STARRING: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen
DIRECTED BY: Patty Jenkins
WRITTEN BY: Alan Heinberg (screenplay), William Moulton Marston (created by)
Well good for DC and Warner Brothers for waiting until the script was right for the much anticipated Wonder Woman movie. Screenwriter Alan Heinberg did a solid job of bringing William Moulton Marston’s odyssey of an Amazon warrior princess to the big screen. And kudos to Patty Jenkins for her fearless directing in a genre where the boys have had a hold. Wonder Woman is not without its weaknesses, but it has enough heart and good storytelling that it’s a franchise I know I’m definitely excited to see more of.
Wonder Woman is the origin story about Diana (Gal Gadot) princess of the Amazons, sitting pretty and training hard by her badass aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) on Themyscira. Diana’s mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) explains how the island became a women-only paradise. The story triggers a desire in Diana to train in case Ares, the God of War, comes back to finish the job of destroying all the humans. And then, after a training session that goes a little out of control, not a bird, but a plane falls out of the sky and curious Diana dives into the ocean to see what’s going on. Alas, she rescues the handsome spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The lasso of truth gets the, well, truth out of the young pilot and the Amazons discover that man is in need of help. Diana is eager to go with Steve to fight the evil Ares.
I just recently read about the United Nations dismissing Wonder Woman as a role model for females due to the “scantly clad outfits” that, they claimed, seemed to be overtly sexualized and “not culturally sensitive.” I mean, it’s Wonder Woman, a character created by an American psychologist based on Greek mythology. There have been different versions of the demigoddess around the world. We don’t criticize other stories with similar themes of Greek gods and say, well, the men are way too undressed, muscular and sexy. The 1981 version of Clash of the Titans has that weird nude scene and is much sexier than this film.
The story can’t please everyone, but the face value attempt is worthy as far as the franchise goes. I was a little skeptical when Gadot was cast for the role, but she proves to be a perfect warrior princess. She has the energy for it but also, refreshingly and like Linda Carter (the 1970s TV version), has a lot of tenderness and compassion. She’s not just a hot girl in a suit. Her portrayal has depth which, as an actor, is all played in the eyes. I was almost crying in the end. Almost. But I was certainly moved.
As far as the relationship between Diana and everyone else, there was a sense of connection and authenticity. Especially with aunt Antiope in the beginning and Steve during her journey. Steve is not only the bridge between her world and her understanding of man, but ends up being her first romantic love. Some of the supporting characters are also a pleasant surprise. Steve’s secretary Etta (Lucy Davis) is hilarious and I honestly wanted to see more of her. Also, the gang that Steve scrapes up to help fight is a nice mix of misfits, including mirthful Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), the super unstable Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and the mysterious Chief (Eugene Brave Rock). It’s an obvious attempt at inclusion but not overly overt or offensive.
The weakness of the film are the villains. But like a lot of comic book superhero villains, they are often kind of an afterthought and just there to offer conflict. And throughout most of the film, that’s what they are, except at the very end where there is a little more depth shown. I’m referring particularly to Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya). The German general Ludendorff could have been a little more fleshed out than the one-dimensional villain. There is a twist in the end I’m not going to reveal here, but it made everything okay. My take is that a film like this is always as good as its villain.
Wonder Woman has some epic battle scenes that made the little girl in me ready to wield a sword and kick some butt. And, really, isn’t that what we all want in the end? That sensation that we can stand up and fight for what we believe in and look absolutely awesome doing it? Yes. Yes we do.