Movie Review: Wonder Woman

It’s almost funny: I’ve spent so long hoping and talking myself into the possibility that the Wonder Woman movie will at least be passable (we’re talking since the initial casting of Gal Gadot), that actually seeing it was a physical relief.

The movie is a triumph of met expectations, unbridled action, and astonishing levels of positive emotions. Director Patty Jenkins presents audiences with a truly inspiring film that has seemingly single-handedly saved the aspiring DC Extended Cinematic Universe, which seems funny to say since she has (very strangely) not directed a feature film since she helped Charlize Theron nab an Oscar for 2003’s “Monster.”

It becomes a difficult task listing the myriad ways this film kicked exponential amounts of ass, but let’s take a stab at it, eh?

First and foremost, Gal Gadot portrayed the iconic character better than anyone could possibly have hoped for, and it was a true testament to Jenkins’ skills as a filmmaker to put Gadot in so many positions to succeed. Instead of a childlike, patronizing naiveté, Gadot’s Diana was earnest in her curiosity, trying to make connections in a world with so many uncertainties. It was fantastic to see this choice realized so well, as any wavering would have cut away a chunk of Diana’s true optimism and grounded morality.

Gadot also wore her emotions on her sleeve; best exemplified by the incredible scene where she infiltrates No Man’s Land near Belgium. Here the audience sees Wonder Woman struck with the gravity of the situation not from the soldier’s standpoint, but from the standpoint of the poor civilians – she sees how it’s the collateral damage that truly makes this war a blight on history, and she’s eager to begin righting wrongs RIGHTNOW.

That strength of conviction led to what may now be one of my favorite scenes in a superhero film, where Wonder Woman leads the charge, taking on the worst the Germans can throw at her, inspiring the Allied soldiers and assuaging the fears of the townsfolk. That scene is riddled with jaw-dropping action shots, committed actors, and a soundtrack that gets one’s blood boiling.

To branch off of that scene, another thing this film did sublimely was with its choice of antagonists. A problem with superhero films from the last several years is their choice to have the enemy be beyond global, where it’s literally the world at stake due to some sort of sky-high energy beam (it’s humorous when you examine how far-fetched some of these choices have been on both Marvel’s and DC’s part) or whatnot. Here, the enemy is something that we as viewers can rightly comprehend: a vast array of German armies hell-bent on war. They are terrorists, as portrayed beautifully by Danny Huston and Elena Anaya as General Ludendorf and Dr. Poison, where their pursuit of a gas that will melt away protection and gruesomely kill any victim. We can relate to that, especially in this day and age, and it gives the film power and stakes we the audience can immediately understand.

One of the things I love the most about films of epic scale – whether it’s science fiction, fantasy, comics, etc – is the costume design, and this film knocked it out of the park. The Amazon clothing was beautiful and practical, allowing these powerful women to move gracefully and savagely, all while accentuating just how gorgeous they are. And they are gorgeous by any standard: strong, agile, intelligent, empathetic, they have everything. The actresses chosen, from Connie Nielsen’s benevolent Queen Hippolyta to Robin Wright’s stern General Antioppe, made the lack of a different sex on the island unnoticeable. All we saw was a group of powerful people created to save and unite the world.

And the humor – oh, the humor! This was a movie with truly great chemistry between the characters, especially Steve Trevor and his ragtag group of combat pals. The interactions between Chris Pine and Gadot felt genuine, none more so than the (improvised!) conversation they had on the boat leaving Themyscira. There was a nearly palpable, growing love between the two, one that allowed organic humor to present itself. Etta Candy, played with glee by Lucy Davis, was a divine addition. Candy played such a huge part in the comic book version of Wonder Woman, a spunky best friend willing to offer support and love in any situation, and Davis brought all that and more.

One facet of this film that I'm most satisfied with is the origins of Diana's birth. From her initial creation in 1941 up until the launching of DC's New 52, Wonder Woman was crafted from clay by a desperate Hippolyta and imbued life by Zeus. This was how it had always been, until Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang relaunched the new Wonder Woman, and really broke down the mythology of Amazons and Greeks into a "Holy shit OF COURSE"-kinda moment. Their Diana wasn't crafted out of clay - that was a story she was told to keep men removed from the Amazonian way of life. It turns out Hippolyta bore Diana after a relationship with Zeus, thus making Diana a demi-god. I LOVED that twist, and this film examined it even greater in relation to Diana's abilities. Here her incredible powers are unlike any other Amazon, and with good reason. In the comics, pre-New 52, any Amazon could be Wonder Woman (Artemis and Hippolyta herself wielded the bracelets and the lasso), but now it's a task individually suited to her; she is the greatest Amazon of all. 

I could honestly go on about this movie for another 3,000 words, but I’ll reign it back for the sake of brevity. This movie is a crown jewel in the DCCU, a model of how these films are supposed to be: full of emotion, hope, strength, and most importantly, an inspiration. Patty Jenkins has saved a sinking ship, Gal Gadot has created a new feminist icon, and Warner Brothers should thank their lucky stars they have these two. I hope this film captures the attention of film studios who thought that an R-rating was the way to go for EVERY offering.

9.8 out of 10 Beauty-Hiding Glasses

 

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The -0.2 is due to a certain God of War’s gingery mustache, played by Professor Lupin. I just couldn’t wrap my head around a Greek God having a red soup strainer, possibly the least intimidating of all facial hair.