Well… since I’ve been “on Sabbatical” it’s been a miserably chilly damp last month here at “La Casa de Neko”, but finally it seems we’re going to get some well deserved warm weather for a change. Yay for that! 😉 Along with that burst of warmth, my sweetie and I have started getting out more for walks and the like as part of Carolyn’s plans to drive away those nasty “blaaahhhs” I’ve been saddled with lately. So it was no surprise that she decided we needed a proper trip to the movies for a change of pace. What to watch? Well, this time out it was my turn to learn one of my dear Carolyn’s childhood secrets… You see, way back in the day all the while lil’ Miyuki was busy playing “Jungle Explorer” or “Kung Fu Princess” she, on the other hand, was secretly smitten with Linda Carter and her own girlish dreams of being a certain Butt-kicking Amazon Princess. 😉
Oh yes… you’d never guess it, seeing her now, but it seems my adorably well grounded, very straight-laced, very sensible and no-nonsense Carolyn apparently had a few of her own silly girlish fantasies waaay back in the day. Unlike goofy lil’ me, she usually kept all that really quiet around most people, but one thing that grabbed her imagination and wouldn’t let go was the old TV series, “The Adventures of Wonder Woman”. According to Carolyn when she was 5 or 6 she spent several Halloween’s dressed up in her very own red, yellow, and blue costume complete with a long black wig, little tiara, and “magical” golden lasso (actually a length of bright neon yellow plastic clothesline she swiped from a neighbor’s backyard…) collecting her candy and dreaming of deflecting bullets with her bracelets and soundly whomping the living snot out of Nazi thugs and the like. OMG!! How I soooooo wish she’d saved some pictures of from back then!!
Given that, even if Superheroes really aren’t usually my thing, there really was no question of choice when we decided upon a nice Saturday afternoon matinée together. Afterall… this lil’ Catgirl is all about Female Empowerment and indulging in a little nostalgic game of “remember when” with my special angel is just the icing on the cake. 😉
So… how was it? Did it bring back and fond memories for my loving wife, maybe reawaken her desires to be an Amazon warrior all over again? Guess you’ll have to “Read On” and find out, now won’t you? 😉
The particular version of the story is DC comics latest attempt to get their own Superhero film franchise up and running to serve as a rival to Marvel’s successful films of the last few years. Building upon the Wonder Woman character as introduced in 2016″s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, as played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot. This time out, it’s just all about her and the origin story of everybody’s favorite Amazon Princess. No guys allowed… Well… OK… maybe just a few guys… 😉
But first our story gets off to a start on the magical island of Themyscira, mythical home of the Amazons. Seems our heroine and her people have been living idyllic lives hidden away from the world by an invisible shield since the climactic epic battle of Good vs Evil fought between Zeus and Ares the God of War at the dawn of History. Here the immortal Amazons wait… and train… for the day when Ares returns to threaten mankind with ultimate destruction. Among them is a single child… spunky and adorable little Diana (played first by Lilly Aspel at age 8 and then Emily Carey at 12), daughter of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta (played by Connie Nielsen). On an island with no men, that’s a pretty good trick… and we find out little Diana is very, very special indeed… sculped by Hippolyta from clay and given life by Zeus himself so that the Queen might have a child of her very own to love.
And ooooohhh!! Little Diana is soooo darn cute!! The only child on the island… she spends her days running wild to the exasperation of her nanny and her royal mom, sneaking peeks at the combat drills run by her awesome aunt, General Antiope (played by Robin Wright) and fantasizing about being one of them. Honestly… Antiope and the other Amazons are just soooo darn cool!! I mean… What little girl wouldn’t want the chance to ride horses, shoot arrows, learn to fight with swords, spears, and the ancient Greek version of Kung Fu day after day? Isn’t that just every lil’ girl’s dream? (Ooooohhh, Ooohh!! Me! Me!!) But unfortunately that’s a no-no for Diana, it seems…..
Despite the threat that Ares is supposed to be coming back someday to destroy all the world, mortals and Amazons alike, Queen Hippolyta forbids Diana from joining in all that martial training. Antiope keeps telling her that it’s important that Diana know how to defend herself, but Hippolyta is adamant. Not gonna happen. No way… no how.What’s a super cool, super buff, butt-kicking aunt to do in a situation like that? Why sneak around behind her sister’s back and train Diana in secret anyways.
Eventually they get caught at it of course, but by then it’s too late to stop and Hippolyta decides that if she going to train, then she’ll train harder than any of the others, become the greatest warrior she can be to make certain she’ll always be safe. That’s what happens too… and as it happens… there’s some kind of secret about our heroine, something that even she’s unaware of at first.
But naturally before they spill the beans about that it’s time for the Mortal World to intrude upon the paradise of Themyscira in the form of hunky pilot and spy Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), who crashes his plane just off the coast, unfortunately leading practically the entire Imperial German Navy to their hidden haven. We get a pretty darn cool fight sequence between the Amazons and the German marines and discover just how well ancient weapons and superlative fighting skills will fare against the power of modern firepower. The Amazons win, of course, but not without tragic loss, including General Antiope who takes a bullet for her beloved niece Diana.
Afterwards, Steve has to explain things pretty darn quickly before our angry ladies kick the snot outta him. It helps that he did kill Antiope’s murderer and saved Diana from a similar fate, but our girls are somewhat dismayed to hear about “The Great War”…. currently raging across the world, just the kind of apocalyptic slaughter they’ve been dreading since the Dawn of Time. Worse… while talk of an Armistice is in the air, secret experiment have been carried out by the Germans in Turkey to develop a new deadly chemical weapon that will shatter any chance of peace and lead to utter death and destruction for both sides. Diana realizes it can only mean one thing. Ares has returned to poison the hearts and minds of mortal man and bring about the end of the world. It’s time, she feels, for the Amazons to act…. but momma’s got other ideas.
She forbids them to intervene… and orders Steve made a reluctant “guest” for the rest of his life to keep the secret of their hidden island safe. Diana feels that it’s wrong… and sooner than later, decides to steal armor, shield, and the fabulous “God Slayer” sword, supposedly the only weapon able to kill Ares, so she can free Steve and sail away to do what she can to stop the misery and death of all the innocents threatened by the war. Yeah, yeah… pretty standard plan, and naturally Mom just knows she’s gonna try it. But we wouldn’t have much of a movie if Diana’s fierce spirit and desire to help humanity in their darkest hour couldn’t sway her mom to let her at least try to do what she could.
Errrr… ummm… here’s the beginning of a niggling quibble this wee lady has with the film. I mean I realize that it’s a fantasy film… “superheroey” and all that, but the story really plays pretty fast and loose when it comes to keeping itself grounded in believable reality enough to sell that fantasy. Case in point: Steve reaches Themyscira by single engine period monoplane, flying from a secret Turkish/German military research base presumably in Turkey (after all that is where they had all the Turks back then… 😉 ) and so it’s easy enough to place the island’s location as somewhere in the Aegean Sea appropriately enough, right? Ahhh…. but then how do our heroes…. in a single night mind you… manage to sail all the way to London in her tiny boat? It’s over 2300 miles away… as the crow flies! They couldn’t even go that directly…. they’d have had to traverse the entire Mediterranean and then go up the coast of Europe adding even more miles!! You have thought that Steve… anxious to report his warning of deadly chemical weapons… would want to contact the British as soon as possible. Why the heck then didn’t he at least stop off in British held Gibraltar to send a secret coded radio message or something? Heck… they had to pass right by it!!! Grrrr! I know… I know… I’m probably being picky… but stuff like this bugs me. What would have been the harm in at least having a “travel montage” with beautiful scenery, passing ships, thrown in with a few neat awkward moments between Steve and Diana as they get to know one another to give us the sense that it actually took a measure of travel time? Sigh… well… at least Carolyn never even blinked at this impossible bit of plot nonsense.
Anyways, once in London, our spunky heroine goes about doing the prerequisite “fish out of water” plot bits to show us just how backward and misogynistic the outside world at large really is compared to the Amazons. Not to worry though… she got a fairly simple plan. Get to “the War”… wherever that is… find Ares and promptly slay his evil butt to free mankind from the influence of his hatred and madness so that peace might truly begin. Easy peasy right?
Problem is… only Steve really knows just how much of a supernaturally strong, fast, and amazingly badass fighter she really is… everybody else just keeps throwing her those looks. You know the ones… The ones that keep condescendingly telling her to leave all this to the menfolk… Silly idiots…
But then even Steve doesn’t have much luck either. With the Armistice so close, nobody believes his story of German treachery and chemical weapons. Even when he brings up the involvement of General Erich Ludendorff (played by Danny Huston) and notorious genius psychopath Dr. Isabel Maru aka “Doctor Poison” (played by Elena Anaya). After all, it’s 1918, and both sides are weary of the constant slaughter and seemingly unwinnable stalemate… nobody would jeopardize ending that, now would they? He’s ordered to forget about it and not to risk upsetting the fragile negotiations with such unlikely rumors. Crap…
So now it’s Steve’s turn to go “off the reservation” and recruit a band a scruffy ne’er-do-wells and outright shady guys for an infiltration mission behind German lines to destroy all that chemical nastiness before Ludendorff and Doctor Poison can use it. Ah!! “The War”… Just what Diana’s been looking for. 😉
One trip across the English channel and through the ravaged Belgian landscape gives our heroine plenty of time to see the wounded, the homeless refugees, the utter destruction, misery, and waste of that war. By the time they reach the front line trenches, she’s in no mood to stand by or to simply sneak around without doing something to alleviate that… even if it takes them “off mission”.
Here’s where we get the most stirring moments of our film, as Diana throws off her disguise at last and purposely strides unafraid into “No-Mans-Land” braving artillery, mortars, and hails of machine-gun bullets to lead a charge to liberate a village under terrible German occupation. It’s an amazingly stirring bit of action… showcasing our heroine in all her strength as she smashes her way through impossible odds to save the day.
That’s all well and good… and gosh darn it if that whole sequence isn’t almost worth the price of admission right there, but as much as I was enjoying it, there were still some things that kept raising their ugly annoying lil’ heads in the back row of the “Theater of My Mind” and saying “But… but… Miyuki… This is nice and all… But… but… Somethin’s still not quite right…” Sigh… Yeah. By this time my sweetie was hooked. She reeeeaaallly was getting into the whole Feminine Empowerment on display and letting all sort of little annoying things slip right by. But not this wee kitten.
So what was bugging me? Well… for one thing… we were given a pretty cool villain in Dr. Isabel Maru… with her crazy “Doctor Mengele” vibe and “Phantom of the Opera” mask and I sooooo wanted her to get some real “meat” in the story. Like what was her problem? How did she end up so psycho? How did she earn that nickname? What’s the tragic back story history behind that gruesome facial wound? But we never find out…. Aaauuugghhh!!
I mean… if you’ve got a fully realized female heroine, then why can’t our strong driven female villain get some of that same love “storywise”? Why is she just a pale cardboard boogeyman compared to General Ludendorff, who gets the lion’s share of time to spar with our Amazon Princess? This really bothered me and I find myself wishing she’d have been fleshed out more fully to give the threat of her evil experiments so much more menace. Funny that they didn’t, given the film’s whole idea of Diana as the force for Good and Love. Dr. Maru would have been the perfect foil if she could have been used as the dark “flipside” of feminine power and mystique… but no…. instead they go with the General…
And geesh!! While we’re discussing the good General, I guess it’s “Spoiler Time”, for my next rant…. so don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉
General Ludendorff… yeah… I mean I expected Diana to have to battle his chemically infused badass self… but actually killing him? WTF? Doesn’t actual history mean anything in a period story? Even a fantasy one? I mean General Erich Ludendorff, in real history, survives WW1 and lives up till 1937 ending up as a pathetic old man caught up in the sorry political shitshow that was the beginnings of Hitler’s rise to power before dying of cancer and missing the horrors of WW2. Stupid, stupid, stupid… I mean it’s bad enough that most of the audience probably didn’t have a clue who he was… the average American is pathetically ill educated in the aspects of World History that shaped the very country they live in today. Still… I just wonder now how many of them came away from our film with a really dumb idea of the history of a player in a pretty important part of the 20th century. “Breathe, Miyuki…breathe… it’s just a movie…”
So… anyways… where were we? Oh yes… Wonder Woman finally reaches the front. But rather than waste a lot of time battling the hordes of the Hun, our little group sneaks off to one of those picturesque country estates where the German High Command is partying like there’s no tomorrow. She gets to dress up all slinky and sexy and sneak into range of the good General while Steve tries his luck seducing Dr. Maru… until she realizes that Steve is a serious hunk and she’s… well… pretty darn freaky looking under that mask. Yep… it’s painfully obvious he’s up to something, so that lil’ idea goes just nowhere fast.
Luckily, she and the General aren’t planning to stay around anyways. Their evil plan to wreck the Armistice is sooo ready to go. Just enough time for our evil duo to slip away and prepare for the big finale at the German aerodrome where a Gotha bomber full of her new horrible gas awaits a flight to the heart of London. Yeah… yeah… like our perky heroine’s gonna let that happen…
We get our big final duel between Ares and Diana… the secret truth of Diana’s own divine nature is revealed (Yep… seems she’s not just an Amazon Princess… she’s really an Amazon Demi-goddess…) and the story takes another tragic twist from the comics at the climax with a poignant heroic sacrifice of an unexpected character. All in time to wrap things up and set the scene for Wonder Woman’s next film appearance later on in “Justice League”.
So… as the credits rolled, I know at least my sweet Carolyn was happy. Her childhood heroine had pretty much lived up to her expectations in every way that really mattered. For her, this on was 5 stars all the way. Don’t get me wrong… I liked it too, but honestly, my overall feelings were tempered by those few niggling problems I mentioned earlier. So… for me at least.. this one scored a close 4 “Meows” out of 5. I mean… it’s a good film… with excellent casting and competent acting… decent effects and a nice period look, but a story which hangs on a really stereotypical old kernel of a plot. Too bad… this one came pretty darn close to being about the perfect Superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Ahh well… at least it was neat seeing my darling wife so overcome by childhood nostalgia and that’s pretty darn priceless in my book.
So that’s my Review… and I’m glad it’s finally starting to warm up here in my neck of the woods. Here’s to hoping I can get back soon with a few more to make the ol’ Litterbox seem a bit more lively again. Till then, a big “Meow, meow for now!!” and here’s hoping you all have some warm summery days for your own selves!! 🙂
You say you need a butt-kicking superhero Trailer to wrap things up? Yep. Don’t worry… Neko’s got that too… 🙂