The rather astonishing true story of the creation of the Wonder Woman character, this is certainly not your run-of-the-mill biopic. It's a sharply well-observed story of three intellectual people who choose to live a scandalously counterculture lifestyle in the 1920s, then come up with a comic book character who goes against all the rules. Frankly, they still seem radical today.
It opens at Harvard University in the mid-1920s, where Bill Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) are psychology professors who have just invented what will become the modern lie-detector. They have hired grad student Olive (Bella Heathcote) as an assistant and, after some blatant flirting, both Bill and Elizabeth fall for her, deciding to create a three-way relationship. As they work on the details of how they will live together, Bill conceives a comic book hero who will help preach a message of female empowerment, inspired by both Elizabeth and Olive. And he infuses the comics with sadomasochistic imagery to make his point. Publishers are shocked by this, but one (Oliver Platt) gives the new character a shot. And Wonder Woman outsells Superman.
The story is told in flashbacks as Bill defends his work in the mid-1940s to a representative of the Catholic decency league (Connie Britton), who of course hates the comics' feminist ideas and sexualised imagery. She has no idea about Bill's three-way relationship, or the fact that he fathered two children with each woman. Writer-director Angela Robinson (The L Word) uses this cross-cutting structure to develop some tension between Bill, Elizabeth and Olive that feels more cinematic than realistic. But the three actors keep the characters remarkably grounded, with a brainy and open-minded approach to their life together. Evans is superb in the central role, while Hall shines as the prickly Elizabeth, who wants to be liberal but can't control her jealous impulses. By comparison, Heathcote's Olive feels rather passive, even though she has moments of steely energy.
Continue reading: Professor Marston And The Wonder Women Review
While Wonder Woman remains one of the most important female heroines in the history of fiction, few realise the just under what circumstances the character came about. The comic was first created by Dr. William Moulton Marston in 1941 under the pen-name Charles Moulton. Not only was he pioneering comic book writer, he was also a Harvard psychologist and the inventor of the systolic blood pressure test which aided the development of the modern polygraph or lie detector test. But perhaps the most fascinating facet of his life was what went on behind closed doors. He was in the midst of a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth and a young former student named Olive Byrne; two women whose feminist ideals inspired Wonder Woman as we know her today. Though the initial stories were fraught with controversy, not many could imagine how important the character would become to young men and women everywhere.
By Rich Cline
Fans of romantic fiction may enjoy this gimmicky comedy, which cleverly plays around with Jane Austen's fiction but kind of misses its own joke. The screenwriters seem to think they're combining sudsy fantasy with darker realism. But actually everything on screen is plainly ridiculous, only livened up by a couple of the actors.
The story starts in America, where Jane (Russell) is so obsessed with Austen's novels that she's sure Mr Darcy is coming for her any day now. So she spends her savings on a holiday at Austenland in England, where Mrs Wattlesbrook (Seymour) lets her clients live as if they're in a 19th century novel. Jane's only fellow guests are Elizabeth and Amelia (Coolidge and King), both of whom flirt shamelessly with Nobley, Andrews and East (Feild, Callis and Whittle), the actors on hand to play dashing bachelors. But Jane is more interested in sexy stable boy Martin (McKenzie).
As the script strains to layer romance and fantasy into this goofy set-up, there are a few snappy one-liners that get us laughing, thanks mainly to the expert improvisation skills of Coolidge, who can make anything funny. By contrast, Russell is annoyingly naive and sulky, while King tips the opposite way into broad farce. The men are more interesting because we occasionally get to see them as the actors they really are, but none of them are very complex, and we can guess where the story is going from the start.
Continue reading: Austenland Review
Take a look at this trailer for Austenworld.
The premise of Austenland is simple – by today’s standards at least - Jane Hayes loves everything Jane Austin and Pride & Prejudice. She loves the regency era, the clothes, the accents and the drama, but most of all, she well and truly loves Mr. Darcy. We’ve all been there, right? (I’m talking to the boyfriends).
As if filling her with bedroom all manner of Austen-themed memorabilia wasn’t enough, Hayes – played by Keri Russell – embarks on an adventure to the ultimate Austen experience in England, something that strips her of her life savings. But, hang on a minute; the world that Austen brought to life in her books isn’t actually that swell. Where’s the Internet? Facebook? NO CONTACT MUSIC?! Well this won’t do.
Jane Hayes has, what some might say, an unhealthy obsession with Jane Austen's novels and all things from the Regency era. She's infatuated with Mr. Darcy from 'Pride and Prejudice' - of whom she has a cardboard cut-out portrayed by Colin Firth from the 1995 Emmy winning BBC series - and has filled her bedroom with all manner of Austen-themed memorabilia. After discovering an ultimate Austen experience in England, she puts all her life savings into making the trip there, immersing herself completely in the Regency style excursion and finding her Mr. Darcy. However, it soon becomes clear that living without modern amenities is almost unthinkable and the paradise she imagined is far from bliss. Although she starts to contemplate that she may have wasted all her life savings, she does meet a potential love interest, though he may not be what she was looking for.
Continue: Austenland Trailer
By Rich Cline
Director Johnston once again channels Steven Spielberg, this time for a raucously entertaining Indiana Jones-style adventure. With the energetic punch of a vintage serial, it actually leaves us wanting more.In 1942 New York, Steve Rogers (Evans) is desperate to join the war in Europe with his buddy James (Stan), but is too weedy to fight. Then a scientist (Tucci) spots him, and soon he's partnered with gorgeous Agent Carter (Atwell) and put in a top-secret programme that amplifies his muscles and will-power. But as "Captain America" he's just a propaganda tool until he gets a chance to prove himself on the front line as a key weapon against the deeply evil Nazi Schmidt (Weaving).Shot more like a rollicking adventure than a typical superhero movie, the script spends just about enough time on the origin story to grab our attention, including nifty effects that render Evans as a 90-pound weakling. Then the action kicks off, powering through one set piece after another. Refreshingly, it never bothers to deepen the story with random sideplots, superfluous characters or knowing winks. So it's a lot of fun to watch.
The action sequences are thrilling without being too suspenseful and, for the most part, the filmmakers keep the stunts and explosions within believable proportions. In fact, the film has a wonderfully dishevelled look, combining more rough-and-ready filmmaking touches with the slick 1940s clothes and architecture. Which almost makes it feel like one of the propaganda films it so cleverly recreates.
Continue reading: Captain America: The First Avenger Review
Steve Rogers is a sickly young man who has always been bullied in the streets of 1940's Brooklyn because of his weight. He applies for World War II military duty in an attempt to toughen up but is rejected as 'unfit for duty' because of his frailness. Steve isn't put off, however and attempts to enlist again, despite dissuasion from his friend, 'Bucky' Barnes.
By Rich Cline
A fascinating, realistic exploration of male friendship, this beautifully shot and finely acted drama will struggle to find an audience simply because its subject matter is ultimately so dark.
James (Cumberbatch) has just turned 29 and he's dying of cancer. As a birthday wish, he gets his best mates Miles, Davy and Bill (Feild, Burke and Robertson) to take him on a hike across Pembrokeshire to his favourite beach. Along the way, good-natured banter gives way to sometimes too-honest conversations as they have a series of small adventures on the vertiginous cliffs. The question is whether their friendship can survive all of the things that are finally about to be said.
Continue reading: Third Star Review
By Rich Cline
With a raucous, gruesome tone, this Roman-era British action movie takes us back in time in such a vivid way that we often feel a bit queasy while watching. If the story were stronger, we'd be glued to the screen.
Quintus Dias (Fassbender) seems to be an unusually lucky centurion. Stationed in the nastiest outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire in Britain, he's the only survivor of a Pict attack by the vindictive Gorlacon (Thomsen). So he teams with General Virilus (West) and heads back into the hot zone. Again, the Picts launch a devastating attack. This time seven Romans survive, and it becomes a cat-and-mouse chase as mute huntress Etain (Kurylenko) tenaciously tracks Quintus and company across the Highlands. Can they make it back to safety in the south?
Continue reading: Centurion Review
Watch the trailer for Telstar
Continue: Telstar Trailer