Thursday, June 8, 2017

'WONDER WOMAN' REVIEW - "ONLY LOVE WILL TRULY SAVE THE WORLD"

Directed by PATTY JENKINS
Starring GAL GADOT, CHRIS PINE, DANNY HUSTON, 
CONNIE NIELSON, and ROBIN WRIGHT

I am on hiatus or semi-retirement (haven't decided which). I'm still active on social media and I visit blogs, but I no longer review films as I once did. It's partially because I don't have much free time. I work, have a family, and I'm in grad school. Once grad school finishes (in 2018) I planned to review films again, but I don't know if I will.

I don't want to waste 2 hours of my life on a bad (or semi-bad) film. I also don't want to feed the monster. Hollywood has serious problems with representation, which I've discussed in previous blog posts. I still watch movies via streaming, but I rarely go to the theater. So before watching 'Wonder Woman' I only saw two films in theaters this year-- 'Logan' (which was one of the best comic book movies since the 1978 'Superman') and 'John Wick 2.' That's it.
"Given that this is a WB/DC Comics film, I prepared myself for the worst." 
But I decided before the reviews came out that 'Wonder Woman' would be one of the few films I saw in theaters this summer. Namely because I have been waiting for this film for years. I have written previous posts on this: "Does Hollywood Hate Wonder Woman?," "It's Time for a Wonder Woman Film," more here, here, and here.

Given that this is a WB/DC Comics film, I prepared myself for the worst. WB/DC's reputation is trash. The sheer level of incompetence at the WB/DC boggles the mind. They have managed to mishandle not one, but three consequtive films. The common denominators being Zach SynderDeborah SynderCharles Rovan, and Wes Collar.

So imagine my surprise and elation when the reviews for 'Wonder Woman' came out? The DCEU (DC Extended Universe) finally made a good film...and it comes in the form of Wonder Woman? Whaaaa? Huh?? We may be in a parallel universe.
YOU HAVE BEEN MY GREATEST LOVE. 
TODAY YOU BECOME MY GREATEST SADNESS. 
QUEEN HIPPOLYTA [ to Diana]

'Wonder Woman' opens with the beautiful island of Themyscira filled with gloriously buff Amazons of all ethnicities. The Amazons are led by the regal Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and protected by her sister Antiope, played by a kick butt Robin Wright. Diana is the only child on the island. We don't yet understand why, but we will. Hippolyta is hesistant for Diana to receive her warrior training, so Antiope begins training her in secret. Once discovered Hippolyta consents to Diana's training and wants her to become the fiercest Amazon warrior of all.
I CANNOT STAND BY WHILE 
INNOCENT LIVES ARE LOST. 
Diana [to Hippolyta]

She may be the strongest warrior on the island, but Diana (Gal Gadot) also has the biggest heart. When she sees Steve Trevor's (Chris Pine) plane crash into the ocean, she doesn't hesistate to rescue him or join him when he tells her that millions of people have been killed in World War I. Diana is heartbroken upon hearing about the loss of life. She considers it her duty to protect mankind. She has the inherent desire to help others. It's the first time I have seen a superhero film explain the hero's morality.
IT IS OUR SACRED DUTY TO DEFEND THE WORLD. 
AND IT IS WHAT I AM GOING TO DO. 
Diana [to Hippolyta]

As promised Trevor takes Diana to the war, but in the meantime there are a few hilarious "fish out of water" moments and much needed comedy relief. There's also a wonderful nod to the original 'Superman' film when Diana saves Steve in an alley. When they finally reach the front it's Diana's deep concern for others that leads her to cross "No Man's Land"-- a series of uncrossable trenches with opposing soldiers on either side. Diana BECOMES Wonder Woman in this scene, as she battles for a small piece of ground to alleviate human suffering... and it's glorious.
"Sometimes you don't realize how much you missed something because you have NEVER seen it." 
IF YOU CHOOSE TO LEAVE, YOU MAY NEVER RETURN.
Hippolyta
HOW WILL I BE IF I STAY?
Diana

Sometimes you don't realize how much you missed something because you have NEVER seen it. I know men are sick of hearing this (my husband is), but when you see an island of warrior women and the ultimate warrior woman battling the forces of evil--it's incredible. We as women don't often see this. Sure, we occasionally see a female sidekick punching someone while wearing a skintight leather corsett, but nothing like the Amazons or Wonder Woman. I openly wept while watching the "No Man's Land" scene. I couldn't understand why? Now I do.
After her victory at "No Man's Land," Diana and Steve continue their journey to the front. Diana is convinced that a more sinister force is turning men's hearts dark. Steve tries to explain that some people are evil for evil's sake. They don't require any outside influence--they are who they are. This is something Diana cannot accept.
"It's the first time I have seen a superhero film explain the hero's morality."
The film ends in the standard hero v. "big bad" way that most comic book films end, but it adds an additional layer of depth not found in most comic book films. 'Wonder Woman' is ultimately an origins story similar to 'Captain America: The First Avenger.' The difference between 'Wonder Woman' and 'Captain America' is that WW intimately explains Diana's morality and it shows her loss of innocence.

When she realizes that some people are just evil and the atrocities they commit stem from that evil-- it's a heartbreaking realization and one that she never recovers from (if we examine her discussions with Batman (Ben Affleck) in 'Batman v. Superman'). She experiences this loss and other losses throughout the film, which the audience feels right along with her.
I WILL FIGHT FOR THOSE WHO 
CANNOT FIGHT FOR THEMSELVES. 
Diana [to Steve]

'Wonder Woman' is not a perfect film. It's also not as good as the most recent Marvel film, 'Logan,' but WW succeeds where many other comic book movies fail because it has so much heart and genuine enthusiasm. Unlike the previous three DC films, it's not needlessly dark or dour. Yet it confronts the realities of evil. Diana's innate heroism, love, and goodness are beautiful and it is not something we often see in superheroes (male or female). It will not be winning any awards, but it is the best DC film in over a decade and my favorite DC film since the original 'Superman' films.
I CAN SAVE TODAY. 
YOU CAN SAVE THE WORLD.
Steve [to Diana]

I would be bereft if I didn't comment on Gal Gadot's performance. She gave this film everything she had. Her version of Wonder Woman will be our generation's Christopher Reeve. She will be the measuring stick by which people compare future Wonder Womans. Similar to how Linda Carter is the measuring stick for television. Gadot was the best thing in 'BvS' and she's the best thing in 'WW.'

Chris Pine does good work here too. I've always enjoyed him in the 'Star Trek' films as the dashing leading man. One would expect him to have trouble as the film's "love interest," but he doesn't. Pine plays Steve Trevor as a leading man in his own right and he's very protective of Diana. The romance that develops between them is quite lovely and their chemistry is palatable.
I CAN'T LET YOU DO THIS.
Steve
WHAT I DO IS NOT UP TO YOU.
Diana

One Hollywood myth that WON'T die is that in order for a woman to be strong, a man has to be weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Strong" women are usually depicted as man hating, kick butt, career women. Wow, what kind of message does that send? If a woman is strong and successful she must hate men? I personally like masculine men (a man's man), yet I still consider myself to be a strong woman. I'm also a loving wife and a mother and I have a career. That trifecta may make a Hollywood scriptwriter's head explode.

Why is that so difficult for Hollywood screenwriters to understand? I'm beginning to think the majority of these screenwriters are projecting their own issues with women onscreen. Thankfully, Wonder Woman does not fall into this trap. Diana may be physically stronger than most, but she doesn't have a hint of arrogance or ego. She's also very warm and loving--proving that epitome of "the feminine" exudes strength.
'Wonder Woman' had everything stacked against it. The WB/DC under marketed it and , and underfunded it in comparison with other DCEU films, they worked against italmost destroyed it, and worst-- the execs didn't want/understand the penultimate scene (which Jenkins had to fight for). To put this in perspective Matt Damon's flop 'The Wall' had the same budget as 'Wonder Woman.' That is just crazy. How does a movie like 'The Wall' have the same budget as one of the biggest super heroes in DC Comics' 80+ year history? WW's budget was originally less than that at $100 million (instead of the eventual $150).

The studio never thought 'Wonder Woman' would succeed...and when it does it's of course A SURPRISE. It's a surprise because movies featuring women and/or people of color ('Wonder Woman,' 'Hidden Figures,' 'Creed,' 'Get Out,' or 'Lucy') are considered anomalies. In the meantime Hollywood will continue to throw piles of money at the next 'Baywatch,' 'The Mummy,' 'King Arthur,' and 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' Yes, I'm jaded...and cynical. I'm sorry.
"One Hollywood myth that WON'T die is that in order for a woman to be strong, a man has to be weak. Nothing could be further from the truth."
For some reason Hollywood has judged an ENTIRE gender based on two other female-led superhero films ('Catwoman' and 'Elektra') as proof that a 'Wonder Woman' film would not make money. This belief is NOT based on fact. There have been numerous statistical studies of films that indicate over and over again that movies featuring women and people of color do well at the box office (nationally and internationally). There have been budget reports that indicate the same thing. So why, why are Hollywood's perceptions so outdated and out of step with reality?
Despite the forces working against her, director Patty Jenkins managed to make a great movie that made over $100 million in its first weekend. Kudoos may also be in order to the relative new Co-heads of DC films Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Johns knows comic books. I'm convinced that 'BvS' and 'Suicide Squad' were too far gone before Johns and Berg took the reigns. Supposedly, WW is the first film Johns and Berg have both been actively involved in. This leads me to believe that DC may be turning a corner. What better hero to save DC Comics than Wonder Woman? 

16 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm just so happy for Patty Jenkins. I love that this made over 100M. I hope it slays at the box office again this week.

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    1. I'm thrilled for Patty. I am surprised she hasn't really done another film since her Oscar winning film, Monster. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to touch this film. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that this movie did so well!

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  2. I couldn't agree more. I enjoyed it even more than Guardians 2.
    Gal Gadot was perfect in the role. She brought both wisdom and innocence to Diana. And her fight across No Man's Land was the best I've ever seen.
    Someone said it represented true feminism - equal and complimentary, not above.
    I still have high hopes for Justice League. Josh Whedon is finishing up the film after Snyder took a leave due to a terrible family tragedy.

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    1. I will have to watch Guardians 2. I haven't seen it yet. I will probably see it on streaming. I loved the No Man's Land scene. It was so epic. So true about the true message of feminism-- equal and complimentary. No one is better than anyone else. Idk about the Justice League. It may be too far gone.

      I heard about Synder's personal tragedy, which must be so absolutely devastating. I truly feel for him and his wife. I didn't feel it was appropriate to comment on Joss Whedon's take over of the JL film given the reasons that Synder was leaving.

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  3. I came straight over here after you commented on my post. Awesome review! Totally agree - Hollywood has such a huge problem with depicting women in an equal way - that they can be powerful, compassionate, kick-ass, independent and fall in love. Wonder Woman proved them wrong. I can't remember a movie where it was fun, emotional, and exciting to watch a female character go from a young girl using her superpowers, determination, and emotional growth to become a mature woman. And it didn't hurt anyone else - Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, etc. played good characters too. I could go on and on, but this movie was so good. Great review!

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    1. Thanks. Totally agree. Sometimes I feel like Hollywood is living in an alternate universe. I wish they would come into the 21st century with some of these dated ideals. I hope the new WW movie can change things.

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  4. Fantastic review. I can't argue with you about a single thing you said. This movie is a gift to both movie fans and especially a Wonder Woman fan like myself. It hit all the right notes and thrilled me beyond what I could have hoped for. It's the new high bar for all superhero movies to come and I hope it is the start of a renaissance for female heroes like Batgirl.

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    1. Hi Cal! I hope you're doing well. I know you are a huge fan of female superheroes! You always post such neat art of Batgirl. I would love to see a Batgirl film. I hope this WW film showed that a successful batgirl film is possible!

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  5. Glad to see you give us a review, I've missed your writing. I know, I know, life. Anyhoo. I agree this is a fantastic film and far better than anything else the DCEU has given us. I was not aware of the changing of the guard at DC, so I hope you're right about them turning the corner. I will disagree with one thing. I thought Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy spent lots of time explaining the hero's morality.

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    1. Hi Wendell!! THanks for your comment. Yes, I'm so glad DC is turning the ship around. I am such a huge DC fan I've learned to live with disappointment. You make an interesting point about the Dark Knight. I'll have to rethink that.

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  6. Beautiful review and I'm so happy you liked it this much, I know how much you waited for it! My favorite bit from your piece is how the man is always weak for the woman to be strong in movies but it's not the case here. That is so true. I don't know how it's so difficult for filmmakers in 2017 to understand that both sexes can be equal on screen and that this is what would make the dynamic between them compelling. That's why the chemistry between the characters was so palpable - because they actually communicated and challenged each other. It's also true for Logan and Laura. And I'm so glad you mentioned how much you liked Logan, it's better than Wonder Woman but you are right Gal is gonna be like Reeves' in Superman. This is the movie that is already written in cinematic history. And I too cried in No Man's Land scene not just because it was remarkable to witness as a movie fan and a woman but also because Diana is doing what she is doing to stop the fighting, not continue it. It's just so lovely.

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    1. Thanks Sati! I wish there were more films featuring female protagonists that followed this rule. Sometimes I wonder what century Hollywood is in. I hope WW will encourage good things to happen in future films.

      Yes, I definitely think Logan was a better film. It was also a more established franchise. Wolverine and Professor X needed no introductions. It was a beautiful ending for both characters. I think for an origins film, WW was quite good.

      I'm glad I wasn't the only one who cried during that scene!

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  7. I still haven't seen this one but I'm very excited about the future of the DCEU. When Zack Snyder was at the reigns the movies took far too dark of a turn. You're right that now that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are in charge the movies are headed in the right direction. Jenkins showed what a strong, confident and skilled director can do when faced with (what Hollywood feels) are impossible odds. I'm read reports that DC was so convinced this would fail that they didn't even bother signing her up for the sequel. Big mistake. Mo' money! Mo' money!

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    1. Oh my gosh! You're a DC fan you totally need to see this one! I think you will really like it. I read the same thing about Jenkins. I am so irritated with WB/DC. I almost wish a different company had the rights to WW. I hope Patty makes them pay her well!

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  8. Thanks for the great review! It sounds like your plate is already totally full (even without the blog). Good luck with everything. I'll be checking in from time to time.
    Take care...

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    1. Hi Pat! I hope you're doing well. It's so good to hear from you. I will pay you a visit!

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