Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

Last Sunday, everybody in my city seemed to have trooped en masse to watch Wonder Woman. We were able to catch the earliest and first showing, and so the crowd wasn’t as big. But when we got out of the cinema the people waiting to get in for the second showing snaked for miles. And I understood why. We have waited for this. Wonder Woman has been a long time coming. We didn’t get a glimpse of this iconic demigod, warrior princess since Linda Carter during the 70s. We almost did back in 2011, but the pilot was deemed a failure and NBC opted to chuck the tv series in the bin. So yeah, I could hear the cinema goer’s collective breath being held in the hopes that this will be the movie that will finally do justice to our beloved Diana. (And that this will also be the DC movie that does not suck.) Okay, I lie. I didn’t hear anyone’s breath being held, apart from mine and the guy behind us who seemed to be inhaling his popcorn like a vacuum cleaner. So for those breath holder fans out there who haven’t had a chance to see this movie just yet, you can relax. This could very well be the DC movie we were all waiting for, post Christopher Nolan’s.

Let me start with the battle sequences because they are magnificent. I am so used to seeing the glorification of the male physique in superhero movies that seeing a whole tribe of Amazonian women pivot, scissor kick, and soar in mid-air is just so wonderfully refreshing. The choreography is fantastic, the fights are almost ballet-like and when you put them in slow-mo, the women are a vision to behold. The cast is fantastic. Gal Gadot in particular manages to exude strength as Wonder Woman, as well as innocence as Diana setting foot in a place that is not Themyscira for the first time, and appreciating an ice cream cone like it was the best thing in the world. Chris Pine also did a solid job as Steve Trevor. I mean he could easily have been overshadowed by the magnificent and beautiful Gal Gadot. But no, he holds his own against the Amazonian princess. And Pine and Gadot have very good rapport with each other. Their banter made for some light-hearted, funny moments. And I love that he became not only Wonder Woman’s guide in her mission, but he became her No.1 fan and ally.

Although Steve Trevor’s crew, consisting of three other guys, all of which I found to be too bland. Perhaps in an attempt to make them more memorable, Patty Jenkins gave them a dialogue that comments on racial prejudice. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), the master of many disguises and languages, told Diana that he wanted to be an actor but his skin is the wrong color. The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), a Native American whose knowledge of the land became handy in getting them where they need to go in a war zone, said he is not taking any sides in this war because he no longer has anything to fight for. His people have been taken away from him by Steve Trevor’s people (white men). Yeah, this might seem too ham handed a way to inject commentary, but I appreciate it. It’s not just the female struggle we are dealing with, but there’s the race struggle, the war struggle and all other manner of pain we humans like to inflict each other with. But again, it isn’t enough to make Trevor’s rag-tag team interesting.

Also there was this particular bit where I thought the CGI was too obvious. Wonder Woman was darting back and forth too fast to be normal. I mean I know she’s a superhero and everything, but it looked too video-gamey. And the ultimate battle scene kinda felt like CGI puke.

The narrative is of the traditional kind, by way of Campbell’s The Hero’s’ Journey, and I find that most superhero comic book stories go this route. It begins with setting up our heroine in her sheltered world of Themyscira, completely unaware of the adventure that is to come. But then something is calling her, some sort of power seems to surround her. And in one training session she accidentally lets it loose. This confuses her at first, not until she finds her guide and her call to adventure in Steve Trevor. Steve Trevor is an American spy who brought her the news of a war raging outside Themyscira. A war that is killing millions of people as they speak. Diana is convinced that she can stop the war and save people from dying. And so as Wonder Woman, she begins her quest to set foot on mortal soil, and there she meets all sorts of trials, enemies and allies. Then she battles it out with the villain and…you know the drill.

The story is not perfect but it is continually entertaining, and most importantly the story has heart. It isn’t just a mindless assembly of cinematic action sequences. There is substance as well as style. The audience can connect emotionally with the events and the characters on the screen. We feel for Diana, Steve and the rest of the people fighting this war. We too, want to crush their enemies. We root for our heroes to the bitter end. And for that, it means DC has finally made a good one.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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4 thoughts on “Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

    • Hi Courtney! I was asked whether the collective, very high approval of this movie is because we are all so starved of a DCEU film that doesn’t have cold as ice characters, or just massive destruction all around, or just doesn’t suck big time. But I don’t think so. I think this is a good superhero movie. The creators made more good choices than bad ones. It may not be great, but it’s not a mess like Bats vs Sups. And they found a gem in Gal Gadot! I think her performance contributes much to the success of this film.

      Liked by 1 person

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