A review of two movies from Netflix that I couldn’t condense into a short post.
Oh this will probably gain me a lot of haters…
They thought the feminists meant [Strong Female] Characters. The feminists meant [Strong Characters], Female.
You know what? I agree. Who characters are should matter a whole lot more than what the characters are. And part of accomplishing this will be allowing edits and critiques of poor characters without being labeled anti-guy/woman/human/whatever.
Whether Wonder Woman sucks as a character generally is a longer discussion (I think any character can be good if written well enough) but in this specific movie… she does. First of all, she’s just an out and out Mary Sue in this (she’s the best in a woman warrior paradise). Her only flaws seem to be naivete and general rudeness (except kind of not). What kind of character arc does she go through in this? She learns to “love” Steve Trevor? (We’re told this, but the showing is very shallow.)
Compare Diana at the start and end of the movie to Artemis, who has a character arc learning that brains can be just as important to a battle as brawn and tell me which one had an actual arc. We actually see Artemis showing disdain for knowledge at the beginning. We then later see knowledge (from a book, especially) play a major role in a battle. Then at the end, we see her struggling to deal with a book (a more formidable foe than Ares, apparently). Diana never demonstrates or shows us anything close to resembling this kind of character growth by movie’s end. This always seems to be the deal with WW. I’m told I’m supposed to care about her, but never given any reason why I should. The Superman/Doomsday movie kind of got away with this because it’s assumed we already know something about Superman’s origins and who he is. But this movie is an origin story for Wonder Woman – which means it needs to give me reasons to care about the character instead of taking it for granted.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
I love the JLA. I have a complete run of the JLA comic that ran from ’97 to ’06 in trade paperback form as well as any issues that were left out of the TPB (even though a lot of those issues were godawful) as well as copies of issue 100 and the last one.
Two of my favorite stories from that series were “Earth 2” and “Syndicate Rules” – two story arcs where the Justice League tangles with their evil counterparts (although there are a LOT of interesting character studies to be drawn from these meetings – which are missed and makes me sad).
So this DvD had a lot to live up to in my eyes. How did it do?
First let me backtrack briefly and say, compare Superwoman in this film to Wonder Woman in her movie and see if you can see a difference between them. 😉
I will probably get this DVD just because it has the Jason Rusch Firestorm in it (Firestorm is my favorite superhero) and there are a lot of good moments as well as game potential with your friends to see who can identify the most characters on screen.
Over all… I probably would recommend this for at least a rental. But there are some negatives. In the original Earth 2 TPB (which this movie most closely resembles) the ultimate villain turns out to be the counterpart to Brainiac (who is still… evil or something). He’s at least other-worldly enough for his motivations to be understandable (there’s also hints of torture, so there’s the motivation of him trying to escape it). In the DVD… it’s Owlman, who is (or becomes) a nihilist. Ok, Batman vs the JLA is an older, always fascinating concept but here… just doesn’t quite work. In the comics Owlman is a rather interesting character. Currently he’s actually Thomas Wayne, Jr. His mother and older brother, Bruce, were killed in alley, and it drove Thomas to crime in the quest to always getting his revenge on the person he blamed for the incident (or blamed for not doing enough): his father. (The comics NEVER touched on the potential drama of him and Batman meeting and the movies misses it too.) Because he’s the smartest forward-thinker of the Crime Syndicate (the CSA), he’s actually the least nihilistic one (he’s more hedonist). Then, because of this change, they have to remove Martian Manhunter (another fave of mine) from the primary conflict less he scan Owlman’s mind and stop the whole thing (at least with Brainiac, you have the excuse of alien power blocking alien power).
Martian Manhunter’s romance was… ok. Yeah Rose Wilson looks hot as a redhead but otherwise I couldn’t see much reason for her and MM to get together. Eventually he shows her “how they kiss on Mars” and does a mind meld.
That’s not a kiss, that’s fuckin’ sex 2.0 (pun intended). That’s a level of intimacy I know some people would actually give up sex to have. That’s a kiss on Mars? I’m afraid to ask what goes on between husbands/wives (do those terms mean anything to a race of shapeshifters?) if the greatest intimacy imaginable happens at the start! Which when you get to thinking about it… (since he leaves in the end) J’onn J’onzz essentially had a one night stand with Rose. One more intense than anything she might be able to have again. Or he just gave her a fetish for telepaths. Awk…ward.
Then there’s Batman…
The rule goes that given enough prep time, Batman can defeat anyone (maybe even Squirrel Girl – maybe). So in this one, they “weaken” him by repeatedly throwing him into fights that he hasn’t planned on. I don’t mind this at all, as some of Batman’s most awesome moments are when he improvises a solution. Except here… he doesn’t improvise well. We see him repeatedly throw himself at people far stronger than he is without using any of his cunning or sleight of hand tricks to even the odds until far later than they should. He doesn’t even resort to cat & mouse games to buy himself some time to plan. Then, in one scene, Superwoman casually breaks one of his ribs. We aren’t shown him being healed (unless I missed it) – at all – by anyone. A few hours later, Batman goes and fights Owlman toe to toe when we’ve seen hints earlier that Owlman enhances his strength somehow. I don’t care how determined Bruce is, his insides should be spaghetti by the end. The only explanation is that… the end of the movie… we’re watching…
In the end that’s the worse of it. The movie could have been great. The way they seemed to have rushed through it? It’s just… ok.