A Look Back at Night of the Creeps

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.

When you craft a story meant to entertain people, it is already tough to mix genre elements and make them work together while still telling a cohesive story. Imagine how hard that could be when making a movie with the mentioned creative mix?

Back in the mid-1980s, a young film enthusiast named Fred Dekker not only pulled it off but actually made a feature-length film titled Night of the Creeps which was his cinematic directorial debut. Before making that science fiction/horror/comedy movie, Dekker grew up watching movies of horror, science fiction and fantasy and developed a passion for movies (and movie production eventually).

After much learning through UCLA, Dekker broke into Hollywood and started a professional career in film and eventually got his dream project in the form of Night of the Creeps.

“Night of the Creeps is very much a first feature with the attitude of many first features. The I-may-not-get-to-do-another-movie-so-I’m-going-to-do-everything-I-want-to-do-in-this-movie attitude. It’s an attitude that often backfires, but in this case, it’s exactly what makes Night of the Creeps so much fun,” Dekker stated.

With the short film history lesson done, it’s now time to take a look back at Night of the Creeps written and directed by Fred Dekker, and released in 1986 by TriStar Pictures.

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If you were the police chief, how many police officers would send to corner one zombie?

Early story

The story begins inside a space ship where one alien creature (carrying a canister) is running away from two armed personnel. With the two chasers delayed, the creature manages to shoot the canister into the realm of space.

On Earth, the year is 1959. In a typical American suburb, a college student visits a sorority house to pick up his date. Together, along with a few other pairs in cars, they spend time at a parking spot with a nice night view. A young police officer, who is aware of the news about a potential killer on the loose, approaches the pair and recognizes the lady from the sorority house. He tells them to go home for their safety, and then leaves them.

Shortly after, the canister from space arrives and crashes nearby causing the college student to drive the car (with his date with him) and find the spot of the crash. He parks the car by the woods and moves into woods leaving the sorority girl alone, sitting and waiting. He finds the canister and decides to look at it closely. Through an opening, an alien slug suddenly jumps from the canister and into his mouth. Meanwhile, the lone lady in the car hears the news about the loose killer and realizes the details about their location (being the destination of the killer). Slowly creeping up on her is a man with an axe.

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What teenagers in America used to do in the 1950s.
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Someone closing in…

In 1986, at the same locality, college students party around and engage in lots of activities in relation to pledge week being organized at a local university. Among the students walking down the sidewalk are Chris Romero and his handicapped friend J.C. Chris spots a pretty girl from a distance and instantly falls for her at first sight. With the help of J.C., he decides to pursue her…

Quality

Even with a low budget, Night of the Creeps is very creatively done and comes with a good amount of fun for viewers who enjoy elements of horror or sci-fi, 1950s romance, 1980s teen comedy and even detective story. What made this movie a cinematic gem is that Fred Dekker and his creative team combined their strengths with the talents of their cast members specifically Jason Lively, James Marshall, Jill Whitlow and Tom Atkins.

At its core, Night of the Creeps is a zombie horror flick that had sci-fi elements of UFOs and the 1950s as a strong foundation (in addition to serving in the background of the plot). Those combined genre elements alone (backed with a plot that is cohesive enough thanks to Dekker) made this movie solid and yet, the implementation of detective/crime storytelling and 1980s teen comedy (specifically college culture) further added more punch and variety in making the film really engaging and fun.

That being said, the actors delivered the goods with their respective performances. Jason Lively and Steve Marshall have excellent chemistry together as the 1980s college boys Chris Romero and J.C. They started their acts as typical college guys trying to achieve something when it comes to campus achievements and winning the girl’s heart. They also delivered strong performances on the comedy and they pushed their dramatic limits further when the film’s tone shifted to horror. Jill Whitlow is interesting as sorority girl Cynthia who has that girl-next-door charm. She proved to be talented with acting as she had convincing romantic chemistry with a certain jerk and Chris.

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Steve Marshal, Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow as J.C., Chris Romero and Cynthia.
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The horror film genre legend himself, Tom Atkins!

The standout performer among them all, unsurprisingly, is Tom Atkins as detective Ray Cameron. Before making this movie, Atkins worked in horror movies and a few cult movies, and got involved with the legendary John Carpenter. As such, playing the veteran detective Cameron here was a natural fit for the actor. As the aging and troubled detective, Atkins portrayed him dramatically and because of his very rugged touch, the actor really looked like he actually lived through decades of police work in the fictional town. Atkins also proved to be very good with quotes, specifically with “Thrill me!” It should be noted that this is Atkins’ personal favorite role in the horror genre.

When it comes to telling a cohesive story to emphasize the mixed genre elements, I should say Fred Dekker and his team succeeded. The pacing ran at a medium pace for the most part and even during the slower scenes, there was never a boring moment. More on storytelling, Night of the Creeps’ concept made sense for the most part (about how a slug from outer space would gradually cause zombification on people and even animals, in the midst of college-related events happening) and still had room for suspense, spectacle (note: Jason Lively and Jill Whitlow themselves used dangerous weapons near the end of the film) and, yes, character development! All of that pulled of nicely in roughly ninety minutes and the viewing experience was ultimately fun and engaging.

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I wonder if this image would be considered offensive by the SJWs…
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Perhaps this will inspire you to research what American life was like back in the 1950s.

It should be noted that, in terms of presentation, key scenes were very well directed and strong performances from the actors were realized. The scene where detective Cameron and Chris had a private talk was intriguing to watch, and that one had the strongest act Tom Atkins made in the film. I should also mention that, apart from the dramatics and performances, I enjoyed the cinematography done by Robert C. New especially with the way the camera moved as the actors delivered their lines in key sequences. There were closeups that perfectly captured the moments when the actors delivered their strongest acts. Last but not least, the music by Barry De Vorzon fit the film’s tone and concept smoothly.

Conclusion

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Here they come…

I really love Night of the Creeps and I want you – my readers and fellow film buffs and pop culture geeks – to watch it from start to finish. I never saw this movie in the cinemas in the 1980s but was fortunate enough to watch it on cable TV on a late night in 1998 (twelve years after its cinematic release). That was a night I’ll never forget because Night of the Creeps delivered the fun and exceeded my expectations. Then years ago, I finally acquired the Sony Pictures Blu-ray disc release which I replayed from time to time at the comfort of home with my Xbox One console as the disc player. The film looks even better in high-definition!

The best thing I love about Night of the Creeps is its big mix of genre elements which was supported by solid storytelling and performances. When it comes to spectacle or shock moments, it should be stated that the practical effects used (note: no CGI or computer-generated images here) in the movie still stand up strongly until now although I must say that the aliens creatures in the early part of the story were just not convincing enough.

Even by today’s standards, Night of the Creeps is enjoyable and gripping to watch, and the fact is nobody in Hollywood is making anything like it, nor are there any filmmakers willing to do a big mix of genre elements and tell a cohesive story with good performance from hired talents. This alone makes Fred Dekker’s directorial debut a cinematic gem that has been overlooked by too many people

In light of modern society and its norms, I declare that Night of the Creeps will give you a good dose of escapism not only from real life but also from the corrupted and highly politicized culture of Hollywood which points to the Political Left (whose central figure Barack Obama supports Iran, the terrorists and illegal immigrants) and its trouble makers (examples: social justice warriors or SJWS, the socialists, the radical feminists, the LGBTQ) who managed to infiltrate the American film industry and even the American media (note: you can tell if a movie review was written by an SJW who only writes something to fit his/her social justice agenda). This old movie was made to deliver fun without any political garbage whatsoever. That being said, it will make you wish that Hollywood would just focus on making their movies truly entertaining and be free from political poison at the same time. Movies that carry political overtones or emphasize identity politics are major turn-offs.

Overall, Night of the Creeps is highly recommended! That being said, I urge you to order a Blu-ray copy of Night of the Creeps now at Shout Factory and Amazon. Whichever Blu-ray version you acquire (note: the Shout Factory version has newer and more extra stuff), you can’t go wrong with Night of the Creeps in high-definition.


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

Henry Cavill in talks to return as the cinematic Superman!

Shortly after the launch of this website, I published an article expressing what I’d like to see in a Man of Steel sequel. Among the key things I mentioned was that I wanted to see Henry Cavill play Superman as a more inspiring and optimistic superhero. That was back in January 2019.

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Henry Cavill in 2013’s Man of Steel.

Today there is a lot of buzz online about the return of Cavill as Superman (note: he last played him in the Justice League movie which in turn will be presented in Zack Snyder’s own vision next year on HBO Max) got reported by Deadline.com and Variety.com

Both hot reports shared similar key details but I found Deadline’s content more helpful. Here’s an excerpt from Deadline.com in italicized blue text.

While there is not a Man of Steel sequel in the works, we’re hearing that Henry Cavill is in talks to reprise his role as Superman in the Warner Bros. DC Universe.

We hear Cavill could come back in a couple of different ways, not a standalone film, but there are plans to put him back in the big red cape again sources with knowledge tell us.

Warner Bros. is not developing a Man of Steel sequel, and Wonder Woman 1984, Suicide Squad are in the can, and Superman isn’t expected to make a cameo in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Other projects where Cavill could make a cameo are Shazam 2, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam or Aquaman 2, which are the next productions to be prepped once COVID-19 safety restrictions lift.

Previously in a Men’s Health interview, the British actor stated he had not given up on the role even though the last time he played the DC Comics icon was in late-2017 in the Justice League movie. The Superman who appeared in the Shazam movie of 2019 was NOT played by Cavill.

In relation to the Warner Bros. superhero movies mentioned in the excerpt above, it seems that integrating Cavill’s Superman in the ongoing DC Comics cinematic universe will take a while and it is understandable that a standalone movie featuring Superman still has not been planned. It will take a few more years for a Superman movie project to be made to say the least and that includes financing, writing the best screenplay possible, hiring/rehiring actors and finding the right director (I hope they hire James Wan) who could get the most out of Cavill.

As such, the best that Warner Bros. could do with the cinematic Superman is have him in short appearances or cameos in future DC Comics movies about Shazam (the sequel), Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson’s vehicle) and Aquaman (the sequel).

Speaking of Shazam and Black Adam, it would be nice to see Cavill’s Superman in those characters’ respective films. I don’t mean Cavill sharing the spotlight with Zachary Levi and Dwayne Johnson, but having his cinematic Superman appear with Shazam and Black Adam with sufficient screen time to satisfy the fans. Considering the literary history Superman has with Shazam and Black Adam, cinematic cameo appearances would be insufficient in my view. Of course, the Shazam sequel and the Black Adam movie have their respective concepts by now and accommodating Superman will be limited at best.

As such, when it comes to making a true standalone Superman movie in the years to come, I would love to see Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson clash as Superman and Black Adam! That concept would be great for the much-delayed Man of Steel sequel! For such a project, I would insist that Warner Bros. hire James Wan to direct.

As for the cinematic Superman possibly appearing in the Aquaman sequel, that would be nice even if it will end up as a short appearance. I honestly believe that Cavill and Jason Momoa can work well together on the big screen with a more focused screenplay.

If there is a breakthrough regarding the talks between Henry Cavill and Warner Bros., I’ll update you readers. Right now, even though the world has been set back by the COVID-19 crisis, Warner Bros. is in a better position to be more competitive when it comes to superhero movies. Cavill’s return as Superman will add more punch once it has been finalized.

In ending this, here are a few Cavill Superman videos for your enjoyment.


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 Total Recall (1990)

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.

I miss the old days when an R-rated action-packed science fiction movie can be passionately made with exceptional directing, clever writing, great camera work that’s consistently steady, solid performances from the actors, action that was not too choreographed, and visuals that heavily utilized practical effects and optical effects.

I’m talking about Total Recall, the 1990 sci-fi action movie that starred a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger supported by Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (who directed the 1987 classic RoboCop) with a screenplay (based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman, Total Recall was a tremendous hit in the cinemas grossing more than $261 million worldwide with a production budget of over $60 million. To date, the film remains a favorite not only with fans of Schwarzenegger but also with people who love action movies, sci-fi movies, movies of the 1990s and geeks.

But before looking back at this movie, it is important to take note that Total Recall took several years of development before it finally got produced. The very first screenplay was written by O’Bannon and Shusett in the 1970s (after securing the film rights to Philip K. Dick’s short story when the author was still alive). Eventually prolific movie producer Dino De Laurentiis took the project for development. Years later, De Laurentiis’ company collapsed (due to failed projects) which provided Schwarzenegger the golden opportunity to get Total Recall by persuading Carolco to secure the rights for a few million dollars. After many screenplay drafts written and the hiring of Verhoeven as director (note: Schwarzenegger approached him personally) plus Gary Goldman, the rest became history.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox in a memorable scene.

Now, here is a look back at Total Recall.

Early Story

The story begins at the surface of planet Mars where a man and a lady (both wearing space suits) travel on foot. Suddenly, the man slips down and breaks the frontal shield of his helmet exposing himself to Mars’ air. It turned out to be an intense nightmare for Douglas Quaid who was in bed with his beautiful wife Lori. Lori asked him about the unidentified woman who appeared in his dreams, but Quaid expresses his love for her. On his way to work, Quaid saw a TV ad inside the train about Rekall, a company that sells holidays and adventures in the form of memories. At work, his fellow construction worker discouraged him from availing of any services from Rekall. After work, Quaid visits Rekall and decides to avail of an ego trip as a secret agent. Just as the memory trip was about to start, Quaid wakes up violently…

Quality

This movie is still great to watch. Let me start first with the creative team of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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A great action scene about to start…

When it comes to the synergy between the director and the lead player, Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger make a great creative team that made this movie very special! When asked during an interview what it was like for him to work with Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven said:  Arnold is great. Switching from Rutger Hauer to Arnold is not that big a step. It’s strange to say that, because he’s this crazy Austrian, with an accent—but, for me, Arnold is the American Rutger. I think if I did a few movies with Arnold, I could do as much with him as I did with Rutger. Now, this movie was the wrong thing . . . But I think you can do much more with Arnold, explore more possibilities, than was necessary for this movie.

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Sharon Stone as Lori.

Now, it is a fact that Schwarzenegger lacks versatility when it comes to acting. Even so, Verhoeven succeeded in getting a deeper-than-expected performance from the star in this movie. Sure, we get to see Schwarzenegger fight bad guys with really rough action, fire guns, run and jump around here but what really stood out here was his portrayal of a man who discovers that the life he knew was all a lie and goes on to find the truth about himself. This role remains a standout role of Schwarzenegger’s among all the characters he played in his many other action films. What is also notable with Douglas Quaid is that the protagonist is always in danger and never invincible, very similar to how Bruce Willis played John McClane in Die Hard. If you watch this film after seeing Schwarzenegger play his invincible icon in the Terminator movies, you will feel his pain, tension and curiosity here! As if that was not enough, there is also the other role Schwarzenegger played in this movie that you should see.

Of course, Total Recall also drew greatness and depth from Verhoeven who also got strong performances from Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Sharon Stone is the beautiful wife who will shock you. Michael Ironside is the henchman who will make you root for Schwarzenegger even more. Rachel Ticotin is the brave woman who is believable with the cause she is involved with.

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Rachel Ticotin as Melina.

More notably, Ronny Cox is the all-powerful and ruthless executive who will get on your nerves and make you root for Schwarzenegger a lot, very similar to how his villainous role in RoboCop made moviegoers root for the cyborg policeman. It should be noted that the evil executive-henchman duo of Cohaagen (Cox) and Richter (Ironside) here is a directorial trademark of Verhoeven’s and it should bring back memories of the other evil duo in RoboCop. More than that, Ronny Cox succeeded in selling the concept that Cohaagen really had been the administrator of the colony in Mars exploiting the resources and the people for a long time.

More on getting the most out of the actors, Verhoeven and his team crafted a memorable hand-to-hand fight scene between Lori (Stone) and Melina (Ticotin) actually taking part in the action and stunts. Sharon Stone clearly got athletic in this movie and her efforts paid-off nicely, complete with another fight scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger (she actually even threw two high kicks at Schwarzenegger’s head) early in the film. Beyond the hard battle with Stone, Ticotin went on to take part in further action scenes in the film and she sure is believable as an action performer. To put things in perspective, Stone and Ticotin are not action stars but they excelled nicely in their work here and this also made Total Recall special.

When it comes to storytelling under the direction of Verhoeven, Total Recall moved at a medium-to-fast pace and there was never a single moment of rushing, nor a single boring moment at all. The film just kept going smoothly complete with true unpredictability which results lots of twists and surprises. I should also state that the dialogue from the finalized screenplay is still excellent, and they were nicely delivered by the actors. Verhoeven also added depth to the film by using mystery while also getting good performance from Schwarzenegger as Doug Quaid finds out that life is not what it seems. I should state that the sci-fi elements of altering (and adding) human memories with the use of computers and the business of selling virtual holidays and ego trips were strongly emphasized. These also add to the film’s mystery which should engage you to wonder and analyze as the story moves on.

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The best view from an office on planet Mars.

On the spectacle, Total Recall is heavily loaded! The action is violent, plentiful and carries that particular aesthetic that only director Verhoeven has. It’s hard to explain in words but once you watch the action in this movie (plus comparing it to RoboCop and Starship Troopers), you will realize it. Even so, the action never turned this movie into a brainless affair. The action worked nicely to balance the mystery and suspense.

The visual effects here were mostly done by practical and optical ways. Special effects specialist Rob Bottin, who famously worked in John Carpenter’s The Thing and worked also with Verhoeven in RoboCop, came up with very memorable animatronics to simulate facial and physical changes on characters on key sequences involving sci-fi elements. The team also crafted really freaky looking makeup works on the Mars mutants, which really gave this film a strong sci-fi look. I also like the use of miniatures and physical sets that visualized the colony in Mars. By today’s standards, this movie’s visual effects still look great and I can only wish that filmmakers today would rely less on computers and go back to using practical effects (note: physical stuff) and, on certain occasions, optical effects.

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Really great movie makeup work by Rob Bottin.

When it comes to the physical environments, this movie was filmed a lot in Mexico, specifically on key locations and on the sound stages in an established movie production studio there. Years ago, when I first learned for the first time that the trains used in the film were real-life trains that actually operated in one of Mexico’s real-life transportation systems, I was astounded! Paul Verhoeven himself confirmed that the train sequences were not only shot on location with real trains (note: monitors were added by the filmmakers to achieve a futuristic look) but the place’s architectural design were very unique and fitted nicely with the sci-fi concept of the movie.

The Mars colony set does not look fake to me. In fact, it really looks like it has long been lived in by people and the filmmakers nicely designed it. The Venusville set looks very convincing and, within the story, it got decayed due to long-term businesses, constant vehicular traffic and people who always flocked the place. The Mars hotel meanwhile has that cleaner, nicer look with tourists who paid good money for pleasure and discovery.

I should mention that the cinematography here done by Jost Vacano is excellent. The set-ups of the camera to get great angles of the actors is special, and the same can be said about the capturing of the spectacle that happened on-screen. The flashback of Mars inside Quaid’s mind had great, floating views of the location complete with perfectly smooth movement! Vacano also worked with Verhoeven in RoboCop.

Finally, the musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith is very memorable and this is my favorite among all his works. The music provided gave this movie a strong sci-fi feel and when suspense plays, the tunes added nicely to it. The most memorable music tracks here are the opening credits music (which is immersive) and the foot chase between Quaid and Richter on Earth (the music really keeps the pace high).

Conclusion

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Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in a key scene.

Total Recall is a true, adulterated sci-fi action classic and easily it is still is one of the best ever movies I’ve seen from Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven and Stone. A few visual elements did not age well but its highly engaging story (combined with the strong performances and spectacle) remains its key selling point. There is a lot of ambiguity throughout the film and it will keep you wondering if the story (or at least portions of it) was reality or all a dream in Quaid’s mind. The way the story is structured combined with the excellent spectacle, this is a movie that is worth watching again and again! It remains an effective viewing experience for me until now.

As it contains the directorial trademarks of Verhoeven mixed with Schwarzenegger’s own style of expression and hard action, Total Recall is a very unique move of its own and it’s impossible to replicate nor match. Keep in mind that the 2012 remake of this movie was badly made (even though it had a big budget and highly advanced visual effects involving the use of computers) and ended up being a complete failure.

To put it short, Total Recall is more than just an action-packed thrill ride. It is also a mystery film that will keep viewers on the edge as the search for answers continues. Total Recall also explores the theme of what would you do when you realize that the life you remember turned to be an exceptional lie, and that you are literally caught in the middle of a web surrounded by dangerous, powerful people. I could never forget how my mind got motivated as I focused on the narrative the first time I ever saw this great movie decades ago. Total Recall was a sci-fi viewing experience like no other.

Overall, Total Recall (1990) is highly recommended! I urge you, my readers, to buy the movie on Blu-ray disc or watch it via streaming.


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

Idolatry is Unholy

We all live in a screwed-up world. To say the least, our world is chaotic filled with fake news, war, crime, dysfunctional governments, fascism, dictatorship, abortion, Communism, corruption, socialism, homosexuality, SJWs (social justice warriors) terrorism, atheism, religion, idolatry, secularism and the list goes on.

This is because Satan is the god of the world we live in and there are billions of unsaved and lost souls who do not realize the truth of the Word of God (the Holy Bible). They also don’t realize that they need to be saved (get born again), ask God for forgiveness, submit to Him and then accept Jesus as Lord and Savior so that they can be saved and live on as true Christians driven by faith (not religion).

As I mentioned before, being religious is NOT the same as being faithful. In fact, religion is one of the more effective tools (in tandem with atheism) used by Satan to prevent people from becoming children of God. Religion itself is a hindrance to truly becoming Christian. Religion also has a bunch of man-made unholy rules like so-called blessed sacraments which prevent people from realizing the truth in the Holy Bible. Religion also comes with traditions and rituals, which are not even holy.

Another notable thing of religion is idol worship – idolatry – which continues to mislead people and prevent them from worshipping God directly. Idolatry comes with worshipping man-made objects (statues, statuettes, carved objects), images and people. Idolatry also includes allowing ourselves to be dominated by elements that prevent us from being dedicated to the Lord such as items we are too involved with (example: the smartphone), obsessing with people, being addicted to sex, being addicted to illegal substances, being addicted to liquor and even our local culture. Instead of trusting the Lord and being dedicated to Him, idolaters are trapped and actually separated from Him. Even the most prayerful, idol-worshiping, religion-oriented person is fooled into believing he is Christian when, in fact, he is not.

Having previously lived a life of following religion, its traditions, its rituals and wrongful teachings before getting saved (I got born again in 2018), I can clearly say that idolatry is unholy and is also more evil than it appears. I fully reject idolatry and I will never let it influence me now that I’m a child of God.

To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at key holy scripture in the New King James Version (NKJV) and The Passion Translation (TPT) of the Holy Bible.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, not covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 (NKJV)

Surely you must know that people who practice evil cannot possess God’s kingdom realm. Stop being deceived! People who continue to engage in sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, sexual perversion, homosexuality, fraud, greed, drunkenness, verbal abuse, or extortion—these will not inherit God’s kingdom realm.

1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 (TPT)

As seen above, idolatry makes one not only an idolater but also a practitioner and follower of evil which Satan loves. Idolatry involved with religion deceives idolaters into believing they are Christian when in fact they are unknowingly serving Satan. It does not matter that an idolater prays to a statue of Jesus because that is still unholy. Worship of Lord Jesus should be done to Him directly. Praying to a painting of Jesus (or any religion icon) or to an item deemed holy by a religion-driven church or hierarchy is also unholy. Take note of the following holy scripture below as well as the words bolded for clarity.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 20: 4-6 (NKJV)

As seen above, verse 4 of Exodus chapter 20 makes it clear that objects (which obviously include images or painting) are not to be made at all and, at the same time, our worship must always be directed to God Himself without any hindrance. God is jealous and that alone is reason for us to reject idolatry and be respectful and obedient to Him eternally. We worship the Lord directly and definitely no object, no image and no person in between! We Christians have worship leaders and pastors to guide us to worship the Lord directly, while always remembering we each have a personal relationship with God. A church that claims to be Christian but practices idolatry and has its members worship objects and the church leader is not truly Christian.

Exodus 20: 4 also looks back to the time when Israel was surrounded by people who worshiped images that were also referred to as gods. As it is true that no human effort could represent God, God Himself forbade the making of images or objects about Him. This same truth is also applied to Lord Jesus.

Meanwhile, idolatry that does not involve religion but other things like entertainment (examples: movie stars, celebrities, superheroes, video gaming), government figures (example: politicians), sports (example: basketball superstars), culture and the like is also an abomination to the Lord.

Superhero movies have been wildly popular worldwide for the past twenty years, and those films used comic books as basis for storytelling and visual concepts. How many times have people seen Spider-Man swing above people, Superman fly high, Batman fighting criminals and Wonder Woman saving people? While I enjoy superheroes in varied forms of entertainment media, I know fully well that they are all just pieces of fiction and I NEVER worshiped any of them. I will never worship them, ever. I am a geek but I prioritized my faith in the Lord and I always will maintain my personal relationship with Him. Definitely I reject idols and idolatry.

To my fellow geeks reading this, I urge you to never engage in idolatry no matter how passionate you are with your geek interest. Don’t worship movie stars, superheroes, images and don’t let highly interactive, deeply engaging video games from enslaving you. Always look up to Lord Jesus and follow God’s Word.

Idols are truly distracting and have been used by Satan to keep the unsaved and lost souls away from God, Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s bad enough that our world is dominated by powerful, sinister forces whose acts are further magnified by the news networks that reached billions of viewers (notably news junkies) every day.

When it comes to true Christianity, we the Christians who got born again are the Church and our true leader is Lord Jesus who has been in Heaven so long ago, and He promised to return to us here on Earth. We Christians living in the flesh here on Earth are to reject idolatry (plus religion, traditions and rituals) and focus on engaging in the enduring race of faith remaining faithful to the Lord, praying in tongues, studying the Holy Bible and applying its lessons into our lives.

Idolatry really has no place in Christianity and we Christians must never let it dominate us.

Remember God is always good, always faithful, always loving and caring, always our protector and always our source. All those idols around us are NOTHING like Him. This brings me to my next point – being an idolater means getting involved with demons and paganism. Take a close look at the holy scriptures below.

They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.

Deuteronomy 32: 16-17 (NKJV)  

“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.”

Leviticus 17: 7 (NKJV)

To put things in perspective, idolatry is the gravest sin in ancient Israel (refer to verse 17 of Deuteronomy chapter 32). The laws pertaining to the sanctity of blood prohibit involvement in the pagan practices of foreign worship. This is connected to verse 4 of Deuteronomy chapter 6 which states: “Hear O, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

For its part, the early church encountered similar concerns when they tackled the question of Gentiles who came from pagan backgrounds coming to faith in Jesus as the Lord and Savior. Refer to verses 20 and 29 of Acts chapter 15, as well as verse 25 of Acts chapter 21.

More on idolatry making idolaters involved with demons, pay very close attention to the holy scripture below in the New King James Version and the Passion translation. Key parts bolded for you.

Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

1 Corinthians 10: 20 (NKJV)

Absolutely not! However, I am implying that when an unbeliever offers a sacrifice to an idol, it is not offered to the true God but to a demon. I don’t want you to be participants with demons!

1 Corinthians 10: 20 (TPT)

Very clearly in the two translations of 1 Corinthians 10: 20, idolatry is absolutely wrong and it is NEVER EVER a proper form of worship to the Lord. Quite simply, you make an offer or a sacrifice to an idol, it is not for the Lord. You pray to an idol, you are not connected with the Lord. Instead, involving yourself with an idol means involving yourself with false gods or demons.

As for having statues, statuettes and images of the Lord (or those so-called icons – both the dead and the living persons – of people trapped by religion), those things are never necessary for Christians. We the faithful Children of God should always reject idols, focus on the Lord and live by His Word. Get rid of those carved idols there in your household! Get rid of those paintings or other forms of images there in your household! Stay away from those unholy parades/processions that highlight statues for worship! Avoid worshiping people no matter how charismatic they look! Reject Satan, the demons and other forms of evil! Simply worship the Lord directly and always remember Jesus is always alive and is watching us from Heaven!

Going back to 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, read it once more and you will realize that being an idolater will make you spiritually unholy and unworthy of God’s kingdom. It is undeniably true! 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 clearly shows that idolaters belong with other unholy and unrighteous elements such as sexual immorality, adultery, sexual perversion, homosexuality, fraud, greed, drunkenness, verbal abuse and extortion. Really, no faith-driven Christian would want to be deemed unworthy by God by embracing idolatry and all those unrighteous elements. The people trapped by the darkness of religion or unbelief, however, are among the idolaters, the adulterers, the covetous, the extortionists and the like. As such, those unsaved and lost souls need to be prayed over so that they will realize the Truth of God’s Word and someday make the decision to get born again and become a child of God.

As Christians driven by faith and living by God’s Word, we certainly do not want to fail in our pursuit and in our personal relationship with Him. Idolatry is a sin and this leads to the final holy scripture for this piece.

We know that we are God’s children and that the whole world lies under the misery and influence of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God has made our understanding come alive so that we can know by experience the One who is true. And we are in him who is true, God’s Son, Jesus Christ—the true God and eternal life! So, little children, guard yourselves from worshiping anything but him.

1 John 5: 19-21 (TPT)

Now that my newest teaching about idolatry is done, I would like to reach out to all and any unsaved or lost souls among you readers. This is your opportunity to get born again and become Christian. The decision is yours, not mine.

If you seek salvation and are ready to submit yourselves to the Lord, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then pray this simple prayer in sincerity from your heart:

Dear God,

I believe that Jesus is Your Son, and that He died on the cross to pay the penalty of my sins. I believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that He is alive! Right now, I call on the name of Jesus. Jesus, come into my heart. I receive You as my personal Lord and Savior. Forgive me of my sins and cleanse me by the power of Your blood. Thank You for saving me and giving me eternal life! Help me now to follow Your plan for my life. Amen.

Congratulations! You are now a child of God! Praise the Lord and always be faithful to Him! No more darkness in your life caused by unbelief or religion. Your new life under Christ has truly begun!

From this point on, acquire for yourself a copy of the Holy Bible (New King James Version is recommended), study it and apply its many lessons in your life no matter what situation you are in right now. I also recommend you to join a church of born-again Christians near you and find your place in the spiritual family. Worship the Lord together with them and remember that each of you has a personal relationship with Him. Get used to Christian rock music. Your personal relationship with God is strictly off-limits to everyone, even to your family.

The Holy Spirit is in you and you are now a new creation! Remember that God loves you and He is definitely happy over your conversion.

In ending this article, I embedded these Christian worship music videos for your enjoyment and the strengthening of your faith in the Lord. No more idols and other forms of sin in your life. Move forward with Lord Jesus eternally!

Now is the time for you and your spiritual family to keep on being the fearless and aggressive Church of Lord Jesus! Now is the time for you to realize that God made a plan for each and everyone of us before we were even created (refer to Jeremiah 29: 11)! Now is the time to realize that God created us and rewards the faithful abundantly (refer to John 10: 10).

Now is the time for harvest under Lord Jesus! Spread the Word of God, help save the unsaved and lost souls worldwide.


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. Sharing this Christian piece means spreading the good news of the Lord to others. It can help you save the unsaved souls out there.

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 Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

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.

Considering how long the Friday The 13th franchise of horror movies lasted throughout entertainment history, there were indeed chapters that proved to be good, bad or simply satisfactory towards its fans and other moviegoers.

Having seen ALL the Friday The 13th movies myself, I can say without hesitation that the most defining films of the franchise were the first four films (released 1980 to 1984) which eerily reminds me of the early stage of James Bonds movies released in the 1960s (read: Sean Connery and Albert Broccoli struck cinematic gold with 1964’s Goldfinger).

As I mentioned before, Friday The 13th Part 3 was indeed a fun horror movie and marked the time when the film franchise and its featured villain Jason Voorhees really started to take shape. It was the film that saw Jason wearing his now iconic hockey mask, and improved the creative formula (examples: Jason’s stalking and eliminating people, his encounter with the surviving protagonist or the final girl). In other words, Part 3 ended on a very strong note and high fun factor, setting the stage for the inevitable sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (AKA Part 4).

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This dangerous stunt will always remain memorable.

Before starting this retro movie review, it’s important to take note of what happened in Hollywood that led to the creation of the 1984 movie.

Background

After Friday The 13th Part 3 rode the 3D movie trend and made a lot of money on ticket sales alone, Paramount Pictures perceived that the slasher horror genre was waning with moviegoers and decided that the Friday The 13th franchise should end. Eventually Joseph Zito was hired to write and direct The Final Chapter. The funny thing was that Zito secretly hired Barney Cohen to write the screenplay, going as far to take phone conferences with one of the producers, share details with Cohen to produce the pages (Zito and Cohen collaborated on the script in a New York apartment) which were sent to the producer (who would go back to the director).

Because it was clear that the film was supposed to end the franchise, Zita wanted the film the be about the death of the newly masked Jason and this explains why The Final Chapter opened where Part 3 ended…at the Higgins property which Jason’s body in the barn. The director told Cohen to focus on developing the characters (as opposed to emphasizing kills). Of course, this did not stop Zito from ramping up the kill count, the gore and nudity. With the cast hired, veteran stunt performer Ted White hired as Jason and movie makeup specialist Tom Savini rehired (note: he worked on the 1980 Friday movie and created Jason’s look as a youth), Zito really wanted to end the franchise with a bang!

With those details already recorded in history, here now is my retro movie review of Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.

Early story

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter opened with a recap of Jason, the killings and how things turned out in the first three movies, cleverly using Part 2’s camp fire scene in which Paul told the camp trainees the legend of Jason.

The story begins on the evening of Monday the 16th. For some weird reason, the local police and other emergency personnel arrived at the Higgins property (note: this was the very same California location where Part 3 was filmed at) at least twelve hours after Part 3’s lone survivor Chris Higgins was picked up by the police during the morning.

After picking up the dead bodies and examining the venue for evidence, the medical personnel brought Jason’s unmoving body to the local medical center with his mask and clothes still intact. Some time into the night, Jason (Ted White) discreetly gets up and kills two medical personnel before leaving for the great area of Crystal Lake.

The next morning, Tuesday the 17th, Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) jog together in the woods heading towards their country home which is located some distance away from Crystal Lake. Inside the house is the young son Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) who is a geek and collector of special stuff. The family is already aware of the killings Jason caused over the past few days (refer to Part 2 and Part 3) and Mrs. Jarvis referred to him as the psycho.

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Remember the good old days when print media journalism was much more credible and not too politicized?

Meanwhile, a new group of teenagers riding a car are on their way to the Crystal Lake area for a group vacation completely unaware that Jason is on the loose. Their destination is a vacation house located very near the Jarvis home…

Quality

Even though the production team had a low budget, this film had improved production values which is literally only the tip of the iceberg. The real indicator of this movie’s quality is with the overall execution in terms of directing, storytelling, characterization (yes, there is character development here) and horror spectacle. The good news is that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter’s overall quality is pretty good.

For starters, the creative team took the bold approach of having a family and a group of teenagers as targets for Jason’s killing spree. The presence of a likable family like the Jarvises made the Friday The 13th formula feel fresh since the old approach of having teenagers (and a few adults) getting killed off has gotten repetitive. Having good natured characters like Mrs. Jarvis, Trish and Tommy should remind you of the likable families living in your neighborhood. As such, the Jarvis family in the story will make you get concerned for them and despise Jason for the evil icon he truly is.

The new batch of teenagers in this film is an improvement over Part 3’s teenagers (which by the way are more likable than those in Part 2). Among them is Jimmy (Crispin Glover), a troubled young guy trying to achieve something important in his life. There is also Sara (Barbara Howard) who is sweet and appears reserved for Doug (Peter Barton). The pretty twins (Camilla More and Carey More), who just appeared into the film encountering the rest of the youth, added nice variety to the romance potential among them. On the other hand, Ted (Lawrence Monoson), is the stereotypical unlikable and pathetic guy meant for viewers to despise. Samantha (Judie Aronson) is the lady craving for sensual love with Paul (Clyde Hayes).

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Ted: Hey, could you please pass to me a copy of that fake news-oriented local community print media publication? The tabloid, not the broadsheet.

What this movie clearly had in bringing some of the above-mentioned characters to life is character development. Director Zito and team succeeded in making the Jarvis family worth caring for. Jimmy is the teenager that moviegoers would relate with and also root for him to succeed. The other cast members, notably the teenagers wanting fun and satisfaction (skinny dipping and partying, anyone?), were made to be interesting and were clearly not merely disposable. Sara is likable and she looks like she could rival Trish in terms of who would be worthy to be the film’s final girl, not to mention who would be more worthy of the care from the viewers.

In terms of presentation, this film has a more serious tone. Other than Jimmy’s ever memorable dance, the approach to humor is noticeably weaker when compared to Part 3. At the same time, the killings of Jason are executed and made to really look visceral. When Jason kills a character who is likable or at least interesting, you will really feel bad or sorry, and then despise Jason. Speaking of Jason, the filmmakers made him look scarier with the visceral approach to killing on-screen and the fact that Ted White avoided speaking to the other cast members in between takes.

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The memorable Crispin Glover dance!
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One of many hard-hitting stunts in the movie.

When it comes to the stunts, the film crew really went all-out and it involved a lot of pain on the part of the actors because of the lack of safety and stunt performers as a result of the low budget. The stunts in this movie were executed with a lot of intensity and when each stunt ends, you will feel something. Take note that Ted White is a veteran of stunt performing and even doubled for Clark Gable long ago.

Remember the traditional stunts of having a human body thrown into the house through the ground-floor window? Such a stunt in this movie had a lot more impact than what was shown in the first three films. As for the stunt involving the very young Corey Feldman, that one was real and there was a huge risk of injury due to the lack of safety measures. Regardless, the stunt was performed and Feldman’s surprise and shouting were genuine. Here’s a video clip for you to enjoy.

The presentation of the on-screen kills and stunts here are the absolute best of the Friday The 13th franchise. The scare factor is also much stronger.

As for the music, Harry Manfredini returned. His musical score proved to be excellent in terms of bringing life into the scenes complete with precise timing.

Conclusion

I declare that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is the best and the most definitive movie of its franchise. It’s also one of the best and most defining horror movies ever released in the 1980s. It’s not worthy of awards for film excellence but it still is a major standout among all horror movies of the 1980s. It should be noted that this movie implemented a twist to the final-girl-versus-Jason formula of the first three movies by having a key character involved during the climax.

Believe it or not, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter actually had a lot of tension between the director and actors during production (Note: Ted White stood up for the younger actors who had to endure physical pain due to lack of safety, and this put him into direct conflict with the director. And then White was very annoyed with Corey Feldman who in turn was allegedly badly treated on location by Zito).

Even so, the movie turned out to be its franchise’s biggest highlight, the best of it all! Apart from the final results made by director Zito and his crew, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter owes part of its success to Friday The 13th Part 3 since that movie (a clear improvement over Part 2) helped set the stage for the fourth movie on a creative manner.

At the same time, it was in this fourth Friday The 13th movie where Jason truly became a horror icon as well as one of America’s pop culture icons. Director Zito, Tom Savini and Ted White combined their efforts on making this the most definitive story of Jason Voorhees who was not a zombie but a living human killer who simply won’t stop due to the evil in him. This movie’s Jason is clearly a dramatic improvement over Part 3’s Jason (which in turn was a dramatic improvement over Part 2’s Jason-with-a-potato-sack-for-a-mask) and each time the villain was on screen, you can sense his evil force. The mere fact that Trish got frightened by Jason at different stages of the chase between them proves how intimidating and scary the masked killer really is.

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This is the best Friday The 13th movie ever!

Overall, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is highly recommended. For the best viewing experience and story immersion into Friday The 13th, I recommend watching Part 3 and this movie back-to-back.


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 #9 (1987)

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.

Very recently, Warner Bros. announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus disease COVID-19 pandemic, it has decided to reschedule the release of Wonder Woman 1984 to August 2020.

While fans, geeks and moviegoers have to wait a bit longer for the much-awaited movie, we can take time out to look back to the year 1987 when DC Comics published the comic book Wonder Woman #9 written (plot) and illustrated by the legendary George Perez with scripting done by the late Len Wein.

Remember seeing Dr. Barbara Minerva (Cheetah) played by Kristen Wiig in Wonder Woman 1984? This comic book marked the debut of the post-Crisis Cheetah whose civilian personality is Dr. Barbara Minerva (her literary debut was in Wonder Woman #7). To make history short, the original Cheetah that appeared in 1943’s Wonder Woman #6 was Priscilla Rich while the second Cheetah was Deborah Domaine (Priscilla Rich’s niece). Dr. Minerva is the third and arguably the most modernized and most popular Cheetah.

With the history talk over, here we go with Wonder Woman #9!

WW9a
The cover drawn by George Perez.

Early Story

The story begins with a ritual performed by a short, old man with a knife. He cuts the skin of a naked woman and collects some of her blood. He uses the blood to feed a plant he believes to be a god (the plant-god). Afterwards he returns to the naked woman and covers her with the cloth.

The next morning, at another location, Wonder Woman flies happily in the air. Below her were publicist Myndi Mayer, Julia (Diana’s host and personal educator) and teenager Vanessa.

It turns out, Wonder Woman, who strongly values honor, was happy to have received a letter from Dr. Barbara Minerva. Julia however is not confident and based on her research, she described Minerva as “shady as your average weeping willow.”

Myndi, who is looking for the next great scoop, dismisses Julia’s concern and remains focused on accompanying Wonder Woman to meeting Minerva.

Quality

Apart from marking the first appearance of Cheetah (no longer a lady wearing a silly costume) in the post-Crisis era of DC Comics, Wonder Woman #9 is still a very compelling and fun comic book to read. Its great quality combined with a solid concept can be attributed to George Perez.

On storytelling, Perez and Wein delivered a solid balance between spectacle, characterization, plotting and mystery. The presentation of Dr. Minerva as an accomplished yet arrogant archaeologist is a clever concept of having her involved with Wonder Woman who in turn also has a personal interest in relics and evidences of established cultures and societies (given the Amazonian society Diana came from). Minerva’s transformation and first action as Cheetah is indeed excellent to read.

WW9b
Diana/Wonder Woman and Dr. Minerva/Cheetah meet for the first time ever.

Being one of the greatest comic book illustrators ever, it is no surprise that this comic book still looks great! Even though Perez used a lot of panels per page, the amount of visual details as well as the maintenance of his art style remain high.

When it comes to the first-ever battle between Cheetah and Wonder Woman, Perez pulled no punches back with the spectacle. There is a good amount of brutal action which so enjoyable to see and I can only hope that director Patty Jenkins took inspiration from the comic’s action scenes for Wonder Woman 1984 (a conflict between the Queen of Superheroes and the animalistic villainess on the big screen is inevitable).

WW9c
Brutal action between Cheetah and Wonder Woman!

On characterization, this comic book continued to deliver the good and believable development of Wonder Woman who is still adjusting to Man’s World. To put it short, it is not exclusively focused on Cheetah and Wonder Woman (whose encounters were the highlights). You will get to see how much Diana adjusted with modern society, what she thought about how modern society’s members perceived her and how close she got with Julia and Vanessa while still keeping strong with her Amazonian values.

Going back to Cheetah, the development of Dr. Minerva changing into her animalistic form is very well handled by the creators. There are enough details that explained her physical transformation and her uncanny abilities, not to mention showing her being able to give Wonder Woman a good amount of trouble. This way of modernizing the literary Cheetah is, indeed, very compelling and definitive. By reading this comic book, you will realize why this particular version of Cheetah was chosen to be part of Wonder Woman 1984.

For the collectors reading this, if you are serious on getting an existing copy of Wonder Woman #9, be aware that, as of this writing, a near-mint copy costs $77 according to MileHighComics.com

Overall, Wonder Woman #9 (1987) is highly recommended! It’s a great collector’s item too!

In ending this, watch this first official movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984.


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 Action Comics #544

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.

I just love it when comic book creators really pushed their creativity and bold concepts to make an anniversary celebration comic book fun, engaging and memorable. As seen in the history of American superhero comics, such great comic books become essential when their concept sets a new standard of quality or when it sets its series (and its featured superhero) to a new and well accepted direction (which then opens up many opportunities to keep the series and the superhero fresh creatively).

Such greatness was achieved by DC Comics and its creators with Action Comics #544 published in 1983.

AC544cover
The cover.

As seen in the cover above done by artists Gil Kane and Dick Giordano, Superman in the background could do nothing but be surprised to see his two foes Lex Luthor and Braniac presented in doubles reflecting a change of design – Luthor getting his now iconic powered suit of armor and Brainiac having a more robotic design.

So you must be wondering…how is the quality of the story and art of this particular comic book that celebration Superman’s 45th anniversary?

We can now start with my retro comic book review of Action Comics #544.

Early Stories

This special-sized comic book features not one but two separate Superman stories titled “Luthor Unleashed!” (written by Cary Bates and drawn by Curt Swan) and “Rebirth” (by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane).

“Luthor Unleashed!” begins with Luthor already down on the ground hurting from the crash of his aircraft and with Superman present. Even though Luthor’s already helpless, Superman flies away to an unknow destination confident that the super villain will still be there once he returns. However, Luthor got assisted by a robot of his who took him to a secret lair and rode a spacecraft going into deep space. Luthor arrives on the planet called Lexor.

“Rebirth” begins with Superman saving a lady and dog from getting hit by a car on the city street. Afterwards, he flies into space and arrives at a computerized planet that Brainiac created. Just nearby, the star of Epsilon 4 is about to go supernova which prompts him to do something so that many lives will be saved.

Quality

Visually, the art of both stories, respectively done by Curt Swan (arguably the most memorable artist to draw Superman during the pre-Crisis age) and Gil Kane is still good to look at. Both artists knew how to frame the action in interesting ways, put enough details on the people and environment surrounding Superman or Luthor or Brainiac.

When it comes to the storytelling and characterization, not only were both stories really well written, they succeeded in humanizing Luthor and Brainiac. In “Luthor Unleashed!”, the portrayal of Lex Luthor as a family man (he has a wife and a child) as well as a highly revered leader among the citizens of Lexor was excellently done. By just reading that story, it really looked like Luthor could have been a great contributor for the good of the DC Multiverse had he not been a super villain. What writer Cary Bates made clear was that Luthor’s hatred for Supermen was deeply embedded within him.

AC5441
Lex Luthor the husband and father.

The story of Brainiac meanwhile was very engaging. Marv Wolfman really went all-out on portraying the death and rebirth of Brainiac who got reshaped in the form of a futuristic robot armed with his own octopus-like spaceship. What is great about this cybernetic form of Brainiac was that he not only looked more sinister but also proved to be a more dangerous super villain than before. Also, Superman’s first encounter with Brainiac in his new form is very memorable.

AC5442
A great debut for Brainiac in his new form.

Conclusion

While Action Comics #544 is a celebration of Superman’s 45th anniversary, it is truly a showcase of the two classic super villains who not only got new looks but also went on to become more challenging to Superman on a new and higher level. Before he got his iconic powered suit of armor (designed by the great George Perez), Luthor was not much of a physical challenge to Superman. Before he got his robotic body, Brainiac was not as deadly and had much less resources to be cause chaos to Superman and others. To say the least, this comic book is a true classic of superhero literature!

If you are a collector, be aware that as of this writing, a near-mint copy of the newsstand edition of Action Comics #544 is now worth $77 while its other edition’s near-mint copy is worth $39 at MileHighComics.com.

Overall, Action Comics #544 is highly recommended. This great comic book also has another thing of value: great inspiration and references that Warner Bros. should use when making a new Superman movie with Luthor and Brainiac as the super villains.


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 Friday The 13th Part 3

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.

Long before movie franchising and shared cinematic universes became normal in modern day Hollywood, the very low-budget Friday The 13th movie of 1980 became a very profitable success and paved the way for sequels throughout the decade. Really, the first movie was just a standalone, self-contained story of horror set in the American summer camp. There really was no plan back then to turn that particular film into a series of movies that showcased people getting killed in slasher horror style.

Because Friday The 13th grossed almost $60 million worldwide, its first sequel Friday The 13th Part 2 was rushed into production (with more than double its predecessor’s budget) and eventually got released less than a year later. Part 2 made $21.7 million in America (note: overseas ticket sales remain unavailable) which was barely half that of its predecessor ($39.7 million) in the same market.

Creatively, Part 2 was made with Jason Voorhees as the antagonist because (SPOILER) his mother was the killer in the first movie. While Jason was indeed a victim in the 1980 movie, the Part 2 filmmakers had to make hard changes to establish him as the new killer and expand on the previous film’s concept. The result was that, within Friday The 13th’s version of history, Jason somehow witnessed his mother’s death from a distance and motivated him to become a territorial killer at Crystal Lake (note: the first movie established him as having drowned to death because the summer camp counselors did not watch him). This paved the way into introducing a grown-up Jason (wearing a potato sack as mask) as the new killer in the sequel.

Even though the box office reception for Part 2 was weaker, this did not stop the filmmakers and Paramount Pictures from pushing through with a sequel: Friday The 13th Part 3. To say the least, the business model on making Friday The 13th movies with very low budgets and raking big profits was too good for the filmmakers to stop doing. At the same time, the 1980s saw a huge demand for slasher horror. As if that was not enough, there was a short-lived revival of 3D cinematic viewing (moviegoers wore the old-style red-and-blue 3D visors to see the 3D effects on the screen) which the Part 3 filmmakers (led by director Steve Miner and producer Frank Mancuso, Jr.) decided to capitalize on. As such, they used special cameras and lenses to make Part 3.

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This is what the film looked like in 3D and this is the 3D yoyo scene.

Enough with the history of the Friday The 13th film franchise for now. This is my retro movie review of 1982’s Friday The 13th Part 3.

Early Story

The movie opens (SPOILER for Part 2) with a recap of the final conflict in Part 2 showing Ginny (Amy Steel) in Jason’s shack in the forest. After some struggle near the makeshift shrine which had the decapitated head of Jason’s dead mother, Ginny’s boyfriend Paul arrived to save her from Jason. As Jason focused on fighting Paul, Ginny struck the killer with a blade on his left shoulder putting him down. After Ginny and Paul left the shack, it turns out that Jason (in brand new footage for the movie, a creative attempt to revise key story elements) was still alive and slowly moved.

The next day – Saturday the 14th – at a small town store (with a private residence), Jason (still wearing his clothes from Part 2) arrives and kills the couple (the owners) in the evening. Before getting killed, the wife saw TV news footage of Ginny being moved into an ambulance (using daytime footage from the ending of Part 2) establishing the current day as Saturday.

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The bodies of the husband and wife being moved into the ambulance. Jason killed them on the evening of Saturday.

And yet the next day – Sunday the 15th – a group of teenagers travel together in a van heading towards the private property of Higgins Haven which is located by Crystal Lake. Due to the lack of security, Jason moved there in secret becoming a danger to them…

Quality

With a budget that was much bigger than that of Part 2, Friday The 13th Part 3 has better production values. Higgins Haven in the film was a nice physical set that was actually constructed from scratch in California. The vacation house, the barn and even Crystal Lake (which looked radically different from the first two films) were all made on location. Of course, money had to be spent on making tracks and setting up the cameras which had special lenses for filming in 3D. I also noticed that Part 3’s visuals are a lot more colorful to look at than in Part 2 which is the result of using the cameras with special lenses. The downside of this is the constant lack of sharpness on the visuals when compared to Part 1 and 2.

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Larry Zerner’s Shelly (middle) is one of the most memorable characters of the entire Friday The 13th film franchise.

In terms of storytelling, this movie looked generic on face value when compared to not only the other Friday The 13th films but also with the many other slasher horror movies that were released. There is a group of people who don’t realize they were being stalked by a killer. The killings are done in secret. Some people either have sex or use illegal drugs. The film’s protagonist encounters the killer and somehow survives. The storytelling is shallow and the characters were designed to be mostly killed off by the antagonist. Of course, there was no real room for any character development.

The good news about this particular movie is that it was nicely paced, there were no boring moments, the on-screen kills were visceral enough, there was an amount of humor to balance the tone enough, and most of all, Part 3 is a lot more fun to watch than any of its predecessors.

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Nothing like being stalked by Jason.

Adding more to the fun factor was that the cast of characters was pretty good. Dana Kimmell as Chris Higgins is charming, romantic, physically capable and also sympathetic. Larry Zerner meanwhile is funny to watch as Shelly who is an overweight guy trying hard to gain attention and friendship. Zerner has a certain appeal of being funny without ever becoming an on-screen annoyance. Like Chris, Shelly is also sympathetic.

Similar character traits are also found in Debbie played by Tracie Savage, and Vera played by Catherine Parks. Vera is the lady on a blind date willing to have fun as she goes on a journey of discovery with her friend. Debbie is pretty, sweet and loves to have fun with her boyfriend even though she is already pregnant. By the way, Tracie Savage acted early as a little girl and her performance her shows it. In real life, Savage went on to become a credible journalist and she was involved in covering the O.J. Simpson murder story of the mid-1990s. Check out Tracie Savage in these embedded videos below.

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Tracie Savage in 3D as Debbie!

And then there are the arrogant, leather-wearing bikers who were written only to cause trouble. Kevin O’Brien as Loco is tough, Gloria Charles as Fox is rude and yet has a weakness for doing something fun, while Nick Savage as Ali is both savage and even funny.

As for Rick played by Paul Kratka is the least interesting character as the good-intentioned boyfriend of Chris. Rick is bland not because of Kratka’s performance but rather the way he was written for the film.

Richard Brooker, a circus performer, excelled in his portrayal as Jason Voorhees and he provided the template on how the icon should act on screen. Not only was he physically imposing, he had to endure the tough procedure of going through several hours of movie makeup (for Jason’s distorted face) before even wearing the hockey mask. Brooker’s Jason is a major improvement over than of Part 2 and it’s too bad we never got to see him reprise the villain.

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Richard Brooker as Jason Voorhees. Believe it or not, the use of a hockey mask in the film was unplanned and it so happened than one of the film crew members was an ice hockey fan and he had a mask with him.

When it comes to on-screen spectacle, the killings by Jason were creative and visceral at the same time. Apart from a few on-screen kills that paid homage to key kills in the 1980 movie, Brooker and the filmmakers delivered a good job on showing how deadly Jason is as the killer. We also get to see that Jason is not only unstoppable but also is very strong (look at what happened to Rick) and even agile (look at his first encounter with Ali). It was also in this film where moviegoers got to see for the first time how visceral a hockey mask-wearing killer could be on the big screen.

Dana Kimmell proved to be capable with the stunts she was given and the action during the encounters between Chris and Jason. Her attempts to fight back at Jason with the knife was believable in terms of character desperation. She is comparable with Amy Steel (Part 2’s Ginny) but is ahead in terms of doing the stunts. Kimmell even had an accident during a chase in which she tripped and fell down face-first.

On storytelling, Part 3’s fimmakers made the right gamble by having the film set immediately after the events of Part 2. Originally there was a plan to make Part 3 feature Ginny in a new story setting her up with another encounter with Jason. Because Amy Steel turned the role down, this particular movie became the result. Part 3’s filmmakers scored a right move having the story set at a private vacation property by Crystal Lake which is a nice change from the summer camp settings of its predecessors.

When it comes to cinematic style, I just love the way director Steve Miner had Jason appear discreetly on screen long before he gets the hockey mask. To see Jason standing on the foreground (no head shown) looking at the characters in the background remains creepy and stylish, slowly adding to the build-up of suspense. To see Jason slowly creeping in the background was also creepy. These are cinematic moves that were not used that much anymore in the sequels that followed.

If there is anything lack here, it definitely is the 3D cinematography which involved a process that is crude and ineffective by today’s standards. The old-style 3D (with 3d visors of red and blue) visuals can be viewed on an HDTV when selected but such visuals have not aged well. I personally prefer to watch it in old-fashioned 2D even though the sharpness of the pictures is lacking and even though the key on-screen moments originally filmed for 3D (with objects captured close to the camera) look out of place. Back to storytelling, I felt that Chris Higgin’s recall of a past incident in the woods felt like an afterthought on the part of the screenwriters.

Conclusion

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is a fun horror movie to watch again. It is not only one of the best ever Friday The 13th films released, but also one of the strongest among all slasher horror movies released in the 1980s. That being said, it made the original Friday The 13th look more of a bore and it made Friday The 13th Part 2 look half-baked. Truly, Part 3 was the film that had the standards of fun and engagement of its film franchise raised higher. Of all the Friday The 13th movies I saw in my life, I declare that Part 3 is the 2nd best film of the franchise.

In terms of cinematic artistry, Part 3 serves as the template on storytelling and structuring for the franchise similar to how Goldfinger became a standard for the James Bond film franchise. To make things clear, this film not only showed Jason wearing for the first time an ice hockey mask (now iconic in American pop culture) but also showed why he is so dangerous whether he stalks people or strikes them down. This film marked the true beginning of the now iconic Jason Voorhees and the filmmakers did a nice job in showcasing him as a horrifying antagonist, easily blowing away the Part 2 potato sack hermit Jason.

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Dana Kimmell as Chris (right) in a scene that copied a similar scene in the first movie.

The film has, in my view, the most appealing cast of characters. There are key characters worth caring for and when you see the most likeable characters killed off, you will feel very sorry for them.

What struck me most was what happened to Chris at the very, very end of the film. Granted, she is the final girl of this movie but what I saw when this film ended will always stick me. Without spoiling anything, I should say that Dana Kimmell’s Chris is creatively a standout among all the many slasher horror movie final girls that were presented. I really felt sorry for Chris and Dana Kimmell was very convincing with her performance.

Back to Friday The 13th Part 3’s quality and overall fun factor, I can boldly declare that without this film, the filmmakers of the sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (Part 4) would not even have the foundation and concepts to make their own film great. Really, Part 3 is really good and it’s even intriguing to learn that it was originally made to mark the end of its franchise.

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is highly recommended. To those who are about to watch it for the first time, remember that this movie is a part of 1980s Hollywood history.


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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Birds of Prey

As I mentioned before, I never read a single comic book about Birds of Prey. Apart from previously knowing Harley Quinn, Black Canary (from the 1980s specifically) and Huntress (from the 1990s), I had minimal knowledge of the DC Comics’ title as well as modest expectations entering the cinema yesterday to watch Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn which is the latest superhero production from Warner Bros.

Right now, I’m happy to share to you that the R-rated movie proved to be a fun-filled watch and is proof that the DC Comics Cinematic Universe is still moving forward (in terms of engagement, enjoyment and creativity) towards greatness.

Here is my movie review of Birds of Prey.

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Early Story

The story begins with a look into the past of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) moving forward until her breakup with the supervillain Joker (don’t expect to see Jared Leto’s image). Through narration and clever visuals, Harley is now living a new life. Along the way, there is a club within Gotham City bustling with life which Harley haves fun at and eventually she encounters the club owner Roman/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) who is not what he seems. After getting drunk and becoming vulnerable to men with sinister intentions, Dinah/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who sings at the club, comes to her rescue. After recovering, Harley moves on to destroy a huge facility of Ace Chemicals which further sets events off…

Quality

While the screenplay by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) lacked storytelling depth and character development, director Cathy Yan and her team still managed to craft a superhero film that was fun, action-packed and, surprisingly, not too reliant on computer-generated visual effects.

To make up for the lack of story depth, the movie relied mainly on the performances of the actors to bring their characters to life. Margot Robbie really excelled in playing Harley Quinn inside and out. While this latest cinematic portrayal does not have Harley insane, she’s still crazier than in Suicide Squad. Robbie’s act this time is more creative, more adulterated (which is the way the go), more daring with action and also more comedic. From this point on, I should say that Warner Bros. should rehire Robbie to play Harley Quinn in even more DC Comics movies.

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Here come the ladies: Renee Montoya, Huntress, Harley Quinn, Cassandra Cain and Black Canary.

Rosie Perez as Gotham City police officer Renee Montoya delivered a strong presence as the law enforcement element in the film and through her, we get to see the culture of the local police. Don’t expect her to have any links with police commissioner Gordon or Batman, though. Jurnee Smollet-Bell as the cinematic Black Canary is one of the stronger performers even though her version of the character is radically different from the one I read in the comic books long ago. Ella Jay Basco, an actress of Filipino and Korean heritage, as the orphan Cassandra Cain is clearly the movie’s representative (and attraction to) of the youth. Performance-wise, Basco delivered a nice performance even though her character (who in the comics is one of many who became Batgirl) lacks depth. Fortunately for us moviegoers, she is not the whiny teenager who annoy viewers and, more importantly, she delivered nicely in her part of the film’s plot. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good as the cinematic Huntress. It’s too bad her on-screen presence is not long enough to be enjoyed, nor were moviegoers given better opportunities to know the Huntress better.

The most outstanding performance in the movie was delivered by Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. McGregor, who is a naturally artistic actor, is very colorful with his portrayal of a supervillain who, unlike many other such antagonists in other superhero movies, is charismatic, suave and yet cruel to the core. This cinematic Black Mask is not your generic action movie villain and, as such, hiring McGregor was one of the best moves made by Warner Bros. I honestly find McGregor a worthy adversary versus Margot Robbie when it comes to cinematic artistry.

When it comes to spectacle, Birds of Prey is heavily loaded with hard-hitting action plus some bloody shots that make it standout among the many superhero movies released in this current century. For one thing, the actresses themselves took an active part in doing action and the stunts they could pull of on their own (the harder stuff were understandably done by stunt doubles). Watching Harley Quinn beat up the bad guys with that large hammer, the baseball bat and other stuff were not only hard-hitting but also creative without ever looking choreographed. Black Canary’s high kicks were notable. Renee Montoya’s reliance on guns and hard action were symbolic throwbacks to the police movies of the past. Huntress meanwhile showed how deadly her small but powerful crossbow can be on-screen.

Late in the film is a certain long-take action sequence filled with the characters struggling with the bad guys simultaneously (without using computer-generated imagery) which was cleverly filmed with nice timing as the camera moved on very steadily. That sequence, even though short, is worth watching again and again. Oh yes, there are no shaky camera sequences shot!

The action scenes, in my opinion, came into play at the right time whenever I felt enough dialogue and exposition were made. This shows that the filmmakers pulled off the right moves with the pacing to ensure that people are kept entertained while still maintaining some storytelling sense which is quite an achievement since the film’s plot lacked depth. The stunts, meanwhile, are really nice to watch.

As for the brewing arguments and anticipation that Birds of Prey is a leftist and feminist piece of propaganda, I should say that such influences are more on the visual side than on the dialogue. Even though Ewan McGregor publicly said the movie is feminist, it’s not too strong. The feminism is more visible in images of the ladies fighting the bad guys who are varied with their looks – muscular, tall, big, beards, etc. The feminism is obvious with the ladies teaming up together and that is not surprising at all. Even though it has feminism elements, Birds of Prey is still pretty much a superhero movie on its own. You want a movie with stronger and more blatant feminism? Watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi instead. Maybe you want to try Elizabeth Banks’ failure Charlie’s Angels.

Conclusion

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With strong and creative performances plus loads of fun stuff that more than made up for the lack of story depth and character development, Birds of Prey is an enjoyable superhero movie that is worthy of being part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Without relying on fan service, this movie expands the current cinematic universe’ presentation of Gotham City and shows the other parts of it away from Batman.

Even if you have not read any Birds of Prey comics, this movie will still prove to be entertaining. Just don’t expect to see the more iconic DC Comics characters and don’t expect to see heavy amounts of computer-generated images on-screen. Birds of Prey is more grounded and for a production of roughly $100 million, the production values still look high.

Overall, Birds of Prey is highly recommended and I encourage you to watch it in the cinemas as soon as possible. And if you have the extra money, watch it on an IMAX screen as the film was optimized for the format.


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