Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman - Movie Review

The Movie: Wonder Woman

The Director: Patty Jenkins

The Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner, Euegene Brave Rock, Elena Anaya

The Story: 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.

The Review:
Since this film's announcement, there has been a lot of discussion, some negative, some positive, but always discussion. I would imagine that everyone involved had to be feeling some kind of pressure to get this film right as it means so much to so many people and the never ending hype would create so much expectation. Patty Jenkins had to succeed as a director. Gal Gadot had to succeed as Diana. If these two things did not happen, the DC universe, and women in film, would be in serious trouble.

When I was finally able to sit down to watch the movie, I was very hopeful, a tad nervous, and generally pretty excited to see what was going to play out on screen. Would this be just another dreary and depressing DC movie, like it's predecessors Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, falling well short of expectations or would Wonder Woman stand on its own as a heroic and inspirational tale? After decades of anticipation, could this film succeed?

As a kid, I remember watching Lynda Carter's version of the Amazonian princess on prime time television although I don't remember ever thinking of her any differently because she was a woman, she was just a really cool super hero. Even though she was obviously a beautiful woman and much has been made of that, it was the unwavering strength and determination of her character that ultimately what helped to define Diana as an American icon.

The day it was announced that Gal Gadot would be taking over the role of Wonder Woman for a brand new movie, I was very excited simply because I really liked her in the Fast and Furious movies. Even with all of the internet backlash (too short, too skinny, models can't act), I felt like she had the right look to fill Diana's iconic boots while at the same time having the ability to recreate the character as more of a modern day version of the classic super hero that traditionally comes with some built in stereotypes. I mean come on, this woman was a member of the Israeli military, how could she not be perfectly suited to play an Amazonian warrior?

To say that Gal Gadot exceeded even my hopeful expectations would be a horrible understatement. From the first moment we see her on screen, she absolutely and perfectly embodies the spirit and essence of who Wonder Woman is. She has strength, she has compassion, she has curiosity, she has love, and she has an unwavering sense of duty and purpose. For being just a model who is too short and too skinny to play the role, Gadot gets every single moment right, from comedy to rage, and she displays a talent level and range that even I had never expected to be there.

What she does with this oh so important character, and I mean that in so many ways and on so many levels, is absolutely stunning and should be considered one of the great performances in comic book movie history. I know that sounds like a bold statement, but I sat on the thought for a minute before typing it out and I can't think of any way that it's not true.

This is of course an origin story so director Patty Jenkins has to take us through some of the standard tropes and themes to get all of the proper information out there. That being said, I never felt like any of it was stale or rehashed from other movies even when there is a very easy and obvious comparison one could make with Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger. Both are set during a world war and both feature characters who are strong of virtue and end up saving the world from evil and tyranny (Sorry for the mild spoiler but we all know who won WW1, right?). That's pretty much where any comparison ends as this film easily stands on its own, which I believe is helped in large part by a great cast of supporting characters led by the one and only Chris Pine.

While the movie is epic in scale and there is a ton of amazing visuals and kick ass fight scenes, the story really is all about the characters, who they are as individuals, what each of them believes in, and how they deal with a world that is stacked against them. Chris Pine's character, who is an American spy working with the British military against the Germans, puts together an unlikely team of mercenaries who come from very different backgrounds and who are each dealing with some serious emotional and psychological issues.

I feel like it's really important to have this type of dynamic within the cast as it presents real, individual challenges that get to be explored rather than just populating the world with generic characters. It is also is a great way of showing Diana, who has only viewed the world through her life on "paradise island", the real struggles of mankind and that you can't just fix everything with a sword and the will to do get it done. Her journey ends up being even more satisfying because of all the depth of character we see around her and, overall really helps to make this a great story.

The Verdict:
Wonder Woman is an amazing movie that gets just about everything right. Gal Gadot nails her performance, going way above and beyond any expectation in recreating an icon and walks away with an inspirational hero for everyone to enjoy. This is an important movie for DC because it goes a long way in pushing their movie universe forward in a positive way. This is an important movie for women because it goes a long way in showing that women can absolutely be represented in a powerful, positive, and successful way.

I have not watched the movie in 3D, IMAX, 3D IMAX, or any other premium format so not able to provide any insight. I did however watch it at the Seattle Cinerama where both the visual and audio presentations were nearly flawless. According to the technical specs information on IMDB, a variety of standard format cameras were used so any premium upgrade would have been completed digitally with a post conversion process.

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