“Colossal” vs. “Wonder Woman”. 2 different concepts of “girl power”.

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Let me put this straight away: “Colossal” is a movie for the XXIst Century woman, while “Wonder Woman” is a film for the woman of the 1st half of the XXth Century… not only because its date setting, but also because their inner developements.

Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” is a fine film whose background, reflects a concept of “girl power” in a – literally – spartan kind of way. A woman can be as hard, as unbeatable warrior, as any man, even more so, in the case of the Amazons. Diana Prince not only plays the “fish out of water” role, but also serves as shock value to her male counterparts. If the background wasn’t World War I, and the framing, the military – with only minor detours into the ordinary life – it could be kind of forgiven its cliched and dated message… however, the subtext is basically a promotion of the association of “girl power” with joining the military, which frankly, smells rotten but unsurprising being an american blockbuster with extraordinary high budget and deeply rooted in a comic book created in war times (1st appearance, december 1941, the month of the attack over Pearl Harbor!) and haven’t been really updated for the big screen outing, to be more in sintony with more civilized times in which fighting aren’t the primary source – or at least, shouldn’t be – for gender empowering.

In exchange, Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal”, desguised as an sci-fi dramedy extravaganza, juggles effortlessly with concepts like gender violence, emotional blackmail, addiction and its steps, and benefits of its extremely modest budget (it may feel amazing to learn that despite its top-notch visual effects, it costed around 5 million dollars all together), to keep everything restrained and down to the basics, without distracting the audience from the core themes, Vigalondo is interested in offering to his audience. While Diana Prince is a warrior, Anne Hathaway’s Gloria, in “Colossal”, is a different kind of heroine, a way different one.

Gloria is in the middle of a crises that is drowning her into alcoholism. She’s just not that deep so far – as subtlely hinted by Vigalondo, in her sudden stop of drinking alcohol and turn into water and soft drinks – but she’s already lost control of herself and her boyfriend basically demands a break. She goes back to the basics, more pointless about her own problems that she believes herself and falls prey to an old schoolmate and friend who had too obviously fallen for her long ago. So, yeah, here’s your usual rom-com, with an alcoholic twist, the audience expects. But then, there’s the kaiju McGuffin, and how it developes actually launch the film into more interesting and daring material, becoming a film about abuse, emotional blackmail, the dehumanization of the people we can’t see, the lack of remorse for the consequences of our actions (when we don’t have to face them ourselves, or can’t be blamed on us), and Vigalondo delivers a climax that shows us what (girl) power really is, to literally get rid of submission by throwing the problem away and acknowledging both power and limitations, both weakness and strenght. The final shot – Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar nom just for that, in my opinion – is both hilarious and trascendent, in a way that few directors apart from Vigalondo, can achieve.

With going into spoilerish territory, the main difference between “Wonder Woman” and “Colossal”, comes in the way the main “interest” of the female protagonist is handled and developed. SPOILER: Chris Pine’s character serves as link, as introduction into the modern society for Gal Gaddot’s Diana, also as love interest, later as “damsel in distress” in a role reversal that is later annihilated by his own sacrifice – so Diana can go on, into the sequel, expected to be set many years after. The whole thing feels superficial and basically with minor changes to the average screenwritting for blockbusters. On the other hand, in “Colossal”, Jason Sudeikis’ character starts as a friendly face, sympathetic, only later we discover that HE is the real alcoholic, that HE gets drunk with his new found power, that HE will abuse Gloria and that HE is the subtle villain that makes the audience shake. The shot of his feet while he stumbles on the playground while Gloria cries in despair, and we hear the consequences, have to be among the most chilling and effective in the recent years. While Chris Pine’s character sacrificed himself, therefore the woman ultimately owed the victory to a man, in Colossal is Gloria’s empowering, intelligence and resolution that allows herself to get rid of an horrifying menace.  END SPOILER.

Colossal: ***** / A

Wonder Woman: **** / B

2017 movie – short – reviews (getting up to date).

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T2: Trainspotting ***** / A-

A complete must-see, and almost on par with the original, T2: Trainspotting is not only a continuation of the first film, but also an essay on time going by and the unexpected consequences of past actions. Ewen Bremner shines again as Spud, and the rest of the cast is pitch-perfect, as otherwise expected. A more “mature” film in many ways, I can understand the disappointment by reviews and audiences alike, but I think they didn’t really get what Boyle was doing: expanding rather than rehashing, using the parallels in scenes now and then, to underline the commentary of time as something dynamic but which you can’t run in more than one single direction.

 

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Okja ***** / A-

Joon-ho Bong is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors, effortlessly. A movie that can turn anyone into a vegan, it’s not only fun and thrilling and moving, it’s also a multilayered satire about capitalism and dehumanization of society and how humans are mainly predators in total disconnection with nature. If there’s a single complaint from myself to the film, it would be that Bong decides to show the audience that our animal hero has an intelligence and personality as close to the human as possible, something I think undermines the message, overall. Everyone is excellent – so are the visuals – and Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton have a lot of fun by letting themselves go, in their caricature of villains, they portray.

 

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Colossal ***** / A

Probably Nacho Vigalondo’s masterpiece, so far. Multilayered allegory about gender roles, gender violence, vanity, the ecstasy of ego due to newly discovered abilities, the lack of remorse for the violence we inflict (when we can’t see our victims), the movie suggests so many ideas, so many concepts that reminded me of the also outstanding “The Lego Movie”, which was also so stuffed with elements that made up por multiple viewings to fully explore its ideas. As “T2”, another movie that hasn’t been properly analyzed by american reviewers, specially Chris Stuckmann who “doesn’t buy Anne Hathaway’s character as an alcoholic”. He obviously didn’t really pay attention: she’s not an alcoholic, as she quickly changes to soft drinks once she realizes the consequences of her actions. The final shot and Hathaway’s expression is priceless. A likely candidate for my final top 10 of the year.

 

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Get Out ***** / A-

I have to say, there is one youtube analysis of this film that made me appreciate it even more than with its viewing. Get Out is not just an horror film but a commentary on the fascination – which in the end, is another kind of racism and bigotry – with african american culture and facts. With rich, white people, being completely fascinated with those who mainly suffer their racism, and with the consequences of not actually seeing them as human beings at heart, but being fascinated with their facts. I can’t develope without going into heavy spoilery ground, but it’s a must see, and a must understand, specially on how liberals/progressists can be as bit as dangerous as bigots.

 

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Alien Covenant * / E

Yes, the film is visually stunning. Yes, Michael Fassbender is outstanding again. Yes, even Danny McBride is really good in a dramatic role. Still, the movie is a visually stunning piece of crap, as Prometheus was. Pretending to be ambitious, it can’t really hide it is milking a mythology beyond extreme and without remorse in falling into utter stupidity which is undeniable. Seriously, Ridley Scott has thrown all the credit he re-earned after Prometheus with the great “The Martian”, back into the trashcan.

 

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Boss Baby *** 1/2 / C+

Alec Baldwin is this film and what saves it from mediocrity. It’s fun, but it is also bland, and my favorite parts are always those who caricature this american culture of power and success. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it makes for a fun ride and the visuals are lovable.

 

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Wonder Woman ****  / B

It’s a really good superhero movie, and frankly, I would rate it higher, if it was not so shamelessly a rip-off of Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger”. If you saw that one, you can almost guess every twist and turn of Wonder Woman. It’s the best DCMU film so far – by a wide margin – but still one inch under what Marvel is doing, and frankly, not really original. The rip-off, is so obvious, that even, as Captain America, a red haired soldier has to be in the heroine’s squad (Dum Dum Dugan in the MCU, Ewen Bremner’s character here).

 

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Highway to Hellas *** / C

Another “culture clash” comedy, with a German inspector supervising a Greek island’s use of the german money for development – and that of course, went in “other directions”. It’s fun, acting is good but not award-worthy, and it sends us back to miss better films like “Mediterraneo”. Not boring, not frustrating, just a movie for a bored afternoon/evening, and forgotten next day.