Wonder Woman was one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, and it lived up to the expectations, both at the box office and in terms of quality. The movie delivered nostalgia without being too corny and presented a fairly nuanced portrait of a heroic woman and her mission to save people from themselves.
Wonder Woman is the original story of the superhero, beginning with her childhood among the Amazons, woman warriors tasked with defeating Aries and protecting the world from war. Unbeknownst to young Diana (Lilly Aspell), she is the daughter of Zeus and has unique abilities and strength along with her intense combat training at the hands of her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) and her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). When a spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and a bunch of German soldiers find the Amazons’ secret island, Diana (Gal Gadot) learns about The Great War and decides that she must leave her people to go save the world from the perils created by Aries and the evil German scientist, Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya).
There is so much to love about this adaptation of Wonder Woman. The film is lacking in racial diversity, but it does wonders with its use of a female lead in the superhero genre. Once it moves past a few obligatory jokes stemming from Diana growing up in a world without men, the story moves forward with Steve Trevor and his sidekicks following Diana’s lead. Instead of hammering away at “girl power” themes, the story treats her leadership as natural because of her strength, training and determination. She brushes past some contrasts between her style and what was expected of women in WWI-era England, but does not make a meal of the fish-out of-water potential.
The chemistry between Diana and Steve Trevor, as depicted by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine helps sell this dynamic. Chris Pine can easily carry a movie on his own, as could Gadot. The combination of the two is exciting. The characters feed off each other in a way that makes each of them look better than they would on their own. I credit that to both good acting and solid character development in the screenplay. For example, in one of the battle scenes, Steve Trevor uses a tactic that he observed during a battle waged by the Amazons. The reference to earlier in the film isn’t emphasized, but it subtly hints to how much he is paying attention and his willingness to follow Diana’s lead.
The gender element is not the theme of the movie, however, which I think is another strong point. Instead of focusing on how awesome Wonder Woman is, the movie is really about mercy and her quest to save humans from Aries, even though they do not really deserve her efforts. This theme is carried throughout the movie, building to the climax in a way that is both cohesive and convincing. It manages to be moving without being more saccharine than a superhero movie can pull off.
On top of the good acting and writing, Wonder Woman also features some gorgeous period work in the sets and wardrobe. Paired with the iconic Wonder Woman outfit, there is plenty of eye candy. The score of the film is also great. While not exactly riffing on the 1970s Wonder Woman theme, her theme in the film sounds like a throw-back, but is organic enough to the setting and tone of the movie that it sounds like a delightful nod to nostalgia while still really fitting to this impressive Wonder Woman.
Towards the end, Wonder Woman gets a little clunky and cheesy, but as a Diana Prince/Wonder Woman origin story, it is exciting, fun and beautifully made. I rate it 4/5 stars.
Wonder Woman was written by Allan Heinberg and directed by Patty Jenkins. It runs 141 minutes and is rated PG-13.
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