Review: Wonder Woman
A little girl is storming into the frame on horseback with one arm on the reins, the other arm shooting forward in a ‘charge’ position. The little girl is also screaming with joy. This shot found early in the movie is one of the many reasons why director Patty Jenkins and her team solidified the impact Wonder Woman will have several years from now. Wonder Woman, a film long overdue, is amazing. Bogged down by two extremely divisive films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman seemed to be an uphill challenge from the word go. Thankfully, the love and care given to this film, about an amazon molded from clay and brought to life by Zeus, is overwhelming. Handled with a ton of respect to the character and still understandable to the laymen, Wonder Woman is great summer entertainment.
Raised on the hidden-from-man island Themyscira, a place populated only by Amazonian women, Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) has the desire to be free. Free to learn to fight as her Amazonian sisters do, and free to carve out her own path in life. While Diana is taught about her history and culture, she is sheltered by her protective mother, Hippolyta, for most of her childhood. Diana rebels so much however that Hippolyta eventually caves, allowing her daughter to train in the Amazon ways of combat. Let me just say that this film nails the comic book fan-favorite island perfectly. All the women on that island would snap you like a dry twig if you crossed them and they are represented splendidly by multiple races. They fight like a true unit with Generals and Queens fighting alongside their peers showcasing bold leadership. This is backed with a blistering performance from Robin Wright as Antiope, leader of the Amazonian armies. She rides into combat with a smile and all you can say is ‘damn’. Her performance in this film is standout and most definitely one of the highlights.
Enter the always charming Chris Pine. Pine plays Steve Trevor, a spy on the run from the Germans who is shot down near Diana’s island. He is saved by Diana, becoming the first man she has ever met in the process. Together they set off to do battle in World War 1 with Steve hoping to stop a deadly chemical attack and Diana believing she needs to vanquish Ares, the God of War. The chemistry between both actors is absolutely perfect. Both Gal and Chris bounce off of one another splendidly thanks to the light-hearted script and snappy yet playful dialogue. They maintain this energy throughout the film, making the adventure a great ride to take. I’m a fan of this whole cast actually, even characters that have very little to do seem to be given several wonderful moments aiding the whole picture. Every soul pulls their weight to make Wonder Woman soar. I have to give it up for Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead, The Office) in particular as Etta. She is hilarious as Trevor’s secretary who has a few great moments trying to acclimate Diana to London fashion, and steals scenes by simply making a worried groan or a nervous exclamation. She has a tiny amount of screen time and she simply astounds with it.
The action sequences involving Wonder Woman should make any fan insanely happy. The bracelets, the lasso and that godlike strength all get utilized in stunning fashion that send men flying like stuffed animals kicked by an angry child. That trench fight you saw in the trailers? That fight is in an area called No Man’s Land (perfect, really) and it will floor you with symbolism and will make Diana infinite in the hearts of many. By the end of the sequence I found myself muttering “They did it. She is fucking here. Forever.” I can only imagine how well this will go over for fans who have waited too long to see her represented correctly.
So, after all these years a Wonder Woman film is real and not only is it good, it's often times perfect. While I have showered the film with praise, I have to sound like everyone else and say it is a little rough around the last fifteen minutes. Having seen the film twice I must also add that even when things do get a little weird towards the end, two great moments happen in that odd patch so I can never say they dropped the ball at the finish line because amongst the cliched spectacle is a one-two punch that undeniably resonates.
Wonder Woman is a damn good time at the movies. In a wonderful way I was reminded of Donner’s Superman, Captain America: The First Avenger, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Shadow and even The Rocketeer. Films with peril, but most importantly films with hope. Wonder Woman is that bright hope we need in a world so painful and hideous. The level of optimism in the face of danger it projects is blinding and the charge is led by a very, very powerful woman. Stupid men need not apply, this ride is not for you and it never will be. Bravo, Patty Jenkins.