Cinematic Releases: The Goddess of Themyscira: Wonder Woman (2017) - Reviewed

Somehow we have made it all the way to 2017 without gracing Wonder Woman with a (good) live action film. Thankfully director Patty Jenkins, best known for her film Monster (2003), stepped up to the plate and gave Wonder Woman the origin movie that she richly deserved.

Many are familiar with the basic story of Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) and her upbringing on the amazon paradise known as Themyscria. This film does an excellent job of organically catching up viewers who might not know this information (with some excellent stylized visuals to boot). We see Diana as a child and young adult and get to witness some of the interesting customs and environments of Themyscria. I wish they would have spent a bit more time on the island as it was incredibly intriguing to watch the Amazons interact with each other. The story gets going a little bit too quickly with the arrival of an Amercian solider known as Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana is quickly whisked away into "the world of men" to fight a greater evil. To me it seemed like the story was a mixture of George Perez's run from the '80s and Brian Azzarello's New 52 version from 2011.

Gal Gadot is simply fantastic as Wonder Woman. She is so exuberant and joyful yet can be determined and fierce when the need arises. I love that they kept a lot of her warmth and humanity from the comics as Diana isn't supposed to be a stoic brooding superhero. She is alive and full of love for herself and humanity. Gadot and Pine have wonderful chemistry and they play off of each other perfectly. There is a lot of humor but it never overpowers the gravitas of the narrative and when something sad happens it is allowed to play out without an ill-timed quip undercutting the atmosphere.

The film never loses focus on Wonder Woman and although she works with Steve Trevor she is never in need of being saved by him. Trevor's role is important though as he serves as a conduit through which the film can examine the contrast between the patriarchal society he lives in and Diana's perspective as an Amazon who has only known powerful women. This aspect could have been heavy-handed, but it is handled deftly and subtly without being accusatory or off-putting. Some of the most charming moments in the movie come from Diana's reactions to the ridiculous social mores that women had to follow in the old days (and still do now). Running underneath all of this there is some examination on the philosophy of war and why humanity still cannot overcome the urge to kill each other over petty ideals. Diana goes through an interesting character arc as she learns that her somewhat simplistic and romanticized notions of fighting battles doesn't quite work in the grimy trenches of the man's world.

These heavy themes aside, Wonder Woman is still a kick ass action flick and the battles are thrilling to watch unfold. There is a lot of slow motion used, but the fight choreography is excellent for the most part. The Amazons have a distinct fighting style that incorporates a lot of kinetic flipping and power moves and you really get a sense of just how powerful Wonder Woman really is. Her powers take notes from her post New 52 skill set and watching her take out huge swaths of men is hugely satisfying. There is also much more color in this film than previous DC entries, but it is still slightly desaturated. I found this to be the most polished DC film that has come out to date. Everything meshes well together and looks gorgeous. 

Never let them see you sweat. 

It's awesome to see a female led superhero made with so much love and care. Young girls will be able to watch this movie and find a heroine that is worth looking up to and emulating. I hope this begins a trend of more female-centric comic book movies being made for little girls (and women) to idolize.

 -Michelle Kisner