watching, reading, and writing stories

Wonder Woman

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, be warned, there are spoilers in my review. So I’ve put off writing a review for Wonder Woman even though I saw it in theaters opening night. I think it’s because I really wanted to like this movie and most of the reviews and responses to the movie were very positive. But I just didn’t come out of the theater thinking ‘I loved that movie’ and I wasn’t really sure why. But now that I’ve had some time to think it over, I’ve come up with some reasons why I didn’t love this movie.

Now don’t get me wrong, this movie is a very high quality film and I’m glad it’s getting good reviews and people are enjoying it. I don’t want to start any arguments or make anyone upset. But since I have reviewed movies in the past, I wanted to at least give my opinion.

First off, one thing that makes me love a movie is the comedy. Not all movies need to have comedy, but even dramas I think are improved with moments of comic relief. Wonder Woman too, includes some comedic moments, but most of them are based in sexual humor which is awkward to me and not very funny. I don’t like that kind of comedy and so I found this movie very lacking in any funny moments that usually make me enjoy a superhero movie.

In addition, what makes me really enjoy a movie is a connection to the main character and a desire for them to succeed or accomplish their goal. I’m still not sure why, but I just didn’t connect to Wonder Woman as a character. I didn’t care what happened to her and even when her love interest died, I didn’t cry. Maybe it has something to do with her being a god and not having many things is common with me, or many of the other characters.

And speaking of the whole god thing, that was another reason I didn’t like the movie. As a Christian, any film that has it’s story line based in mythology always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I believe there is one true God and seeing anything with reference to other gods is just always harder for me to get into. But that’s just who Wonder Woman is, so I don’t blame the movie at all, they are sticking to the original comic for her back story, as they should. It’s just another reason that I personally had a hard time enjoying this movie. I prefer superheroes who get their powers by accident or technology instead of because they are a ‘god.’

And lastly, I had a hard time following the story in Wonder Woman. She seems to believe for most of the movie that she just has to defeat this one bad guy, Ares, and then everyone will stop fighting and there will be peace. It’s a naive understanding and I enjoyed seeing her discover that killing one bad guy won’t solve everything when she kills the German with her sword and the fighting doesn’t stop. But then the audience is shown that in fact it was just the wrong bad guy and even her sword isn’t the weapon we thought it was. So instead Wonder Woman is the weapon and some other guy is Ares and she battles him, wins and then the fighting stops.

So it felt like they were setting up an alternate ending where Wonder Woman doesn’t just defeat a bad guy and win, but then that ending sort of happened anyway. So I felt led on as an audience member. I don’t mind it usually when movies have surprises that you weren’t expecting, but it just felt like it was trying to do something new and then said never mind we’ll just do the regular ending that everybody expected at first.

In conclusion, as I’ve already said, I didn’t enjoy the movie. And that’s sad because I was really excited about it and was hoping I’d really enjoy it. I loved the scenery and setting in World War 1 and I liked Chris Pine’s acting and several of the action sequences were very well done. But in the end, it just wasn’t for me.

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Captive or War Room

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So my friend wanted to hang out with me one last time before I head to Mozambique and we decided to go see the new movie Captive.

Here’s a preview if your interested:

But recently I also went to the theaters to see War Room.

Here’s a preview if your interested:

So now that I’ve seen them both, I thought I’d compare the two.

While both of these movies are Christian based and have compelling stories, they are very different in how they communicate their message. On the one hand, War Room tells a fictional story of a marriage that is falling apart and how prayer is the real answer to the couple’s problems. And on the other hand we have Captive telling us the true story of Ashley Smith’s being held hostage and finding that her life and her captor’s life both have purpose.

Although both films have Christian elements, War Room has a clearer Christian message. Captive is more of a thriller movie with God having a purpose for your life woven into the story. It is also much darker than War Room due to its story involving drugs, murder, and violence. Though War Room also deals with hard issues such as divorce, unfaithfulness, and fraud, it has several comedic moments, especially with the character Clara making odd comments or observations. She has a way of making the audience laugh or smile.

So although both of these movies were well made, had good messages, and were enjoyable to watch, I think I enjoyed War Room a bit more. This is partly due to my enjoyment of comedies over dramas, but in any case I would highly recommend both of these movies. So if you’re looking for something to go see, check out War Room or Captive.

I will be offline till mid October because of the mission trip, so look for a new post around October 20th.

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What makes a good story?

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Man of Steel Horizontal Billboard Image

Alright, I’ve seen two movies recently and they got me thinking about storyline and what makes a good story. I bet you can guess which two movies I just saw, but can you guess which one I liked and which one I loved?

I’ll tell you at the end of my post, but you might be able to figure it out for yourself before then. Now before I start, I want to make sure everyone knows that I don’t want to bash either film. I did enjoy both of these movies and I think they’re both worth seeing in theaters.

Now on to what makes a good… or let’s say great story.

First of all, and this is in no particular order, you need good characters. Now I don’t mean good in the sense of some heroic protagonist, there have been good movies based around the perspective of the villain too. No what I mean is developed characters, characters we understand and connect with and care about. And this isn’t just the main character, a good story has several background characters that also have depth. So basically for a good story, we need characters that aren’t “flat.”

On to number two; a good story needs some unexpected twists. It needs to be unique. A story that follows the same old plot line of a typical “romance” or “underdog story” or “hero” or whatever, is boring. A good story has something new and original and hopefully surprises the audience with something unexpected. (It’s hard for me to enjoy an ending that I saw coming).

Number three; a good story needs to connect with the audience. If I don’t care about what happens to the characters, that’s a pretty bad sign. A good story draws you in, because you identify with the storyline. Maybe it’s about a kid that gets picked on or left out and you went through that. Or maybe it’s about someone in love with a person they can never have, and you’ve felt the agony of loving someone from a distance. It doesn’t really matter what the connection is, but there needs to be one, or else the audience won’t care, no matter how many cool effects or explosions there are. And what makes a great movie is if it can connect with a wide audience, not just a specific group.

And number four, at least for me, is comedy. I know not every movie is a comedy, but is seems like there are usually a few jokes in every film, just to lighten the mood. However, it seems like most jokes rely on simple potty humor or are at least crude in nature. I really enjoy jokes that can make everyone laugh and that are funny without having to be crude.

So, can you guess which movie I liked better? (drum roll…) It’s Monster’s University!

So I don’t want to say I didn’t like Man of Steel, but compared to Monster’s University, it was kind of a let down. Maybe my expectations were too high for the red-caped hero but I found myself not connecting very well with the character. Perhaps that’s because Clark Kent was always on the run, not connecting with the people in his own storyline. But I also felt like the background characters in the movie were flat. I didn’t know anyone’s name from the newspaper that Lois Lane worked for, but her co-workers kept showing up in the storyline. I also felt like the plot was somewhat predictable and the little jokes that were thrown in didn’t really make me laugh. It had a fairly good story line, but I didn’t really connect with the characters enough, so I didn’t care that the world was ending.

In Monster’s University however, I connected with the characters right away. It’s hard not to connect with the little kid who is always left out and told “no you can’t.” I feel like everyone has been that person at one time or another. We all want things to change and can easily cheer for someone who is trying to succeed despite the opposition. And I feel like kid’s movies in general appeal to a wider audience because the film is intended for children as well as parents to enjoy. I also was surprised by the storyline. I didn’t expect that Mike and Randall would be roommates and that Sully and Mike would be so aggressively competitive. I also was surprised that the ending was so realistic. They actually got kicked out of school for their escapades and had to work their way into a “scaring position” at Monsters Inc. Also, throughout the movie I was laughing hysterically, especially at the “mom” character. Plus they were good clean jokes. And I didn’t think the background characters were flat, I actually saw them develop and change too. All in all it was a very enjoyable movie that I could say “Yes I liked it” before the credits had even finished rolling, and that I wouldn’t hesitate to see again.

So, that’s what I think a story needs to be great. I’m sure there are lots of other things a great story needs that I didn’t mention, but this is just a blog not a book, so we’ll stick with those four things: developed characters, unique story, connection with the audience, and clean humor.

So what did you think of the movies? Or what’s something you feel a great story needs? Leave a comment if you want, they’re always welcome.

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