Tag Archives: Keri Russell

Wonder Woman (2009) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Wonder Woman 2009

Director: Lauren Montgomery
Writers: William Moulton Marston (creator: Wonder Woman), Gail Simone (story)
Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, Virginia Madsen

I think it’s fair to say that Wonder Woman (2009) was possibly a little overshadowed by the higher profile Batman: Gotham Knight due to its release in the midst of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy and although the more prominent live action film from 2017 grabbed all the headlines, I think it’s clearly obvious that the Warner Premiere produced animated Wonder Woman aided the plot and Patty Jenkins would be able to cherry pick the best of this 2009 release. If it were me, I would be using the animated version as my story board if this wasn’t already done as many of the sequences from the 2017 movie are here to see 8 years previously. That isn’t a dig at the 2017 filmmakers in anyway, just my opinion and observations.

Wonder Woman (2009) is about a modern man’s trespass (Steve Trevor) who survives a frantic mid air battle and crashes on the island of the Amazons and enables an imprisoned war god (ares) to escape and Princess Diana wins the responsibility to recapture him. Not surprising Wonder Woman (2009) is a well made film that is both energetic and thought provoking and personally I felt it deserved more recognition on it’s release. Those opening sequences drew me in from the beginning. I was intrigued how Diana came to be and her backstory. The bloody war from ancient times is won by the amazon women and as a reward from the gods the Queen Hippolyta is granted a child fashioned from clay. The amazons flourish in isolation on paradise island where Diana grows up into a fine young warrior. But a part of her seeks greater adventure outside the boundaries of the island. (Sounds bit like Moana here doesn’t it)

The Amazons hold a contest to decide who will escort Trevor back to the USA after discovering he is of no threat to them and during the contest we flit back and forth as an amazon traitor releases Ares from capture as Diana wins the contest and now as well as seeing Trevor off the island her main mission is to track down Ares who has a far more sinister plan in the work, one that could spell the doom of the world and the extinction of the amazons before it is too late with the help of Steve Trevor. 

I must commend the writing on this fine animated film. The Dialogue between the characters by Gail Simone, brings to life the story with it’s clever and witty lines that keeps with the spirit of the comic books but also has a level of maturity that you will almost forget you aren’t watching a live action movie. I’m nitpicking here but the one thing that I was a little let down with was the visuals and the animation. I’m not familiar with Moi Animation, the Korean studio who worked on many critically acclaimed works that I have to admit not nothing enough about. What struck me was that some of the fight scenes weren’t that dynamic as I felt there were too many cuts leaving the audience member dazzled and sometimes confused.

I was particularly impressed with the cast once more in my DC Animated Universe Marathon and I felt Keri Russell (Wonder Woman), Alfred Molina (Ares), Nathan Fillion (Steve Trevor) Rosario Dawson (Artemis), Oliver Platt (Hades) and Virginia Madsen (Hippolyta) were a strong ensemble of talent. These actors really just absorbs their characters and you forget the voices behind them are established live action actors who are so familiar. Nathan Fillon fits into his role perfectly and his delivery in the most natural way, sharing a tremendous chemistry with Russell. 

Overall I enjoyed Wonder Woman (2009) very much and I was satisfied with the work that went into bringing this character to life. My only gripe would be the animation at times and some of the characters looked too similar and in particular on the Island of the Amazons. Ironically, the best part of the film was set here at the beginning of the film and I loved the origins part of the tale. It wasn’t forced or drawn out and felt enough to understand what the amazons were and how Diana’s story of a more innocent nature contrasting with the ways of the modern world  and this works to develop her character from a naive and contained princess into a true warrior and finally a hero. Wonder Woman (2009) is a typically 75 minute film by DC and if you are enjoying it, it feels too short. But in this instance I think the storyline was simple and it worked just well.

Recommendable.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Movie Review by John Walsh

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
Stars: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke

Having discussed the film recently in our podcast, I thought I’d do a more extensive retro review of the 2014, blockbuster release, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from director Matt Reeves.

The film picks up ten years on from the events seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and following the pandemic of the ALZ-113 virus, it would be fair to say that things haven’t went well for humanity. Their numbers are greatly reduced and they’re separated into various small colonies with commodities and power proving to be scarce. Their last stand, if you will, plucky resistance and refusal to be wiped out by the Simian flu is all that is stopping the apes from taking over completely.

Indeed, as the name suggests, much of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes focuses primarily on Caesar and his leadership. Both him and his group of increasingly intelligent primates have built an extensive settlement, carved out a self sufficient existence in the woodland not far from San Francisco. They have a basic education system in place and a wonderfully intelligent verbal and sign language mix communication.

All is well, but it’s not long before their peaceful existence is disturbed when a small group of humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clark) run into two scouting apes. Things go awry to say the least when Carver (Kirk Acevedo) develops an itchy trigger finger and shoots one in panic, invoking the wrath of the entire colony down upon them. Caesar (Andy Serkis) being a stern, but highly intelligent and ultimately compassionate leader warns them off sending a few apes to follow.

Trouble is, the scouting team where heading into the hills to inspect and try to kickstart a hydroelectric plant back into life. With their limited power supplies only a week from running out, this is their only chance of potentially restoring full power to the city, preserving their way of life and opening up communications with any distant survivors. Which explains the frankly moronic decision by Malcom to return with his family and a few others to try and reason with Caesar. After informing Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) of the incident, amidst much panic and agitation, and also getting a visit from the Apes shortly afterwards in an impressive show of strength to ram home the stay clear message, they come to the conclusion that they must try and convince the charismatic Caesar into allowing them access to the dam anyway.

That’s really the superficial premise of the story. It focuses on the initially uneasy relationship between Caesar and the the small party of humans led by Malcolm. With their admiration, friendship and common purposes both growing and becoming apparent as the story progresses. Whilst alternatively showing the other side and ideology of the formers rival Koba (Toby Kebbell), his deeply set hatred of humans, what he believes is weakness from his leader and desire for conquest. On the human side of this ideological divide is Dreyfus. He’s not quite as blinkered by sheer hatred as the tortured Koba, but puts out a call to arms nonetheless with self preservation and an untrusting attitude towards the Apes ever present if slightly hidden to begin with.

In terms of acting in this film. There’s a quite a few very good showings in a strong ensemble performance and one truly great performance. Andy Serkis is utterly incredible as the conflicted, charismatic Caesar. He displays a range of emotions throughout, from beautiful tender moments and sadness to flashes of anger and frustration. He acts with his eyes, his body and the few words he properly speaks are powerful. This man is the mo cap master and a genuine great of our times in that regard. Jason Clark has the meatiest role out of the human characters and is generally very good. I enjoyed Gary Oldman’s relatively short time on the screen, whilst the brilliant Toby Kebbell was excellent as the villainous Koba. An honourable mention must be given to Kodi Smit-McPhee’s portrayal as Malcolm’s son Alexander too.

The visuals were phenomenal from the opening shot onwards. Little details like the Apes coats matting in the rain were captured beautifully. I actually forgot that I was looking at CG characters after a while such was the quality of the visuals and the soul and emotion the actors imbued each of them with. Disputes being beautiful, they thankfully never defined the film. Whilst Michael Giacchino’s score is great for the most part too.

I particularly liked the way this film had slow paced, deathly silent, tender moments before bursting into explosive action. The final forty five minutes pretty much transformed into a pure action film when Koba wrestled control of the colony after shooting Caesar, framing the humans for it and waging war upon them.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a pretty clear political allegory with connotations to the recent conflicts in Libya and Iraq springing to mind. It’s also about conflict both within Caesar himself and more generally between Ape and Human with two distinct ideologies fighting for superiority. Thankfully Caesar is more pure of heart than his real life counterparts and chooses to remain faithful to his beliefs when faced with inner conflict and the realities of life after rebellion, even if it does mean contradicting his mantra of Ape not killing ape to escape turning into the very thing their human captors were.

Ultimately, I loved this film. It had everything really, including an intelligent story to compliment the visuals and action. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anybody that hasn’t had the chance to see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Raging: 4/5.