Review: ‘Wonder Woman’

Wonder Woman is the hero we need now more than ever.

That statement is not to come across as hyperbolic or serve as an olive branch to DC Comics fans who still believe us “critics” were paid to write damning reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. No, Wonder Woman is the hero we need now more than ever because we are living through perilous times that are becoming more vexing by the day. So the thought of deriding women for trying to do more than what’s expected is a foolish pursuit. The time of damsels in dresses is over; they can sit at the superhero table.

Women may be stubborn but they are also compassionate. Demonstrative and impassive. Reckless and fearless.

Face it: women are wonderful.

Wonder Woman is all about unfulfilled potential of the liberated woman. Tired of seeing males in spandex save the day with power and strength, psychologist William Moulton Marston, famous for creating the polygraph test, sought to create a hero that triumphed over evil using love. How appropriate then that the hero’s gender was all on account of Marston’s wife Elizabeth. She humored her husband and his intellectual comic pursuit with one suggestion: Make her a woman.

A game of psychological one-upmanship (womanship?), Marston’s Wonder Woman was his visual representation of what women should and aspire to be. Where strong qualities are not viewed as a weakness of femininity.

Her arrival in comics came as America was on the verge of entering the Second World War. But for her origin story in 2017’s Wonder Woman we go back to the early 1900s to get reacquainted with the Amazon princess, who was awkwardly shoehorned (yet was one of the highlights) in last year’s Batman v Superman. Doing the time warp allowed Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger recall the Greatest Generation with patriotic superhero Steve Rogers doing his part to punch Nazis in the nose. With Wonder Woman we, fittingly enough, venture into No Man’s Land and are transported to the War to End All Wars.

Wonder Woman’s origin begins on the remote island of Themyscira, a lush, matriarchal city-state. The cherubic princess Diana is in awe of the Amazons that train to be warriors. As the years progress Diana grows more obsessed with becoming a warrior. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), would rather shelter Diana from outside forces and hide her true origins than be forthright and a guiding force in her dogged pursuance. Hippolyta’s sister, General Antiope (Robin Wright), is no buttercup when she reluctantly consents to teach Diana on becoming the greatest warrior on the island.

If you can buy into the cockeyed premise that Diana (Gal Gadot) is the demigod daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, then you’ll happily go down the rabbit hole of the alternate reality presented and bathe yourself in the clear blue waters of Themyscira. When American intelligence officer Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands hundreds of feet from the shores of the mystical island, we take that valiant leap into the ocean with Diana as she comes to his rescue.

Convinced the men (Germans) that storm the island trying to kill Steve is the work of Ares, the God of War, Diana accompanies him back to London with the intent to find the god and vanquish him. His defeat will help restore balance among the human race for peace to have a chance (so she believes). While in London, Diana goes by the name Diana Prince and exists in a secretarial capacity to strangers in terms of attire, keeping her power in check until the opportunity presents itself. Which it does in moments that will have audiences applauding unabashedly.

The intel Steve provides HQ – Germany’s new gas weapon that can level towns upon discharge – is brushed aside as any covert operation could disrupt an impending armistice. All the same, a secret mission is hatched to destroy the weapons and the diabolical villains behind their creation. Elena Anaya is the mad scientist Dr. Isabel Maru (aka Dr. Poison) working in tandem with General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), who Diana believes to be Ares. But Steve and Diana can’t do it by themselves. Enter a trio of compatriots who risk life and limb with little monetary recourse. There’s Sameer the actor (Said Tagmaoui), Charlie the sharpshooter (Ewen Bremner), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), a native American but with no true country to call his own.

Together they work to save the world with Wonder Woman and her golden lasso of truth leading the way!

To all of those who originally scoffed at the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman – eat your words. From the onset she was an inspired choice to assume the role previously made famous by Lynda Carter on 1970s television. It’s not about muscularity. Wonder Woman is an attitude. Gadot brings beauty, strength, and elegance to the character and owns it. Chris Pine, the once heady captain of the Starship Enterprise, has some funny moments as Steve and Diana get more acquainted with the right amount of sexual tension to spice things up. Diana’s shocked look when she enters a room to find him naked allows for one of the film’s best comic moments.

The supporting cast, especially the villains, are underdeveloped per usual, which seems to be one of the overriding annoyances to be found in most comic-book movies (unless you are Tom Hiddleston as Loki or Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus). Aside from this petty criticism Wonder Woman raises DC’s stock in terms of superhero movies. Audiences won’t accept an inferior product any longer. Warner Bros. will need to build on this if Justice League will work. Perhaps rename the film with Wonder Woman as the dominate character. Have her be more integral in the advertising, at the very least.

The summer of 2017 may go down as one of the worst of all time in terms of releases and general audience fatigue, but it won’t be because of Wonder Woman, its filmmaker Patty Jenkins, or star Gal Gadot. The cultural significance alone makes it one of the best comic-book movies ever made. Period. What Jenkins has done is make a picture that will be an inspiration to little girls everywhere. Once they see Diana wrangle the truth with her golden lasso or her selflessness in battle, they will want to roll up those sleeves, flex those muscles and make like Rosie the Riveter and say, “We are all Wonder Woman!”

That alone is worth more than box office receipts.

Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Tagmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content)
Running Time:
141 minutes

1 Comment

  1. ebike rider

    September 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    I say skip the movies and get out for some fresh air! My choice was to buy a Wave ebike from https://waveelectricbikes.com and I’m glad I did. I get great exercise riding it like a normal pedal bike. Then, when I’m worn out, on goes the motor and I cruise around for 10 or 20 miles more, letting the ebike do all the work. Very fun!

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