‘Wonder Woman’ Is Beyond Super [Review]
Wonder Woman is finally in theaters in her first ever headlining live action feature film, easily the best superhero movie you will see this year and one of the finest genre achievements ever made, an absolutely stunning, emotionally charged joyride that is beyond super and more than overdue.
A rousing origin story of pop culture’s most iconic female, who first appeared in DC comics more than 75 years ago, the new Wonder Woman movie is the kind of event viewing that recalls the radically redefining theatrical openings of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman starring Christopher Reeve or Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton. There’s a fresh crispness and comforting warmth to it that also echoes Spider-Man‘s first theatrical outing and Christopher Nolan’s landmark Dark Knight trilogy.
Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), the film is already a record-breaking hit with both critics and audiences worldwide, earning its rightful spot as the highest grossing female-directed movie of all time. And the best news is that it really is that good.
When the Amazon women of the mystical island of Themyscira ride into battle against the invading World War I era Germans early in the film, it becomes clear that Jenkins and these highly skilled female warriors, led by a smiling, totally badass Robin Wright as Antiope, are deadly serious, taking the fight to the underestimating men, set to a powerful score that underlines the epic choreography of violence.
When Diana, the rebelliously righteous chosen one among the Amazons, goes against the wishes of her queen and mother, played by Connie Nielsen, and leaves the island to defend the world of men against a growing evil tide, the action moves to a more familiar realm but our hero is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
I could tell you all about the symbolism of a woman, against all odds, defying the warnings and orders of every male she comes into contact with to eventually leave them behind and enter the battlefield, dubbed perfectly as “No Man’s Land,” alone with only her own strength and tools to take on an enemy that is endangering the lives of innocent others. As the gunfire blasts away, the soldiers concentrating all their power on this one woman brave enough to face them head on, the music swells, emotions flare, and Wonder Woman becomes what she has always been – the ultimate embodiment of women’s struggles and victories, as timely then as it certainly is now. But it all resonates so firmly and effectively within this hero’s journey, you’ll get it when you see it, and more importantly, you’ll feel it.
And let’s talk about how awesome Gal Gadot is.
Reprising her portrayal of the title character after debuting in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the statuesque Israeli-born Gadot is so perfect as Diana, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role now. By the time she climbs the latter to enter that battlefield, the viewer is right there with her, behind her every step of the way, protected by her shield and a new kind of fearless sincerity for superhero movies that we never knew we needed so bad.
Chris Pine is Steve Trevor, Diana’s love interest from the comic books, providing a few laughs throughout and representing the rare inner goodness of mankind that all but a small band of his contemporaries are so sorely lacking. He and his closest misfit pals are an eye-opening lesson to our rising hero that not all men are totally bad, just most of them, and some are actually worth fighting for.
As the mysteriously disfigured Doctor Poison, Elena Anaya is a worthy villain who leaves us wanting more, while former Wolverine foe Danny Huston is a Trumpian menace as a chemically enhanced German general.
We’re also left with too little of Lucy Davis’ hilarious turn as Etta Candy, Steve Trevor’s much put upon but ever faithful secretary.
As the fourth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), following 2013’s Man of Steel and last year’s double feature of Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, there are a few call backs and Easter eggs to help set up this November’s Justice League, but for the most part, Wonder Woman is its own stand alone movie, as it should be for the greatest female superhero of all time.
It has been a long time coming, but Wonder Woman is finally here, with the played out cynicism of the typical tortured hero now gone, using her superpower of love to whip us into a frenzy of excitement, ready to follow her charge into the war zone of doubters and haters, making the world a better place for everybody.
Official Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Wonder Woman (rated PG13) is now playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills.