Film

Movie review: 'Wonder Woman'

Tale of the Amazon's origin is a refreshing take filled with hope and courage

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The new “Wonder Woman” film, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the title character, is set during World War I. That is unlike the DC Comics universe, which had her origin story happening during World War II. The distinction is important for one thing: World War I was known as “the war to end all wars.”

“It is a war not of nations, but of mankind. It is a war to exorcise a world-madness and end an age,” futurist writer H.G. Wells penned in 1914. While we, a century ahead, can look back at the irony of those words, back then, they symbolized hope, that somehow the horrifying carnage and destruction might stand as a lesson for all subsequent generations.

In the film, we expect the world to be grounded in a reality of bombs and bullets, not superhuman strength and mystical powers. This is first established when the contrast is set between the timeless and idyllic world of Amazon warriors – where Diana (Gadot) is raised amid an all-female society on the hidden island of Themyscira — and the intrusion of male-centered authoritarian control personified by military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and the German enemies hot on his tail. This intrusion is heralded with great violence and terrible tragedy, setting the stage for a tale that not only exemplifies the virtues of this beloved comic book heroine, but also opens the door for some welcome commentary on feminism and gender roles.

When the men arrive and Diana sees what danger they pose not only to her people but the world itself, she realizes there is a much bigger battle to fight — one that pits her strength and cunning literally against Ares, the god of war. This, however, is not apparent at first and for quite a while, we are left to wonder if Diana may be a little deluded.

Still, she chooses to go into the outside world to find Ares, destroy him and, hopefully, bring a return to peace.

Director Jenkins deftly handles the script by Allan Heinberg from a story by the mix of Zack Snyder, Heinberg and Jason Fuchs by injecting the delicate balance of studied naïveté coupled with the experience learned on the island from her mentors: Antiope (Robin Wright) and her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). This comes in handy when she joins Steve and his group of Allied spies as they attempt to learn secrets of a new and deadly enemy operation being mounted by the evil Gen. Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and the insane scientist Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya).

Much of the action is violent and over the top, but because this is a female-centric film, it is rendered with a twist that will no doubt have many in the audience cheering.

When she first appeared in the regrettable “Batman v Superman,” we knew the studio was on to something. Now, we can hardly wait for more. 

There is also an interesting local twist to this film, referenced in the imdb.com "Trivia” section: "In addition to other contributors listed with thanks from the producers, such as the Marston family, the credit for George Pérez is particularly prominent. He is a well-known comic book artist who was the one who created the modern conception of Wonder Woman in 1987 to considerable acclaim when he restarted the character's series with such changes including renaming Diana's home of Paradise Island into Themyscira.”

George Pérez is the brother of well known Taos writer David Pérez.

“Steve Trevor sarcastically refers to Diana's island home of Themyscira as ‘Paradise Island.’ However, this is a nod to the original name for Wonder Woman's home land (the island of Amazons) in the comics. In the 80s, the name of the Amazon Island was changed to Themyscira when comic book writers (George Perez specifically) updated and revamped the character. It has been referred to as Themyscira in all Wonder Woman media since then. Steve Trevor's sarcastic remark was actually written in to nod to fans who would remember the old name.”

“Wonder Woman” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action and some suggestive content.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following were compiled from press materials.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

MPAA rating: PG for mild rude humor throughout

Mitchell Storyteller 7

Based on the worldwide sensation and best-selling book series and boasting an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, DreamWorks Animation brings audiences the long-awaited global movie event, “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.” This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

Directed by Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh, David Soren, this computer-animated kids movie stars the voice talents of Ed Helms as Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, Kevin Hart as George Beard, Nick Kroll as Professor Poopypants, Jordan Peele as Melvin and Kristen Schaal as Edith.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The Promise

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic material, including war atrocities, violence and disturbing images and for some sexuality

Movies at the TCA

Empires fall, love survives. When Michael (Oscar Isaac), a brilliant medical student, meets Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between Michael and Ana’s boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), a famous American photojournalist dedicated to exposing political truth.

It is late 1914 and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into war-torn chaos. Their conflicting passions must be deferred while they join forces to get their people to safety and survive themselves.

Terry George says in his director’s statement (online at thepromise.movie), “Almost three years ago I was lucky enough to be offered a script by Robin Swicord. ‘The Promise’ is a love story set during the days of the Armenian Genocide, one of the greatest and least known catastrophes of the 20th century.

“This attempt to eradicate an entire nation has almost disappeared from the history books because of collective denial and political expediency. It is a story that I believe demands to be told in cinematic form. But how do you get audiences to experience such a horrific and foreign event?

“I looked to the great cinematic masters for inspiration — to David Lean who took us into the Russian Revolution in ‘Dr. Zhivago’ and into the Irish War of Independence in ‘Ryan’s Daughter,’ and to Warren Beatty who also allowed us to experience the Russian Revolution through the eyes of John Reid in ‘Reds.’ They both used romance to lure audiences into seats. They told great love stories that were inextricably woven into the story of these momentous events. As we fell in love with their characters, we also learned of the hardships, the joy and the pain they experienced as part of history.”

 Film co-stars Shohreh Aghadashloo, Tom Hollander, Jean Reno and Marwan Kenzari.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (June 11) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (June 12-14).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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