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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.

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Dune (1984) Movie Retro Review By D.M. Anderson

Dune Review

Director: David Lynch
Writers: Frank Herbert (novel), David Lynch (screenplay)
Stars Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, Jurgen Prochnow, Everett McGill, Max von Sydow, Richard Jordan, Kenneth McMillan, Sting, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell, Jose Ferrer, Virginia Madsen.

Home Remedy

As someone who doesn’t have money falling out his ass, I try to cut corners where I can. This is also probably why my wife seldom sends me to the grocery store by myself anymore, even when armed with a list, because I’ll usually come home with the cheapest shit on the shelves. Whenever I’ve argued there’s no difference between Diet Pepsi and the store brand knock-off, she’s countered with, “Then why buy a Blu-Ray when the DVD is five bucks cheaper?”

Well played, Francie, well played.

While it’s okay to cut some corners at the supermarket, I learned the hard way over the years not to pick up bargain brands of certain products unless I wish to incur my family’s wrath. At my house, it’s Best Foods mayo or nothing. I brought home a jar of Miracle Whip one time and, based on everyone’s reaction when I pulled it from the grocery bag, you’d have thought it was a human head. When it comes to dog food, my wife brought it to my attention that chicken products are bad for Wheaten Terriers, so simple Dog Chow is now out of the question. Have you ever tried to find dog food that doesn’t contain chicken? It’s like looking for one Waldo in a sea of other Waldos, and when you finally do find that bag o’ cluck-free kibbles, be ready to dip into your child’s college fund.

In my house, the same best-or-nothing mantra applies to ice cream, salad dressing, cereal, pain relievers, butter, juice, pancake syrup, lunch meat, cheese and feminine hygiene products.

Regarding the last item on that list, I’ve since flat-out refused to ever buy them again on my own. Not that I’m embarrassed or anything, but I live in a houseful of females, all of whom now endure their monthlies (yes, fear for me). Whenever someone’s cycle would start without warning, my wife used to make the stupid mistake of trusting me to venture to Walgreens for these items with instructions regarding which brand and type. However, there are more varieties of napkins and tampons than there are stars in the heavens. Directions for assembling IKEA furniture are less confusing than the obscure labels and charts plastered on these products, which minutely differentiate one type from another. As a guy with no personal frame-of-reference regarding menstrual maladies, of course I’m gonna pick the cheapest thing which most closely resembles the instructions handed to me. After all, pads are pads, right?

Hence, one of our bathroom cupboards is filled with feminine products purchased by yours truly that no women in my house are willing to use. I suppose exchanging them for the right product was an option, but I’ve since found other uses for them, such as makeshift coffee filters, killing spiders and wiping dust from my precious home theater system. In fact, there are websites which show a variety of alternative uses for sanitary napkins. Seriously.

As other thrifty homebodies can attest, you can save a lot of hard-earned cash by turning worthless items into something handy. Used coffee grounds make great garden fertilizer, Coca-Cola is an effective toilet bowl cleaner, the Nickelback CDs you’re now ashamed to admit owning make terrific retro-hip beverage coasters for your next shindig, and those old dirty pillowcases are perfect for the idiots in your life who’d benefit from a pummeling by a sack of doorknobs.

Then there are myriad home remedies which can cure what ails you. A stick of butter applied to a burn provides immediate relief (unless you’re on fire, of course), snorting a few lines of Drano will clear those sinuses right up, and punching someone in the stomach will temporarily help them forget about that migraine headache. I sometimes suffer from bouts of insomnia, but since this only occurs occasionally, it doesn’t make much sense to spend ten bucks on an entire bottle of potentially-addicting sleeping pills…not when I’ve got my trusty old DVD copy of Dune handy.

Helmed by the perpetually psychotic David Lynch (who turned down Return of the Jedi to direct this), Dune is an all-star trainwreck that bombed in theatres when initially released in 1984, but has since found a sizable cult following (like most of Lynch’s films, actually). It’s based on the classic novel by Frank Herbert, one of the biggest sci-fi douchebags this side of Harlan Ellison. I say this because back in 1983, Iron Maiden recorded a song inspired by Dune and respectfully asked permission to title it after the novel. Herbert’s publicist responded with, “No. Because Herbert doesn’t like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands and especially rock bands like Iron Maiden.”  Never mind the fact Maiden was huge at the time and Herbert hadn’t written a relevant novel since Dune was published back in 1965. In fact, Maiden’s song, retitled “To Tame a Land,” likely turned more young readers onto this old fart’s novel than the now-legendary Hollywood flop which effectively killed any chance of Dune ever becoming a film franchise.

To say Dune is convoluted would be an understatement. Upon its release, Universal felt the need to provide ticket buyers with a two-page glossary of terms used in the film, apparently forgetting nobody can read in the dark. Unless you’ve actually read the book, the story itself is perplexing enough to make 2001: A Space Odyssey look like Flash Gordon. It’s also bloated with about 12,000 characters to keep track of, their dialogue & actions sometimes making little sense without your book and glossary handy. Speaking of dialogue….it is really fucking bad, especially the overuse of character voiceovers in a futile attempt to clarify what’s going on. As for the performances…they range from low-key & earnest to godawful & over-the-top. The same could be said about the special effects. Except the sandworms, of course. Those things are awesome.

Still, I’ve always kind of liked Dune. Sure, it’s long, slow and hard to follow, but there’s also an ethereal quality to much of its imagery and music which I’ve always found somehow relaxing, particularly during the first half. For me, watching Dune is like receiving a therapeutic massage while new age music drifts throughout the room. Actually, I don’t recall the last time I watched the film in its entirety because it usually lulls me to sleep before the first sandworm even shows up. That suits me fine because Dune gets really stupid during the second half.

All of which means Dune serves a useful purpose in my household. As a teacher, I typically get so used to staying up late during the summer that it’s difficult to hit the sack early on those nights just before returning to work. But rather than rely on synthetic sleep aids, all I do now is pop in Dune, turn off all the nights and nestle into the couch with a blanket and a beer. More often than not, I’m soon zonked and snoring like an toddler on Benadryl.

Regardless of what one thinks of the movie, Dune is often pretty to look at (except for the whole heartplug scene) and the soundtrack is wonderful, the only decent thing Toto ever recorded. If you’re one of those still inclined to write it off as another overwrought Hollywood disaster, might I suggest keeping a copy around as a safe, non-addictive alternative cure for your insomnia? As a home remedy, it’s ultimately a lot cheaper and you’ll still wake up feeling refreshed…probably with the “Prophecy Theme” stuck in your head.