Jean-Paul’s rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: Finally, a solid DC Comics movie. Solid story. Good acting. Wonderful supporting cast. Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman.
Never let it be said that DC can’t make a good Superhero movie. All it takes is a female Superhero and a female directory. The director of this delightful movie is Patti Jenkins. You may know her from her disturbing directorial debut film, “Monster”, about female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. And that’s it. She’s directed a few TV movies and shows, but nothing big screen until “Wonder Woman”. All I have to say about that is get this woman a blank check and a script to her liking. She should be doing more stuff. I hope her lack of directorial credits is of her own choosing and not something more nefarious.
“Wonder Woman” begins on the island of Themyscira, where the Amazon women have lived, training and preparing for the day Ares returns to Earth to wreak havoc upon the world. This entire back story is wonderfully retold in a sort of moving Renaissance painting style that is both effective and beautiful. There are, in fact, many scenes like this where you can tell that a lot of love went into the labor of bringing this movie to the screen. Themyscira itself is breathtakingly gorgeous and scene after scene on the island is so full of detail that you can get lost in it all. The island is, unfortunately, made mostly out of whole cloth so you will be booking your airfare tickets in vain if you choose to try to visit the real world Themyscira. Not that I scoured the credits and the interwebs looking for clues as to where to find this island paradise… It definitely has influences of Italian islands with some Southeast Asian flavor thrown in for spectacle, so those destinations will have to do.
Diana becomes Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) when she helps Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a World War I pilot/spy who crash lands on the island while being pursued by Germans leading to one of the most badassed movie fight scenes ever devised in which the Amazons square off against the Germans, escape the Amazons as she is convinced it is their duty to fight in the war and stop what surely must be Ares returned at last. Chris Pine is a wonderful supporting actor opposite Gal Gadot, but Gal Gadot just steals it. The looks. The personality. The accent. Everything about her was just perfect for Wonder Woman. As a friend said, “Gal Gadot’s personality such that you forget her looks (that’s a compliment!) but every now and then you’d catch her legs in that costume and…hot d-mn!!!” The three exclamation marks are hers and well warranted. I’d also like to give a little shout out to Lucy Davis who plays Etta, Steve Trevor’s secretary. She’s there for comic relief and doesn’t have a large role, but she plays wonderfully off both Gadot and Pine. She was absolutely delightful.
Wonder Woman, the Superhero, and thus “Wonder Woman”, the movie, does suffer from many of the problems that plague DC Comics Superheroes in general in that her powers are largely undefined. See Superman and Green Lantern for other examples. This leads to an epic final battle in which two massively powered individuals with undefined abilities square off against each other and inevitably leads to them throwing each other around and flinging impossibly large objects at each other until someone finally succumbs to one of the other’s ill-defined powers for ill-defined reasons. But, while “Wonder Woman” the movie has that, it is kept on even footing with the all too mortal humans quietly saving the day in the background. It’s a nice touch that other Superhero films often forget. It also ends in one of the most beautiful cinematographic visuals I have ever seen. In it, Wonder Woman is standing all badass in front of a massive crater where Ares was blasted into oblivion and the sun is rising in the distance and the battle’s wounded are struggling to their feet on both sides of her. Like the Amazon backstory at the beginning of the movie, it is very Renaissance painting-ish and makes a good bookend for the movie.
I am so happy this film is doing well. Not only because it is awesome and should rank up there as one of the best Superhero films of all time, but because it’s also pissing off all the right people (or I guess wrong people) for all the right reasons by its success. And while I, for one, will celebrate this momentous movie making miracle of women headlining a male dominated genre and being badass on the silver screen and making obscene amounts of money all at once, I can’t help but recall comedy maven Michelle Wolf’s words, “You know when it will feel like women are equal at the box office? When we get to make a BAD superhero movie and then immediately make another bad one. Men get chance after chance to make superhero movies. No one left crappy “Batman vs. Superman” movie saying ‘well, I guess we’re done making man movies’.” Watch the whole thing.