WONDER WOMAN Review
Director: Patty Jenkins
First of all, if you haven’t seen WONDER WOMAN yet, please put your phone down, pull out your Rifle Paper Co. planner, and consult your group text for everyone’s availability for the soonest possible showtime. I’ll wait. Done? Sick.
WONDER WOMAN is undoubtedly the best superhero movie I have ever seen. Patty Jenkins seamlessly blends the gritty tone of Nolan’s Dark Knight series, the whimsy of an Avengers film, and incorporates another famous hero as is apparently now expected from a Superhero Movie, DC or Marvel. Origin stories are rather tedious to begin with—the film must balance its time between exposition for newcomers and references to past iterations for the veteran fan. Furthermore, Jenkins had another task at hand: Wonder Woman had already been introduced in Zach Snyder’s arduous BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. So Patty’s out here adding layers to a character that the audience already knows . . . kind of.
Just let me have this image of Ben Affleck here please.
But lucky for us, Bruce Wayne knows just about as much! The only background for Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), is that Bruce has is an image of her, flanked by a small group of men, during World War I. We open on Diana as she heads to work in the modern-day Louvre. A Wayne employee meets her there and hands her a locked suitcase; inside is said photograph, accompanied by a note on Wayne Enterprises stationary. “Maybe one day you’ll tell me your story,” it reads. How convenient! Thanks Batfleck! Thus, Diana tells us her story.
AND WHAT A STORY IT IS! The first act of the film takes place on an island inhabiting only women, where Robin Wright majestically rides horses and teaches a bevy of racially diverse warriors how to fight. How could you ask for more?? I’m so glad you asked, because as Diana discovers her powers with Robin Wright as her teacher, Chris Pine shows up and Diana saves him from drowning! I promised myself I’d only talk about Chris Pine for one paragraph so here goes: as far as White Chrises go, there’s no question that Chris Pine is the most watchable. His chemistry with Gal Gadot is off the charts but, no discredit to Gal here, Pine could probably muster up chemistry with Human Statue Henry Cavill. He acts as an amazing sidekick to Wonder Woman, from helping her navigate Earth to helping her fight the Germans. He’s always done reluctant good guy well (did someone say PRINCESS DIARIES 2: A ROYAL ENGAGEMENT?), but here, he does the trope to perfection.
Oh My God
While Gadot, Pine, and the rest of the supporting characters are well-utilized and memorable, the only real flaw of the film is its lackluster villains. The scenes revolving around Ludendorff and Dr. Poison drop the pace and mostly make you hope Wonder Woman comes back soon so Ludendorff will stop stroking Dr. Poison’s porcelain mask. It’s difficult to remember an origin story with a memorable villain though—SPIDER-MAN is really the only superhero to meet his most memorable nemesis in the first installment of his franchise. Ultimately the lame villains just leave room for Wonder Woman to shine, which is fine by me.
Feminine rage is a trope in cinema that has fascinated me since the year of our lord 2006 when I first saw CHICAGO, a film in which every female character is driven by her deep seated anger. It’s a theme that can be found more and more frequently in modern media—from Amy Dunne in GONE GIRL to Furiosa in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Unrelenting rage is a trait that has been easily assigned to male villains throughout cinematic history, but there’s something more potent about an angry woman. It’s even more potent when she’s your protagonist. Diana displays seemingly endless amounts of determination, strength, and fearlessness throughout her journey, but she is at her most complex, her most volatile, when she lets her anger win. To see such a consistently positive character give in to her all-encompassing rage is jarring, and Gadot plays it perfectly. She maintains control over her facial expressions at every turn of Diana’s journey, but when she can’t take it anymore, her face contorts into something almost unrecognizable. It’s notable, and it makes her commitment to love, peace, and justice even more powerful.
Just this was worth the cost of entry to Snyder’s flexathon
Honestly, I really don’t care if you like this movie. I don’t even care if I liked it. Obviously I want us all to like it because it’s a great film with strong characters and an emotional story arc, hero’s journey and all. WONDER WOMAN is a joy to watch and a perfect use of film as a medium. But this movie is more than just a movie: WONDER WOMAN is the first film with a budget over $100 million to be directed by a woman. Support female filmmakers. Go see this movie in theaters so this bullshit boys club of an industry is forced to acknowledge that women make amazing movies. Who’d have thought that after years of Marvel stealing the spotlight, it would be their gloomy box office foe that would usher in a new era for diversity?