Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Week That Was... or wasn't

I cannot bring myself to even think, never mind write, about the never-ending feeding frenzy the mainstream media has been engaged in for months on end. I don't give a flying fnyeh if Donald Jnr. interacted with a Russian, or if Donald Snr. has Russian business ties, a peculiar handshake, or...whatever. So, I shall concentrate on my personal week; it included a rare visit, one afternoon, to our local cinema.

Wonder Woman, or any superhero tale, wouldn't usually be our choice of fare, but a chance to get out of the house and into another cooled environment for a few hours was tempting. The film had gathered some good reviews, a quick read of its theme wasn't too disagreeable, so off we went. We were the sole audience members for a late afternoon showing of Wonder Woman. The movie is in its second, maybe third week here, maybe everyone else has already seen WW and moved on to Spiderman Homecoming, Transformers or Despicable Me 3.

Wonder Woman, we decided, on the way home, isn't bad, and it's message and heart is definitely in the right place. Too long, though - trimming around 20 minutes off its 2 hr 21 mins run-time would lose little of importance.

The film's first segment gets into some fairly shallow waters of Greek mythology, so as to "begin at the very beginning...a very good place to start" (as Julie sang in a long ago blockbuster). We meet WW, real name Diana, as a small child. We also meet WW's mum, Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, and her mother's sister, General Antiope. They live on the mythical isle of Themyscira. The Amazons, all female, all gymnastically adept and A+ grade in self defence, were created by the gods of Mount Olympus, allegedly to protect humankind. Ares (aka by Romans as Mars) god of war, who we shall be meeting later, killed all the other gods, but was struck down by Zeus, his father. More at Wikipedia.

A couple of time jumps bring us to the year 1918, when Diana, by now a beautiful young woman, rescues American pilot Captain Steve Trevor from the sea, his plane having crashed off Themyscira's coast. And...we're off! Off to war - the one we know as World War I - and to find Ares who, Diana knows instinctively, has to be at its source.

There are some mildly funny exchanges, between WW and Steve the pilot, and others in the 1918 scenario at various points, as WW encounters human nature at its worst, but also at its best. Some more serious exchanges come later between Ares and WW, as he explains to her why humans must be destroyed because of their many and varied failings. They are a failed experiment, he declares. WW does not fully disagree but also points out that humans are capable of good things too, as she has experienced, and there is a choice they all make, some good, some bad - importantly not always bad. She adds that it's love, and only love, which will save them (us!)

So, you see, though this movie might be a tad shallow in places, a tad overdone, though cleverly and stylishly so, the message young (and older) audiences should receive is a good one - the best, in fact. Gal Gadot, as WW, was excellent by the way - I doubt there'd be anyone, anywhere, who could better portray the Wondrous One, in looks plus athletic ability.

Also this week, and staying with the movie theme, while returning momentarily to last weekend's
mention of the re-make of Robo-Cop. The original movie was said to have had allegorical links to the story of Jesus Christ. Having now watched the Robo-Cop re-make, via DVD, I'm convinced that any allegory has been either purposely smothered or lost in translation.

The basic re-make story in the 2014 film directed by José Padilha, remains as was, with detail adjusted for modern-day sensibilities, and census requirements. Producers did not want younger viewers excluded, of course - ka-ching! See this list of horrors from the 1987 original movie. Horrific events are not entirely cleaned up in the newer version, but there's more "at a distance" viewing, and instead of the brutal beating of the cop, upon which the story rests, in the new version we get a car bomb, and can view the scene only at a distance, in the dark too.

My somewhat hazy memories of the original are, oddly enough, pleasant ones. I felt engaged and I cared about the characters. In spite of the tale's dreadful events, I clearly remember coming away with a good feeling. Not so in the case of the re-make. Even Joel Kinnaman's face under the Robo-helmet couldn't engage me sufficiently to fully enjoy the film. He's such a good, nuanced, actor, far too good for this role, which basically entails an actor lending/renting his face to the show. Peter Weller did the same in 1987 of course, but back then the film's director, Paul Verhoeven, had managed to inject more warmth, humanity and eventual good feeling into the story.

For a good assessment of all the differences between the 1987 version of Robo-Cop and the 2014 version see THIS article at Screenprism.

Neither Weller nor Kinnaman could have driven the movie's "feel" one way or t'other from their swaddled-in-metal situation. I look forward to seeing Joel Kinnaman in future roles commensurate with his talent.


Wisewebwoman said...

I've seen Kinnaman in a marvellous series. He was brilliant.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Bet it was "The Killing" - that's where I discovered him. Loved it - watched it twice. We're now investigating his other work. He's also in 2nd part of season 4 of US version of House of Cards, and first half of season 5 (watching it currently). He plays the Republican opposition presidential candidate to Kevin Spacy's character. A very different role!