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Cinema Dispatch: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and all the images you see in this review are owned by Annapurna Pictures

Directed by Angela Robinson

You know, if we’re gonna get biopics like that upcoming one about Charles Dickens that looks like a Monty Python sketch, we might as well start doing them about comic book creators too!  The early years of Marvel with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, watching Batman evolve from comic book hero to Hollywood star through the eyes of Bob Kane, heck The Alan Moore story could be a freaking twelve hour Netflix series considering how much comic book controversy he’s managed to find himself in over his career!  What we’ve got NOW though is probably the most interesting story of them all which is about Wonder Woman creator Professor William Marston and his unorthodox relationship with his wife Elizabeth Holloway and a former student of his Olive Byrne.  Heck, it’s not only a great story to tell about queer women (though there is some contention of that) in a time where that wasn’t even legal, it also has incorporates radical feminism, BDSM, and comic book scare mongering that eventually led to the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s.  With such fascinating material to work with, can it be turned into an engaging and interesting biopic, or is this a whole lot of scintillating window dressing for yet another rote history lesson?  Let’s find out!!

Our story begins in Radcliffe University (a women’s only branch of Harvard) where the brilliant psychology professor William Marston (Luke Evans) and his much more brilliant wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) are teaching psychology while working together on some other projects such as a lie detecting machine which is actually true.  They did invent the polygraph which is a significant event in this film.  Anyway, William is teaching a course on DISC theory (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance) when one of the students catches his eye.  Her name is Olive Byrne and soon becomes a TA for the Marstons; helping them with their legitimate experiments and some that may just be for fun.  Eventually, this precarious situation between the three of them has to come to a head at some point and… well that’s where things get kind of awesome but also REALLY stressful.  Oh, and at some point the dude creates Wonder Woman off based on the experiences and he has with the two women in his life as well as his own theories on feminism and even some of his sexual hang-ups which are REALLY noticeable if you read the earliest issues of the book.  Will this trio of likeminded misfits find a place in the world that is openly hostile to them and their way of life?  What will happen when puritanical busy bodies get start to understand the radical subtext within the pages of the comic book that are becoming more and more popular with children across the country?  Wait, is THAT why Wonder Woman has a lasso!?

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“The safe word is Themyscira.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and Screen Gems

Directed by Burr Steers

As much as camp and shtick have grown in popularity in the last decade (coinciding with the rise of the internet as a daily tool for the masses), it’s still not something that’s easily recreated and more often than not happened by accident.  That’s why films like this one annoy me right off the bat.  You can spend a million dollars trying to recreate a Big Mac perfectly, but that time would have been better spent making something good.  The flashy visuals, confident swagger, and knowing winks to the audience tend to makers of a terrible film covering up its faults than a genuine fun throwback to exploitation films of yore.  Still, that’s just the vibe I’m getting from the trailers and trailers have a tendency to be misleading; just look at the ones for Hail Caesar.  Can this movie succeed at being fun trash, or will it be the cinematic equivalent of dumpster diving?  Let’s find out!!

The movie essentially follows the story of Pride and Prejudice, in that it follows Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) on her journey about navigating the British upper class, the relationship she eventually forges with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), and the choices her sisters make that affect her family.  It starts with her sister Jane (Bella Heathcote) and Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) falling in love during a party at the Bingley estate where Elizabeth first meets Mr. Darcy and immediately finds him to be an unpleasant and haughty ass.  Over a series of weeks and months, things only become more strained as they run into each other quite often due to Mr. Darcy’s friendship with Mr. Bingley as he and Jane continue their courtship.  Oh, and this all takes place after the zombie apocalypse where all of Britain (though I have no idea if this has spread to the rest of the world) is under threat from the undead masses.  Their numbers grow so large that they basically make that city from Attack on Titan, i.e. they big a giant wall to keep everything else out.  Despite the protection afforded to them by their isolation, the threat of the outside world constantly looms and the entire Bennet family has been trained in some form of martial arts, as has Mr. Darcy and I believe Mr. Bingley.  I think the idea is that EVERYONE in the upper class knows how to fight, but we never really see that many people clash with the zombies and instead just run away.  None of this though seems to have much impact on the story at hand which is about Elizabeth constantly fighting against the wishes of her mother to settle down with whatever lout with have her, including her own cousin Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) and her steadfast refusal to agree to marriage for anything less than love.  Will she and Mr. Darcy eventually find out that they’re perfect for each other… for some reason?  Will they be able to stop the zombies from getting any closer to wiping out all of Britain?  Couldn’t we have just ended this shtick with the one about Lincoln?

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“Look!  Another dead horse!”     “GET HIM!!!!”

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