By: Peter Kosanovich
Wonder Woman (2017): 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.
Wonder Woman was, in many ways, the superhero movie we needed right now; as a people, as a society, and as a viewing audience. This movie was a work of love, and better than just about any other superhero movie, it new its emotional core.
Let me go on though, Wonder Woman is definitely flawed! It is far from perfect, and there are definite reasons for that. I have been immensely critical of Zack Snyder and the cinematic universe he has established for DC and Warner Bros. – he desaturated the color palette of his movies, required everyone to conform to his overuse of speed-ramping in the editing suite, wrote stories that were overly convoluted and didn’t flow, and gave us no emotional connection to any of the characters – and while my deepest condolences and best wishes go out to the Snyder family in their time of sorrow, these stylistic choices have harmed the quality of these movies. Because of this, Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman, was required to go outside her normal wheelhouse to accommodate his style. Generally speaking she managed to accomplish this, but on occasion it got in her way of telling a compelling story.
In terms of the story itself, Wonder Woman, like most of DC’s movies, went through a number of scripts, and directors, and producers, right up until just before principle shooting. Patty Jenkins stepped in last minute after the previous director left; this meant she was working with already established scripts, storyboards, shot lists, locations, much of the crew, etc. These are hardly ideal conditions for a director to step in, and still manage to hit a home-run! To that I say, Bravo Patty Jenkins! You deserve any and all praise you get!
Based on all of this it’s a wonder that Patty Jenkins managed to make the movie as good as it ended up being. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I teared up at points! And for anyone who knows me, that is not an easy feat to accomplish. That is a testimony to Patty Jenkins understanding and devotion to her characters. I will say the script was not the strongest, it had its moments, but it was far from perfect. Patty managed to bring out some of the best moments through the performances she brought out of the actors. I commend her.
Now, enough on the backstory!
Wonder Woman takes place during WWI, “The Great War.” In his escape from German soldiers, American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash-lands at the Amazonian island of Themyscira. He is rescued by Diana, AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who agrees to return him to the war because she believes it is her duty to save the world of man from Ares, the Greek god of war. While in Themyscira the world is filled with bright, vivid colors – paradise – but upon reaching London Diana comments that “it’s hideous,” noting the bleak color palette often associated with war time and the industrial era of the time.
After assembling a team, Steve and Diana go to the front; we see images of amputees, civilians fleeing danger, smoke and ash raining down. Here the now iconic “No Man’s Land” scene occurs, Diana cannot just stand by and watch the carnage of war. It is here that we feel the power of Diana, the power of Wonder Woman, the power of women. It is an incredible scene, and very emotionally resonant and empowering!
Without going too much further to avoid spoilers, I loved this movie! I did have issues with parts – some of the writing, some of the speed-ramping, one particularly awful piece of CGI/VFX – but most of that I attribute to the constraints Patty Jenkins was required to work in. I cannot wait for the sequel, when Patty will hopefully have more creative control! But regardless of the films issues, it exceeded all expectations from an emotional standpoint. It knew its core! The emotional center of the film felt incredibly grounded and compelling. If for no other reason that is why Wonder Woman succeeds, it made us care about those characters.
The Critique: Wonder Woman was, pun fully intended, wonderful! It was grounded, had a core, and spread love and hope in a bleak and uncertain world! It was empowering and resonant in all the right ways. Many of the issues were from previous problems in the DCEU and should not be attributed to Patty Jenkins or the cast.
Recommendation: Go see it!
The Verdict: I want to make it clear that, despite the universal praise it’s receiving, this movie is far from perfect, but so lovable regardless. My number is 7.5/10