In Hollywood, the muse can strike filmmakers with similar ideas, and those movies can come out in the same year. Thatâs the only way I can explain how we had both âLoganâ and âLogan Luckyâ on theater marquees. Or why you may be forgiven for mixing up the titles of âBeach Ratsâ and âRat Film.â
This year was special. No fewer than five movies sought to put the âwonderâ back into movies, or at least in their titles â âWonder Woman,â âProfessor Marston and the Wonder Women,â âWonderstruck,â âWonderâ and âWonder Wheel.â All except for that last one were adaptations of works that moviegoers might recognize, so itâs understandable that filmmakers would stick with the word.
The movies filled audiences with different sorts of wonder. Some left the theater scratching their heads; others, inspired. Hereâs how:
Released in June, this film started the trend. For all its faults, âWonder Womanâ was truly a marvel. It had a woman, Patty Jenkins, at the helm; broke scores of box office records; and inspired many moviegoers. I saw a group of girls heading into the theater with some poor parent trying to herd them in time. Aside from their chaperone, everyone in that party was wearing Wonder Woman socks.
âProfessor Marston and the Wonder Womenâ
Unfortunately, the same fanfare did not greet the biopic of Wonder Womanâs creator. Or should I say creators? Angela Robinsonâs âProfessor Marston and the Wonder Womenâ slowly reveals the influences Professor Marston (Luke Evans) drew on to create the superhero inspired by Greek mythology. There were no greater sources of inspiration than his wife (a marvelous Rebecca Hall) and his live-in mistress (Bella Heathcote). With its luscious score and warm cinematography, the movie is closer to a biopic, avoiding sensationalized depictions of the polyamorous relationship at its heart. The film opened in October to wonderful reviews, including our own, but they werenât enough to save it.
Another October release, Todd Haynesâs âWonderstruckâ is more kid-friendly. Based on Brian Selznickâs book of the same title, the movie follows the adventures of two deaf children from different eras â one in the 1920s and the other in the 1970s. They each travel to New York City, where their story lines cross and their back stories are revealed. Mr. Haynes incorporated little flourishes from each era throughout. The â20s scenes are filmed in black and white and feature silent movies, while those in the â70s look yellow and aged. But each child visits the fascinating world within the American Museum of Natural History. They walk past taxidermied animals and shining gems in awe and admiration. Itâs a childlike wonder that not all adults hold on to as they grow old.
Children can be just as mean as grown-ups, as âWonderâ unfortunately shows. Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) lives with a facial deformity and fears his appearance will make him a target for bullies when his parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) decide itâs time for them to stop teaching him at home and send him to a private school. Auggieâs fears are realized, and he is tormented by his classmates. His sister is also struggling at school after losing touch with her best friend. Since Ms. Robertsâs character is constantly worrying about her son, itâs a wonder Mr. Wilsonâs character is always so carefree.