Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman

By Sati. Monday, June 5, 2017 , , , , , ,
75 years. That's how long Wonder Woman had to wait for her own movie. 14 years. That's how long the director Patty Jenkins had to wait to do her next film. But now it's finally their time. And with that all the women should cheer - we finally have a CBM movie where it's a woman who is leading, not following.

And it's wonderful. They should be very proud. We all should be considering the opening weekend box office.

2016 was a really rough year for DC fans. First came BvS - overstuffed mess of a movie that rightfully got terrible reviews. The studio made a terrible error many times in the past - first delivering forgettable, mediocre Man of Steel where the role of Superman was played by Henry Cavill who looks the part but is an extremely limited actor with absolutely no charisma. Then they decided to build on that movie and so came BvS. Still the fans did not abandon hope counting on Suicide Squad to be good. Squad opened to even worse reviews than BvS and while personally I found it to be an entertaining film there is no question that it's a horribly made movie. And it was at this point where I abandoned hope - the three failure of movies, post production mess and squandering such potential was too much to witness.
But now the hope is back with the arrival of the first movie from DC in many years that is worthy of the character it centers around. Given all that I wrote above - the mess in WB, the misogynistic Hollywood - that Wonder Woman even exists is amazing. But that it's a great movie? That's nothing short of a miracle.

Two best things about BvS were Gal Gadot's lively portrayal of Diana and the score, particularly the brilliant "Is She With You?" theme for Wonder Woman. And now Patty Jenkins has made a truly lovely film which gives Gadot the opportunity to lead the movie, instead of being a support to male stars and also incorporates Wonder Woman theme in a fantastic way.
Gadot delivers a lovely performance and her Diana is such a terrific character. Brought up by the Amazons on the gorgeous island of Themyscira Diana is someone who values life, peace and believes in doing the right thing. You never once questions her motives to help others - she is the kind of person who wants to save everyone, no matter what. Seeing her naivete clash with the horrors of war and what people are capable of doing to each other was shattering. Diana is someone who cannot comprehend why people would do this to each other - start wars, kill children. The film does an exquisite job of showing just how terrible - and in its essence incomprehensible  - some things done by people are and what we can accomplish if we simply do the right thing.

Normally in films like these the heroes don't explore the idea of why it is important to help others. Not only does Wonder Woman explore that but it provides a very satisfying way of explaining that - it doesn't matter what the others do. You should do what you believe in. Steve and Diana do remarkable things to help others not because others are worth saving but because they need to do those things because of who they are. They believe saving others is the right thing to do, simple as that. And it IS the right thing to do.
The film's most remarkable sequence involves Diana defiantly walking into No Man's Land. Steve told Diana it's impossible to cross it but Diana goes anyways, walking forward, bouncing the bullets off and allowing the soldiers to follow her. Diana does so not to take lives but to save them. She walks with all of her goodness and all of her grace, with men made instruments of slaughter and hatred bouncing off her bracelets and shield. It's a truly powerful image that is worth a thousand words.

Every single thing she is doing in the movie is to end the war and save the innocent. The purity of her actions alone gives the film so much heart and Diana's heroism is so beautifully shown in sequences like this one. There are many superheroes about whom we are TOLD they are good and righteous like Captain America or Superman but the goodness of a hero was never more palpable and evident than it is right here, in Diana. In her refusal to compromise, in her childlike innocence making it impossible for her to believe there is anything that stands in the way of saving everyone, in her heartwarming genuine smile. This may be the finest scene in CBM movie when it comes to what it represents. This is why people love those films. We see these inspiring heroes doing amazing things. But no scene was as symbolic and as moving as this one. This is the innocence and the belief in human capacity for peace and goodness clashing with the violence of men. And prevailing over it.
Add to that Rubert Gregson-Williams' rousing score and everything that surrounds the movie - this being a rare movie directed by female director, first new era CBM movie where the woman is at the center - and it all makes the film and particularly No Man's Land sequence into such an emotional ride. I had tears in my eyes watching this. Men out there won't get it - they are getting movies like this all the time, where men are saving the day, punching bad guys, being heroes. We women never got a movie like this. Not in this subgenre. We barely get movies like this in action genre at all. And we certainly never got a female heroine with more goodness in her than Diana. The film shows the power of kindness, of bravery, of love. It's truly inspirational.

The third act of the movie is also saved by the film's gigantic heart. It involves big battle between Diana and the film's antagonist but because it has incredibly moving moments sprinkled throughout it it never bores you. One moment in particular - which brilliantly appears twice with one alteration - leads to the film's most moving sequence. Yet again (after Logan) CBM genre proves it has the ability to give us truly wonderful characters the loss of who actually hurts.
But it's not all tears - the film incorporates humor in a great way - it all feels very natural and Gadot and particularly Pine have wonderful comedic skills. The clash between Diana - Amazon princess living on secluded island - and the misogynistic world of 1918 is particularly amusing. There are many moments in the movie where I was reminded of Indiana Jones movies particularly in the sequence where Steve is pretending to be a German general in order to infiltrate the party. There are also echoes of Superman here, particularly in the alley fight sequence.

The cast is wonderful with Gadot beautifully carrying the movie. Elena Anaya delivers a creepy, mysterious villain and Robin Wright shines in her brief time on the screen as Diana's warrior aunt. The smirk she gives right before engaging in battle was amazing. It was wonderful seeing Connie Nielsen who played such a graceful, beautiful woman in Gladiator - what a great casting for Diana's mother here. But the MVP of the cast is Chris Pine who nearly steals the spotlight from Gadot in the scenes they share together. His character is absolutely wonderful and Pine succeeds in portraying a noble hero so well. The chemistry between him and Gadot is effortless and electric and I loved how they portrayed a believable way a normal person from our world would interact with someone like Diana.
Patty Jenkins is the first woman to direct a superhero film with a female protagonist.. To my recollection the only other two superhero films with a female protagonist are Elektra and Catwoman. I don't have to make a point here, right?

The praise for the film is a bit too high - this film tying scores with Logan, which premiered 3 months ago and is the best comic book movie ever made and so much more than that, is laughable - the film is far from being flawless (glaring instances of a scene being too short most likely because someone in the studio wanted to make the movie shorter- like the moment when Diana sees the bullet bouncing off her shield and killing someone which is not given any follow up and the scene itself lasts mere seconds). However, it's well done, well acted, funny, thrilling and most of all it has so much heart. You care about the characters on the screen and you care about their story. It's a film that makes you laugh and that makes you cry. And, perhaps most amazingly, it's the film that makes you hope.

Wonder Woman (2017, 141 min)
Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Allan Heinberg (screenplay), Zack Snyder, Jason Fuchs (story by)
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright |

28 comments:

  1. Great review! I've been trying to lower my expectations for the past months because I was expecting another disappointment, but the opposite happened. This film wasn't as good as I expected, it was as good as I wanted it to be. It's not perfect, but it balances action, humour and drama beautifully, and the message of hope and love it sends, simply wonderful. It was about time for us women to get a movie like this one.

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    1. Thank you! I do hope more will follow and that it means DCEU fan finally start making films that the fans deserve and not some weird nonsensical borefest that isn't even well done

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  2. We touched on many of the same things in our reviews, so I obviously think this is a great post. In particular, we share a love for the No Man's Land sequence. That was phenomenal. I also love the chemistry between Gadot and Pine. The finale didn't work quite as well for me, but it's still an excellent film.

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    1. I was thinking about it today and other than me watching Logan and Hugh in Logan Steve and Diana may be the best love story in CBM movie. How...curious that's probably because here a woman was a hero and a man was written to be a love interest but not just some companion to love the protagonist but also a fully fleshed out character in his own right

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  3. I'm so happy about this film and when I was writing my review and had some time to think about it more. I realized how special it is in this age of rampant misogyny and it's the film the world needs. I was also amazed at the fact that Wonder Woman is portrayed as someone who is very innocent in the way she deals with the cynicism of the world and why compromises aren't easy to understand. Gal Gadot really did a hell of a job in selling that as well as provide that balance of being very powerful but also be quite vulnerable. This is a true star-making performance. I really hope my mother and sister sees this because this is something women need to see.

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    1. Gal really created someone that in spite of having powers and coming from such a fantastical place felt so very vulnerable and human. She was portraying a person first and foremost and she did such a beautiful job here.

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  4. Great review Sati. I loved loved this movie. I can't say enough about how important this movie was for us women folk. I will come out of hiatus to review it. I remember writing a post in 2013 about how/why we hadn't had a WW film. For years I have debated with man trolls about how a female super hero film could make money. I was so tired of two crappy films (Catwoman and Elektra) being thrown in my face as if two films could represent an entire gender?

    So you are absolutely right--it's unbelievable and amazing that a film with half the budget of the normal DCECU pieces of excrement, with 1/4th of the marketing budget, and w/ the awful DC/WB execs fighting against it every step of the way (who should have been fired years ago)--that this film was as good as it was. Seeing this film brought to life in such a heartwarming way brought tears to my eyes several times during this film.

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    1. Thank you! So glad you loved it, I know how much you were waiting for this one! Looking forward yo your review! Did you hear the execs didn't want No Man's Land scene in the movie and Jenkins had to fight for it?! That's fucking ridiculous. They still have so much to learn over there.

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  5. Great review! The No Man's Land sequence was perfection. I wish I could play it on a loop right now. I wasn't crazy about the climax though.

    I hope DCEU keeps doing this.

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    1. Thank you! I cannot wait to see that scene again. I have been listening to the soundtrack from it so often since Friday

      I do fear for Justice League. Cyborg? Most of the movie directed by Snyder? Some crappy Alien invasion as villains again?

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  6. Good review. Completely agree the Gal Gadot was great in this. I liked your reading of the No Man’s Land scene, but I am starting to feel that I am very much in the minority but that scene didn’t sit comfortably with me. I just didn’t like the idea that it was a superhero that was the impetus for going over the top in an aspect of the war that was hitherto the deadliest and most dehumanising battle in human history. I felt the film didn’t do enough to salute the bravery of the millions of real people who died.

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    1. Thank you! Well in those CBM movies they usually do incorporate fantasy into real events - like X-Men having Magneto kill JFK - so I didn't think much of it, I don't think they were trying to make any statements there. And those soldiers still followed her which was very brave, she was only focusing the gunfire on her on one part of No Man's Land

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  7. Good points about the score, which injects the action scenes with a sense of fun (especially the No Man's Land and village sequence) that really makes it click. There's hope and heart that was missing from Batman v. Superman especially, which often felt grim for its own sake. I didn't connect as much with the final battle, which started heading in that direction. But it worked because Gal Gadot is so good as Diana. She sells even the less convincing moments, and Chris Pine is right up there too.

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    1. All of DCEU movies were missing heart so far because they were so poorly written. Superman had no hope to be a good character after awful MoS and then they just built on that in such a stupid way but having Batman's showdown with him as early as the second movie. Suicide Squad was about villains but Smith and Robbie did wonders there, but unfortunately they too were let down by writers and director

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  8. Dammit! I totally forgot to mention the score! I thought it was masterful, too.

    I'm actually (surprisingly?) with you on what Pine does here. As a proxy for us, he makes believing all these fantastic things completely effortless. He's charming, kind and for a guy a hundred years ago...he's compassionate and respectful. I totally dug his character. And by 'dug', clearly I mean WILL FOREVER ENVY.

    Also, I really appreciate the point(s) you made about women never getting a film like this. I could never articulate this point as well as you did, and am glad you wrote what you did. Me just writing 'woman pretty' 900 times wasn't super helpful. Or eloquent. Or necessary.

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    1. Well you did have a trouble hearing...over you know...the stuff happening below the belt.

      Why surprisingly? I love noble heroes! But it does help if they are also a complete mess. Perhaps sleeping drunk on the back of their limo.

      Oh it was helpful. It's awesome the guys also enjoyed and support the movie!

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  9. I'm thrilled you love this one too Margaret!! I LOVE Gal in the role, she not only looks the part but she embodies what it means to be a Wonder Woman, a compassionate superhero who truly cares about others. I really love Pine's character too, and I love the sweet chemistry between them [swoon] Wow, 75 years it took to see her in a proper film… well, thanks to Patty Jenkins, she delivered big time!!

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    1. I really hope WB signs Patty for sequel, it is shady and it looks bad she is not signed on yet

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  10. Consider it beheld. We can all be proud.

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  11. Totally agree with everything you're saying here! I loved it even more I think, rating it close to perfect and trying hard not to see its faults because there are some, but as far as DCU movies go, it's like a masterpiece (granted, I've only seen Suicide Squad, but that was a mess so).

    Pine's casting at first was a little weird to me, I guess I didn't see him in this role in my mind but oh man, he proved me so so so wrong! He is such a charismatic actor and well, he just had all the great moments along side Diana which why I loved this movie so much.

    I will try to pen more my thoughts down when I get to the review but I already have so many thoughts, I don't know how I will control them. Also, don't really want to think about that final act any time soon because god damn it, I cried!

    PS: No Man's Land scene - literally me sitting on my seat, clenching my fists and being rewarded with such an amazing scene was all worth it!

    Great review!

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    1. You should see BvS just for Gadot. It's a horrible film but Gadot is great and Batfleck actually manages to create...something there.

      Thanks so much and looking forward to your review!

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  12. Tying score with Logan? Guuuuuurllll....you know that's not right!!! Logan was absolutely incredible. You're right to say the praise is a little too high for WW, and I think you already know that I agree with this statement...a lot.

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    1. Well I did write the praise is a little too high. Everyone has the right to say whatever they want. A too high praise for a movie directed by a woman with a woman in lead role is hardly the worst thing in the world. Tons of actual terrible movies good much too high of a praise. This was a good film with minor studio-interference glitches.

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  13. I'm very excited to see this. This was a wonderful review with great images and insights.

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    1. Thank you! I hope you'll like it, it's really wonder-ful :)

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  14. Great review! I share your sentiments. I haven't seen Logan yet, so at this moment WW is the best superhero movie I've seen this year. Truthfully I think it will remain as such even after watching Logan. I hope DC takes to heart the lessons they learnt here.

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    1. Thank you! Oh do see Logan, I'm sure you'll love it. It's an amazing movie. WW is less depressing but Logan just reaches such height and on a pure movie making level it's so extremely well crafted.

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