He Say, She Say | Wonder Woman

by Monica Hayes

Finally, after 75 years of waiting for just the right script, the right platform, the right studio to take a chance on another female superhero, at last, Wonder Woman has hit the big screen just in time to kick off the summer! Unfortunately, it was not as iconic as we had hoped.

Raised on the secluded island of Themyscira as the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), a young rambunctious Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) longed to become a great Amazon warrior like her mother and her idol General Antiope (Robin Wright). Forbidden from training by the Queen, Diana went to great lengths to hide her lessons with Antiope, but once the queen found out, Antiope was charged to train her harder than any other Amazon. Diana surpassed every other Amazon with ease.

At the same time, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy sent to help the British forces uncover the new Nazi weapon, crashed on the uncharted island and is rescued by Diana. While the Nazi army searches for him, they stumble upon the island and bring the war to Themyscira shores. Not a good idea. After the Nazis were defeated, Steve, under the lasso of truth divulged he was on a mission to stop General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya) and the Nazi army from releasing their new weapon of mass destruction. The Amazons think Ares, the God of War, has influenced man to start the war. Defeat Ares, and the world will be at peace. Seems simple enough right?

Diana and Steve leave by boat and return to London. Naïve to the ways of the outside of her native homeland, Diana finds out that in Steve’s world, a woman is not taken seriously and often dismissed. While Steve and Diana try to warn his superiors of the new weapon, their warnings go unheard as a peace treaty is close to being signed to end the war. The only person who heeds their warning is Sir Patrick (David Thewils) who secretly joins in their concern at stopping the production of the weapon. Together, Steve, Diana with the help of Charlie (Ewen Bremner), Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) set out on an unofficial mission to save the world full of breakout battles, gunfire, explosions.

Wonder Woman is DC’s introduction to the iconic character in anticipation for the upcoming Justice League set to hit the screen this November. Her introduction and back story is paramount to the JL and is fleshed out well. However, like so many DC movies, something is missing. Another positive, where The Man of Steel and more recently, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, were set against dark and dreary backdrops and almost the entire movie looks like it was shot either at dusk or in the dark, Wonder Woman was full of light, sandy beaches, beautiful castles, and greenery.

Director Patty Jenkins is best known for directing Monster and the television series Arrested Development, deserves major kudos for being the first female to direct a major female superhero! But all her direction in the world could not bring out in Gadot what is needed to play such an icon. Gadot played the awkward, naïve Diana well, but when she dawned the crimson red bustier, the eagle on her chest, the bracelets, the boomerang tiara and the lasso of truth, she failed miserably. Her action sequences did not look believable. Understandably, the type of action sequences required to pull off a believable fight/battle requires the use of CGI and green screen. However, it was overutilized. In every fight scene, Gadot was digitized or it was clear that her stunt double was in action.

There are points where it slows down. A. LOT! The action seemed to take forever to get going, but once it did, it was a disappointment. When Steve tried to explain how the outside world works to a naïve Diana over and over and over again, just seemed a bit much. If you have seen the animated version released in 2009, then you have seen the 2017 big screen version give or take a few scenes. Oh and for my Dragon Ball Z fans, the Kamehameha/ Spirt Bomb makes an appearance.

Grade C

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by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

The origin story is here for a principal member of the Justice League.

Diana is a curious and stubborn child. She skips school to watch her aunt train. She mimics her aunt, Antiope’s (Robin Wright) training. She has an insatiable desire to be a fighter, like all of the Amazon women she sees. After all, Amazon’s were bred to be the protectors of the planet. Diana’s mother, the queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), in an attempt to satisfy her daughter’s lust, tells Diana the truth of her existence. Diana’s father is Zeus, the father of all of the gods. He created men for his pleasure and took delight in their existence. Zeus’ brother Ares fought and killed all the gods over the existence of men. Diana has been destined to confront Ares with a sword called the “Godkiller.” Upon learning the truth, Diana is trained harder by Antiope than any other Amazon. It is during this training that Steve Trevor crashes through the mystical barrier hiding Themiscyra, the paradise island where the Amazons live and brings War to its shores. Convinced that Ares is behind the “War to end all Wars,” Diana adorns her armor, takes the Godkiller and leaves Themiscyra to confront Ares in order to bring peace to the mankind.

The groundbreaking movie, Wonder Woman, is the third installation in the DC Extended Universe following Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. After being introduced in a supporting role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman is now the primary focus of her own movie which makes the movie the first in which a female superhero is the lead movie. Director Patty Jenkins has a history of directing features with strong female roles having led Charlize Theron to her Oscar in Monster and Mirelle Enos in Netflix’s The Killing. In this movie, Jenkins has the opportunity to lead Gal Gadot in her second foray in the role of Wonder Woman. Gadot, whose career has been made living in the background of two franchises surrounded by other stars, now has the burden of bringing the star of her own movie. Gadot is by no means Theron or Enos but thankfully takes direction well in playing the young, impetuous and blossoming superhero.

While Gadot’s acting still needs work, this vehicle belongs to Jenkins. She has crafted a very stylized film that hearkens back to a bygone era much the way the first Captain America did. She is very deliberate in the pacing of her storytelling which may lead some to “wonder” ing when the action will start. Jenkins’ deliberate pace, is understood because of the importance of relating a complete and comprehensive story which the DCEU has been missing. It is also refreshing that the studio allowed Jenkins to submit the in-depth and slowly progressing story the way that it is.

Wonder Woman lacks the problems of its predecessors in that it makes sense to its watchers and does not recreate or recast a superhero that already has a rich backstory into some moody, angst-ridden reflection of itself. The problem is that at times it does drag and that some of the battle scenes look a little like something out of a Dragon Ball Z episode. Wonder Woman is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action and has the honor of being the best of the DCEU’s theatrical releases so far. Look for a Justice League trailer but there are no post-credit scenes.

Grade: B-