Friday, June 16, 2017

Chance's Corner: Wonder Woman Review

WONDER WOMAN! All the world's waiting for you... Yes, we have been waiting, and you finally got the big screen adaptation that you deserve. 

Wonder Woman is the fourth installment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) - a universe that (so far) connects the worlds of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, and will soon lead into the granddaddy of all superhero films, Justice League. I've never read any Wonder Woman comics, and I've never actually seen the old television show starring Lynda Carter, but I have watched the re-runs of the cartoon Super Friends that started in 1973. In that show, Wonder Woman flew around in an invisible jet (she wasn't invisible, though), wielded the glowing Lasso of Truth, and was generally pretty cool. That's all I remember. So, it's pretty safe to say that I went into this film totally blind concerning the mythology behind Wonder Woman AKA Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta. 

Diana's (Gal Gadot) journey starts on a gorgeous, tropical island, where she is the only child amongst warrior women named the Amazons. The Amazons were created by Zeus to protect humankind from the blood lust of Ares, the God of War, and to serve as a bridge between humans and the gods. However, the will of man, and the will of Ares, proved to be too strong, and Zeus hid the Amazons away from the world. The Amazons continue to train, though, knowing Ares will eventually find them, but this time they have a secret weapon known as the Godkiller to defeat him once and for all. Diana longs to be the one of the warriors, and to wield the power of the Godkiller, but her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) forbids it. Diana's aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), goes against her sister's wishes and trains Diana, anyways. 

Thank the gods she did, because a spy from the United States named Steve Trevor (Chris Pines) breaks through Zeus' protective barrier around the island and crashes into the sea. Diana saves Steve from drowning, and the world as she knows it is never the same. Steve tells the clueless Amazons about The Great War (WWI) and his mission to stop German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Poison (Elena Anya) from developing a deadlier form of mustard gas that would embolden Germany and stop all armistice negotiations. Diana instantly believes that Ludendorff is Ares in disguise and sets out to kill him to put an end to war forever. She finds out that it's a little more complicated than that, though. 

The DCEU has had its fair share of detractors, some calling Man of Steel "Meh of Steel", some saying Suicide Squad made them want to commit suicide, and other stupid stuff like that, but Wonder Woman is the first one I think everyone can agree is wonderful. It's also a landmark film because it features a leading female superhero. Yes, there was that Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry all those years ago, but it was universally rejected, and it's pretty well forgotten. There might have been an Elektra movie, too, but it's forgotten, as well. Wonder Woman will not be forgotten, though. DC has finally done everything right. There's sprinkles of good humor, perfect doses of action-packed set pieces (with slow-mo thrown in for good measure), gorgeous production design, and well-developed characters that make you feel.

There's a key scene in Wonder Woman, where Diana climbs out of a trench and bravely walks across No Man's Land, taking fire from the Germans, and allowing the Allied army to advance and liberate a village. Every hair on my body stood up on end at that moment, and tears welled-up in my eyes, because it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It's everything Marvel's WWII adventure, Captain America: The First Avenger, could only dream to be - you know the comparison between those two films was going to come up sooner or later. On a side note, I really think Marvel should be taking notes now on how to present women in films, how to market them, and how to make female-led films in general, because... they're not doing that. Marvel only markets films starring a Chris, another Chris, and one more Chris for good luck. Ha!

I'll admit there has been some doubts in my mind about the future of the DCEU, but I have also been one of their biggest defenders. They've been taking risks, not restricting themselves to formula, and I greatly admire that. I'm glad they keep pressing forward, and if they keep moving in this direction, then we are in store for some great things.

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