Tag Archives: Wonder Woman

At The Movies: Wonder Woman

Let’s get the history lesson out of the way first: “Wonder Woman” is not the first live action comic book superhero movie to feature a female lead. There was “Supergirl,” (1984), “Catwoman” (2004) and “Electra” (2005).

Granted, this is the first one that didn’t suck, so I suppose from that perspective it is historic. It’s also the first truly fine film that DC has released since they decided to ape Marvel’s success at building a cinematic universe around their stable of superheroes.

But then, we already knew that Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman was special when she stole the show from the all-star leads of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” If she could bring light and heart to that dark and dour picture, imagine what she could do on her own.

Director Patty Jenkins has cracked the code (which isn’t really that secret) to making a great superhero movie — a charismatic lead, a strong supporting cast, stellar special effects, gorgeous scenery and sets, a story with humor and human emotion as well as fight scenes and explosions, and fight scenes and explosions. OK, the villain is lacking but that’s par for the course as well.

timthumbGal Gadot stars as Diana, princess of Themyscira, the hidden island home of the Amazons. The two most important women in her life (and it’s only women in her life) are her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), leader of the Amazon warriors.

Diana wants to learn how to fight but mom doesn’t approve, so Antiope gives her lessons in private. This training comes in handy when several German soldiers show up on the beach with guns blazing.

The Germans stumbled onto the island while chasing an American spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), whose plane crashed shortly before their arrival.

The Amazons make quick work of the intruders and interrogate Trevor using their truth lasso. Trevor has stolen a book that could turn the tide of the war that’s raging back in Man’s World if he can get it back to British intelligence. Diana journeys to London with Trevor, convinced the war is being orchestrated by Ares, the god of such things.

With the support of Sir Patrick Morton (David Thewlis), the duo put together a ragtag team to travel to the front to stop the machinations of Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) and General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), whom Diana suspects is the God of War.

“Wonder Woman” combines the mythological elements of “Thor” with the wartime heroics of “Captain America: The First Avenger” to deliver the year’s third great superhero movie (it’s been a really good year for the genre, and we still have a few more to go). And while most of the action takes place in the World War I-era, the film is book-ended by scenes in the present day to remind us, yes, this is a partial setup for “Justice League.”

It’s not flawless — we’re still dealing with one-dimensional villains and the final showdown is too reminiscent of the Superman/Doomsday battle in “BvS.”

I’ve already mentioned all the reasons that make this movie good, but one element bears repeating. Some people may have thought Gal Gadot was an odd choice to play the Amazon princess, but it’s hard now to imagine anyone else in the role. She’s tough, beautiful, charming and plays the role with the right mix of intelligence and naiveté. She’s terrific.

You thought I was going to say wonderful, didn’t you?

 

 

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Holy Decapitation, Batman!

Today’s post is more a Public Service Announcement than an opinion piece.

You’re a parent. You turn on NetFlix looking for something to occupy the young ones for a while. You come across “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.”

“The Super Friends!” you think. “That will be perfect for the kids to watch. Such good role models — the Flash and Wonder Woman and Aquaman…”

Don’t do it. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Unless you want to scar your children for life.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Quentin Tarantino made a superhero movie — “The Flashpoint Paradox” is probably as close as you’re going to get.

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But before we get down to the grim and gritty of this DC original animated movie, we should consider the state of the superhero here in the early days of the 21st century.

The recent success of “Deadpool” has raised a lot of chatter about the appropriateness of R-rated superhero movies. Warner Bros. have already announced they plan to release an R-rated version of “Batman v. Superman” for home video. Disney has responded that they will never make an R-rated Marvel movie. (Fox has the rights to Deadpool, even though he’s a Marvel character).

Personally, I think it depends on the character. Deadpool, the Punisher, Wolverine — these guys really don’t belong in a PG world (Don’t you ever wonder why Logan never gets blood on his claws?). And then there’s Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man. These guys should never venture much beyond PG-13.

And then there’s Batman. One of the things that makes Batman great is that you can plug him into anything and he works. Batman appeals to all ages and he works just as well in goofy situations and grim noir works. Take away Batman’s right to go really dark and you lose some of the greatest Batman stories ever told.

Now, two things that really don’t belong on the dark side of the road are The Flash, Fastest Man Alive, and the Justice League, DC’s all-star superteam (The Avengers shouldn’t go dark either. Good on Disney.)

“The Flashpoint Paradox” is a 90-minute animated feature based on a comic book story that I’m told wasn’t nearly as gory as the movie. The story itself is actually pretty good. It’s another one of those alternate universe tales — The Flash messes with the timeline and finds himself in a world where young Bruce Wayne was shot by the mugger and his father becomes Batman; a world on the brink of extinction due to a war between Atlantis and the Amazons; a world where Superman never existed.

Alternate universe stories are pretty overdone in comics but they can often be entertaining. This one fits the bill. This is actually one of the best animated features DC has made. But the violence. Oh my god.

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Would you like to know how the war between Atlantis and Amazon Island (I can’t be bothered to look up the spelling of Thymescaria) started? Well, Aquaman and Wonder Woman have sex in front of Aquaman’s wife Mera (granted, they didn’t know she was there). Mera shows up later to kill Wonder Woman but instead Diana stabs her in the heart, then CUTS HER HEAD OFF. And holds it up for the audience to see.

Oh, Diana also strangles Steve Trevor to death, and kills young Billy Batson after forcing him to speak the magic word “Shazam!” The movie is chock full of shootings and stabbings and arrows through the head. There’s some language that would make Captain America blush. But the masterpiece of schlock that is “The Flashpoint Paradox” comes when Batman shoots a man in the back of the head. We know Batman did it because we see him standing behind the villain through the HOLE IN THE MAN’S HEAD.

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What’s even more amazing about this movie is that it’s rated PG-13. (And who pays attention to ratings on animated features? I didn’t realize what it was rated until after I watched it and had to find out.)

If “The Flashpoint Paradox” is considered PG-13 fare, I cannot imagine what Batman and Wonder Woman would have to do to get an R.

Well, probably have sex.