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     Crutchammer, part 2
    Filed under: — David @ 6:37 pm

    Yesterday we watched the new Wonder Woman animated movie… or some of it, anyway. Although this wasn’t the worst of its offenses, it sums it up pretty well that we didn’t get much farther than the part where the magic lasso is used to force a man to give a definition for the word “crap”. In a movie like that, they shouldn’t bring up the definition of crap because it just leaves them wide open. I’ll restrain myself.

    As with the previous Superman: Doomsday, this is a direct-to-video PG-13 movie. And even more than before, they use the added “freedom” of the PG-13 rating to make a more “adult” oriented movie, limping around on the crutch/sledgehammer of sex (partial nudity with strategic camera angles and hair placement in a gratingly cliché bathing beauties scene) and violence (including a decapitation in the opening battle, plus two on-screen groin kicks, or maybe more since we quit early).

    But even if it had been more tastefully done, the story just dragged, and it’s only 75 minutes long. What happened after Justice League that made Bruce Timm (the producer here) and friends forget how to make a good superhero cartoon?

    One of the things Lisa and I both liked about The Dark Knight was that while there was more violence than we’d want small children to see, the film doesn’t dwell on it. It’s usually quick, and/or offscreen, so you can stay focused on the story and the characters. We’re not categorically opposed to violence in movies. Just before Wonder Woman we watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Again, even when there was action and violence, the focus was still on the characters. Wonder Woman never achieved that.

    As a follow-up to the previous post, I found my copy of Watchmen yesterday. Flipping through it, I saw that it is indeed an R-rated comic book. But I’ll stand by my claim that you could tell the story just as well in a PG-13 film. Sure, it wouldn’t be as “gritty” or whatever, but that’s a gimmick, it’s not the story.

    Filed under: — David @ 8:16 pm

    A quote from an Entertainment Weekly article on the Watchmen movie:

    The director also believed that an “adult” superhero epic needed to be explicit about its “adult” content. He wanted to hear the characters’ philosophical musings. He wanted to see the blood spurt. And instead of the chaste kisses of most superhero movie romances, he wanted to see some naked getting-it-on.

    “I wanted to make sure everyone understood: This is not a kid movie,” says Snyder. “Violence has consequences. And doing that with a PG-13 just dilutes that message.”

    Is it really necessary for an “adult” film to use the sledgehammer of sex and violence to tell us that it’s not for kids? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question, so I’ll just answer it: No.

    Okay, violence has consequences. How does that message require spurting blood and explicit sex? (And why keep kids away from philosophical musings?) I admit it’s been a long time since I read the original Watchmen comic, so I don’t remember exactly how “adult” it is, but I have long maintained that the phrase “gratuitous nudity” is pretty much redundant.

    Lisa and I have been watching a lot of old movies lately, both rented and on the TCM channel. The other day we watched All About Eve, which as the DVD’s documentary points out is tied with Titanic for having the most Oscar nominations, and yet its biggest “action sequence” consists of Bette Davis descending a staircase.

    Standards have loosened since the days of All About Eve, as far as the allowable levels of sex and violence in movies. But I believe they’ve become a crutch as well as a sledgehammer… an interesting mental picture, I know. It certainly wouldn’t make it any easier to walk.

    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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