MOVIE REVIEW – WONDER WOMAN
Move over Batman. Move over Superman. Let a woman take the lead. The much maligned and deservedly so DC Cinematic Universe looks to have lassoed in their first mega hit and gives hope to a universe in search of it with Wonder Woman.
The film opens in present day Paris with Diana (Gal Gadot) receiving a photo from her past from Bruce Wayne. This is the same photo that we first saw in Batman v. Superman of Diana and some soldiers during World War 1. One of those soldiers is Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). From there the scene shifts to a young Diana on a mystical island free of men, raised by her protective mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and trained in the ways of the Amazon warrior by her ferocious aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright). Hippolyta and Antiope have differences of opinion on how Diana should be raised but both will have a lasting influence on Diana that will guide her steps the rest of her life.
Diana’s “perfect” world gets completely uprooted when Steve Trevor crashes into the waters that surround her island. He was evading the Germans when his plane got shot down. Diana saves Steve and a skirmish ensues between the Amazons and a small band of German soldiers who had discovered the island.
After defeating the Germans and learning of the carnage taking place in the real world, Diana decides to travel back to London with Steve in hopes of stopping it. It is believed that Ares, the God of war has returned after being defeated by Zeus long ago is behind this War to end all Wars. Diana intends to find and kill Ares. Of course, there will be obstacles in the way in the form of General Erich Ludendorf (Danny Huston), a high-ranking officer in the German army, think Red Skull from Captain America minus the skin condition. And the aptly named Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), Ludendorf’s chemical weapons specialist.
Before she can do so, Diana must at first adapt to her new world. Some of the films quieter yet character rounding scenes take place here including finding the right clothes to blend in and discovering the pleasures of ice cream. A nice nod to some classic Wonder Woman stories of the past. The chemistry between Pine and Gadot comes across very genuine and never feels forced. Their exchanges keep the story grounded and gives Diana a more human feel and a sense of innocence that was missing from Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman in Man of Steel. Although it takes a while for Diana to become Wonder Woman, when she does, look out because is a force to be reckon with. This is where the film really shines and takes off. Watching Wonder Woman take the fight to the enemy, inspires all those around her. She gives hope to the helpless. For all her god-like abilities, it is Wonder Woman’s compassion and empathy that might be her greatest strength.
The action displayed here is some of the very best ones seen in any superhero film. Most certainly the recent DC ones. It’s refreshing to see what is going on in a visually stunning fashion. The action is simply spectacular. A huge credit goes to director Patty Jenkins for having both the vision and courage to give life and a sense of wonder (no pun intended) into the stark DC Cinematic Universe. Much of Wonder Woman’s success must go to the charismatic Gal Gadot. Gal proves that you can be both feminine and a fierce warrior without sacrificing one for the other.
Let me end this by saying as much as I didn’t love Batman v. Superman, I did love Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Her undeniable beauty and ferocity jump off the screen. Yes, her appearance was limited to only a handful of minutes but when she makes an entrance, boy does she makes an entrance. Keep in mind that marked the first big screen appearance of the Amazon Princess in her 75+ year history. Up and till then, Lynda Carter had been the one and only Wonder Woman. It’s tempting to compare but to be fair, loving or simply appreciating Gadot does not in any way take from Carter. She’ll always be Wonder Woman to us. Instead, as a father of two teenage girls who may or may not decide to see the film, it’s refreshing to see this generation have a female superhero role model they can embrace. Gadot proves she is worthy of being called Wonder Woman.
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston and David Thewlis
PG13 141 mins
WONDER WOMAN – **** (out of 5 stars)
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight