Richard’s Year of Movies — Wonder Woman/The Guns of Navarone

I ended up with an odd double feature on Saturday, both with ties to Greece:  the recent animated Wonder Woman, and the classic 1961 war film The Guns of Navarone.  Now Greece is pretty much where the similarities end, and it didn’t occur to me until after the fact, but hey, these intros don’t write themselves.

I was pleasantly surprised by Wonder Woman, especially after being a little let down by The New FrontierWonder Woman not only embraces the fetishistic past of the character (plenty of tying up and sexual innuendo), but it’s pretty damn violent too.  Heads getting lopped off, swords through guts, decent amount of blood, and some pretty brutal fist fights.  It’s refreshing seeing Wonder Woman portrayed as just as much of a brawler as Batman or Superman.  This isn’t just her deflecting bullets with her bracelets and tossing her lasso on bad guys.  They also pull off a really nice and naturally developed relationship between her and Steve Trevor (fantastically voice by Nathan Fillion).  In a nice twist, it’s him that goes gaga for her right away.  The plot is pretty standard hero fare — Ares the God of War escapes and declares war on the world, and Wonder Woman must stop him — but they nail all the characters pretty well, there’s solid voice work all around, and by the time the end rolls around and a little girl shout, “It’s Wonder Woman!”, you’ve bought into it.  A fun little surprise.

As for The Guns of Navarone, I hadn’t seen it in a while.  I’ve always held it second in the Holy Trinity of 1960s World War II films (the first being The Great Escape, the third being The Dirty Dozen), but I’d forgotten how really damn good it is.  You’ve got a top-notch cast, and there’s great action, but you’ve also got some great dramatic scenes, particularly when David Niven is arguing with Gregory Peck over whether or not to kill an infiltrator in the midst.  Niven gives it his all, but then Peck knocks it out of the park with his “You’ve got me in the mood to use this thing!” line.  It’s just great to see a war film stop and take the time to tackle some ethical questions as opposed to having the good guys be unfailingly good.

There’s also a lengthy scene of our heroes climbing a steep cliff in a heavy storm that’s remarkable due to the lack of any sound but the sound of the storm.  No dialog, no music, just this howling wind.  I don’t know of a lot of modern films that would be able to resist the temptation to tack on a bombastic music cue or throw in some cheesy catch-phrases over a scene like this.

So cartoon women in tights and WWII.  Not a bad Saturday.

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