written by Simon Kinberg with a story done by Kinberg, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn.

A great image of the cinematic X-Men, both the old and newer cast.

Early story

The story begins in the dark future. Countless mutants and human allies have been caught and imprisoned by very sophisticated Sentinels (operating for an unnamed authority that also has armed human personnel as watchers) which continue to hunt more of them down along with any humans caught aiding them. In Russia, a small X-Men team composed of Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Sunspot, Bishop, Warpath and Blink take action when they realized that the Sentinels found their hideout. Kitty Pryde, who by this time gained the new ability to send a person’s consciousness back through time, runs along with Bishop to hide in a vault to send his consciousness into the past. Fortunately for them, their teammates delayed the unstoppable Sentinels enough to succeed.

Some time later at another location, an aging Charles Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm arrive to meet with Kitty Pryde and her teammates. Xavier gives the team an in-depth history lesson about the Sentinels which were created decades earlier by the late Bolivar Trask who was assassinated by Mystique (who believed she could make a difference for her fellow mutants). After the assassination, Mystique got caught by the authorities and became a live experiment for scientists working for the government. Her DNA helped accelerate the development of the Sentinel program which made them able to adapt to most mutant attacks and powers.

A plan gets formed for Kitty Pryde to send Xavier back through time to his younger self in 1973 to prevent the assassination from happening. Kitty states it’s too risky for the old Xavier to go through time as it may kill him. Wolverine volunteers to take Xavier’s place as his healing factor (regeneration) will ensure his survival with the process. Xavier presses Wolverine to convince the 1973 Charles Xavier to help prevent the assassination given the fact that he was a broken man at the time.

Wolverine arrives in his younger self’s body in New York of 1973. He makes his way to the mansion of Charles Xavier. As it turns out, Xavier’s school has been closed for some time and has been decaying…   

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Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman as Beast, Charles Xavier and Wolverine respectively.

Considering what was made and what were presented through this movie, the creative team and the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past literally scored a home run here resulting true greatness! Bryan Singer, whose previous X-Men directorial job was 2003’s X2, finally struck gold with regards to storytelling, directing and, finally, spectacle (previous his big weakness).  

In terms of storytelling, this movie, first and foremost, is not a faithful adaptation of the classic Days of Future Past storyline at all. In fact, there was no need for it to be faithful. What the screenwriters came up with was a loose adaptation which allowed them to craft a more original story that involved the established X-Men characters (from the early movies) and the other X-Men characters (who started in 2011’s X-Men: First Class) and have them set apart in terms of time periods (similar to what was done in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, but much better and more compelling in writing). The result is a crossover tale with Wolverine being the traveler through time.

The Sentinels are clearly terrifying and unstoppable!

The great news here is that the script has very strong structuring done and even had enough space to briefly acknowledge events and characters from the first three X-Men films plus 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine as canon. All of these add to the narrative very well and when the stakes were raised, the overall plot made sense. Let me add that it was a smart move for the writers to raise the stakes in the two time periods during the final act of the movie, which really made the story more engaging to viewers. I should state that having two conflicts happening simultaneously on screen in this X-Men movie was done efficiently and without ever becoming confusing nor messy.

Apart from the narrative, the portrayal of the X-Men was, indeed, spot-on. Noticeably, the major characters here were Charles Xavier (both old and young), Wolverine (both old and young), Mystique, Magneto (specifically the young version), Beast and Bolivar Trask. Strong writing was evident in the dialogue of the mentioned characters, as well as in those with minor roles. Through dialogue alone, I easily recognized these cinematic characters.

Michael Fassbender delivered his best performance as young Magneto.

Given his strength in telling stories, I should say that Bryan Singer succeeded in executing the script into cinematic narrative. Not only that, he succeeded in getting really good performances from the cast. James McAvoy (young Xavier), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Michael Fassbender (young Magneto) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) were evidently more confident and more comfortable in reprising their characters (note: they debuted together in X-Men: First Class).

The old cast composed of Patrick Stewart (old Xavier), Ian McKellen (old Magneto), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) all made a very welcome return. To be specific, it was only Patrick Stewart among them who had the most engaging dialogue with Ian McKellen being a distant second to him. As most of the film was set in the past, it was understandable that the old cast’s dialogue would not be that rich which translates to limited performance. The filmmakers tried bouncing back with mutant variety by having Bingbing Fan as Blink, Adan Canto as Sunspot and Booboo Stewart as Warpath, who all provided nicely in the action scenes and special effects use.

Bingbing Fan and Booboo Stewart as Blink and Warpath.

Hugh Jackman’s performance as Wolverine in this movie is the most unique of them all. Not only does he have to play TWO versions of his character, he as the only member of the old X-Men cast spent a great deal of time interacting with the newer X-Men players. The great news here is that Jackman has great chemistry with James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Fassbender, which ultimately justified the crossover! Speaking of McAvoy, his scene with the older version of his character is very memorable and a highlight! Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask is excellent but to my surprise, he is not exactly villainous nor did he express cruelty. He’s more of an obsessed scientist and as such, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto easily overshadows him when it comes to being the main antagonist. This is surprising but not exactly a problem.

More on the anti-hero factor of the movie, I should say that the Sentinels in this movie are the most dangerous and the most intimidating non-sentient, scientific antagonists since the Terminator. Being programmed to deal with mutants, the Sentinels are unrelenting and often used violence to complete their objectives. The futuristic Sentinels, which are evolved versions thanks to Mystique’s DNA, are so formidable the mutants cannot simply defeat them. Even the 1970s Sentinels are quite formidable.

As mentioned earlier, I do confirm that Bryan Singer really outdid himself on delivering the spectacle back with support from the special effects team, the stunt team and the like. The action scenes involving the X-Men are top-notch, in fact they make the action in Singer’s previous X-Men films look minor in terms of creativity, quality and fun! The computer-generated effects in this movie still look great by today’s standard, although some CGI used in the floating stadium sequence looked rushed. Also it was quite a marvel to see Wolverine and Beast face-off with a 1970s Sentinel in the final act. I should mention that the slow-motion sequence involving Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) is one great and funny spectacle to watch, well worth replaying!

Conclusion

Jennifer Lawrence in her best-ever performance as Mystique.

I declare that X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) is the best-ever X-Men movie I have seen and it has aged very well! Its overall quality is very great and the combined talents of director Singer, the cast, the writers and all the technical teams justified it all. By today’s standards, this X-Men movie still stands very high among all superhero movies of Hollywood ever released! As an X-Men film, this one is truly epic and the true highlight of all X-Men movies under 20th Century Fox. As a time-travel film, this one has a very unique approach and it should be noted that director Bryan Singer approached James Cameron to talk about time travel, parallel universes and the like.

More on personal viewing, I can say that this film greatly entertained me in the cinema back in 2014, and it still succeeds in doing so whenever I replayed it on Blu-ray in the comfort of home. If there is anything I regret, it’s the fact that I never saw this movie in the IMAX cinema.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), visit Amazon for the Blu-ray release as well as the 4K Blu-ray combo release. There is also the Rogue Cut of the movie also on Blu-ray.

Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at UltraForce #6 (1995)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

After reading issues #0 to #5 of the UltraForce series of the mid-1990s, I should say that I clearly enjoyed them all as creators Gerard Jones and legendary illustrator George Perez (plus their supporting crew) really delivered great stories, dynamic visuals and very engaging interactions between the UltraForce members.

So far, each and every UltraForce issue I reviewed here is fun and compelling to read. The high levels of artistic and literary quality in each issue is evident right from the start and, more importantly, it emphasizes the overall concept of the Ultraverse itself even deeper than what I discovered in its early stage (launch year 1993). Very clearly, UltraForce as a comic book series raised the stakes of the Ultraverse (much like Break-Thru did) when it comes to how the public perceived ultras (superheroes), who are the secretive sinister forces and how they impact the whole world, why being an ultra has lots of advantages and disadvantages, why ultras are hard to unite in the face of danger, and so on. These creative concepts were really great and it was in the year 1994 – the same year UltraForce launched – when the Ultraverse was at a stage to go further to a bolder direction with its creative evolution. Unfortunately all of that got screwed up after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics.

More on UltraForce, the saga of king Atalon’s fire people rising from the depths of the Earth and possessing nuclear missiles to attack people on the surface has lasted quite long and its narrative remained consistently engaging. In issue #5, something terrible happened to UltraForce member Pixx during a big battle. What transpired next, we can find out in this look back at UltraForce #6, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by George Perez and Steve Butler.

The cover! They even misspelled Ghoul!

Early story

The story begins as tensions rise between Atalon and UltraForce over their respective losses. For Atalon, his grand dream involving the use of humanity’s nuclear weapons has been destroyed. For Prime, Hardcase, Prototype, Ghoul and Topaz, the hanging lifeless body of Pixx shocked them deeply.

Suddenly, out of intense anger, UltraForce jointly attack the king of the fire people. Topaz states that Pixx will not die unavenged as Prototype blasts Atalon. Hardcase strikes the king followed by blows delivered by Prime and Topaz. Prime is about to strike Atalon but gets distracted when the downed king mentioned he wants to reform the whole world. Atalon strikes Prime’s head and gets back up to keep fighting the rest of UltraForce.  

Their battle is so intense, the entire island shakes and the ground crumbles bringing the nuclear weapons down along with Pixx’s body. Ghoul goes down after her…

Quality

Dynamic action delivered with high detail!

Like all the previous issues released, this comic book has high-level qualities on its writing and artistry. This is not a surprise since the Jones-Perez creative team really pushed hard to keep telling what is clearly the epic event of the Ultraverse (post-Break-Thru). The consistency of quality up to this issue is very evident.

When it comes to the quality of this comic book’s story, which happens to be the conclusion of the Atalon saga, I can say that I’m very satisfied. As the events went on, a few but very significant twists happened which really shook the foundation of this particular saga backed with great visuals (although there are some pages that were clearly not drawn by George Perez), strong dialogue and a great presentation of the impact on the world and its people. What happened with king Atalon in the 2nd half of the story is very memorable and it definitely is one of the biggest twists in the entire Ultraverse. This one alone makes the comic book worth reading.

Conclusion

This is a great way to start the comic book along with the opening credits!

UltraForce #6 is indeed a great comic book and it is a strong conclusion to the saga (which started really in issue #0) that brought Prime, Hardcase, Prototype and others together as a team. This comic book is, in my honest view, also one of the finest UV stories Malibu Comics published in 1994. If there is anything to be regretful about, it is the fact that the Ultraverse got screwed up and ended in an undesirable state as a result of Marvel’s acquisition of Malibu. This is why there was no follow-up to the Atalon saga and UltraForce as a series turned for the worse shortly after (again, as a result of Marvel’s acquisition). Considering the events of the first major UltraForce saga, Atalon could have turned out as a more significant character of the Ultraverse and another epic follow-up (to the Atalon saga) could have happened.

More on the team itself, Prime, Prototype, Hardcase and their lesser known teammates were truly presented with a strong amount of balance. Ghoul and Contrary really had their nice share of the spotlight and how they worked in tandem with the others, as well as the very events of the comic book, was really fluid and believable. By the end of this comic book, you will realize the true values and the different personalities of the entire UltraForce!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #6 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $15.

Overall, UltraForce #6 (1995) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at The Strangers #3

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Right from the start, I got hooked with The Strangers and kept on anticipating the next stories. When it comes to superhero comic books, I am fond of superhero teams like the X-Men, the Teen Titans, Freex, Justice League and WildC.A.T.s

One of the things I enjoyed most from The Strangers #1, which was one of the launch titles of the Ultraverse, was the characterization. Each member of the Strangers was efficiently introduced and his/her uniqueness (apart from having a special ability) caught my attention. And then there was the plot structure that kept me reading for more.

When it comes to the very good quality of storytelling and characterization in The Strangers #1, it should not be much of a surprise since the author Steve Englehart worked on Marvel’s The Avengers, The Defenders and the West Coast Avengers. Englehart also wrote Justice League of America for DC Comics.

With that short history lesson done, we can now take a look back at The Strangers #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Stangers already in battle with a group called TNTNT composed of Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie and Tugun. The heroic ultras find themselves struggling with their opponents. Just as Tyrannosaur punches one of the Strangers, he states: We want our victims to know us! The work we do precludes us from receiving our proper recognition elsewhere! We are the kings of destruction and death!

The fight goes on…

Quality

14
Really in-depth characterization in this flashback.

Let me make it clear to you all that this comic book is mainly a huge battle between the Strangers and TNTNT. However, it is not exactly the overly long, battle royale at all nor is it a brainless story. In fact, at key segments of the comic book, the narrative switches between the battles and flashbacks that not only explain what happened since the end of issue #2 but also showed other events that happened during the Strangers’ free time.

The flashbacks showed the Strangers interacting with each other like normal people. There was this nice scene showing Atom Bob and his teammates visit his parents’ home and have a nice dinner together. It was also during the flashbacks where the character development really got deep and by the time the story ended, I got to know the Strangers even more.

Going back to the long battle, it is clearly a showcase of spectacle in the form of superhero action and the use of their special abilities. Unsurprisingly, Rick Hoberg’s visuals really brought the script to life here. Really good imagery here and there! Also I should say that Hoberg’s designs on the members of TNTNT were really good, even comparable with the Strangers’ designs.

Conclusion

7
This is just a taste of the action-heavy battle.

The Strangers #3 is fun and compelling to read. What makes this different from issues #1 and #2 is that following the narrative (which switches between the present day battle and the character-driven flashbacks) can be challenging at first. As such, this is a comic book that needs to be re-read in order to fully understand the story. It has a lot of action, super powers showcased and enough character development! Finally, I should say that Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg crafted a pretty powerful build-up leading to the last page.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #3, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #3 is recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at What If #9 (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Long before the renaissance of Hollywood-produced superhero movies even started, the X-Men established itself as one of the most popular franchises of Marvel Comics. What some readers do not know was that while the X-Men indeed started in 1963 under Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel’s mutants actually started getting successful in the mid-1970s with the 2nd X-Men team (Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Sunfire, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee and Thunderbird) handled by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum.

That new team literally made a splash with readers with the release of Giant-size X-Men #1 in 1975. That comic book, which is very valuable now, saw Charles Xavier recruiting new mutants to form a new team with Cyclops being the only pioneer remaining. Subsequently the X-Men monthly series of that era saw lots of stories of this particular team solving problems and fighting evil. Along the way, Chris Claremont got hired as the new writer and then the rest was history.

In this retro comic book review, we will take an interesting look at what would have happened had the 2nd team of the X-Men died on their first mission.

This is What If #9 written by Roy Thomas, drawn by Rich Buckler and published by Marvel Comics in 1990.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The comic book begins with the Watcher of Marvel’s universe explaining what actually happened during the X-Men’s mission in Giant-size X-Men #1. Then he offers an alternate version of the events asking “What if…the new X-Men had died on their very first mission?”

The new reality begins in Scotland where Moira McTaggert receives a telegram from the United States. The message read that her friend Charles Xavier is ill which compels her to leave immediately. Before leaving, a little girl named Rahne comes to Moira followed by Craig who asserts his authority on her. Subsequently Moira and Rahne arrive at Salem Center, New York, greeted by Hank McCoy/Beast who confirmed that he was the one who sent the telegram to her.

Moira finally meets Xavier who expressed surprise to see her. As it turned out, Xavier had isolated himself in a room using Cerebro. After separating from Xavier, Beast explains to Moira what happened previously to Cyclops, Jean Grey, Havoc, Polaris and Ice Man on a far away island (read Giant-size X-Men #1). Cyclops was fortunate enough to survive and return to Xavier who was compelled to use Cerebro to trace mutants around the world (note: the 2nd X-Men team).

2
When trouble hits the world…

This leads to events told in Giant-size X-Men #1 but something drastic happened…

Quality

Storytelling is easily the strongest and most defining element of this comic book, especially if you are fortunate enough to read what happened in Giant-size X-Men #1 from 1975. The alternate plot by Roy Thomas is pretty intriguing and highly dramatic, and yet it still manages to add some spectacle to maintain balance.

What If #9 strongly delivered on what it promised what would have happened had the 2nd X-Men team died on their first mission complete with the narrative shifting dramatically through the eyes of Moira McTaggert, Xavier and Beast.

In terms of characterization, I really enjoyed the dramatization of the close friendship between Xavier and McTaggert. Having read lots of X-Men comic books through the decades, I should say that McTaggert was often limited to supporting roles or guest appearances. As seen in this comic book, she and Xavier made a solid pair of mentors. Lastly, the portrayal of Xavier being somewhat broken and regretful is wonderfully executed. Adding to that, the portrayal of McTaggert as a strong provider of direction and support for a fragile Xavier is memorable.

When it comes to the visuals, Rich Buckler scored nicely. The characters are all recognizable (with Beast looking a bit more visceral than how he actually appeared in the 1970s to 1980s) and their facial expressions were nice to see. Buckler also proved to be good with visualizing the action and the suspenseful parts.

Conclusion

1
Very nice artistic presentation by Rich Buckler. Readers of 1975’s Giant-size X-Men #1 will be able to relate with this.

Overall, What If #9 is a great comic book to read. It is the closest thing you can get when it comes to seeing Marvel’s mutants led by Xavier with McTaggert working behind the scenes together. Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler really scored a homerun with this non-canon X-Men story!

For the comic collectors reading this, based on the rates at MileHighComics.com as of this writing, a near-mint copy of this comic book’s regular version is $24 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $51.

What If #9 (1990) is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman (2017)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I just love watching superhero movies, especially the ones that were well crafted by the filmmakers complete with solid storytelling, sufficient spectacle as well as memorable performances by the hired talents (both behind and in front of the camera).

Of all the superhero movies made by the forces of Hollywood starting with 1978’s Superman, I can clearly say that 2017’s Wonder Woman is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I did not limit myself to just DC Comics superhero movies. I saw all the X-Men movies and their spinoffs, almost all the Spider-Man flicks, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and even the obscure ones. Along the way, there were some great superhero flicks that became modern-day classics like Logan and Avengers: Infinity War.

Still it is the Gal Gadot-led, Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman that I loved watching the most.

Let’s start with my retro review of Wonder Woman, the one film that arguably saved the DC Comics Cinematic Universe for Warner Bros.

WWposter1
The Wonder Woman movie poster from 2017.

Early Story

The story begins sometime after the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during which Diana finds a long lost photograph recovered by Bruce Wayne. Then she remembers her past in Themyscira where she grew up as the only little girl among the women called the Amazons and her mother is none other than Queen Hippolyta. Concerned that the wicked Aries is still alive, Hippolyta’s sister Antiope trains Diana (initially in secret until they were discovered) to be strong, brave and more capable than their fellow Amazon warriors.

One day, Steve Trevor arrives in Themyscira becoming the first-ever man Diana ever met. Tension rises when the Germans (from World War I Earth) arrive on their island causing the Amazons to fight in defense. A lot of people lost their lives, including someone very close to Diana.

While interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals who he is and what he has been doing. He states that back in his world, World War I is ravaging the world costing many people their lives. This causes Diana to stand up and stop the war somehow (she believes Aries is responsible). Queen Hippolyta disapproves of Diana’s analysis. After privately meeting with Steve, Diana then starts her move for a mission to stop the war in Man’s World.

Quality

Screenshot_20200228-213823_YouTube.jpg
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the middle of German soldiers.

Let me start with the performances. Gal Gadot definitely IS Wonder Woman in this movie. Regardless of how many versions of Wonder Woman there are in comics, the Israeli actress truly captured the essence of Diana’s early development which includes her special place among the Amazons (note: she is the only Amazon who was born in Themyscira and grew up from infant into a mature woman), her fateful meeting with Steve Trevor, her entry into Man’s World and how she adapts with the events and people outside of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s purity on saving the world, doing what is right and emphasizing love and compassion were all nicely translated into cinematic art by Gal Gadot. From doing the action scenes to saving people, speaking her mind among her fellow Amazons and interacting with others as she adapts with Man’s World, I really love Gadot’s work on bringing Wonder Woman to life. As her cinematic work is great, there is no doubt that Gadot will always be iconic to fans of the Queen of Superheroes and superhero enthusiasts in general in the decades to come right beside Lynda Carter (who played the icon on TV), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Meanwhile, the portrayals of Diana as an 8-year-old girl as well as a 12-year-old were perfectly done by Lilly Aspell (who is truly skilled with horse riding) and Emily Carey.

QueenDaughter
Lilly Aspell as young Diana with Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.

Chris Pine is excellent as Steve Trevor who is portrayed to be very dedicated to his work, brave in what he does and still shows compassion instead of arrogance towards others. He also has great chemistry with Gal Gadot and, like in the comic books, their relationship is nicely translated on the big screen. Pine’s performance here is, in my view, the best superhero movie supporting role to date.

Screenshot_20200228-213746_YouTube.jpg
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor with Gal Gadot as Diana in disguise.

Connie Nielsen meanwhile is great in playing Queen Hippolyta and all throughout, there is always a sense of leadership complete with a touch of motherly love just like in the comic books. Her sister Antiope was nicely portrayed by Robin Wright as the one Amazon who taught Diana to be brave, strong and highly capable as an Amazon warrior.

Danny Huston, who played the lead villain in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played yet another military bad guy here but this time he’s a World War I German officer. He’s a villain with a purpose who not only fights for the glory of Germany but also strongly believes that war is natural and inevitable for humanity. In some ways, Huston’s Ludendorff reminds me Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel.

Antiope
Robin Wright is excellent as Antiope.

When it comes to presentation, this film is Patty Jenkins’ 2nd movie as director (her debut was way back in 2003) and the great turnout of Wonder Woman as a high quality movie (as opposed to being a critical and commercial success) only proved yet again that the old saying in Hollywood – The director’s second movie is his/her best movie – is true. Jenkins, who also worked on television, not only prepared a lot to make this movie but also researched Wonder Woman, developed ways to get the most out of the cast members, tweak the written story of the film (by Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs) and, most notably, she led the production with a lot of passion. To put it short, Wonder Woman is a labor of love (and the No Man’s Land scene is iconic) that not only resonated with fans of the Queen of Superheroes but also with the film critics and moviegoers.

Regarding storytelling, I noticed that a key story from Wonder Woman’s origin in the comics (the contest of the Amazons) did not happen at all in the film. While there were die-hard fans of the icon who complained about it, I felt that the contest of the Amazons would have made this movie more complicated and surely would have lessened the impact of World War I as a key story element. Since the purpose of this movie was to emphasize Diana’s origin and her entry into Man’s World with a major mission, I believe that the contest of the Amazons can be made cinematically later in a future movie.

The way the story was told cinematically, it also captured Diana’s reactions to the events that happened around her. The scene in which she saw the village destroyed showed how death and destruction compelled Wonder Woman to accomplish her mission even though others find ending the war impossible. Along the way, the actors – specifically Gal Gadot – really added life into the narrative with their strong performances.

When it comes to on-screen humor, which is popular among moviegoers and is almost a requirement for most new superhero movies that come out, having it done by supporting players Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui was a clever move since it allows Gal Gadot to portray Wonder Woman without any performance disruption. Considering her short screen time, Davis as Etta Candy is really funny. The amount of humor in this film, in my view, was just right and never annoying.

Spectacle? Wonder Woman is loaded with action, stunts and exciting stuff! The action involving Wonder Woman was brutal and satisfying to watch, and Patty Jenkins’ use of slow motion on key moments was great (even comparable to John Woo’s past work) and at the same time not too excessive. The Themyscira battle between the Germans and the Amazons at the beach was engaging and strategically filmed. Also, it was fitting that the action ramped up nicely starting with the iconic No Man’s Land sequence. The final battle in the film, unsurprisingly, had lots of computer-generated images (CGI) which is understandable considering the fantasy element of Wonder Woman.

More on the action, I love the way Patty Jenkins had Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine perform the action themselves which all made their characters even more believable. Of course, there were certain moments in which stunt doubles were used to do the more dangerous moments on behalf of the actors.

Screenshot_20200228-213315_YouTube.jpg
This happened just before the iconic No Man’s Land scene.

Apart from the core cast, a lot of the actresses playing the Amazons trained for several months not just to look the part but also to perform action sequences using weapons with actual skill. The stunt coordinators and specialists hired by the filmmakers deserve praise for contributing nicely on making the cinematic Amazons highly believable. This alone not only makes Wonder Woman stand out nicely among all Hollywood superhero movies but also reflects nicely what was portrayed in the comic books.

The production design is also top-notch. I love the scenic locations of Italy used for scenes set in Themyscira. The filmmakers also did a great job recapturing the look of World War I Europe from the historical pictures to the big screen. The costume designs were fantastic, and the standout designs were, unsurprisingly, the costumes of the Amazons which really made their fantasy culture look believable. The filmmakers decided to have much more colorful visuals instead of following the look of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

On the music, the work by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great. His rendition of the Wonder Woman theme was very lively to listen to. The same can be said about the music he provided in the memorable No Man’s Land scene which had a nice build-up as Wonder Woman made her first full appearance in costume on the field. Other tunes played in the film suited the scenes well.

If there were any weak spots in this movie, it would be certain shots of action that were not filmed with precision. I’m talking about filming action scenes way too close to the camera combined with music video-style editing that’s supposed to make film look flashy. It’s not only disorienting, it also took me out of the movie.

Conclusion

Overall, Wonder Woman is one of the best-ever superhero movies ever made and easily my favorite of them all. It has an excellent balance between storytelling, character development and spectacle, and Gal Gadot gave the performance of a lifetime not only by bringing Wonder Woman into life in cinematic form but also emphasizing what the Queen of Superheroes stood for. As part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, this movie stood out by having optimism and heroism as core themes (as opposed to the dark, gritty and even cynical approach of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) and, more importantly, by focusing strongly on Wonder Woman instead of building up for the Justice League movie (which was released months after this one).

Apart from high-quality production values and a strong creative approach, the cast and cinematic performances are easily among the best in the superhero movie genre. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is an excellent example of a supporting role that is engaging without ever overshadowing the lead role. By the end of the film, you will realize the impact that Queen Hippolyta and Antiope had on Diana’s personal development.

QH
Connie Nielsen made a great queen and mother in this movie.

Being strongly focused on heroism with optimism, director Patty Jenkins and her crew succeeded in making this film without ever succumbing to the extreme views of the Political Left in Hollywood and the loudmouth social feminists. When I see the battle between the Amazons and the German soldiers on the beach of Themyscira happen, I simply saw armed women defending their homeland not from men who intend to rape them but rather men who had no right to intrude in the first place. Even as there were scenes showing men in power in World War I Europe (putting Diana in a powerless position), there still was no feminist-inspired hatred towards men. Also the bond between Steve and Diana developing from friendship into a romantic relationship literally shut the door on extreme feminism.

As a Wonder Woman-focused story, this film succeeded on emphasizing the Queen of Superheroes to both long-time fans and mainstream moviegoers. This movie also had a nice mix of having a fantasy setting with Themyscira moving on to a historic setting with World War I Europe. On the origins of Wonder Woman herself, I don’t mind at all that the contest of Amazons was not told because this movie’s concept is already great to begin with and its running time of 141 minutes was just right.

Wondyclimb
Gal Gadot will be remembered for a very long time for her excellent portray of Wonder Woman in cinema.

With all the greatness it was made with, I kept coming back to Wonder Woman when replaying superhero movies here at the comfort of home. In the cinemas back in 2017, I saw the film three times. Ultimately, I can say out loud that Wonder Woman is highly recommended and it is truly essential!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you are looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, check out my preview and opinion about the first movie trailer.