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  • Wonder Woman | Review

    By | June 1, 2017

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    Director: Patty Jenkins

    Writer: Allan Heinberg (screenplay), Zack Snyder (story), Jason Fuchs (story)

    Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock

    First things first…isn’t it about damn time we had a Wonder Woman movie! It’s amazing to me, someone who grew up as a young boy loving watching Lynda Carter kick ass on the small screen, that in our current superhero-oversaturated film culture, it took this long to make it happen. It’s almost like we’re still living in a male-dominated, sexist society in 2017 or or something. Better late than never, I guess, and it’s way more exciting than it should be in 2017 to be able to say that the film is directed by a woman, as well. And because of that, I came into this film feeling like it’s saddled with the weight of the world. If this thing is bad or is a commercial failure, how damaging will it be to the future prospects of female directors directing superhero/action films with female leads. Of course, I also suspect that this might tend to get a free critical pass for the same reasons. Ultimately, I think it’s a real shame that in 2017 I even have to think about all of these things when all I’d really like to do is talk about the film itself.

    Set during World War I and filled with Greek mythology, the film is an absurd mish-mash of historical events and mythical tales and childhood TV memories and recent superhero films (a superhero movie set during a world war with an actor named Chris playing a character named Steve sound familiar to anyone?). Absurd, yes, but also comfortably familiar and establishing just the kind of throwback comic book universe most of us will be familiar with. The films opens with a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) longingly watching Amazon women training for battle, acting out their moves and wishing she was amongst them. She has been told by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), that she was sculpted out of clay before Zeus breathed life into her but we’ll later discover that this isn’t her true creation story.

    It seems that these women warriors live on a magically secluded paradisaical island of Themyscira that was established for them by Zeus as his final act, to keep them safe from Ares, whom he was able to wound but not destroy. There, they are in constant training, ready to come out of seclusion and battle Ares should he heal up and decide to carry out his desire to foment war that will lead to the destruction of humanity. As Diana grows into a young lady and continues to study in the ways of war under the tutelage of her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), much to her mother’s disapproval, there are signs that she has special powers above and beyond the battle prowess of her fellow Amazonians.

    And then suddenly, with Diana (Gal Gadot) now a fully grown woman, their island’s seclusion is pierced by a WWI era plane flying overhead and crashing into the coastal waters. Inside is Steve Trevor, an American soldier fleeing from pursuing German troops after stealing secret war plans, who is soon plunging to the bottom of the sea before Diana comes to his rescue. After the Amazonian warriors have handily dispatched the pursuing German troops, learning in the process that human bullets are effective on their warriors when they hit their mark, Diana learns of the sad state of affairs in the greater world outside. And soon, her and Trevor are off to help in the war effort, him to return the stolen war plans to British command and her to find and destroy Ares, who she is convinced is behind the German war effort.

    But enough with the plot summary. The film really gets under way from here, with Diana suddenly in the war-strained world of 1918 Britain, a society that has strictly enforced codes for women. Of course, Diana barely knows what men are and has no idea what a gun or plane or even a watch are, so she’s a shark out of water. To the film’s credit, it does what DC has been loathe to do up to this point, and lets a little bit of the obvious humor of the situation seep into the otherwise dark affair, and in the process allows this film to break out of the typical overbearingly dark DC mold. Gal Gadot, well cast in this role, does a fine job as Wonder Woman, beautiful but also strong and tough. With a strong moral compass not yet used to all the complexities and compromises of life in the modern world, she finds herself shocked and repelled by the sad state of affairs she is constantly faced with. Eventually, she finds her own voice and her own inner strength and begins to assert herself into the affairs of the men, who are not used to be a woman being in the room, much less leading the charge into battle.

    From here, the film is a pretty typical affair with a little bit of romance and a lot of fighting. We get your intermingling of typical war time battle scenes with a super-powered hero changing the course of the battles so that the good guys win. But not without a heavy cost. And we eventually find out whether Diana was right about Ares being behind the whole blamed mess. To be honest, I personally found the CGI-heavy battle and fight sequences to be a bit boring but was ecstatic when my seven year old son turned to me and said, “THIS is good!” after having been a bit bored by the early back-story and didn’t even seem to care that it was a woman versus a man who he was watching kick ass on the big screen. And when all is said and done, that alone is an accomplishment worthy of praise.

    Rating: 7/10

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