GET OUT (2017)

by Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford
My Rating: 10/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 98% Certified Fresh
Everyone’s a Critic Category: “Watch a Low-Budget Blockbuster” [Budget: $4.5 million.  Worldwide Gross: $255 million.]

PLOT: A young African American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Many years ago, I attended a wedding in New York.  After the ceremony was over, I stepped outside to watch it snow.  After a couple of minutes of me standing outside alone wearing a tux, a very polite man walked up to me, held out his keys, and said something like, “The blue Buick in the second row, please.”  After I explained to him that I was not, in fact, the valet, he apologized profusely and went back inside, clearly embarrassed.  (I’ve always regretted what I should have done: just taken the keys, gotten in the car, and driven it out of the parking lot while waving goodbye. Yes, I would have returned it, but imagine the look on that guy’s face…!)

I have been lucky and, yes, privileged enough that, in fifty-one-and-a-half years of living on planet Earth, that is only the second time I have ever been the target of overt racism, intentional or not.  I will never ever know what it’s like to have to think twice before walking alone at night while wearing a hoodie.  I’ll never know what it’s like to literally fear for my life when a cop signals me to pull over.  The beauty of Jordan Peele’s Get Out is that it addresses the issue of what it’s like to be African-American today in a way that is so entertaining that the subtlety of the screenplay is only apparent when you watch the movie a second or third time.  Unless you’re African-American, in which case the symbolism and sly satire is not so subtle.

After a brief terrifying prologue, we meet Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya in his breakout role) who is about to visit his girlfriend’s parents for the first time.  His girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), is white.  He wonders if her parents are aware he’s black: “I don’t wanna get chased off the lawn with a shotgun.”  Rose casually dismisses his concerns: “First of all, my dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could’ve.”

On the drive to her folks’ house, a startling and intensely creepy incident/accident occurs followed by a tense moment involving a white police officer asking to see Chris’s driver’s license even though he wasn’t driving.  Rose valiantly tells the officer off for profiling, and he lets them off with a warning.  This is just one of the many ways the screenplay probes and exploits the inherent fears of the average viewer.  Even if Chris had been white, it would still be a foreboding scene.  Because of the additional racial tension, the scene crackles with suspense.

Things get progressively weirder from there.  Chris meets Rose’s parents, Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford), along with their groundskeeper and maid, Walter and Georgina, both of whom are black.  Walter and Georgina’s behavior is just plain odd.  Their sole purpose seems to be to make Chris (and the audience) say, “What the f**k” repeatedly.  Dean directly addresses Chris’s apprehension: “I know what it looks like: a white family with black servants.”  His explanation of why they’re there answers Chris’s questions without really answering them if you follow me.

It would be unfair of me to describe any further plot details.  I’m sure those of you who’ve seen the movie would agree.  But I will issue a SPOILER WARNING for the remainder of the review.  Consider yourself warned.

Get Out is one of the most original, most effective modern horror films I’ve seen since The Descent (2005) and The Babadook (2014).  I have rarely been so glued to a screen.  The way director Jordan Peele ratchets up the creepiness levels is virtually unparalleled.  Here is a first film that rivals M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) in terms of how to manipulate an audience.  Look at the moment when Chris sneaks out of the house for a cigarette, looks around, and suddenly spies Walter, the groundskeeper, running towards him in the night.  No, not running…sprinting.  Silently.  When I watched this for the first time on my own, I literally said, out loud, “What the s**t…???”  I can’t remember when I’ve seen anything like that in a suspense film.

Take the moment when Chris gets involved in a late-night discussion with Missy (Rose’s mom) that turns into an impromptu therapy/hypnosis session.  When Missy calmly says, “Sink,” and Chris actually does, and we see him floating in some kind of limbo, I felt the same kind of transfixed curiosity that I felt while watching Under the Skin (2013).  I had absolutely no clue what was happening or why, and I couldn’t wait until I could get answers.  When those answers come, they are both gratifying and suitably horrific.  Remember those old commercials for the American Negro College Fund?  The tagline was, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  You will never think of that line the same way again after watching Get Out.

Peele was wise enough to include some comic relief in the form of his best friend, Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who works for the TSA and ironically gets closer to the truth of what’s going on at Rose’s house than he or anyone else realizes.  If the movie has a single weak spot, though, this might be it.  Rod is so comic it feels as if he was lifted directly from a romantic comedy.  Sometimes his delivery and dialogue feel a little too much like he’s trying for laughs rather than just being himself.  This is a minor quibble, though…he is funny as hell, especially during a phone conversation between him and Rose.

The bottom line, as if you couldn’t tell, is that Get Out is a sensational movie, containing more levels than “Super Mario Bros.” and more food for thought than a Judd Apatow dramedy.  It’s one of those movies where, if I hear anyone hasn’t seen it, not only do I recommend it unreservedly, but I immediately ask if I can watch it while they watch it for the first time.  Just to see their reactions.


  1. Do you feel a larger budget would make this film better or worse?
    …that’s a tough question.  As you can see from my 10/10 rating, the movie is just about perfect as it is.  What might change with a larger budget?  A more realistic-looking deer corpse?  A wide-angle shot of…something…burning?  Maybe they wouldn’t have gone with Daniel Kaluuya, or maybe Rose would have been played by, I dunno, Emmy Rossum or Lily James.  So, I guess my answer is, a bigger budget would make this film worse.  The filmmakers made the choices they made because of their limitations, and those choices resulted in a masterpiece of the genre.  It’s like Salieri says in Amadeus when describing Mozart’s music: “Displace one note, and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase, and the structure would fall.”
  2. Were you surprised by the ending?  What would you do differently?
    Because of how the very ending of the film is structured, yes, I was surprised by the ending.  In fact, on the blu-ray, we can see the original filmed ending, and it’s what I feel might have been a more realistic ending.  As it is, the new ending is very satisfying on an emotional level, but I will always wonder how that original ending might have been received by general audiences.  Probably not well.  Imagine putting your hero up a tree, story-wise, then setting the tree on fire…but instead of getting him out of the tree, firemen chop the tree down and the hero is falsely arrested for arson.  Something like that can work – look at Body Heat (1981) and the original director’s cut of The Descent.  But Get Out provides a much more cathartic resolution and gets a smile on your face when you walk out the theater instead of shaking your head ruefully.

On the next “episode” of Everyone’s a Critic: “Watch a Film Starring Animals.”  I’m leaning towards The Black Stallion, but stay tuned…


By Marc S. Sanders

Despite being a little distracted by a drunk patron sitting next to me, I thought Molly’s Game was very good. It doesn’t measure up to The Social Network, and I feel justified in comparing the two because the sharp, fast dialogue follows what appears to be an intentionally similar narrative from writer, and here director, Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin in his directorial debut uses great techniques for film editing to match the beats of his dialogue.  His opening voiceover of Jessica Chastain as Molly describing the ultimate worst sports experience will get your heartbeat racing.  It draws you into the film right away.

Chastain is good, but maybe a little over the top.  I needed a little more convincing that she was actually this brilliant, inventive and resourceful woman who was also considered one of the world’s greatest skiers.  Can’t put my finger on it but something was missing with her playing the Molly Bloom role.  Was she really holding her own against these high stakes guys who take big risks in her personally constructed poker ring?  I’m just not sure.

Felt the same about Kevin Costner in the role of her father.  He’s supposed to be an incredibly brilliant psychologist and an intimidating patriarch.  Yet Costner doesn’t fit that mold for me here.  Couldn’t feel the pressure from Dad on his daughter.  Someone else might have been stronger.

Michael Cera too.  I think he is playing a combination variation of Tobey Maguire & Leonardo DiCaprio, two of the most famous celebs that participated in the real Molly Bloom’s underground poker games, but Michael Cera?  Really?  He doesn’t carry the weight or looks of guys like that.  There just was not enough power or presence from him.

None of these actors were the worst options for this cast, I just think the film could have used more appropriate performers. There was more appropriate talent out there, I’m sure.

Idris Elba is great, however.  He’s blessed with an awesome Sorkin monologue in the 3rd act of the film, and he hits every note.

A great script.  A great story worthy of being a big screen film and it’s got me interested to learn more about the real Molly Bloom, including reading her novel.


By Marc S. Sanders

Thor’s third adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, subtitled Ragnarök, is altogether fun, silly and primarily very campy. Sure, Cate Blanchett looks wickedly theatric as Thor’s evil older sibling Hera, but even she is not taking any of this too seriously.

There’s not much to evaluate within this film. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return as brothers at odds, Thor & Loki, and get sidetracked on a gladiator battle planet where they encounter a lighter, more tender and funnier Hulk care of Mark Ruffalo. The camp also comes to the forefront by way of Jeff Goldblum as the Gamemaster, a role obviously engineered to cater to his dialect idiosyncrasies.

The film is lots of neon colors of CGI and set piece junk helmed by director Taika Waititi. I commend Marvel Studios for recruiting these (at the time) unheard of directors with insightful visions. While most every Marvel film to date has its own unique appearance, Thor: Ragnarök is a balance of the prior Thor films, banking on the humorous success of the Guardians Of The Galaxy films.

The gem this film offers is combining Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” with a fierce lightening powered one eyed Thor to fend off a few baddies. Compliments also to a bad ass, and sometimes drunk, Tessa Thompson as the Asgardian known as Valkyrie.

A favorite moment is an encounter with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. Good editing and direction offer an inspired Three Stooges routine where Thor is unexpectedly thrust about down a staircase or through a room. Plays like a great cartoon short.

Ragnarök has some shocking moments in its ending, but the weight of drama or story is none too burdensome.

It’s nothing special of a film, but it is amusing and gleeful, especially when Thor is forced to a chair while Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” plays like annoying elevator music. That is sure to make the God Of Thunder irritable, and we the audience only gain from it.

Thor: Ragnarök is really a fun family movie of adventure, good character design and laughs.


By Marc S. Sanders

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes some enormous strides with the most recognizable of all the Marvel Corporate Mascots. I’m just not sure I care for the approach.

The Web Slinger has always been best written when he learns from his mistakes such as grappling with his lack of responsibility that leads to the murder of his beloved Uncle Ben, or washing his red and blue suit with the whites.

In director John Watts film, episodes like these are never discussed. Instead, we witness Spidey foil an ATM robbery. It’s a fun scene straight out of the Saturday morning cartoon, but it ends with a beloved neighborhood mom and pop store going up in flames. The scene plays like a great house party until the parents arrive home early from their out-of-town trip. Now it ain’t so fun anymore. There are a few moments like this in the film that kinda suck the air out of a what’s supposed to be lighthearted script.

Tom Holland as the hero, Peter Parker, aka the high school genius with insecurity, is suitably cast in the role. He looks much more like a kid than his predecessors and he’s got great comic delivery of one liners. Tom Holland is right for the MCU fraternity. He plays well with others.

So Holland really makes sure every action scene is fun but Watts and his screenwriting team of 8 (EIGHT!?!?!?) people pull the rug out because they must insist that the Web Head screw up again and again. Problem is the screw ups are not fun, and they spoil the thrilling set pieces including a well done sequence within the elevator shaft of the Washington Monument. Same goes for a Staten Island Ferry attack. I just kept asking myself, why we can’t we celebrate Spider-Man. Must we be so hard on the guy? Even Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) disapproves. It doesn’t seem fair, I guess.

There is a moment during the 3rd act that salutes a very popular comic issue that truly conveys the hero that Spider-Man must become. As a comic nerd, I was grateful for that. The filmmakers didn’t forget its roots.

Michael Keaton is scary good as Adrian Toomes, the winged villain called The Vulture. He’s not even playing for laughs. Rather he’s playing for fear. I liked it. Keaton is just good in almost anything.

Supporting players are all good as well featuring Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon (an especially amusing sidekick pal for Peter), Zendaya and Robert Downey Jr because a little Iron Man/Tony Stark interaction can go a long way.

However, this installment is huge step up from the Andrew Garfield clunkers but not as solid as Sam Raimi’s first two films which remain the best and most loyal to the original vision of the pop culture favorite. Raimi has no difficulty displaying the super hero’s every day faults and mistakes. What he did was make us feel sad about Peter’s errors in his ways, and we cheered when he overcame his obstacles. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, I shake my head with disappointment at the carelessness of Peter, not the mistakes he’s made.

See, to be reckless is not the same as human error. Watts’ interpretation is judged with disdain. Raimi’s is simply empathetic and relatable. That’s the difference in the two interpretations.

PS: My hat off to a great gag with Captain America as a lesson reminder in safety and well-being. It’s not as well remembered that Chris Evans has been hilarious in other films before his superhero days. That’s all brought back with great material for Cap to use. Really smart thinking here.


By Marc S. Sanders

James Gunn continues his Looney Tunes odyssey helming Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. The silliness is grander, the story is weirder and the characters are now comfortably fleshed out.

Vol 2 is probably not better than the first installment. However, it is more inventive as Gunn takes his film along the hanging thread left over from before. Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) meets his father at last in the persona of Kurt Russell who goes by the moniker Ego. This is all enthralling to Quill, though his love interest, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) sees beyond the facade.

Ego has invited them to his planet that he created. It pops with colors, serenity and cheer. This plays for a good story; maybe as a better and more developed Star Trek episode.

What differentiates this film from other Marvel films comes out in the third act. This does not consist of just space battles, laser swords and shootouts. The end is something else, something new, entirely. Thus, you are given the film’s greatest strength. I found it to be very imaginative.

Gunn however falls a little bit into his own trap along the way. There are too many relationships and characters that work as filler for side stories. Gamora vs her bitter sister Nebula. Drax (Dave Bautista) with a new, weird antenna on the head character named Mantis and Rocket Racoon and his big mouth with Yondu (Michael Rooker, in a bigger more significant role this time). Oh yeah! There’s also Yondu vs Sylvester Stallone (huh? why? how?) and Yondu vs his mutinous army, The Ravagers. It’s all a little too much for an already busy looking film.

I found it funny that The Ravagers reminded me of the motorcycle gang, The Black Widows, from Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way… bare knuckle comedies. Those guys were much funnier than these Ravagers. Gunn overstays their welcome as they randomly cackle and heckle poor Baby Groot, the toddler tree thing. That gets old quickly.

Gunn approaches a special kind of humor here. Repeatedly, because these are outer space characters, it’s apparently funny to lend them explaining the punchline of a gag. So if Drax realizes that Peter has the hots for Gamora, he’ll belly laugh and explain literally how Peter feels and do it bigger and louder. Variations of that gag occur quite often among most of the characters. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it gets old.

GOTG Vol 2 is a fun watch. I don’t foresee this installment carrying the legendary status the first one did or even standing out among the best of the Marvel series, but I will give props to the outcome of what Ego truly is and what his intent depends on. (I won’t spoil that here, of course.)

The cast is great. Saldana is one of the stronger female characters in the MCU. She captures a background to Gamora that is blatantly absent from other Marvel ladies. Bautista has become a great character actor as well. He’s a smart guy with good timing. With his extensive child and adult film resume Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as Pratt’s father. Their personalities lend to some good chemistry.

James Gunn owns the Guardians films. No one else can capture his blend of humor and pop culture salutes. Yet, he overreaches a little trying to incorporate so much story and so many gags into one film. His vision is well defined, though.

Plus, Gunn stages another dance scene for Pratt and Saldana, and it’s great. As I noted in my Vol 1 review, that’s how you get to a viewer’s heart. Everyone loves to dance.

As well, Gunn accompanied his sequences with some tunes both fresh and familiar from Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra and George Harrison to name a few.

James Gunn was always going to make sure never to take his films seriously. So, when you see a baby tree groove along while trying to detonate a bomb, I defy you to be so serious as well.


By Marc S. Sanders

I remember how much I loved Anderson’s 90s films Boogie Nights and Magnolia as well as the hauntingly genuine There Will Be Blood. (Let’s not talk about Punch Drunk Love.) Still, I never expected to like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, but as soon as it began, I fell in love with it.

Daniel Day Lewis plays a perfectionist dressmaker adept at using women at his behest to sustain and elevate his craft. He’s a ruthless, maybe bipolar, villain and he will remain as one of cinema’s best actors for at least the next hundred years.

Anderson doesn’t just show his characters. He shows their specialties whether it’s dressmaking, porn, show biz or oil. The industry is its own character. Here he masterfully depicted the industry of clothes making.

Anderson offers a convincing education in dress design and fabric construction with the details and measurements it requires. Swatches of fabric never looked sexier amid a mid 20th century European backdrop. The dialogue is uncompromising in its humor, craft and cruelty both from and to its characters.

The ending was very obscure and strange though. Thankfully it happens quickly and is not dragged out, otherwise my opinion might be different.

This Best Picture nominee from 2017 is definitely worth a look.


By Marc S. Sanders

I love fantasy and science fiction for one simple rule. A writer/director’s imagination can be limitless. Rules for a good fantasy are normally established in the exposition, and as long as those rules are not violated, a viewer will accept the narrative all the way to the end. The Shape Of Water is loyal to its set up.

Director/Co-Writer, Guillermo Del Toro continues his reputable streak of very adult (yet playful) fantasy. In 50 years, I would not be surprised if Disney/Pixar remade this film and Pan’s Labyrinth for younger PG audiences simply because the roots of the stories are so well played out.

Here is a Cold War love story between an alien and a good soul played by Sally Hawkins doing her best mute. Hawkins is bright eyed and wonderful. She’s a character that doesn’t judge and only recognizes despair for salvation. I thought she was great at conveying her performance through the limits of only facial expression, sign language, sex and self pleasure in a bathtub. Try to avoid snickers at that last description. It really is an honest, necessary reflection of a lonely innocent woman. I appreciated the writing and performance there.

Michael Shannon is back on screen playing a frightening villain…again. The reasons for his ruthless intentions were never clear to me, but either Shannon is that good an actor or he’s gotta be like this in real life. This is not a guy I’d ever want to cut in line at Starbucks, much less audit his books. He’s scary good.

Didn’t find much point to Richard Jenkins lonely neighbor except to drive a van, eat pie, be unemployed and be a token homosexual. Same with Octavia Spencer. Was she channeling a more subtle Whoopi Goldberg from Ghost? Don’t get me wrong. Jenkins and Spencer are fine actors here, and their characters are likable, but they don’t add much to the story except to be Hawkins’ sidekicks. Too much story was devoted to them though unnecessarily. Del Toro and his co-writer might have used them for too much filler.

Del Toro doesn’t stop with the new material as the two hours swim on by at a nice pace. We are treated to a wonderful Busby Berkeley song and dance moment that is just inviting to be spoofed by the Wayans or Zucker brothers, sensual nudity is there, not for perversion, but to send home the message that though this relationship is weird, it’s also the real deal. I bought it all the way through. Racism and gay prejudice are perhaps unnecessary in a film like this but there is key lime pie. Cats are consumed. Cold War espionage is on hand with Russian spies, dirty American government politics is there too, and oh yeah, there’s an amphibious alien who seems like any one of Spielberg’s extra-terrestrials we’ve seen before. Yet, I’ll take this one as well because he’s narrated into a very mature love story that is hard not to like.

As quick as the movie begins, you know how it is going to end. Again I don’t mind. Most of the execution rescues the story’s predictability.

Del Toro won Best Director and the film was awarded Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s not what I would pick, but there could be worse choices from that year’s selections.

I liked The Shape Of Water. Most of it at least.


By Marc S. Sanders

From February 2017:

A number of years ago I read Roger Ebert’s review of a Kevin Spacey film called The Life Of David Gale, only after seeing the film myself. Reading his viewpoint assured me that perhaps I do recognize good and bad filmmaking with the absence of influence. Like me, he hated the film because of its contrivances and the complete 180 on Spacey’s character. He said it angered him so much that he wanted to throw his popcorn at the screen. Years later, I feel the same way, for nearly identical reasons after seeing this 2017 Best Picture nominee. I hate Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I HATED THIS MOVIE. Hated it so much that I’m pissed over how much I hated it. This film is worthy of Best Picture, Actors and Screenplay nominations???? There was nothing better than this dreck???? Not Baby Driver, or Wonder Woman? Not All The Money In The World? Blade Runner 2049?

This film contains great talent trying way too hard to elevate the stupidity of the unjustified actions of their characters so much that suspension of disbelief isn’t just thrown out the window (like one hapless character who earns no justice), it’s burned, beaten, raped, shot, burned again, thrown off a building and drowned.

Consider midway thru the film, Sam Rockwell’s nominated performance as a vile, heinously racist backwoods lawman. He reads a letter and is magically transformed into a do gooder Boy Scout. There’s no way in hell I’d ever believe this. No one should. This guy is the entire KKK in one embodiment. By the time this bastard gets to this “epiphany” he had already committed the most sickening and atrociously violent actions fathomed, and in great detail. Yet magically a letter from a friend and an arson scene that burns him suddenly transform him. Just like that. Uh uh. Too convenient. Too manufactured. Too insulting to a movie going audience.

This film is full of other ridiculous contrivances that are simply too long and spoilery to describe here. (I’d love to spoil the film to salvage anyone from seeing this crap.)

Frances McDormand’s character is also despicably written. Here’s a character entitled to the anger she has after losing a daughter to rape and murder, worthy of attention due to the stubborn intellect she conveys during the act one exposition, yet as the film progresses, she becomes incredibly stupid and downright unlikable. What a thoughtless jerk she is. Nothing to cheer for. Nothing to love to hate. Nothing to laugh at. Nothing to cry over. Nothing. She’s just an asshole who conveniently gets away with her actions, yet everyone knows she’s the culprit.

In a film like this the bad cops are uncaring racists. The good ones are the clueless keystone cops who conveniently can’t see the forest through the trees. I don’t like it, and more importantly I don’t believe it. Unacceptable!!!

What a stupidly shitty movie that has been executed here in exchange for arguably the most interesting idea of all the 9 Best Picture nominees. I salute the idea of the film. It’s the execution that’s deplorable.

The only redemption that can come from this garbage now is if this film does not win one single Oscar. Sadly, I think I’ll be wrong. Congratulations Sam Rockwell, you stole a trophy from three much more entitled actors (Christopher Plummer, Richard Jenkins and I hear Willem Defoe.) Woody Harrelson’s performance in this pic is also up for grabs….for what? He coughs up blood quite well. I have no clue, otherwise.

Don’t believe the hype. Three Billboards… only has a great title, a great concept on paper and a great cast list. Beneath all that is carbon monoxide. Don’t breathe it in. You’ll only feel sick after watching it.

This will likely remain as one of the ten most despised movies I’ve ever seen.


By Marc S. Sanders

The first chords of the alt rock number “Bellbottoms” by The John Spencer Blues Explosion kick in and we see four people donning sunglasses in a parked car. Three of the people get out to rob the bank across the street. The driver known as Baby stays behind to rock on to the beats playing on his iPod. When the other 3 return, the car chase through the streets of urban Atlanta is on.

Edgar Wright’s quirky imagination delivers a balletic symphony of action, cars, guns, romance and music. His title character played with cool swagger by Ansel Elgort suffers from tinnitus and can only operate with a select tune that maintains the best his character needs to function.

With Lily Collins playing Elgort’s love interest you get moments as sweet as strawberry ice cream as they envision a life together driving down I-85 with music as their companion. But Baby is committed to underboss Doc played by Kevin Spacey and is forced to chauffeur ruthless criminals played by Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx and Jon Bernthal. They are great in their respective parts by the way.

Music is Wright’s main device here. The dialogue, the gunshots, the screech of tires and the close ups for romance all travel to the beat of the film’s lengthy soundtrack including renditions of “Harlem Shuffle” and “Easy” by The Commodores, which I’ve developed a new fresh affection for.

The editing is quick, never relying on CGI. Car chases are actual car chases here. The cameras are held steady and close ups of Baby and other drivers blend perfectly with the action scenes.

Baby Driver is one the best films of 2017. It presents what it promises by introducing a new way for action delivery. Elgort makes a great character who provides casual dance both behind the wheel and outside of the car. I always like to see a character dance or lip sync. It reminds me of what any of us are capable of without any special effect to enhance the moment. Dancing can be as natural for any of us, much like it is for Baby.


By Marc S. Sanders

Actress Gal Gadot’s breakthrough role is Diana, Princess of Themyscira. The character was carved out of clay by the God known as Zeus to grant a wish to her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) for a daughter. She was then raised by Amazon warriors on this isolated island, cut off from the outside world, and populated only by women. When a World War I German plane piloted by Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy working for the British, crashes into the waters of Themyscira, Diana rescues him. The two partner up in the real world of The Great War, and Diana now introduces herself as Wonder Woman.

The storyline to the much awaited DC Comics hero adaptation is pretty pedestrian. Diana’s naivety puts her on this path to fight in the war to locate the evil God of War, Ares. If she kills Ares, the war ends and everyone lives happily ever after in peace. That’s her impression at least. Trevor has a much more grounded perspective, though he doesn’t squash Diana’s wild imagination.

Wonder Woman is a very welcome film because of its outstanding cast. Gadot is a good actor and the camera loves her. She’s got great chemistry with the always reliable Chris Pine, who is just as good here as he is with the Captain Kirk role. David Thewlis from the Harry Potter films is the English militarist who assigns them to a dangerous mission on the European front lines. He’s great too. I don’t see enough of him in films. Connie Nielsen is fine along with the influential warrior, Antiope (Robin Wright) who teaches Diana how to be a powerful fighter. They’re all entertaining and different kinds of super beings than what we’ve seen in say all the Marvel films. As well, director Patty Jenkins proves that gender should not be a factor in the capabilities of excellent direction. She stages plenty of good moments.


The plot, as I said before, is very simplistic; kind of boring actually, and immature. Maybe that’s because the villain(s) of Wonder Woman are not very exciting. Danny Huston is flat as a German commander who absorbs a mustard gas chemical that alters his facial appearance for a fleeting moment to offer some CGI effect. However, we never really see him fight anyone, especially Diana. He just walks into rooms and has really nothing to say or do beyond that. There’s also a disfigured scientist who goes by the comic booky name Dr Poison. Oooooo!!!! Scary!!!!! No witty puns. No interesting skills except for a plastic, deformed facial mask. She just sits at a desk and appears studious. An interesting red herring reveals itself late in the film but that’s not available to carry the picture from the beginning. So the journey is bland.

Because the plot is very trying, the film runs a little too long. There’s a lot of talking moments that do not advance or progress the storyline. As I watched the film for only the second time, I kept regarding multiple scenes as cutting room floor material. There’s just a lot of fat to this film that could’ve been trimmed.

Honestly, I was hoping for more adventure. While the CGI is quite apparent, I can forgive that because Patty Jenkins made a great looking film nonetheless. Gal Gadot looks great in the fight sequences and the war torn European sets are really absorbing. However, when you break it down there’s really only three action scenes in this overly long picture. The supporting cast is fine. There’s humor and heart to the film. I like the moment when Diana tries ice cream for the first time. A sweet moment to humanize the character. Pine and Gadot are great scene partners too. I just think that if the story and motivation of Diana was stronger that we could have had a more substantial script. I mean, really? Find a guy in all of Europe, who’s actually a God of War, kill him, and then suddenly everyone will drop their weapons and make love or bake and sew? Is that what’s going to really here by film’s end? I was cringing often as Diana would insist on this being the only resolution to The Great World War. It just sounds too silly for me to swallow.

Warner Bros with DC films almost always, JUST ALMOST, gets there. Not withstanding the dreadful Suicide Squad, they get good actors to play their heroes. The directors are at least decent. They all blend well together but they go cheap on good screenwriters. I keep holding out faith. After six (I think) films in their “Justice League” universe I’m holding out for that 100% score on the next film. “Wonder Woman” is likely only second best for me behind “Man Of Steel,” but I’m thinking the studios still might have something better up their sleeve that we have yet to see. For the time being, I’m remaining optimistic.