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Review: Wonder Woman – “Gal Gadot was made to play Wonder Woman”

It’s pretty hard to find a film these days that isn’t laced with cynicism.  Looking around at the goings on in the world it’s not difficult to figure out why – with everyone shrouded in scepticism and doubt, the atmosphere of the time historically transfers to the big screen.   In this day and age where the news headlines can easily throw you into a fit of rage, or depression, it’s a welcome relief to find a film that is free of cynicism.  A film whose protagonist is a virtuous hero whose main belief is that mankind is truly ruled by love and kindness.  The fact that this hero just happens to be a woman, at a time when female empowerment seems ever central and important, only broadens Wonder Woman’s depth of relevance.

Wonder Woman was introduced into the comics in 1941, a time where the world was full of animosity and violence.  It was here that the idea of a hero desperate to serve justice with love was born, and there have been many incarnations of the character over the years (including one in which the Justice Society invites her to become their secretary – even Diana isn’t impervious to gender stereotypes).  Perhaps one of the reasons it took so long for Wonder Woman to make the leap to the big screen, along with the obviously incorrect studio bigwigs thinking a woman superhero couldn’t be successful, was her complicated mythology.  But, the film seems to get her origin story just right.

We meet a young Princess Diana on the island of Themyscira, a paradise inhabited only by women and hidden from the outside world.  She is a rebellious young child, wishing to be trained in battle by her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), a general in this civilization’s army, despite the opposition by her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen).  However, as she grows, the importance of her training becomes apparent and she becomes a talented warrior.

None of the Amazons have had to use their fighting skills for years, until the day that an American spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crashes his plane on the island.  Saved by a now adult Diana (Gal Gadot), he tells her of the horrors of World War I that is raging outside the protected realm of Themyscira.  Taking her role to protect what she assumes is a good, kind, virtuous mankind, Diana travels with Trevor to London in the hopes of stopping the war, something she feels is attributable to the God of War, Ares.

The first act of Diana’s story, her origin and her arrival in the real world feels very reminiscent of Marvel’s first Thor film, even down to the humourous undertones running through the entire film.  Diana is a fish out of water, naive to the ways of the world, and also to how women are treated.  Her comments that no man can tell her what to do, and her thought that Steve’s secretary is little more than his slave, drive home her unequivocal dislike for the inequality she witnesses.  It’s nothing she’s ever experienced.

It’s not until the third act that the film somewhat falters.  The absolutely frantic finale fight, a trademark of any superhero movie I suppose, feels a bit out of place with what comes before.  However, it also offers up a satisfying ending.  Though tending to be a bit unnecessarily long, again as many of these films are, this movie never feels as if it is sagging.  This is largely due to its star (and also Chris Pine, who continues to prove himself worthy of the leading man roles).

Gal Gadot was made to play Wonder Woman.  She embodies this character and everything she should stand for – a strong, courageous, virtuous woman who emotes warmth even in the middle of the battle field.  The image as she bears her shield against a barrage of bullets crossing no man’s land gave me goosebumps.  Gadot’s Diana is the kind of hero that makes you yourself feel stronger for being a woman.

With Gadot in front of the camera, it was thrilling to know that another talented woman, Patty Jenkins, was behind it.  In her first big screen directing gig since 2003’s Monster, Jenkins succeeded in bringing this big budget project to fruition.  While many men have made the leap from independent filmmaker to blockbuster status with nary a headline, Jenkins was under scrutiny and pressure to make this entry into the DCEU a success.  She is the first woman helming one of these comic-book tentpoles and Wonder Woman just happens to be the most expensive film ever directed by a female (it had a $150 million budget). Jenkins may have just been the most successful of all.  Her film brings back excitement for the upcoming Justice League film, the anticipation for which had languished somewhat under the critical scrutiny of Dawn of Justice as well as Suicide Squad.  Jenkins has crafted not just a superhero movie but a great film.  This entry brings the DCEU in general back on track.

At my screening there were a few people wearing Wonder Woman logo t-shirts, visibly excited to finally be seeing this long awaited film.  I’m pretty sure none of them were disappointed.  I looked over the diverse crowd, many of whom were female, and realized that I never grasped until that moment just how, especially right now, this film was needed.  As a woman, it was amazing to see fifteen minutes of film with nary a man in sight – instead just strong, incredible women performing feats of physical prowess.  The Amazons symbolized to me just how empowered all of us women can be.  In our own way we can all be Wonder Women.  I am so thankful that Jenkins, Gadot, and all the others who worked on this film brought this hero to life in a way that fills me with pride.  It’s exactly what we needed.

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One Comment

  1. So hold on, is this movie good or bad? I’m confused?

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