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Is she with you?

Wonder Woman is good. Like, Marvel Phase 1 good. In fact, it owes such a massive debt to both Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor that the weird and often toxic fandom around DCEU and their obsession with being “better than the MCU” is even more ironic than usual. However, forgetting about those kinds of people as they so richly deserve leaves the question as to whether it should count against this movie that its creative team bothered to finally learn something from their wildly more consistent and successful counterparts at Marvel. I don’t think so. I think good superhero movies with actual shit to say is a tide that raises all the ships. I have given this current generation of DC superhero movies a lot of shit, we all have, but most of us still want them to be good.

And with Wonder Woman, there’s a glimmer of hope that they can be. People are looking for a fluke reason why Wonder Woman is good, like this success couldn’t be replicated without secret handshakes and spinning around in place an arbitrary number of times before sitting down to write the script or pick up a camera or whatever. It’s nonsense. This movie is good because it gives a shit and the people who made it give a shit. They aren’t embarrassed or cynical about this being a sincere story about heroism. They lean into it. On top of that, it’s probably one of the most if not the most culturally significant superhero movies there is. It’s embarrassing at this point, 10 years into the era of shared superhero universes, that we’re only now getting Wonder Woman. I will talk about Wonder Woman‘s feminism and its impact (including some similar ideas), but I also want to point my readers to a great piece by BMD’s Meredith Borders, who offers a nerdy woman’s perspective on the significance of this movie.

That all said, there are definite imbalances and flaws in the movie. I’ll talk about them below, but by and large this movie stands up well against the MCU, or I should probably say alongside it? Honestly, I don’t think many people would be able to make a meaningful distinction between MCU and DCEU properties using Wonder Woman as a basis. And I think that’s okay, but it may disappoint DCEU fans who are looking for something more distinguishing besides just beating Marvel to the punch on having a movie focused on a woman. Wonder Woman focuses on what works best for these kinds of movies: character, humor, symbolism, and heroism.

SPOILERS AHEAD Read the rest of this entry »

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Fuck yeah, Woody Harrelson!

I kinda feel like most people aren’t going to find Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), the subject of Rampart, as sympathetic as I do. Since he’s in every scene of the movie and the style and intention are very much in line with the “character study” mold, you’re kinda stuck with him anyway. Whether you’re able to sympathize with him or not is sort of the question the movie is asking. How it navigates his fucked up life, including his bizarre family dynamic, is part of what separates Rampart from a pile of similar “dirty cop self-destructs” movies/tv shows that we’ve all probably seen dozens of times by now. Making Rampart a character study is a wise move and Harrelson carries it all on his shoulders with aplomb and infusing the character with a lot of pathos and likability in spite of the inner darkness that very clear is present.

On the surface, you might say that if you like The Shield, Dark Blue, Street Kings, Bad Lieutenant and Port of Call New Orleans then you’ll see much that is familiar to you here, and you’ll likely enjoy Rampart. A person less familiar with these types of cop stories could really go either way but will probably engage better due to not being conversant in the sorts of shorthand all such stories employ. Read the rest of this entry »

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