Another really late movie review. This is partly the fault of living in Japan, where occasionally movies arrive months after their releases in the US. I believe that Wonder Woman was one of those movies where I decided that since the release dates for digital version basically coincided with he Japan theatrical release that I might as well go with the digital copy. But, that ran me into another problem: Hype. All I heard was how great Wonder Woman was. And it is all too easy for even a good movie to fall short after so much build up. It took months to actually find time and build up the courage to watch this movie. I am an unashamed fan of superheroes and want to like every superhero vehicle. Unfortunately, so many of them fall short even without hype. And I really wanted to like this movie.
writer: Allan Heinberg
director: Patty Jenkins
Yeah, this movie was great. Even with the hype I finished this flick awash with good feelings. It was a great mix of character, action, humor and emotion. The fight scenes were easy to follow and exciting to watch. All of the characters, with the possible exception of the Queen of the Amazons, were given interesting moments to shine in. Chris Pine almost stole the show with his performance, and possibly would have if our lead hadn’t been so compelling. Gal Gadot soared. Just, really really soared. A great piece of movie making.
Spoilers Lurk Below
Let’s talk a little more about Gadot. I’ll admit that I went into this movie hoping that Wonder Woman would have a bit more muscular weight on her. I thought about the transformation that the actors went through to play Thor and Captain America and I felt that, perhaps, a little more athletic bulk would better suit the character. I also worried that perhaps this wasn’t done so that we wouldn’t sacrifice the sex appeal of Wonder Woman. It only took a few minutes of Gadot’s performance to make me stop caring about the bulk.
First off, in the actual movie I feel like she is depicted as more athletic than in the few screen shots that showed up before I watched the movie. (Yes, I’m one of those people that tries to avoid trailers of movies that I already know i’m going to watch. So what might have been apparent to others had escaped me.)
Secondly, and more importantly, Gadot so perfectly embodied the spirit of the character that rectifying her “perfect image” with what lays on the comic page was of little importance. Gadot walked the tight rope of being strong without aggression. Of being naive without bumbling. Humor without clowning. Sure, she was aided by a good script, but she certainly elevated it to great heights.
Listen, I’ve only watched this movie once (and there was BvS as well, if that counts) but I already wonder if her portrayal of Wonder Woman will be the gold standard for this character going forward. I’m thinking of the Raimi Spider-Man movie where J.K. Simmons defined J. Jonah Jameson so much so that the character hasn’t appeared in the recent three Spider-Man movies. I could easily see Gadot matching that feat.
That the rest of the movie shined, made Gadot’s task all the easier. It was a fun, emotional war movie where we were able to touch on several modern day issues (gender, race, etc.) where they are there to be dissected and commented upon without breaking the flow or taking control of the film.
All that said, I did have a few quibbles with the movie. First, there was Dr. Poison. I liked the character, but it didn’t feel she was all the way there. It felt as if there was something more that character was either supposed to do or represent that just wasn’t entirely put together. Was she a true villain? Some kind of victim? I can’t really explain, but it just felt half-finished.
My other quibble was with Wonder Woman going super saiyan, for lack of a better term. The sudden burst of power that knocks down foes. The seed was planted early in the movie, but I don’t recall it being either discussed or explored until the end. Without such an exploration, planting the seed is the same as telling someone “don’t worry, we have a deus ex machina coming up.” In other movies, *cough Force Awakens cough* this sudden power storm can really jar me out of the action. It really is a testament to the world that Jenkins created that it is just a quibble. Because the it does feel like it belongs in the world. It feels genuine. I just wish it were further developed.
This movie ended and I wanted more. I like the character and I liked the world. I liked that love saved the day. It was a masterfully directed picture with a strong cast. I don’t feel that it is my place to talk about the importance of this movie to women. But I can understand why it would be important. I also hope that this shows that women as heroes are not a myth and are bot box office poison. Just writing about this movie makes me wasn’t to watch it again.