Wonder Woman (2017)

  • Time: 141 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Patty Jenkins
  • Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Storyline:

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny.

4 reviews

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 )

    GRADE: B

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: Another superhero movie with some style and a willingness to establish its characters first & let the action follow.

    SYNOPSIS: The legend of Wonder Woman and a new film franchise is born.

    RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs., 21 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: Wonder Woman (2017) owes so much of its success to two women, one in front of the camera and one behind the lens. Their contributions make this the first of many entries into a profitable future film series.

    Gal Gadot play Princess Diana, daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, and she is perfectly cast as our Amazon warrior. She is terrific in this role. The Israeli actress has star power personified and she also displays some nice comic timing too. Patty Jenkins, her director, does a remarkable job of focusing on the human story while staging the action sequence with real flair. She does not sacrifice the hand-to-hand combat expected in this type of movie and plays up the relationship between the goddess and the mortal.

    That mortal is Steve Trevor, played winningly by Chris Pine. This charming actor can play the dashing hero and WWI aviator without much challenge, but he brings along with him a sweet vulnerability and slight goofiness that makes his character endearing. The chemistry between him and Ms. Gadot, dare I say, makes this film work wonders and elevates it above the rest of the stereotypical DC or Marvel universe of superheroes.

    The screenplay by Allan Heinberg establishes the action scenes amid more quieter moments that fortify the relationship of the mismatched lovers. It creates a strong role model and allows Diana to play the role of a stranger in a strange land, that place being WWI Germany. As she comes to terms with the cruelty of war and mankind’s choices to perpetuate this violence, the film makes its heavy-handed message, at least, more intriguing. Unfortunately Wonder Woman’s golden lariat can break free of the standard formula of the comic book superhero genre, beginning with the mythological origins of our heroine and ending in a typical slam-bang showdown of overproduced CGI. Fortunately, in between, is that tender love story that ropes in the moviegoer’s interest.

    Supporting characters never achieve much depth. The bad guys are so obvious (even a twist here and there, lacked an element of surprise). The good guys are stock misfits that aren’t given much to do. Still, Danny Huston, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis and Lucy Davis bring some needed class to the movie.

    Ms. Jenkins has created a well crafted film and, unlike so many of the recent action flicks, stages the battle scenes clearly. Thankfully, there is little upfront close-ups and jittery camera moves. (Credit goes to cinematographer Matthew Jensen as well.) One can actually see the action, a rarity with action-fantasy blockbusters these days. Especially effective is her vision of Diana’s war in No-Man’s Land set piece, the film’s highlight. (Although it seems more realistic to conclude that Diana’s form-fitting WW outfit and bare skin may have unified the Allied forces more than her warrior skills leading them to victory.)

    Wonder Woman may not be very original or ground-breaking, but it does enable women to take the reins in the usually all-male dominating world of filmmaking and deliver one of the better comic book superhero blockbuster in quite a long time. Hear them roar!

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  • I don’t know if this is the Wonder Woman story or if they did it this way for the film but every little girl wants to be a warrior and in Wonder Woman the little girl gets her wish and a whole lot more, 99.9% of which had nothing to do with a man. If they had simply reversed genders and done nothing else this movie, with a male protagonist, it would be called cliché. The fact that it’s centered around women changes that. It gives the women a chance to be the center of the story rather than an also ran in the cast and the women in this film take full advantage of it. That doesn’t make the story any less full of logic holes or glossed over sections but it does allow the women to be out front for a change.
    Allan Heinberg’s script follows the formula for a super hero closely. I was hoping there would be some real differences but there aren’t. Heinberg writes in solid builds for plot, giving us a couple of surprises, and ending it on a tragic/romantic note. Director Patty Jenkins follows all this well and keeps things moving without pointing out the comic or ironic possibilities of the gender switch. These two kept the movie from becoming a huge gender joke which allowed us to sit and watch it for the story which was pretty good. Of course the actors helped too.
    Gal Gadot gives a strong, focused performance as Wonder Woman. This is a character who finds herself in a new world and Gadot plays it for laughs and quite seriously depending on what’s needed. I never once felt the character was intentionally masculine or forcing the feminine. The character can stand alone and that’s how Gadot plays her. Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor and is as much eye candy as women in the same position often find themselves. Pine does get more to do and he plays it well but it’s a back seat to Wonder Woman.
    Danny Huston plays Ludendorff, a driven, obsessed soldier who thinks he has the key to turning WW I to the German’s favor. Playing his crazed sidekick is Elena Anaya as Dr. Maru. This character has an elaborate make-up which doesn’t add up to anything in the end.
    Said Taghmaoui plays Sameer, a con man who’s on the right side. Ewan Bremner plays Charlie, a Scottish soldier and Eugene Brave Rock plays The Chief. All three of these guys are sidekicks to Pine’s Trevor but none of them add up to much. David Thewlis as Sir Patrick has the biggest shift to make and he does it well. A real standout in this cast is Lucy Davis who plays Etta with charm and wit and gets a laugh every time she on screen.
    I give Wonder Woman 4½ old photos out of 5. The details are inconsistent with the other excellent work. Where does she keep her shield and sword when she’s not wearing much more than a bathing suit? Why does Steve Trevor jump to conclusions that don’t really add up? Who is Dr. Maru, why does she look like that, and what does any of it have to do with the plot? So much of this movie is good that these little dumb things became very distracting.

  • Wonder Woman
    A package from Bruce Wayne sets this narrative going. That adds a popular culture level of mythology to the original two: the life of the gods and the life of mortals. In the former our heroine was born when Zeus infused life into the clay doll her mother had shaped. That’s an earthier version of the virgin birth. In the latter the Amazonians live their man-free warrior existence in splendid isolation until discovered (attacked) by German soldiers at the end of WW I.
    Of course Diana Prince (WW) bridges all three mythologies. Her evil counterpart is Ares, the god of war, who visits earth by possessing two villains, the German officer and the British traitor. War transcends religion, politics and philosophies because the murderous spirit is innate in all of us, the option that the better eschew. This Ares steps into the comic book mythology when he becomes a shape-shifting Transformer beast in the final fight.
    The film’s presiding spirit, though, is feminism. This we might expect from a woman superhero and a woman director. What’s interesting is the breadth of values this feminism propounds.
    First, it’s not Woman Good, Man Bad. The evil woman scientist — popularly known as Dr Poison — proves you don’t have to be male to be evil. Though, of course, it helps. Dr. Maru’s marred face, with its plastic coverup, turns the convention of cosmetics sinister.
    On the other side of the ledger, Steve Trevor — who’s such a good guy he gets two male first names — has the kind of compassion, courage and decency we’d normally expect in a woman. In fact he’s the one who makes the Ultimate Sacrifice to save the world from a planeful of poison gas. He gives Diana the most impressive First Sighting of a Man since Miranda’s in The Tempest.
    Steve is feminist enough to joke about his manhood. When he tells Diana he’s “above average” its an estimation of his overall qualifications. In the film’s best joke, when she sees him full frontal, Diana wonders why men let their lives be dictated by that silly, small little thing. No, dear reader, the reference is to his watch, passed on from his father and which he passes on to her as his last loving keepsake. We’re doubtless intended initially to respond wrong.
    This feminist hero is certainly strong, with superhuman skills, flight and strength. Her command of 100 languages also gives her a bit of an edge over the blustering Old Boys bumbling in the British government. From Steve she learns the respect for human potential that keeps her from joining Ares.
    Finally, this feminism extends beyond women to the marginalized and suppressed of any nation or gender. Hence her quartet of comrades at the end include three stereotype personae: the amorous little Frenchman (“voila”), Spud from Trainspotting and the alien Indian (Will Sampson’s image played by Eugene Brave Rock). Diana Prince is a woman for all seasons. The film’s feminism is a call to humanity.

  • Wonder Woman is one of the best superhero films ever made. Yes, it’s the first female-fronted superhero film since the execrable Catwoman. Yes, it’s the first superhero film directed by a woman. Yes, it’s the first unequivocally good film from DC Extended Universe. Yet its greatness derives from none of those factors. It is simply an excellent film that delivers on all fronts. Period.

    That Wonder Woman would be made was inevitable. Not only because it’s part of the master plan for the DCEU, but also due to the unimpeachable fact that Wonder Woman was the best thing about the otherwise bloated and bombastic Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman traces her origin story, beginning with her time as the lone child on Themyscira, a secret island populated by female Amazons, who were created by the gods to protect mankind from being corrupted by Ares, the god of war. Sculpted by clay and brought to life by Zeus, Diana wants to train to be a warrior like the rest of the Amazons, which is a point of contention between her mother Queen Hippolyta (a suitably regal Connie Nielsen), who wishes to shield her, and her aunt General Antiope (a kickass Robin Wright), who eventually convinces Hippolyta that the only way to protect Diana is to train her to be the best warrior she can be and fulfill her destiny.

    Before the plane carrying Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands into the ocean and kickstarts the main narrative, let us pause for a moment to admire and appreciate the women of Themyscira. Though Diana is clearly the Wonder Woman, the film makes it abundantly clear that her strength, fierceness, and all-around badassery are natural characteristics of every woman on that island. When the Amazons are finally shown in battle as they combat the German officers who have followed Steve to their shores, what ensues is a breathtaking display of their prowess on the battlefield. Their armoured bodies leaping, lunging and pirouetting in the air, they unleash arrows, brandish swords, and fight with a ferocity and a clear sense of purpose. If screenwriter Allan Heinberg had confined Wonder Woman to Diana’s training on the island and the intriguing dynamics between Hippolyta and Antiope, one doubts there would have been any complaints – this prologue is stronger in complex characters and emotional stakes than the previous DCEU films combined.

    “They don’t deserve you,” Hippolyta tells Diana when Diana insists on accompanying Steve back to the warfront after hearing of the atrocities of the war, which she believes are of Ares’ doing. As Diana will later learn, it’s not about deserve but for fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, for fighting in what you believe in. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unforgettable “No Man’s Land” sequence. Diana, Steve and his team – spy Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), marksman Charlie (Ewen Bremmer) and smuggler Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) – have arrived at one of the most dangerous enemy trenches. Everyone is hesitant to move forward, but Diana forges ahead and her one-woman charge against the Germans is one of the most rousing moments in the film.

    Though Wonder Woman is from the DCEU, it appears cut from a far different mold than its predecessors. It possesses little trace of the often stifling darkness or the martyr-like tone of the franchise’s Superman or Batman. Wonder Woman is more old-fashioned, but in the best way. Like Captain America, Wonder Woman is all about drawing strength from one’s ideals even if those ideals are deemed outdated by everyone else. Wonder Woman may seem naive in her beliefs, but she proves time and time again that credence is not something to be trifled with. As Diana, Gal Gadot is a perfect combination of exoticism, athleticism and idealism. She meshes beautifully with Pine, who makes for a dashing hero and romantic lead, and their scenes together often contain a sophisticated banter that wouldn’t be out of place in the sparkling romantic comedies of the Thirties and Forties. One double-entendre about Steve and his watch – “You let that little thing tell you what to do?” – is particularly noteworthy.

    Wonder Woman is a film that doesn’t ignore its heroine’s beauty, but it doesn’t fetishise it either. Diana treats her loveliness as merely another weapon in her arsenal and, despite the fact that her costume may distract, the “sexiness,” if you will, derives from her as a figure of power, not as a sex object. Her feminism is overt but not heavyhanded – “Where I’m from that’s called slavery,” she notes when Steve’s secretary (the delightful Lucy Davis) describes her duties as essentially doing everything Steve tells her. “As magnificent as you are, you are still no match for me,” the dastardly General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) states. Like all the other men in the film (and arguably all the fanboys out there), he underestimates her and she continuously demonstrates beyond doubt that she is the most magnificent being in this male-dominated universe.

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