Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017)

Huzzah, the summer blockbuster season is upon us. Wonder Woman was already getting good word of mouth the week it was released so I went. Partly the excitement is a matter of the woman-friendly nature of the project: starring a woman (Gal Gadot), directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins), about a woman superhero raised by a tribe of women. It's a point of honor to take daughters, some screenings are for women only, and so on. Get into the heart of the movie, taken for what it is, and it's not bad. In fact, as a flailing DC effort in the Zach Snyder era of the superhero epoch, you could even say it's remarkably good. I liked the character of Diana, a goddess (or at least half-goddess, technically speaking). She's a beguiling mix of the naïve, the uprightly moral, and the beautiful—Gal Gadot is a glowing screen presence happily up to carrying the whole thing. This one is set in World War I times, which is a bit of a head scratcher. I presume things like that will be explained with the inevitable sequels (which inevitably will have to refer to her as "Wonder Woman," though they get away with not doing so here, a nice point). The Amazons back on the mysterious island of Themiscyra where Diana was raised are virulently antiwar, and World War I is famous for being the worst war ever, so there's that. One of the picture's highlights is an amazing race across No Man's Land. Chris Pine is handsome Steve Trevor, with a band of brigands in tow (Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock). Diana doesn't take long to establish herself as the resident badass among them, and these macho dogs all seem to accept it. Gender-fraught tensions percolate along more explicitly in the action. Because of her upbringing, Diana associates men with violence and war and only sides with the British because she happens to like Steve. It could have been a German as well. After all, this was the war with no good guys. At two and a half hours, there's no stinting of the big battle scenes and other special effects. There's a decent balance of motivations and fighting, though the last third turns hard toward the latter. That's why we're here, right?

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