Saturday, August 24, 2013

"W" for the Win!

It feels a little like Sesame Street, but this blog post seems to be brought to you by the letter "W," as both films I'm going to discuss begin with that letter and both belong in the "win" column.

First, the new Simon Pegg The World's End is out, completing the trilogy begun with the hilarious Shaun of the Dead and continued with Hot Fuzz. For me, this one was a winner with unexpected heart to it.  In World's End, a drunken, middle-aged Gary King reassembles his pack of school chums to complete an epic pub crawl that fizzled out when they were all teenagers.  For Gary, this was the best night of his life, while for his chums, it was a night when they were all about 18.  Gary's never moved on - his car, music, and attitudes are frozen in time and it wasn't a pretty time to begin with.  There are some laugh-out-loud moments and some oddly touching ones as well.  Oh, and alien-controlled robots.  Did I leave that part out?  (And they're right - "robot" is a Czech word that means "slave."  I learned that from Whedon's Dollhouse which featured the Rossum Corporation, which took its name from the playwright who coined the term back in the 1920s.  More on that here, if you're interested.)  It's a good one, and be on the lookout for the Cornetto references.   Verdict:  go see now!

Second, the 2009 straight-to-DVD animated movie Wonder Woman.  I know, I know.  "Straight to DVD" doesn't usually mean anything good.  As a Joss Whedon fan, I breathlessly awaited his big-screen version of Wonder Woman, but I (along with a lot of other fans) was disappointed, as he never completed a full script.  Only now I know that I wasn't disappointed - they made the Wonder Woman movie I wanted to see; they just didn't bother to tell me that it was a cartoon.  In this case, I suspect that DC Comics knew that they had a good movie on their hands that would have a hard time finding a multiplex audience.  It's a cartoon, but it's a cartoon that deserves its PG-13 rating.  (Apparently, the first cut was given an "R," which I find intriguing.)  While the movie isn't perfect (the Invisible Jet needs some explaining, for instance), this is a lovely, touching portrayal of the origin of the Amazon princess.  Maybe it had too much Greek god stuff for mainstream USA (after all, Thor is now known as the PRINCE of thunder, which has got to be considered a downgrade from serving as the GOD of thunder to generations of the Norse) is or maybe it was the pointed feminist message; I don't know.  What I DO know is that I liked this immensely.  Diana's (voiced by Keri Russell) pro-feminist view is one that badly needs to be heard these days and it keeps from teetering into "man bad/woman good" by Steve Trevor's (Nathan Fillion) being quick to call Diana on her simplistic view when it veers in that direction.  Russell and Fillion had worked together in the indie gem Waitress in 2007 and they clearly work well together.  Beneath is a brief clip from the film - here, Diana has just arrived in New York and meets a crying child who is being excluded from a game of pirates.  I like her advice - and the response of Trevor.  Not in theaters, so seriously - go rent this one.

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