Movie Review – ‘Wonder Woman’ reestablishing the meaning of girl power

It almost goes without saying that it’s nice to finally be here. Very few ideas go through the kind of development hell that “Wonder Woman” has gone through. For a comic that dates back to the 40’s, it’s hard to believe that it took this long for a live-action version to hit the big screen. That’s over 70 years and a lot of less stellar superhero movies later. Sure, lately we have been spoiled, but why was 2017 the time for Diana Prince to officially enter the picture? Some will say it’s because she finally had the right direction or script while others might say audiences were finally ready to accept a female heroine like this. Either way, I’m glad “Wonder Woman” has arrived to hopefully save this DC Extended Universe first created after the release of “Man of Steel” four years ago. It’s been a little bumpy, so the hope will be this film will be enough to boost whatever excitement lies ahead of “Justice League” when it hits theaters later this year. Because the reality is, it will be held to the same standards as “Wonder Woman,” a truth that may or may not be fair given the early box office returns.

For all the talk behind and leading up to the release of this film, very few knew how it would turn out. Whether that be the story, the cast or even special effects, so much has been debated already. But, it goes with the territory I guess considering we are talking about a beloved superhero who before this has never had her own live-action film.  That’s kind of a big deal and why we all should maybe pump the brakes a bit and assess this film for what it is. And that’s simply an origins story that was built up to easily connect to not only “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but to also help support the upcoming “Justice League” film. Anyway, back to Wonder Woman, who I must say was quite impressive. In fact, she might be my new second favorite superhero behind Batman. That’s how fun she was to watch here in a story built all for her. Some might say that’s an obvious statement, but the reality doesn’t always meet up with how practical it needs to be.

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I realize we are talking about superheroes and gods, but it all still has to fit so you don’t wind up rolling your eyes every time a fight sequence takes place. Here, there was good balance and I think it was because we were able to ease our way into learning about who Diana Prince was. It started when she was a kid on the island of Themyscira, an island built by the gods of Mount Olympus and one that housed only women. But, not just any women, warriors who trained to fight and be the protectors of humankind against powers like the god of war himself, Ares. That’s right, no men on this island, so you can imagine Diana’s surprise when she was rescuing pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) out of the ocean one afternoon. Unfortunately for her, she had no time to get acquainted once the German soldiers arrived looking for Trevor. A battle ensues and the next thing Diana knows, she is off to find Ares (David Thewlis) who she determined was responsible for the Great War that Trevor was running from. But, that was only the beginning, as the more Diana fought, the more she learned about herself and what she was meant to do in this whole new world.

I wonder what all the haters think of Gal Gadot now. Hard to deny her presence and ability to control this film from start to finish now. Sure, maybe we were only so-so about her after the brief appearance in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but now, it’s hard to deny her being the choice for this iconic role. I know I’m sold, so kudos to Patty Jenkins and her crew for seeing something no one else did in Gadot. She owned it and really helped set the tone as the story evolved. Sure, the script written by Allan Heinberg helped, especially as Gadot’s Prince was learning about things along the way showing just how “green” she was about the world outside of Themyscira. That was important, as it allowed you to feel and experience everything new right alongside her. And maybe it’s due to Gadot’s own heritage from Israel, but her accent and dialect was spot on for this story making her even more believable. Who knows, maybe I was just hypnotized by Gadot given how she moved and looked. I will admit it, but hey, that’s the point and why she was so perfect for this role at the end of the day. Having said that, she was not alone as the aforementioned Chris Pine did make his mark when asked. I like Pine and have always felt he should do more, so it was cool to see him in this role as Trevor and one that really didn’t take away from Gadot. But, I have the say, the one supporting act that I was absolutely taken back by was Robin Wright. Playing Diana’s aunt and mentor, she was fierce and I loved every second of it. What an unexpected performance by Wright, who I hope does more of this kind of stuff going forward.

Related imageAt the end of the day though, “Wonder Woman” will be a success because of the director. Sure, Gadot killed it, but had Patty Jenkins not been behind the camera to show a female look this badass, I doubt we would have enjoyed it as much. Her subtle ways of showing Gadot from a variety of camera angles really made you love this character each time she stepped into frame. And when the action started to get a little intense, Jenkins pulled back just enough so that you could continue to feel what Wonder Woman was doing. Nothing was overdone, which was so key to how this film flowed. What difference that can make given what we had with Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” And yes “Wonder Woman” wasn’t perfect either, but if the hardcore fans have to nitpick as to why it wasn’t, it’s a huge success. Because, to be able to bring this DC character to life on the big screen is no small feat, so good for Allan Heinberg and Patty Jenkins for getting it right.

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