Monday, June 5, 2017
Yesterday, we went forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go see Wonder Woman. We actually ran into a problem we rarely run into: the showing when went to see was sold out. In this age of multiple movie theaters with multiple screens, that almost never happens. The next showing was in a theater with recliners for seats; yep, those recliner seats cost extra but damn their comfy. Lean back and pull up the foot rest, you’re good to go!
I even sprung for sodas and popcorn. I never do that!
Ensconced in recliners with theater snacks at the ready, we were ready to be wowed by Wonder Woman.
And boy, did this movie deliver! It was so many levels of freakin’ awesome. The beautiful paradise of Themysciria to the grey smoke covered buildings of London, from the all too human casualties of war on the ground to the pyrotechnics of an Amazon warriors in battle against the god of war, this film was visually magnificent. But no matter how good a movie looks, it still needs characters you believe in and react emotionally to. And Wonder Woman delivers on that too.
At the core of Wonder Woman’s success is the phenomenally perfect casting of Gal Gadot as Diana, an Amazon princess of Themysciria, an island hidden away from men, populated by near immortal women, trained as warriors, proponents of peace. The world of men and World War I come crashing on Themysciria’s shores. Diana rescues Steve Trevor from his downed aircraft while Diana’s fellow Amazons engage in battle the German soldiers who are in pursuit of Trevor.
The Germans threaten to slaughter the Amazons with their machine guns vs. bow and arrows. But the Amazons are superior fighters and defeat the invaders. Steve Trevor tells the Amazons of the world wide war that’s raging beyond their shores and a looming threat to prolong that war. Diana is convinced this is the work of Ares, the God of War. In defiance of her mother, Diana leaves the island with Steve as they journey back to his world.
Gadot strongly demonstrates the unique appeal and power of Wonder Woman, a woman trained as a warrior but still in touch with her sense of compassion for others. Gal Gadot’s Diana is fierce and feminine and it’s not a contradiction as she effortlessly moves from a woman heartsick over the civilian casualties of war to a raging warrior who plows into a German machine gun nest. Diana is not perfect. She’s impatient with navigating the mores of man’s world and the machinations of Steve Trevor’s strategy. And she is naïve enough to think that when Ares is defeated, mankind will war no more. She has to learn that humanity is way too messy for such a neat tidy solution. They are capable of doing bad things without outside interference; but they are able to aspire and achieve nobler goals.
And no one better represents that status than Steve Trevor. Chris Pine embues Trevor with an easygoing charm but a deeper conviction that he can make a difference in bringing this war to an end. He and other men are not perfect but when they reach beyond themselves, they are admirable. Trevor is all swagger and confidence on a mission but out of mission mode, he’s less certain and adorably awkward as he navigates around this strange woman from an exotic lost island. Steve Trevor’s ultimate fate breaks Diana’s heart but also restores her faith that mankind Is worth fighting for.
And an Amazonian high five to director Patty Jenkins who put this together so wonderfully. Wonder Woman is a film of spectacle, of super powered derring do but it is also a movie with heart, with humor and drama in a perfect balance. This is not the grim washed out palate of Batman Vs. Superman. There are times of grief and grimness; it is after all a time of war, a war where science and technology first advanced the capability of mass death and destruction. But those times are balanced by hope, compassion, yes, wonder. Even in the face of grief and loss, in the face of depravity and death, the story of Diana, Amazon princess of Themysciria, is an inspiration to stand up to darkness and despair and refute them.
Nowhere in Wonder Woman is Diana called Wonder Woman, not even a cheesy self-referential, “Wow! That woman! What a wonder she is!” or something like that. But Gal Gadot’s Diana is a woman of many wonders and Wonder Woman is a strong, distinctive, well made entry in the pantheon of super hero movies. It is no less than what a Wonder Woman deserves.
Until next time, remember to be good to one another, just like Diana would want us to do.
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