Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston
Directed by Patty Jenkins
The delay in motion picture treatment for Wonder Woman has been criminal. No disrespect to Antman, but can you believe the Antman got a movie before Wonder Woman? Good things come to those who wait, great things to those who wait even longer, and Wonder Woman is massively great, a refreshing piece of heartfelt action centered around a compelling champion that’s easily the best superhero entry in decades. There’s no deadening coursework to do beforehand, no part of it feels ancillary or middling, they never compromise Wonder Woman’s known ethos, and the whole thing will probably leave you feeling better about the world.
Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta (Gal Gadot) spends her unfettered youth on an idyllic chunk of earth existing in its own magical area apart from the human realm. Just as she reaches maturity, the barrier is broken by ace pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and the Germans chasing him. Diana’s agog to hear of the lethal skirmish (World War I) tearing apart “Man’s World”; she resolves herself to end it so that peace may flourish. Although a strong and fearless warrior, this Wonder Woman’s got her work cut out for her. The Germans have recruited diabolical genius Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) to create the scariest biochemical weapons possible. Poison is also chemically enhancing a ruthless general (Danny Huston) who on the eve of armistice hopes to unleash his hell to take the globe for his country.
Gal Gadot ignited the screen several years ago with the bits they gave her in Batman v Superman and in Wonder Woman she goes the distance, adding dimension and affecting passion to the fun and ferocity already established. Diana wants to save the world with love, for love, and you’ll believe it (she also wants to punish evil with graceful resolute battle, which she does time and time again). Danny Huston’s villain is the heavy we’re meant to focus most of our attention on but underling Doctor Poison steals the nefarious show. Elena Anaya plays Poison possessed of mind and movement, living pulp escaped from page.
Wonder Woman was the dream project of director Patty Jenkins, so she’s said. How often does anyone get to make their dream project and how often does such a thing turn out note perfect at every turn? Jenkins holds the bird without crushing it. Let’s see this spread across a few more rousing outings.
FINAL SCORE: Four golden lassos (out of four).
“As Captain of this ship, I order you to remove your dress…slowly.”
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Karl Urban
Directed by J.J. Abrams
They said it couldn’t be done—breathing new life into the venerable sci-fi warhorse known as Star Trek, that is. After killing off Spock and killing off Kirk and partying with whales and meeting God and giving Sulu his own ship and letting Christian Slater and Kirstie Alley and Kim Cattrall and Murdock from “The A-Team” join the Federation, the franchise had been utterly exhausted. What could Star Trek possibly bring us now to top any or all of that?
How about a big, fat, Louie Anderson-sized pile of sex? That’s just what “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams serves up in his subtlety-free Star Trek prequel—homeboy gives the crew of the USS Enterprise a hot beef injection, transforming them from aging space adventurers into chiseled, bad-ass hunks. The 2009 Kirk and Spock still engage in philosophical and tactical debates, but they also brawl like shoot wrestlers and get fine-ass chicks like nobody’s business. Sulu’s a damn action hero in this one, laying the smack down on Romulans like his name was Jack Burton! Not your father’s Star Trek indeed.
The story? Rebel without a cause James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, who makes Shatner his bitch with this performance) is a shiftless Iowa barfly until a Starfleet Captain gets up in his Kool-Aid and challenges him to join the Federation. Kirk says, “Sure, what the hell?” There he encounters and gets to know ornery doctor Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban, whose lips are fascinating), simmering cauldron of hotness Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and conflicted Vulcan half-breed Spock (Zachary Quinto). This rag tag team of cadets is forced to come together and overcome intergalactic adversity when Romulan asshole Nero (an awesome Eric Bana) unknowingly travels through time and starts stirring up some serious shit near Spock’s home planet.
It would have been easy to let this Star Trek fall into hammy, overwrought autopilot, but it stays on course, remaining taught and exciting the whole way through. The actors all do a great job making you believe in and root for their famous characters without leaning too hard on the caricatures global audiences of Trek have come to expect. The movie is paced excellently, too, not blowing its entire load too soon (they wait until the movie’s practically over before introducing one of the Enterprise’s most beloved crew members; by the time he popped up, I had almost forgotten he existed).
If there’s anything to complain about in Star Trek, it’s either A) the distracting luminescence of Leonard Nimoy’s dentures (yes, Spock Prime is ALL up in this shit), B) the generic look of the computer generated snow beasts that attack Kirk while he’s on the surface of this one planet, or C) this little cutesy alien humanoid on that snow planet who serves no real purpose outside being vaguely adorable and providing some weak comic relief. Hollywood has apparently learned nothing from Jar Jar Binks.
If I wanted to be real nit-picky, I could be all, “Psssh, the guy playing Chekov looked like an extra from K-19: The Widowmaker,” but I honestly don’t care what Chekov looks like so long as he’s Russian and not really respected (check both boxes in this instance). Oh, and there’s this one part with a modern rock song early on that will probably kill the raging semis of a few of you Tribble-fuckers out there, but if you think about the artist in question and some of their lyrics / videos over the years, you’ll get why they were included in Star Trek Reboot 2009: Let’s Make America Hard Again.
Nothin’ else to say except prepare for Warp Five levels of awesome, set phasers for rawk, and beam yourself to the nearest multiplex immediately! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN (has nothing to do with this movie)!!!!!!!!!!!!
FINAL SCORE: Four Giant Earpieces Jutting Out Of Uhura’s Head (out of four).