Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Bain about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including “Wonder Woman 1984” (available in theatres and as a 48-hour rental on various digital movie stores for $29.99), the timely sci fi of George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) and Tom Hanks, western style in “News of the World.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the return Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman 1984” (available in theatres and as a 48-hour rental on various digital movie stores for $29.99), the existential animation of “Soul” (Disney+), the timely sci fi of George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) and Tom Hanks, western style in “News of the World.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Gal Gadot’s return to superhero-dom in “Wonder Woman 1984” (available in theatres and as a 48-hour rental on various digital movie stores for $29.99), the existential animation of “Soul” (Disney+), the timely sci fi of George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix), Tom Hanks, western style in “News of the World” and “Chicago 10” (The Impact Series, VOD/Digital).
Guest morning show host Matt Holmes talks to Richard about the much anticipated superhero flick “Wonder Woman 1984” (available in theatres and as a 48-hour rental on various digital movie stores for $29.99), the existential animation of “Soul” (Disney+), the timely sci fi of George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) and Tom Hanks, western style in “News of the World.”
The release of “Wonder Woman 1984,” now available in theatres and as a 48-hour rental on digital movie stores for $29.99, comes as an answer to one of the worst dad jokes of all time.
Do you know why Diana Prince was called Wonder Woman? Because we all wondered what she was going to do next.
I know, it’s a terrible joke, but there was a great deal of talk about what was next for the character and, in pandemic times, when and how we’d be seeing the finished film.
Now that we know what Diana Prince’s next moves are, I’m wondering about something else. Where did the wonder go?
Set seven decades after the events of the first film, “Wonder Woman 1984” sees Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) living the life of a part time superhero. During the day she works in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian. Occasionally she transforms into her alter ego and solves a crime, help humanity or, in the film’s most fun action scene, use her Golden Lasso to hogtie some bad guys at a local mall.
Still mourning the love of her life, World War II flyboy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), she leads a quiet life until one of her Smithsonian co-workers, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), is tasked with identifying a slew of recently recovered ancient artefacts. Among them is the dream stone, a mystical crystal rumored to grant wishes.
The insecure Barbara is reeled in by Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a flamboyant Gordon Gekko wannabe who charms her to lay his hands on the magical relic.
Turns out, the stories are true; the artefact can change lives, granting wishes and making the impossible, possible. But there are unforeseen, global consequences.
Diana’s wants to be reunited with Steve, but as their loves grows, her powers diminish. Barbara’s dream of having confidence comes true in spades, and she morphs into the villainous Cheetah. “I want to be an apex predator,” she says. Lord’s greed-by-the-way-of-wishes makes him the most powerful person on the planet, and with Cheetah at his side, his thirst for influence and authority may also be unstoppable.
“Wonder Woman 1984” has flashes of the vibrancy that made the original film so much fun but it isn’t as nimble.
A fifteen minutes opening Themyscira-set flashback to Diana’s youth starts things with an extended thud. The youngster competes against a bevy of older Amazons, learning an important life lesson in the process. It’s a blend of action and the film’s core message of honesty above all, but we’ve already seen Diana’s original story done better. As it is, it feels like a stall before we get to the main action.
Once there, things get off to a promising start as Wonder Woman does what she does best, help people in need. A quick montage of do-gooding introduces an inventive and action-packed sequence that sees Wonder Woman thwart crime in a way that could have been ripped from the comic books. Shot in vivid 1980s Day Glo, it’s the sequence that promises the rollicking good time to come. Except that the good times are few and are between.
There are some exciting moments. A car chase, expertly shot and executed, brings the closest thing to the kind of action established in the first film. It’s no run across No Man’s Land, but it gets the pulse racing. More aesthetic is a trip through the clouds, illuminated by fireworks down below. It’s a dreamy bit of aerial work that sets the stage for a lovely learning-to-fly sequence that is part metaphor for Diana’s life and part movie magic.
Those moments work and work well, but get lost in the film’s extended running time.
Gadot brings the same understatement and restraint that shaped her character in the original movie and she still shares great chemistry with Pine, but as far as messaging goes, why does Wonder Woman need a man to come to her rescue? Together they’re fun in the 1980s-fish-out-of-water scenes but his presence in the action scenes feels counter to Wonder Woman’s message of empowerment.
And I loved Wiig’s dig at a colleague who refers to her as Miss. “It’s Doctor,” she corrects, channeling her best Dr. Jill Biden, but the film also suggests that Minerva is only interesting when she dolls herself up with tight dresses and superpowers.
“Wonder Woman 1984” adequately fills the superhero pandemic gap but it isn’t wonderous. Where the first film pointed the way to where superhero movies could go, this one feels like a follower, not a leader.
Baby Driver: Although it contains more music than most tuneful of movies “Baby Driver,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, isn’t a musical in the “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n roll songs on the soundtrack it’s a hard driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.
The Big Sick: Even when “The Big Sick” is making jokes about terrorism and the “X-Files” it is all heart, a crowd-pleaser that still feels personal and intimate.
Call Me By Your Name: This is a movie of small details that speak to larger truths. Director Luca Guadagnino keeps the story simple relying on the minutiae to add depth and beauty to the story. The idyllic countryside, the quaint town, the music of the Psychedelic Furs and the languid pace of a long Italian summer combine to create the sensual backdrop against which the romance between the two blossoms. Guadagnino’s camera captures it all, avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama to present a story that is pure emotion. It feels real and raw, haunted by the ghosts of loves gone by.
Darkest Hour: This is a historical drama with all the trappings of “Masterpiece Theatre.” You can expect photography, costumes and period details are sumptuous. What you may not expect is the light-hearted tone of much of the goings on. While this isn’t “Carry On Churchill,” it has a lighter touch that might be expected. Gary Oldman, not an actor known for his comedic flourishes, embraces the sly humour. When Churchill becomes Prime Minister his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes an impassioned speech about the importance of the work he is about to take on. He raises a glass and, cutting through the emotion of the moment, says, “Here’s to not buggering it up!” It shows a side of Churchill not often revealed in wartime biopics.
The Disaster Artist: The key to pulling off “The Disaster Artist” is not recreating “The Room” beat for beat, although they do that, it’s actually about treating Wiseau as a person and not an object of fun. He’s an outrageous character and Franco commits to it 100%. From the marble-mouthed speech pattern that’s part Valley Girl and part Beaker from The Muppets to the wild clothes and stringy hair, he’s equal parts creepy and lovable but underneath his bravado are real human frailties. Depending on your point of view he’s either delusional or aspirational but in Franco’s hands he’s never also never less than memorable. It’s a broad, strange performance but it may also be one of the actor’s best.
Dunkirk: This is an intense movie but it is not an overly emotional one. The cumulative effect of the vivid images and sounds will stir the soul but despite great performances the movie doesn’t necessarily make you feel for one character or another. Instead its strength is in how it displays the overwhelming sense of scope of the Dunkirk mission. With 400,000 men on the ground with more in the air and at sea, the sheer scope of the operation overpowers individuality, turning the focus on the collective. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping camera takes it all in, epic and intimate moments alike.
The Florida Project: This is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. Low-budget and naturalistic, it packs more punch than any superhero. Director Sean Baker defies expectations. He’s made a film about kids for adults that finds joy in rocky places. What could have been a bleak experience or an earnest message movie is brought to vivid life by characters that feel real. It’s a story about poverty that neither celebrates or condemns its characters. Mooney’s exploits are entertaining and yet an air of jeopardy hangs heavy over every minute of the movie. Baker knows that Halley and Moonie’s well being hangs by a thread but he also understands they exist in the real world and never allows their story to fall into cliché.
Get Out: This is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels the main character’s (Daniel Kaluuya) situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting he is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing?—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.
The Post: Steven Spielberg film is a fist-pump-in-the-air look at the integrity and importance of a free press. It’s a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times. Director Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also shine a light on a historical era whose reverberations are being felt today stronger than ever.
The Shape of Water: A dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. It’s a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for everyone. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: The story of a mother’s unconventional war with the world is simple enough, it’s the complexity of the characters that elevates the it to the level of great art.
Wonder Woman: Equal parts Amazon sword and sandal epic, mad scientist flick, war movie and rom com, it’s a crowd pleaser that places the popular character front and centre. As played by Gal Gadot, Diana is charismatic and kick ass, a superhero who is both truly super and heroic. Like Superman she is firmly on the side of good, not a tortured soul à la Batman. Naïve to the ways of the world, she runs headfirst into trouble. Whether she’s throwing a German tank across a battlefield, defying gravity to leap to the top of a bell tower, tolerating Trevor’s occasional mansplaining or deflecting bullets with her indestructible Bracelets of Submission, she proves in scene after scene to be both a formidable warrior and a genuine, profoundly empathic character.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Justice League,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Stegman is Dead.”