Non-spoiler review for this summer’s ‘Wonder Woman’
■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an early fan screening of the most anticipated movie of summer 2017, “Wonder Woman,” in San Diego, where select fans were given the opportunity to see the film a week early as a “thank you,” courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
As a comic book connoisseur myself, I am proud to say that “Wonder Woman” is a film that represents everything a superhero movie should be – melding the flavors of action, humor, and romance appropriately––creating a film that little girls, little boys, and men and women of all ages can identify with.
The 76-year-old comic book heroine has graced our television screens before, most famously portrayed by Lynda Carter, but had yet to receive the big screen treatment, in contrast to her testosterone-fueled superhero counterparts who have had multiple pictures over the course of their own extensive histories. It’s a dream come true for director Patty Jenkins, who has finally brought the most iconic female superhero to life in the form of Gal Gadot, in what is sure to become a superhero staple much to the tune of Christopher Reeve’s “Superman,” or Christian Bale and Heath Ledger’s “The Dark Knight.”
“Wonder Woman” follows the story of Diana (Gadot), princess of the Amazons. Her story begins on Themyscira, an enchanted island granted to the Amazons thousands of years ago by the god of all gods, Zeus, as a safe haven from the rest of mankind. We watch as young Diana dreams of becoming a formidable warrior like the rest of her sister Amazons before her, but her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) forbids her, for fear of losing her only child to a threat that will surely destroy Diana if given the chance. Despite her mother’s wishes, Diana begins to train with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright), in secret over the course of thousands of years, eventually maturing into a skilled warrior in her own right.
But when an American male pilot crash lands on the shores of Themyscira, the Amazons are introduced to the threats of World War I waging outside of their realm, in what they call “Man’s World.” Believing she can end the bloodshed and comply with the Amazons’ sacred duty to protect the world, Diana returns to London with Capt. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), determined to end the war once and for all.
The viewer spends the course of the film experiencing the story through Diana’s point of view. Once in Man’s World, Gal Gadot hilariously portrays Diana as a “fish out of water,” foreign to gender roles, sexuality, and societal taboos the world of man was accustomed to in 1918, while also bringing a delicate charm, yet powerful elegance to the character as well. Many have doubted Gadot since she was cast in the role nearly three years ago, due to her scant acting résumé, but these doubts were temporarily eased when she debuted and stole the show as the character in last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While her brief appearance seemed to be the only thing fans could agree on about the divisive film, many still questioned whether she would be able to carry an entire film on her own. For the entire 2 hours and 21 minutes of “Wonder Woman,” your eyes will be glued to Gadot’s Diana, who brings a likability to the character unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the genre.
Gadot and Pine’s characters quickly develop a relationship very reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca;” Pine’s brash character brings out a unique vulnerability in her warrior princess, that beautifully epitomizes the range of chemistry the two actors were able to achieve together.
Respectively, both Neilsen and Wright will not only make you believe that the Amazons are a force to be reckoned with, but are kind and maternal toward their young Diana as well. The two Amazon sisters of royalty definitely deserve honorable mention, and will undoubtedly be fan-favorites for years to come.
Diana and Steve’s ragtag group of allies portrayed by Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, and Saïd Taghmoui bring a necessary dose of comic relief that flawlessly contrasts the events of a world in dire straits.
Danny Huston as real-world Gen. Erich Ludendorff, and Elena Anaya as comic book villain Dr. Maru, aka Dr. Poison, are terrifyingly sinister. Diana makes it her mission to find and prevent these two from creating further destruction, but when she eventually does, she comes to a startling revelation, which thrusts her into a battle of godlike proportions.
“Wonder Woman” tells audiences that being a hero isn’t always about defeating the bad guy, but rather understanding how to utilize love and strength in a world of imperfection. Themes of hope, compassion, courage, and bravery are highlighted throughout the course of this movie, serving a refreshing take on an iconic superhero that will leave audiences clamoring for a sequel, and cursing the wait for November’s “Justice League,” in which Gadot will reprise her role.
Rupert Gregson-Williams composes a proper list of musical scores that exceptionally conveys the exotic atmosphere of Themyscira, while also capturing the toils and terrors of WWI. It may not be the most memorable of superhero soundtracks, but fans of the character’s highly popular theme from last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” should be pleased.
Beautifully shot in the European locations of England, Italy and France, Jenkins proves that superhero films can be both visually outstanding, and intellectually comprehensive on a narrative scale. Co-written by Allan Heinberg, Zack Synder, and Jason Fuchs, “Wonder Woman” has undeniably set the stage for a new age of female leadership in today’s superhero renaissance, a task unsuccessfully attempted many times before.
In a world where everyone is telling her not to concern herself with the distress of others, “Wonder Woman” asks, “who will I be if I stay?”
“Wonder Woman” is in theaters everywhere, including Hemet and San Jacinto, June 2.