Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman (2017)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 21 min.

Release Date: June 2nd, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Patty Jenkins Actors: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner, Danny Huston, Eugene Brave Rock, Said Taghmaoui

 


 

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rowing up as the only child amongst Amazonian warriors on the hidden island paradise of Themyscira, Diana (Gal Gadot) longs to hone her skills for battle as her older sisters do. Defying her mother Queen Hippolyta’s (Connie Nielsen) wishes, Diana trains in archery, swordfighting, and hand-to-hand combat under proud General Antiope (Robin Wright), preparing for the honor bestowed upon all inhabitants of the island – to protect mankind from the corrupting influences of the god of war, Ares. When undercover spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane near Themyscira, Diana rescues the pilot and learns of the “war to end all wars” raging just beyond the sanctuary’s protective barrier. Convinced that Ares is behind the fatal hostilities, Diana journeys back to London with Steve, who brings word to his superiors that nefarious German commander Ludendorff (Danny Huston) has been working with master chemist Doctor Maru (Elena Anaya) to concoct a potent new poison gas. As Diana accompanies Steve and his band of mercenaries across the war’s frontlines in their mission to locate and destroy the mad scientist’s base, she witnesses both the glaring flaws and the hidden virtues prevalent in man, prompting the conflicted young woman to contemplate their deservedness of her protection.

“Wonder Woman” is watchable, largely thanks to Gal Gadot, but the film makes most of the same mistakes that other superhero projects encounter. The villain is bland and unthreatening, there are far too many supporting characters (curiously all male, even though Diana could accomplish all the tasks solo), and the strained seriousness overwhelms the absurd nature of the plot (which mixes Greek mythology with superheroes and undefined powers). Plus, the slow-motion posing is on overdrive. But at least it’s nice to see a strong female lead, made more unique by the fact that the film was also helmed by a female director (Patty Jenkins).

“I used to want to save the world,” recollects Diana, who comes to realize that mankind can be quite ugly. Predictably, however, she ends up acknowledging the good – and overcoming the evil. To this end is an interesting coalescing of history and “Clash of the Titans”-like fantasy, with World War I settings providing a backdrop for onslaughts reminiscent of “Thor” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” (a coincidentally-timed release that shares a disorganized finale of confusing, messy, uninteresting CG skirmishes). The war itself is bottlenecked into a subplot of chemical weapons (designed by a Turkish Frankenstein scientist) and an insubordinate general (who kills his own underlings in generic acts of intimidation) as the narrative attempts to place Wonder Woman into a historical timeline without disrupting the recognized outcome. Here, it’s easier to craft a distinct face or two for the wickedness, rather than to dig into the complexities of armed conflict.

Additionally, the chaos of infiltrating German strongholds or penetrating the trenches of No Man’s Land is dulled by a failure to precisely delimit Diana’s capabilities. How invincible is she? What are her limitations? “She must never know the truth about what she is or how she came to be,” states Hippolyta, a character who could be randomly substituted for any number of roles in any number of fantasy epics. Apparently, Diana’s ignorance protects her from her enemies, though she manages not to question all the strange elements of her isolated upbringing (which leads to the brief but enjoyable scenes of accustoming to the wonders of contemporary London civilization, like the fish-out-of-water humor seen in “Enchanted” or “Splash” or “The Little Mermaid”).

“You don’t really believe this rubbish, do you?” asks sniper Charlie (Ewen Bremner), seconds after witnessing the most incredible feats of superhuman heroism imaginable. The sustained disbelief by Trevor’s mercenaries is staggering. And yet, it’s not much of a struggle to spontaneously unleash superpowers when they’re not earned or specified; Diana can simply do remarkable things because such actions are needed in the moment. It’s never even confirmed whether or not she can fly or merely soar. And if these sequences weren’t already unbelievable, the overuse of computer-augmented imagery and wirework and fully computer-animated characters makes everything look just a bit faker, especially during showdowns. Realism only appears in the form of politically-influenced negotiations for a doomed armistice. But despite all these flaws, along with a dreadfully crawling third act, Gadot is oddly but sharply fitting in the role (she is, of course, nothing like the all-American, blue-eyed Lynda Carter from the ‘70s television series) – an iconic persona that has been inexplicably, completely absent from the big screen.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10


The DC Extended Universe


Man of Steel (2013)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Justice League (2017)

Aquaman (2018)

Shazam! (2019)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Black Adam (2022)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

The Flash (2023)

Blue Beetle (2023)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)