The Amazonian lives! All hail our female warrior, our super-heroine, “Wonder Woman.” In this new film, Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, finds herself in the middle of the mess that is WWI, with Chris Pine as American spy Steve Trevor. She is mighty, formidable and effective.
Directed by Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman” is an origin story. It’s told very well sans clumsy clutter and the pacing is perfect. Jenkin gets high marks for humor and for the delicate handling the romance between Gadot and the charismatic Pine who, as a double agent working for British intelligence, almost has you rooting for him to win.
It was an intelligent story choice to change the film’s setting from World War II to the First World War and to give the strong female warrior a chance to bring peace to an evil world, on the brink of the “war to end all wars,” which is what WWI was called after it ended. Boy, were they wrong about the greed and violence of humankind! The change of time perfectly colors the film and makes the plot strong. In 1914 technology was big news, with greedy men finding new and horrible ways to kill one another. Chemicals are the deadly weapon of choice for the film’s bad guys and the German general (Danny Huston) teams with an angry chemist, played by Elena Anaya (“The Skin I Live In”), wearing a prosthetic device over half her face, giving an eerie picture of a world without humanity.
There is no comparison or residue from the Lynda Carter TV series, thankfully. Gadot does not spin into her super-heroine costume. When she leaves her Amazonian home, she really did not think about clothing. On a London shopping spree with Steve’s secretary, Etta (Lucy Davis), using the alias of Diana Prince, she can’t believe how impractical women’s clothing are.
Special mention must be given to the excellent work of Lindy Hemming, costume designer, and the outlandish yet perfect work of production designer Aline Bonetto. It’s really evident when the film is set in the world of Themyscira, the all-female isle where Diana was raised.
Matthew Jensen’s cinematography is sublime and the score by Rupert Gregson-Williams has a way of creeping into your bones!
When Steve’s plane crashes in the perfect paradise of Themyscira, Diana has been expertly trained by her aunt, the great warrior Antiope (Robin Wright). These training sequences are exciting to watch and the director Jenkins does an excellent job in capturing Diana’s progress, from the age of 8 (Lilly Aspell) to her teenage years (Emily Carey) and finally to a young woman, with admirable concision.
The warrior women are led by Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta and Wright, and the sisters are strength personified. The visual of them on horseback is crafted to send shivers up and down the spine. Adding to their clashing viewpoints over the need to prepare for the return of the war god Ares, goes to the meat of the matter. Evil is coming. Soon that is witnessed when the Germans storm their peaceful beach, just after Steve’s arrival. Facing guns and bullets, the women’s bow-and-arrow skills are formidable, but they’re not invincible.
Together Diana and Steve escape to England with the goal of destroying the weapons facility of the chemist Isabel Maru, aka Doctor Poison (Anaya). Steve, having stolen a vital item from a competitive lab, believes he can stop the war; Diana, armed with her powerful shield, sword and Lasso of Truth, believes that she can stop war, period. Using their combined energy, they acquire the funding and support of a high ranking British politician (David Thewlis). He enlists a trio of mercenaries: a questionable marksman (Ewen Bremner), a Moroccan undercover operative (Said Taghmaoui) and a Native-American black marketeer (Eugene Brave Rock).
Gadot brings grace to the role and, at times, a sweet comedic turn as she tries to absorb the modern world and how she will fit into it. Pine fills the role well. He’s besotted by the stunning and fearless goddess, and the look in his eyes gives weight to the fledgling romance.
The blogs and social media world says, “We need Diana of Themyscira,” and the female power that she represents. They argue she is a “super-heroine” for our times, a woman who wants to save the world and is not afraid to change her style to do exactly that!
“Wonder Woman” is rated PG-13 and runs 141 minutes.