Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wonder Woman

Review by George M. Thomas

Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman.
WONDER WOMAN is at times an epic comic book film that acquits itself well in the genre and it’s almost everything DC fans have wanted in a film based on one of their favorite characters since Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Does it rise to the level of the best in that series?  No, but it stands on its own as an action-packed, enjoyable piece of escapism.

Many will reference the fact this is the first comic book film to feature a woman in the lead role.  In that regard, for director Patty Jenkins this particular assignment had to come with pressure – from herself, fans and the studio. And she delivers.

Yes, the film plays to a female audience in that it possesses an attitude to that lifts women, but it doesn’t do so at the expense of men.   If anything Jenkins, using screenwriter Allen Heinberg’s script, does little more than lift women to an equal level.

That plays in an interesting way given that it’s set near the tail end of World War I when women still didn’t possess the right to vote.  That makes Diana Prince/Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) appearance in that time and place in Europe even more captivating because her presence shows just how ridiculous those times were with respect to equity.

Prince, who Capt. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), plucks from an island of Amazonian women, is neither familiar with or too tolerant of such ridiculous views. She, in fact, convinces Trevor, who she saved after his plane crashes in the water off the coast of her homeland, to take her to Europe because she believes Ares, the god of war, has a hand in promoting World War I.

Because he comes from the gods that once ruled the Earth and her home, she feels an obligation to rid him from existence. She has but so much patience for those who stand in the way of that goal, and that’s the pure joy of WONDER WOMAN.

The movie unspools at a languid pace up until the moment Diana takes control of her situation.  In a new, strange land, she was perfectly willing to defer to those who knew more about the situation at hand.  However, at the moment she sees a situation so reprehensible and immoral it can't be ignored, she defers to no one.

It’s at that moment that WONDER WOMAN finds its voice and soul, morphing into an epic adventure and morality tale that provides its share of thrills, chills, and a couple of tears.

I wasn’t sure whether Gadot would be able to carry a film of this magnitude after watching her appearance as Wonder Woman in the mediocre BATMAN V. SUPERMAN.  Anyone else with that reservation can rest easy.  Long and athletic, she’s lethal with a sword and even more so with her hands.  But there also exists plenty of emotion behind Gadot’s eyes.

Pine, who’s become everyone’s go to sci-fi actor, puts a his every-man hero spin on his portrayal of Trevor.  His role isn’t diminished  in the least by Diana’s intellectual, mental and physical strength.  In fact, he comes to embrace it eventually.

Because it’s an origin story, Wonder Woman takes some time to get up to speed, but once unleashed, it’s a glorious foray in the DC Universe.

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston.
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Running time: 2 hours 21 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content

3-of-4 stars

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