"The Power of Feminity"
A Review of "Wonder Woman" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Patty Jenkins, Writers: Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME!
Detective Comics needed a win. The men had their chance and their results went from acceptable (Batman v. Superman) to awful (Suicide Squad). They crossed their fingers and called on the next hero in the DC universe and the first superhero movie of the modern era to focus on a woman. They called on Wonder Woman. With noticeably less advertising leading up to her movie when compared to her male counterparts, it seemed they were bracing themselves for another failure. Then everything changed. The story was great, original, and well thought out. But those were the critics. What would the DC fans think? What did your neighborhood cinephile think?
"Wonder Woman" begins where almost all superhero films start, the origin story. Passive and addicted comic book readers, as well as consumers of popular culture the world over, know who Wonder Woman is. What many don't know is her backstory. Long before she was one of the most iconic heroes on the planet, she was Diana, Princess of the Amazons. In this origin story, we are introduced to her fellow warriors, training, and her ultimate villain. Then a mysterious male pilot played wonderfully by Chris Pine crash lands on her island. Here, Diana learns of a conflict in the outside world. Much to the dismay of her mother, she leaves to fight a war in a distant land. The way in which this origin story is told is how all comic book movies should do it. We are given the important facts. Our hero recognizes his/her true power/destiny. Then a great conflict is established. This film doesn't linger on the origin. Instead, we are given the necessary information and then move toward something more substantial.
Diana's first great challenge is acclimating to a new society and culture. Gal Gadot, the actress playing Diana, uses strong writing and set pieces during these scenes to blend a hard and soft feminity. Throughout the film, this will serve as her greatest strength. Some of the funniest moments in this movie come during the first half. In many ways, the writers take a direct approach to the meeting of civilizations. They manage to keep these scenes authentic and fresh. As an audience member, I am just grateful they didn't take a "Crocodile Dundee" approach. We've seen that trope and on behalf of the movie-going public, I don't think we need to do it again. It is also in these scenes where Chris Pine shines. He is the man who can who is quickly realizing the woman next his side can too.
As the story picks up steam, we get our first glimpses of Wonder Woman engaged in modern combat. As long as I live, I will never forget the scene of her running across a barren, yet hellacious battlefield to confront an enemy few have dared face. It is in these moments that our hero goes from fish out of the water to a combatant without equal.
As the film draws toward the climatic conclusion, we enter the weakest part of the movie. The final thirty minutes transform this movie from a perfect comic book movie to a really good comic book movie. As Diana learns the true nature of a World War, she is also confronted with her mortal enemy. In an explosion of CGI, Diana must serve as God killer. The effects here are over the top and have become synonymous with DC and Marvel movies. Luckily for us, this scene does take place on an airfield and we aren't subjected to another movie where Manhattan is leveled to the ground.
Despite its overly produced final battle, this is a near perfect comic book movie. It gave me hope for the summer blockbuster once again and restored my faith in the DC universe. Now, all I can do is hope and pray that "The Justice League" writers, director, and actors are paying attention.
Be good to each other,