Wonder Woman

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MWonder Woman

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg

Story: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs

Produced by:  Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Richard Suckle

Executive Producers: Stephen Jones, Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, Wesley Coller and Rebecca Steel Roven

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock and Said Taghmaoui.

With the couple ahead in line, kissing.  Just a quick smooch, but often.  Making that, kissy-kissy, sucky-wet sound, constantly.  Perhaps out of nerves or because they’d just found each other and were terrified the other would disappear if they didn’t lock lips and suck the air out of each other’s mouths every 30 seconds…

You can probably tell I wasn’t in the mood for a romance.

And unfortunately Wonder Woman wasn’t all Amazons and action, there was romance here with love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American World War I fighter pilot who finds himself in the Amazonian magical world of Themyscira while being chased by the Germans.

Which brings me to the classic Wonder Woman guitar rift.  You’ll recognise it when you hear it and it does add to that cringe.

But that’s all I have to complain about.

Overall, Wonder Woman was a well-thought and executed film.

The story of Diana (Gal Gadot), growing up in Themyscira allowed a beautiful setting of crystal clear blue waters and souring cliffs, and women warriors fighting from pure white horses with long braids falling down their backs.  This magical place allowed the story of the gods to be shown like a moving painting brought to life to then shift to WWI and all the shock and tragedy of death.

After hearing of the violence, Diana vows to fight in the war to bring peace, as she was trained to do.  All very dramatic.

But the addition of humour made the film for me, particularly Charlie (Ewan Bremner), the Scottish marksman suffering from shell shock and Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) the ever reliable, can-do secretary.  I was constantly tickled by Etta Candy’s humour and the writing here is to be commended.  As is the story of the film.

There’s a slow build.  And yes, it felt like a lengthy movie, understandably at 2 hours and 21 minutes.  But the time spent on building the momentum was worth it.  There’s plenty of action and funny bits so as the story developed, the further I was pulled in.

So even with a bit of cheese and romance, I found the character, Steve Trevor better than expected, and more down-to-Earth (just can’t resist a pun) then James T. Kirk played by Chris Pine in the recent Star Trek films (but hey, I liked those films too), and that comes down to the fantastic script.

There was a tug and pull of the lasso for some depth into human nature.  But like the above statement, it was somewhat half-hearted.  Wonder Woman is more about how Diana evolves into a superhero.

By playing with the time sequences and using clever camera work and images (like the moving painting montage), the film is given a bit of spice.  It’s always good to see something different as it keeps the attention.  Because wow, there have just been so many superhero movies that the trickery of the director becomes the point of difference; Patty Jenkins succeeding here with help from director of photography Matthew Jensen.

I wasn’t blown away but this is a quality film with the resurrection of a fantastic character who we’re left in no doubt will return in the very near future.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold, Steve Clark-Hall

Screenplay: Jody Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Story by: David Dobkin and Jody Harold

Starring: Charlie Hunnam (Arthur), Jude Law (Vortigern), Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Mage), Djimon Hounsou (Bedivere), Aidan Gillen (Bill), Eric Bana (Uther).

I love a good action film with a healthy dose of fantasy, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword delivered.

This isn’t a tale about King Arthur and the Round Table, this is more about the magic of Excalibur.

Director, Guy Ritchie has taken a classic story and turned it into something else.  If you can forget all you know about the previous tales of King Arthur and all the romance, gallantry and honour, it’s worth letting go and getting taken for the ride.

King Arthur is one of those big budget films with thought put into the camera work with director of photography, John Mathieson bringing the audience right up close to run along-side the characters.  Add burning towers, giant snakes and elephants as big as football fields, weird water creatures and the magic of The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey): you’ve got an entertaining film.

Jude Law as Vortigern, brother of King Uther (Eric Bana) and uncle to Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), gives a solid performance, legitimising the film by making the villain of the story believable.

No-one can pull a look of disdain like Jude Law.

Not to take away from Hubbard.  There is a consistent air of nonchalance he gives to every role: the laid-back smart arse hiding a sharp mind.  Deviation from this persona brings disaster, think of his role as Dr. Alan McMichael in Crimson Peak.  But he was cast well here, with the action scenes and sword fighting perfect for his physic (not that I’m a perv, well… maybe a bit…).  And the comradery with his mates, growing up in a brothel and learning the hard lessons of life off the street reminiscent of his character in, Sons of Anarchy (of which I’m a fan).

There was certainly the Guy Ritchie-esq feel to the film with fast

exchanges of dialogue and sharp changes in camera work, jumping from past to present to future in seconds.  The technique reminding me of scenes from Snatch (2000).

To get the audience up-to-speed this way can be exhilarating; to catch a train of thought, to run with it to flash to the next part, the exciting part.  But there was some definite glossing over of story that was sometimes OK and sometimes not, leaving me with the thought, That’s just lazy.  And glossing over essential aspects of Arthur’s character weakened the story.

The cracking soundtrack and music by composer Daniel Pemberton helped to lift and smooth each scene; the first thought after the film finished being, ‘Jeez, the soundtrack was good.’

And there were satisfying circles of storyline but the pacing felt patchy
with weight and time given to some scenes where essential timelines were past in fast forward.  And this was the biggest downfall of the film.

So, although the editing and story was not always consistent, the strong performance from Law and the cocky English, Guy Ritchie flavour, kept up the entertainment factor to reach expectation.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

GoMovieReviews Rating:
The Zookeeper's Wife

Director: Niki Caro

Based on the nonfiction book, ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ written by: Diane Ackerman

Screenplay: Angela Workman

Producers: Jeff Abberley, Jamie Patricof, Diane Miller Levin, Kim Zubick

Cinematographer: Andrij Parekh

Music: Harry Gregson-Williams

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton, Iddo Goldberg, Efrat Dor, Shira Haas, Daniel Brühl.

Based on a true story, The Zookeeper’s Wife is a film set in Warsaw, Poland during WWII.

The screenplay (Angela Workman) was adapted from Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book, created from the diary of the lead character, Antonia Żabińska (Jessica Chastain), the wife of a zookeeper who becomes so much more.

This is a tragic story where Antonia and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabińska (Johan Heldenbergh) shelter and hide and ultimately save the lives of almost 300 Jews at the risk of their own.

Set in a zoo, cinematographer, Andrij Parekh shows the animals from elephants, to adolescent camels to soft rabbits to tigers in all their grandeur, a cinematic device that adds another dimension contrasting the innocence of the animals against the evil of humanity.

I struggle with war films.  I find the violence and cruelty extremely difficult to watch because war films give a glimpse, just a tiny window into what actually happened to people living through the horror.

Poland was torn apart during WWII, lying between Germany and Russia.  The war, by its end, killing 6 million of the Polish population.

By focussing on the Żabińska family, the audience is given insight into how people coped when faced with such senseless violence.

Dr. Janusz Korczak (Arnost Goldflam), a detained Jewish teacher, reasons with Antonia by asking her: with their worlds turned up-side-down, how are they supposed to know how to think or feel?

The film asks the question: how do you stop the fear from taking over? How do you risk your life and your family to save others?

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a story l haven’t heard before and there were aspects of the film such as the Polish uprising that spoke of events highlighting the true courage of the population.  And although I find war films upsetting, I was glad to have the opportunity to see, hear and listen.

The soundtrack (music by Harry Gregson-Williams) is largely orchestral and atmospheric, but there’s also Antonia playing the piano that shows a tenderness in the character, the piano music heralding safety or danger.

Because the film is based on the diary writing of Antonia, there’s a depth where fear can turn to anger, where love can turn to hate and where the vulnerable become the strong.

There’s complexity shown where good people must lie to survive and those who can love can also exterminate.

There’s good and bad in all people and showing how Antonia, a tender, seemingly vulnerable woman shows inner strength to take such risks is realistically portrayed by actress, Jessica Chastain.

Seeing Jessica in another recent film, Miss Sloane, playing an emotionless character, to the extent of sociopathic behaviour, and seeing the gentle character shown here, hints at the exceptional range of Chastain, and I admit, I’m fast becoming a fan.

And Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl), although a sometimes hateful character, was also a very believable character; Daniel Brühl, you’ll also remember from Quentin Tarantino’s, Inglourious Basterds also playing a Nazi suffering from unrequited love.

I had trouble with the English-speaking characters with a German or Polish accent, who were supposed to be, German or Polish.  But I can see the care and respect given to portray this story by showing courage and beauty but also the raw and confronting reality.

There’s a risk in making another WWII film as there’s been so many in the past, but The Zookeeper’s Wife is a moving heart-breaker with a point of difference with the addition of animals into the cast which added tragedy but also hope.

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