Monday, 11 December 2017

At The Movies - Me and Squid 7, 8, and 9 - "Wonder Woman" - "Despicable Me 3" - "Paddington 2"

Yeah, I know, the first film here came out back in the spring. At the time I was occupied with reading all manner of spiritual books so neglected to maintain my blog and these posts which highlight mine and my daughters visit's to the cinema. Bear with me, please.

I never much liked Wonder Woman as a kid. It wasn't that Marvel seemed so superior back in the 60's, although they were streets ahead of DC, nor was it because she was a girl. I thought she seemed lame compared to Batman, Thor, The Flash, Green Lantern and the X-men. After all, when confronted with Phoenix there is little room left for female superhero's whose abilities are so much weaker than their male counterparts or simply don't match the competitions female characters. I feared a film that would portray the Amazonian in skimpy clothes portraying her as a young man's wet dream come to life. The film simply isn't like that.

Any fears I had of Diana Prince being shown as anything less than a match for Marvel's Thor or Superman's equal were soon dispelled. The same goes for there being a hint of sexism. The one scene and there are many that put all thoughts of Wonder Woman being a sex kitten created for chaps to drool over is the one where Steve Trevor, as played by Chris Pine, settles down next to the warrior woman secretly hoping he might get laid. Diana confesses she has had sex with men but intercourse with men is only for procreation whereas with a woman it is for pleasure. As for her abilities, her courage, her skills and strength in battle, she is indomitable.

The film is set during the First World War.It follows on from "Batman vs Superman" where Bruce Wayne discovers a photographic plate of her standing with four other men. This device allows the audience viewing the photo to sit and observe as the past story unfolds revealing how and why Wonder Woman came to be.

Unlike many of the superhero films, Squid and I have watched, some lack a strong plot with a believable script along with well-defined characters. "Wonder Woman" excels with all three. This year has seen a bevvy of costume characters battling supervillains, notably "Logan" and "Guardians of the Galaxy 2." Squid and I both enjoyed this film. There is some fine action supported by moments of emotional impact. The relationship between Diana Prince and Steve Trevor has a nice touch. I like the naivete Diana displays. She is not stupid but a little unsure of things. This layer of her character lets us see her compassion and also makes for some great comic moments, it also provides the vehicle by which our favourite Amazon demi-god shows what a fierce fighter she is. 

Not sure about David Thewlis, fine actor though he is, cast as Ares.

For me the film gives feminism, without the unnecessary attitude, all the clout it needs for seen here is surely a great feminist icon? 

Squid gives "Wonder Woman" 4 stars.

The trouble with sequels is that all too often the longer the franchise continues the sooner the steam that made it great in the first place dissipates. Not so here. This may be the zenith of the Despicable films but if it is, and I suspect it isn't, what a truly great way to go.

Bringing Gru's brother into the ever-growing family mix was a great move. Making him Gru's twin was brilliant.  

Faced with a character from the past, a young TV star turned bad when his hair left a bald patch where a luxuriant growth used to proudly sit, Gru and his partner, Lucy are assigned by the AVL (that's Anti-Villian League for all you schmucks) to set a trap and capture Balthazar Bratt (him of the ever-growing chrome dome.) Although they regain the stolen world's largest diamond from the ageing Mister Bratt, they singularly fail to nab the creep. This isn't received well by the newly appointed head of Valerie Da Vinci (great name) who sacks the two lovebirds. This leaves Gru aching for a chance to make amends but also to enjoy again the thrill of the life he has so actively embraced. Enter Dru, Gru's twin brother (with long blond hair.)

As long as you are willing to suspend belief an animation, which supplies all the excuses with its modern day technology you need for that purpose, then the game is up and fun is the order of the day.

Squid and I laughed our underwear off. This is one funny film. The only problem I have is that I suspend a tad too far. I forget who the actors are. Hell, I even forget actors are required to voice the parts. That says it all, doesn't it? Great film.

Squid gives it  4 stars

"Paddington 2"

So good we paid twice to see it. One week after the next. I didn't think they could maintain the high standard set by the first film. I loved that movie and have watched it countless times since its release on DVD but this is so close to perfection as its predecessor that you can't slide rice paper between one or the other.

Excellent effects, slapstick and comical, with action aplenty to feed a zoo full of action deficiency dependants.

The cast is a wonderful array of actors from Hugh Bonneville to the lovely Sally Hawkins, the unsurpassable talents of Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent (incredible accent) and of course Brendan Gleeson. However, it is Hugh Grant, ageing perhaps but as handsome a devil as he ever was, taking centre stage. Portraying a villain suits him. He, in fact, excels as the slightly camp Phoenix Buchanan playing the part with glee.

This is the kind of film Christmasses were made for. It takes you out of yourself allowing the hard facts of life to fade from thought albeit momentarily as a fiction filled with unlikely events, unlikely characters and incredibly unlikely action pieces to take place.

Phoenix Buchanan lives near the Browns. Those amiable folk who took Paddington into their home and family. One night, as the Brown's visit a Fun Fair, so Buchanan, a moderate success as an actor who now spends the autumn of his career plying his trade in adverts selling dog food where he dresses as a dog, has attracted a crowd of onlookers. During his performance, he seeks assistance from one of the audience. This of course just happens to be Paddington.  The bear makes mention of a book he recently saw when taking tea at Mister Grubber's shop. This sparks a keen interest in the also-ran actor's mind as he has long sought to star in a one-man-show at the West End. Following a sequence of events that lead to Paddington being detained at Her Majestys pleasure where he meets a raft of villains as unlikely as the Cockney accent of Dick Van Dyke, events take several manic turns including the dying of the inmate's attire pink, escaping from prison and a railway chase involving two steam trains. What could be better?

Mention should be made of those other actors, supports I guess, who bless this production with their presence. Sanjeev Bhaskar, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Eileen Atkins (her on Doc Martin), Tom Conti and Ben Miller. Those I have missed - sorry.

Go see this film. It zings.

Squid gives it 5 stars.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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