- Directed by Patty Jenkins
- May 15, 2017 (Shanghai) / June 2, 2017 (United States)
This is a reappraisal/rewatch of Wonder Woman. I recently rewatched it in preparation for watching the sequel and figured I would give a review another go. Enjoy!
After a pilot crashes of the mythical hidden Amazonian island of Themyscira, Princess Diana and he journey to the world of men to kill the ancient Amazonian enemy Ares, the god of war, in an effort to stop World War I.
Wonder Woman was a film I expected to enjoy but I think it exceeded my expectations. With each successive viewing I appreciate it even more than the last. It is a hopeful film set against the hopeless backdrop of World War I. It does not flinch from the horrors of war as one might expect a comic book film to do.
In history class one thing that I felt when we came to this section of history was this war was less about fighting a conflict and more about each side terrorizing the other. They unleashed new and horrible weapons here and did things in a way that had never been done before.
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was a character about hope. Hope that this can all be fixed. Hope that it can all be stopped. She believes that people are basically good. She was blind to the inner flaws and horrified when she saw them but learned from her time with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) that humans could just as easily do good and do the right thing.
But what is a hero without a good villain and Ares (David Thewlis) was a good villain. He was philosophically opposed to Wonder Woman. He believed that humans were flawed and terrible creatures. We were essentially all evil and to an extent he was right. In the context the film he never openly directly corrupted us but he gave us the tools to corrupt ourselves.
Director Jenkins does a good job of convincing you that Gen. Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is Ares. He sniffs a magic gas that makes him glow and he is the German that is orchestrating all the villainous mechanizations. The reveal that Sir Patrick is really Ares does not feel like it comes out of left field. When you look back and think about everything that occurred in the film you realize it was all right there and it fits in neatly with the film. He pushed for an armistice he knew would fail and unleash an even worse war. He helped Diana and Steve on their mission though that could endanger the effectiveness of the armistice.
Ludendorff is aided in his plans by Dr. Isabel “Dr. Poison” Maru (Elena Anaya). She is Ludendorff’s chief chemist and behind his version of mustard gas. She is cold and interested in creating suffering. Her face is horribly scarred with the damage hidden behind a Phantom of the Opera-esque mask. Small part but an effective character.
This film also has a well-done superhero romance. The story between Wonder Woman and Steve had an old-school flair to it. It felt like it came straight from an older style film where they did not beat you over the head with these two getting together but it flowed naturally.
In her efforts to stop Ares in the belief that it will end WWI, Diana insists that Steve take her to the front where she believes she will find the God of War. To aid her Steve collects a group of friends. They include Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) who is an actor that was forced into his current role by events. There is Charlie (Ewen Bremner) who is a shell-shocked sharpshooter. There is the smuggler known as Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) a native American Blackfoot.
My favorite though is Etta Candy (Lucy Davis). She has a great wit and a bit of sarcasm to her. And she has genuinely funny lines that in the context of the character are not funny. She is just speaking her mind. It is unfortunate that because of when this film is set, she will not be in any more Wonder Woman films other than a flashback or a picture on the wall. I think so much more could have been done with her it additional stories.
This film did not slouch on the action either. It went all in with great battle scenes. The best of those was the amazing scene across No Man’s Land. You practically stood up and cheered for Wonder Woman at this point!
People have made comparisons to Xena: Warrior Princess and this iteration of Wonder Woman. The Lynda Carter version is iconic in its own right and holds a place in my heart as well as the hearts of many fans but it would not have worked today on the big screen. It is good but it is also very anchored in its era to the point it cannot be tweaked for the modern era. For one thing the Wonder Woman of the 70s, who is physically superior to the men in that show as well as more experienced, often deferred to the men even though she was the superhero and had superior powers and was the title character. I remember one episode where she swooned over a ship’s captain. Really?
This version of Wonder Woman is a little more in line with the current comic book mythology. She is a strong warrior type and honestly that helps to play into the real-life experiences of Gal Gadot who spent time in the IDF.
Patty Jenkins knocked this movie out of the park. She created a fantastic action film that did not skimp on character. That is no easy task. Most directors favor one over the other either because they do not know how to balance it or cannot balance it, but Jenkins not only did that but did it extremely well. Wonder Woman is a well written and well directed film. It has heart and action and just a great story. For superhero fans this is a watch it!