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Movie Review: Wonder Woman

by Emma Smith, Reporter

Princess Diana of Themyscira has arrived, and audiences are about to learn the true origin of Wonder Woman! To everyone who has been holding their breath and hoping Wonder Woman would be a good movie, you can relax. It’s not a good movie. It’s a great movie. 
Minor Spoilers Ahead
When the mysterious WWI photograph first seen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is returned to Diana in the present day, Diana begins to recall the events that brought her to the world of men many years earlier. The film takes viewers to the mystical island known as Themyscira, where young Diana grows up among the Amazons as the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, The Good Wife). Zeus granted the Amazons the island after his son Ares, the God of War, began a war among mankind that eventually spread to the Gods. Many years later, Diana (Gal Gadot, Fast Five) is grown and only just coming into her powers, training with Antiope (Robin Wright, House of Cards) the Amazons’ greatest warrior. An American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, Star Trek) disturbs the peace of the island when he crash lands, followed by German troops who clash with the Amazons. Steve pleads with the Amazons for help in the “War to End All Wars,” telling them millions are dying. Based on her knowledge of the Ancient Gods, Diana believes Ares is behind the Great War and requests to go with Steve. Hippolyta initially forbids her but capitulates when it becomes clear she cannot stop Diana. During their travels to the Front, we learn that Steve intends to stop Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya, Far From the Sea) and General Ludendorff (Danny Huston, Frankenstein) from releasing a new poison gas. Along the way, they gain assistance from Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis, Harry Potter films) a key leader in the British War Cabinet, and Etta Candy (Lucy Davis, Shaun of the Dead) Steve’s secretary. The team is rounded out by Steve associates, including Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui, American Hustle), Charlie (Ewen Bremner, Trainspotting), and the Chief (Eugene Brave Rock, Jamestown).
Wonder Woman is truly a lovingly crafted movie. Director Patty Jenkins has pulled together a movie that seamlessly moves between Mediterranean paradise, 1918 London, the WWI front, and Greek mythological battles. Though slow motion was a tad overused, the CGI work is generally well done and used to enhance the super human elements of the story. The writing is intelligent, following the classic hero’s journey and incorporating many elements from the comics. Ares makes a decision in the movie that at first glance seems to be in the “why didn’t the villain kill the hero when he had the chance” category so common in superhero movies. However, when his motivations are revealed, the loop of that choice closes in an unexpected and unique way. The writing for Sameer and the Chief, the only non-white characters with major roles, includes dialogue showing the writers gave careful thought to how their perspectives could enhance the movie’s themes. Also, though comedy does not play a major role, there are scattered jokes which land well.
The acting in this movie is well done as a whole, but Gal Gadot’s presence as Wonder Woman steals the spotlight. It’s not just that she looks like she has stepped out of the pages of the comic books. It is also that her voice has a quiet sureness to it, that she moves with confidence and grace, and that she fights with actual skill. This is not to denigrate the other cast members, who perform admirably, but this is truly Gadot’s movie.
All the puzzle pieces fit together into a film true to the spirit of William Marston’s creation. Wonder Woman’s most difficult task is, and always has been, that humanity needs saving, not just from foreign enemies, but also from ourselves. It steadfastly reminds us women are strong and smart and brave. Diana’s chagrin that the women around her are relegated to supporting personnel for men is visceral. It is convicting to see an outsider take on social attitudes that still linger to this day. It also reminds us humanity is capable of great and wonderful acts of compassion and sacrifice, just as much as it is capable of depravity and horror. Evil has yet to ever rise unchallenged. 
Some days it is easy to feel as though the world is hopeless. That there are too many bad things happening and not enough people to care. On those days, it is tempting to let inertia overwhelm you and bury your head in the sand. Diana is tempted with this solution head on – she could remain on Themyscira forever, protected in paradise. Instead she runs full force into danger for the sake of others. “If you choose to leave, you may never return,” Hippolyta warns Diana. “Who will I be if I stay?” Diana responds. The central theme of Wonder Woman is not that a super being can swoop in and fix everything. Rather it is that the world is a troubled and difficult place, but one person can still make a difference. 
Rating: ★★★★★
ComicsOnline give Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 deflected bullets.
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