WONDER WOMAN is the role model we need
I want you to take a deep breath, march right past the whining man-babies and see Wonder Woman.
Admit it…we were all concerned about this one. It’s been in development hell forever. The list of celebrities who wanted a shot at wearing the golden bracelets was worrisome and DC hasn’t had the best track record of property-to-cinema translation – just look at what they did to Superman for pity’s sake. Now comes Wonder Woman; what were they going to do to her?
Diana (Gal Gadot) is the lone child on a hidden island of warrior women and she longs for the chance to fight. As a bedtime tale, she is told the Legend of the God Killer, a sword that can defeat the God Ares who turned men’s hearts to war. Circumstances bring the chaos of modern times to her doorstep when Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), outrunning the German army, breaches the barrier between worlds. Upon hearing of his mission to stop the War to End all Wars, Diana leaves everything she loves against the wishes of her mother to join the fight. Diana’s idea of war and victory are simplistic – find the bad guy, kill him, end the war – but this is World War I, and there are many bad guys on both sides of the field. She gets a crash course in renegade fighting and minor profiteering from Trevor’s confidants Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), and each have their own insight into the complications of war and the inherent racism that always flows beneath the surface.
This is a movie that takes the time to tell a story, but doesn’t bog you down with details. There’s nothing sappy about the budding romance between Diana and Steve, and it’s allowed to unfold organically during a far more innocent time (war not withstanding). They’re both on missions and don’t have time for canoodling, but they fight well together, Steve remaining respectfully behind and giving her room to fling men and crush tanks. He knows she’s special and he’s not getting in her way. When he tries to get her to stay behind, it’s not out of a misguided sense of chivalry, it’s because it is his mission and what he was put there to do.
It really is incredible to watch.
Wonder Woman features one of my favorite character actors, Danny Huston, last seen in FX’s American Horror Story, both Coven (2013) and Freakshow (2014), as the kind of handsome dangerous older mentor who has no problem molding glassy-eyes suitors (Elena Anaya) into weapons of destruction.
Gal Gadot brings a wild-eyed innocence and fiery presence to the role we all feared would be lost behind men who want to save her. Her eyes express everything from worldly amusement to determined fury. Her Wonder Woman is no wilting flower, stalking across battlefields to engage the enemy, making herself comfortable in parliament. It feels like a purer motivation to fight – defeat the enemy and save the world – even when she sounds crazy explaining it. Find Ares and end war – let’s do it! Her exuberance and loss are palpable and her rage is terrifying. You cheer because it’s what you do when the right victor emerges.
This is a great story with the right amount of war peppered throughout. It’s paced well, and you welcome the interludes because it brings out the characters in their quiet moments. The exposition only feels light but that’s because you know exactly what’s going on. This is a grownup movie (without the swears) that doesn’t explain every blessed thing. You know what war is, you understand the characters, and you’re ready to be carried along to the conclusion.
This is a strong recommend from me. Take the kids, especially your little girls. Let them see a strong warrior woman who doesn’t sit quietly or wait to be spoken to or join only when asked. Let them learn to fight and defend others, not just themselves, and forever push for everyone to do the right thing. This is a role model we can all get behind.
Wonder Woman is rated PG-13 for men trying to kill each other, scenes of intense fighting, and some smooching that doesn’t go beyond second base.