This review was written while Peterborough was still under Tier 2 restrictions. However, Peterborough and many other areas in the East of England have now moved into a higher tier, so cinemas will not be able to remain open.
I visited the Peterborough Showcase in August to watch Marvel’s The New Mutants. My experience was a positive one then, and I’m happy to say that I didn’t have any concerns this time either. The same social distancing rules applied as before, both when navigating the cinema and booking seats, and there were hand sanitisers throughout the building.
Overall it was an incredibly quiet experience. The foyer was empty bar the staff, and there were only three other people there to watch the film. It was, however, a mid-afternoon showing, and before school holidays. I expect cinemas that do remain open will get a little busier over time. But it wasn’t too different to summertime, and it felt a lot like a personal viewing, with minimal distractions. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there were no trailers before the film either. I know many enjoy that aspect of the cinema experience, but personally I didn’t mind being able to dive straight into the action.
A movie with a timely theme
This time I watched DC’s Christmas blockbuster, Wonder Woman 1984. The film was originally due to be released in June, but after the exhaustion of 2020 I feel that it arrived at a good time. Its core theme of truth opposing lies is universal, and as topics such as election fraud and misinformation surrounding Covid-19 remain poignant, Wonder Woman really does feel like the heroine and role model we all need right now. That’s especially true as we tread with uncertainty into the new year.
The 80s setting is on trend right now, thanks to shows like Stranger Things and American Horror Story. Thankfully this isn’t purely for the sake of superficial nostalgia. It manages to serve a historical purpose, addressing concerns of the time, while also allowing the writers to tell their own story without fear of treading on the toes of other DC universe films. Early on, it reminded me of many classic DC shows like Wonder Woman and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Wonder Woman speeds through the streets of Washington fighting crime, making it seem effortlessly easy. She also manages to look fabulously glamorous and have a lot of fun in the process. Gal Gadot continues to play the role perfectly. She combines grace and warmth with a dash of cheekiness, while remaining absolutely fierce in combat.
Pedro Pascal’s performance as the pretentious Maxwell Lord is also fantastic and well-layered. In fact, he is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Most will recognise him (or at least his voice) from The Mandalorian, a show I absolutely love. But considering he’s wearing a suit for the majority of that, it was refreshing to see him in a more dynamic role. And without a helmet too!
Not a perfect film, but extremely enjoyable
My biggest critique is that the film’s resolution is a little clumsy. Matters escalate rapidly towards the end, and the stakes are terrifyingly high. But it all ends rather quickly, and perhaps a little too easily, with some threads being left unresolved. I expect a lot will be addressed in future films. At 2 hours 35 minutes it was already lengthy for a superhero film, but I would’ve liked an extra 5 minutes or so to reflect on the aftermath of its events. While the writers may have cornered themselves with the film’s story, I really liked its themes and seeing how far they could be pushed. So while its delivery wasn’t always perfect, that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of an otherwise great film.
DC films have been rather hit and miss for me. But as someone who grew up with DC comics and TV shows I just want to see it do well. I love it when DC isn’t afraid to embrace its weirder side and try something a little different. Shazam! was a perfect example, and I’m particularly looking forward to James Gunn’s upcoming Suicide Squad reboot. I’ll be happy if this level of quality keeps up, as the DC universe is so rich and packed with exciting stories. That should be celebrated, and it all deserves the same level of care that Wonder Woman 1984 received. It was an absolute joy to watch and left me feeling hopeful and excited for the future.
WORDS Andy Porter