Girl Power? Wonder Woman review and commentary

I’m not a frequent visitor to first run movies, as hubby and I enjoy our Netflix subscription (and homemade popcorn) more. Sometimes, however, a film comes out that piques my interest so we make the trek to our local multiplex and join a group of folks we’ve never met to see a movie. After reading some reviews and seeing a couple of trailers, I told hubby that I intended to see Wonder Woman, with or without him, so we went to see it.

Gal Gadot is fabulous in this film as the title character, as is Chris Pine’s side kick, Steve Trevor. Others do a good job, and Robin Wright is visually stunning as the Amazon general. Indeed, stunning is a word that comes to mind through the first half of the film. An superhero movie that is not a sequel must begin with some exposition, and that is a tricky phase. Too much detail threatens to bore the non-faithful viewer, but too little will disappoint those faithful fans who will show up regardless of what critics say. This version of Wonder Woman nails the exposition, with lots of action woven into the backstory. The costumes are simply amazing as are the settings and the action sequences. The characters do a great job of holding the viewers’ interest as the setting shifts from the island of the Amazons to WWI London. Again, the settings work well, as do the costumes, and it was easy to feel that we’d been transported back a hundred years.

(I am purposely leaving out details, as I do not want to ruin this movie for those who haven’t seen it, if there is anyone left in that category.)

Once the main mission of our heroine gets underway, the action is almost non-stop, and the villains are properly villainous. If I am totally honest, the final action sequence is a tad too long, but the overall effect is that this is a really good movie. Wonder Woman 2017 earns its fabulous score on Rotten Tomatoes.

I know nothing of director Patty Jenkins other work, nor have I seen Gadot in other films, but I have liked Chris Pine’s version of Captain Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek, and I thought he did a great job in the period action-adventure The Finest Hours (Theatrical). This super hero flick really hits on all cylinders: it is reasonably true to the comic book version, won’t disappoint fans of the old television series, and is so well made that newbies will enjoy it, too.

Please enjoy the links to these previous films available online, and consider going to see Wonder Woman.

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Air Force One is Down— review and commentary

I was watching Netflix with hubby, and I saw a British mini-series entitled “Alistair McLean’s Air Force One is Down” as an available title, so we spent a couple of evenings with it. Although this film ended up as a recommendation for me because it has Linda Hamilton (of Terminator and Beauty and the Beast fame,) I chose it because it was supposed to be based on a novel by Alistair McLean. He was a favorite writer of mine when I was in my teens and 20s, and yes, I am fully aware that I am dating myself by mentioning that.

Oh, my gosh, how wonderful were those reads. He wrote twenty something novels, several of which were the basis for films (including The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, and Breakheart Pass.) My intro to his work was actually his only sequel (Force 10 from Navarone) but it was stood alone well enough that I wanted to read more from the author.

Alas, hubby and I were disappointed by this film. The cinematography, special effects, score, and cast were all pretty good. The problems were, for the most part, in the writing. In part, plot devices that worked in novels in the 50s and 60s just do not work now. For instance, the dastardly villain has captured our hero and his two compatriots. He places the hero character in a deadly situation, and the hero’s two sidekicks are locked into a pit that rapidly fills with water. Of course, the hero manages a super human feat and the all of them survive. Nowadays, the villain would shoot the hero and his sidekicks and be done with it. This doesn’t happen just once in the two part story; it happens over and over. As hubby said, “This thing has major plot holes.” And it does.

After we finished watching the entire film (at my insistence, as hubby would have bailed during part 1) I looked up the novel. According to that scholarly resource Wikipedia, McLean did not write the novel. Instead, he sketched out some plots for a series of novels which bear his name, but other authors wrote the books. In this case, John Denis is the author of the book that the mini-series is supposed to be based upon.

So… the film is sorta interesting, but I really can’t recommend very highly. Still, if you are interested, it is available via Amazon:

The Missing— a brief film review

Film, The MissingWhen I was growing up, I loved westerns. There was much to like about them: horses, good guys in white hats, horses, bad guys in black hats, horses, guns, horses, beautiful settings, more horses…. you get the picture, I am sure. My early favorites were “Fury” which was a show about a horse, “My Friend Flicka” which was about a horse, and the Roy Rogers show, which was mostly about the horse named Trigger. At least, that is how I remember it.

Then, I grew up and westerns were not in favor in Hollywood anymore. My early love of science fiction is all intertwined with my love of westerns. Once, I was amazed by a very intelligent woman who said she despised Star Wars. I laughed, and said, “It’s just a western!” As she gaped at me, I went on to explain that Star Wars owes much to westerns, from the bar scene (just a saloon) the greenhorn (Luke Skywalker) being guided by an older and wiser mentor, the gunslinger (Han Solo) and the Millennium Falcon, which doesn’t have much on a good horse.

Westerns have never been as popular as they were in my youth, but they have grown up. Recently, hubby and I were looking for something on Netflix that we hadn’t seen, and “The Missing” with Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett caught my eye. The description reminded me of an oldie but goodie, “The Searchers,” so we we popped some corn and got involved in Ron Howard’s take on the quest to foil white slavers in the old west. We enjoyed this suspenseful tale. The film has some fabulous scenery, very wicked bad guys, a very heroic mother (Blanchett) and too much mysticism for my taste. Oh, and there were several horses, but lately, filmmakers seem to think they are like cars or motorcycles, just transportation.

This plot could have been told in a science fiction setting, with space ships instead of horses, but it works reasonably well as a western. Check it out on Netflix streaming.