Wonder Woman launches the Capitol's new era

Cairns on Cinema

John Cairns

Today, you are getting my review of Wonder Woman – or, more accurately, my review of Wonder Woman at the Capitol in North Battleford, because that is what it was.

Friday night, I had the opportunity to see Wonder Woman on the same night that the Capitol re-opened for business after its three-month-long shutdown. After Magic Lantern acquired the theatre, they went straight to work renovating the place, taking out the old chairs, taking out the much-hated dividing wall, and completely revamping the entire sound system, among other things. So this review is as much about the Capitol as it is about the movie.

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Summing it up: the Capitol is back.

Here is the Coles Notes version of what the experience was like inside there Friday night: the screen is bigger than the ones that were there before, and the movie was screened in sharp-looking digital projection.

The sound system was first-rate: it just boomed right around the entire room.

The seating came as advertised; very comfy.

This theatre reminded me of a few that I've been in in Saskatoon. That's good; it means I can stay here to watch movies more often.

The opening night was sold out, which meant insane lineups at the concession counter. If you didn't buy your tickets before arriving at the theatre, you weren't getting in.

Frankly, though, that is to be expected on a Friday night. If you want to beat the crowds, you always will want to go to one of the midweek screenings when there are fewer people.

Someone here at the paper asked whether the Capitol’s neon sign is going to be lit up, but the Capitol is saying on their Facebook page “keep an eye on the sign. You never know what’s going to happen.”

In general, the reaction from customers in the theatre and on Facebook was very positive to what they saw there, with the seats getting the most positive reaction. People seemed generally very happy and impressed with what Magic Lantern has done with the place.

I think another reason why people were in a good mood was because Wonder Woman was a good movie. If this had been Baywatch or some other piece of junk, people might have not been so charitable about the whole experience.

Now on to some thoughts on the main feature.

As you know, people have been waiting a long time for a Wonder Woman movie to hit the big screen. And this wait made no sense, because Wonder Woman has been an iconic character in the DC universe for a long time. The character was featured on a hit TV show in the Seventies starring Lynda Carter, and on Saturday mornings on the cartoon series SuperFriends.

It is strange that it has taken this long for a major feature film. I suppose the excuse is that the people in charge wanted to get it right.

That's something that cannot be said about recent movies about the "DC Extended Universe," such as last year's Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. In that movie, Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, made her first appearance.

That movie should have been awesome. Instead, it underwhelmed critics and the box office, becoming yet another example of the "DC movie curse" in action.

The bottom line is there is a lot riding on this Wonder Woman movie; the folks at Warner Bros. want a successful movie franchise, since it is obvious Batman and Superman have been done to death. What's more, they have been getting killed lately by Marvel and their superhero movies featuring the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and others.

So WB desperately needs Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, to be both a good movie and a hit, and it looks like they succeeded. As of Saturday this movie was at 94 per cent "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes.

I won't go into too much detail about the plot of this latest movie: Diana grows up on Themyscira and dreams of becoming an Amazon warrior, mentored by her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). One day, the plane of American pilot Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) crashes off the coast and Diana goes into the ocean to rescue him. It is through Trevor that she learns that World War I is going on, with mass slaughter and with women and children being killed. Worse yet, she is told of deadly new gas being developed that could extend the war and the carnage. Hearing this, Diana realizes she has to stop the war. She decides to join Steve in heading to the front lines to hunt down and find Ares, the God of War, who she is convinced is responsible, and bring peace to the Earth.

I guess what struck me most about this whole enterprise was that it was not the typical superhero movie we've come to expect. For a good chunk of the middle portion of this flick, it feels more like a period-piece war movie that just so happens to feature a superhero in it.

It is really by the final act that it starts to feel more like a superhero movie again, with plenty of action and explosions. By this point, we finally get to see all of Wonder Woman's superpowers on full display.

One other point for anyone going to see Wonder Woman: the Capitol is screening the 2D version of the movie, not the 3D version. So, if you are dead-set on seeing this movie in 3D, you're going to have to fill the gas tank and go to Saskatoon.

Personally, I didn't feel terribly shortchanged by watching Wonder Woman in 2D. Then again, I didn't feel like wasting money on gas for a trip to Saskatoon, or wasting additional money on top of that for 3D ticket prices.

Overall, though, the entire experience at the Capitol was positive. The lesson of all this: for a quality movie experience you need both a good movie and a good movie theatre.

The last word is: Wonder Woman is back, the Capitol is back, and movie-going is back in North Battleford.

Wonder Woman runs at the Capitol through Thursday; show times each night are 7:30 p.m.

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