Wonder Woman


Viewed – 01 June 2017  Cinema

Despite many people’s misgivings about Batman V Superman, few could argue that Gal Gadot’s sensual Wonder Woman was a particular highlight.  Her appearance kept viewers eager for more, and so we have this origin story that focuses on how Diana (who funny enough is never referred to as Wonder Woman) came to be involved in a mission during (interestingly) the first world war.  Quickly we’re introduced to Diana’s fantasy world of Amazonian warrior women and a loose connections to Greek mythology.  There we have Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) as the reining Queen and also Diana’s mother, as well as the queen’s gutsy sister played by Robin Wright (House of Cards), who despite seemingly a departure for the actress, proves a good fit.  However their peace is soon interrupted when an American pilot Chris Pine (Star Trek) crash lands at their shore, and Diana comes to his aid.

Wonder Woman

This plays mostly like a fish-out-of-water adventure with some well observed comedy and sharp dialogue, helped immeasurably by the chemistry between Gadot & Pine who spark wonderfully off one another.  The WWII backdrop also means we get plenty of action and thrills within a fun ‘dirty dozen’ escapade.  When Diana gets to kick ass too, its a sight to behold, superbly choreographed and well, she’s very appealing to the eyes (where did they find this beauty?).  The movie is a tad over-long and degenerates into typical over-powered villain verses overpowered hero showdown, and well some of Wonder Woman’s super-human powers aren’t fully explained (she can easily toss a tank aside with one hand).  Add to this an avalanche of CGI where some acrobatics began to look a bit cartoonish once people are flying around left right and centre.

However this has it where it counts; with colourful characters that work well with each other, a decent script with plenty of humour and some excellent set-pieces.  DC seem to have turned a corner with this one, so on such evidence, I can’t wait for Justice League!

Verdict:  4 /5

Unknown


Viewed – 21 May 2012  Blu-ray

With Liam Neeson enjoying a sort of resurgence in popularity following a spate of hit thrillers, pretty much anything starring the Irish-born actor is essential viewing of late.  Although at the time this garnered very mixed reviews and seemed to be wrongly marketed as a cheap cash-in to Taken … therefore, I have been quite hesitant to check this one out.

Neeson plays Dr Martin Harris, on route to a summit in Berlin with his beautiful wife Liz (January Jones – Mad Men, X-Men First Class), who is involved in a car accident, and on awakening from a coma four days later, discovers that someone has taken his identity, and not even his wife recognises him.  A great set up, that although causing strong deja-vu with this viewer (Frantic, anyone?), immediately grabbed my attention.  As expected Liam Neeson is very good as the confused Doctor, handling car chases, fist fights and a compelling situation with ease.  Supporting him is a perfectly angelic January Jones and also a street-wise Diane Kruger as the cab driver who comes to Neeson’s aid.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) with similar slick production values and European setting to Taken, this may lack the emotional intensity of that movie and much of the ‘cool’ but still offers a gripping 2 hours of entertainment that’s really hard not to enjoy.  The ending did sort of screw with my perceptions, leaving me a tad conflicted … and the villains are out of the shady government cookie cutter.  Yet if you’re after an above average thriller with intrigue, twists and quality action, if short on surprises … this will do the job nicely.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets


Viewed – 11 Jan 2008  Blu-ray

This being my first review of a Blu-ray title, forgive me for gushing.  Lets get the obvious stuff out of the way first – the picture and sound to this baby is first class, with every wrinkle on Nic Cage’s weathered face and every crease of fabric and crumble of a stone wall, represented in vivid detail.  I also noticed that the sound seemed much deeper and crisper than on a DVD.  I was very impressed.

This modern take on Indiana Jones archaeological adventuring is the follow up to the underwhelming but enjoyable NT #1 (duh!) and has a wise cracking, quite funny Nicholas Cage on fine form even though I feel this kind of audience pleasing pop corn entertainment is beneath an actor once wowing critics as a suicidal drunk in Leaving Las Vegas.  Joined by two other treasure hunters (gadget guy Justin Bartha and ex-squeeze Diane Kruger) as well as a scene stealing Jon Voight and Helen Mirren; after the revelation that a lost diary page could ruin the family name in the history books, a quest begins to discover the hidden city of gold and prove the family name’s innocence.  Ok it sounds rubbish, but with a kidnapping of the President (!), globe trotting to Buckingham Palace and sneaking around The White House, as well as car chases, caves, booby traps…and a sneering Ed Harris – its hard not to get caught up in the hokum, and if like me you’re a sucker for conspiracy theories, American history etc, then you’ll have a great time with this.

It does nothing new and borrows shamelessly from much better plotted films…but at the end of the day, has plenty of personality – and sometimes that just about makes all the silly stuff work.

Verdict:  3 /5