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Non-Review Review: 300 – Rise of an Empire

It is almost immediately apparent that 300: Rise of an Empire was not directed by Zack Snyder. Snyder is credited on the inter-quel’s screenplay, but Rise of an Empire is directed by Noam Murro. Murro’s only other feature-length directorial credit is the forgotten indie movie Smart People, which would hardly make a case for Murro as an obvious choice to succeed Snyder in the director’s chair.

300 was a lavish and rich (and surprisingly shrewd) visual feast – packed with iconic imagery and memorable mosaics, treating it’s muscle-bound stars as props for epic spectacle while casting a knowing look out at the audience. Rise of an Empire feels like an attempt at imitation rather than innovation – with a sense that Murro isn’t bold enough to put his own stamp on the film, instead trying to channel one of the most unique voices currently working in action movies.

Slice o' life...

Slice o’ life…

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Hey Zeus, Meet Jesus: Wrath of the Titans & Judeo-Christian Archetypes…

Somewhere, an expert on Ancient Greek mythology is crying. Probably a lot of experts on Ancient Greek culture. As enjoyable as Wrath of the Titans might be in offering charming (if a little shallow) spectacle, it doesn’t necessarily offer the most faithful depiction of Ancient Greek deities. It isn’t the only film to get things drastically wrong – Disney’s Hercules comes to mind. Presenting these mythical characters and creatures for modern audiences and sensibilities, the archetypes are skewed and twisted to conform to religious associations which most audience members might find familiar. In particular, these sorts of films often adopt a decidedly Judeo-Christian view of Ancient Greek gods. However, watching Wrath of the Titans, I couldn’t help but feel that the film was not only acutely aware of that narrative shortcut, but perhaps even cleverly exploiting it – developing the character arc of these ancient gods and transitioning them into the archetypes that we know and recognise.

Oh my gods...

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Non-Review Review: Wonder Woman

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. This is one of the animated feature films involving the characters from the creators of the original animated shows.

Did you… did you stop Ares?

No. I didn’t. I couldn’t.

What? Why not?

I had to save you.

(slap!)

Ow!

– Diana clarifies to Steve that she isn’t a damsel in distress

I have to confess, I’ve never been grabbed by Wonder Woman as a concept. Is she a feminist? A socially conscious superhero? A female superman? A superhero who is willing to take a life if it’s necessary? A diplomat? She’s been all these things and many more, which is perhaps why it’s hard to get a handle on her – which is perhaps why it’s difficult to care for her. Her origins cannot be summed up in a single sentence like Batman (an orphaned “rich kid with issues… lots of issues”) or Superman (who Grant Morrison managed to sum up in eight words) – her origin will likely eat up at least a paragraph of this review. As such, you can understand my surprise that Wonder Woman is perhaps the best DC comics animated adaptation they have produced to date.

Taking a swing at the character...

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