I hope you guys like the whispering font, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it for a while.
So, #Squirrel and I saw Wonder Woman this weekend. There was no way we were not going to see this movie on opening weekend. First of all, #Squirrel LOVES Wonder Woman, so much so that she got teary-eyed over her appearance in Batman V Superman. Second, opening weekend is the best indicator as to whether or not a film will get a sequel. If it does well opening weekend, a sequel is virtually assured in the franchise business, and it was important to me to contribute to that if the movie was any good. Lastly, #Squirrel and I are fans of the Fast and Furious franchise, which is where we were introduced to Gal Gadot. We like her. (I confess I was concerned that her stature wasn’t Amazonian enough, and before I get accused of objectification, I had similar concerns about Michael Keaton when he was cast as Batman. Neither concern was really justified.)
We really liked it. A lot. That much I can say without ruining anything.
Before you continue…things could get SPOILERY from here on out. So if you haven’t seen the film and want the surprises to remain intact, TURN BACK NOW. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!
There was something that got #Squirrel and I both REALLY emotional REALLY early in the movie. The music was powerful, that much I know. I think the stuff with young Diana on Themyscira was what did it. There’s something about seeing a young girl who wants to kick ass, who isn’t content with her role…and even on Paradise Island, Diana was being forced into a role. More than that, though…it was really nice to see characters that were motivated by the fact that they were good people. There was no underlying trauma for Diana. She wasn’t seeking revenge and she wasn’t really out to prove something. She felt a sense of responsibility, of duty, and that was enough to put herself out there.
Wonder Woman is very much a fish out of water/coming of age story, and both stories are served very ably. Diana’s introduction to WWI-era London is both fun and funny. (Etta Candy was awesome and I wish she’d had a larger role.) Gal Gadot has solid comedy chops, and I’m dazzled enough by her beauty to be shocked over and over again by that. (She carried comedy off well in Keeping Up With The Joneses, too.) More than that, and more importantly, Diana has the hubris so important in Greek mythology, and watching it get dispelled is worth the price of admission. The look on Gal Gadot’s face when her expectations are shattered is good stuff. She really carries the movie nicely, although she doesn’t have to. The movie’s cast solidly all around, most especially Chris Pine in his role as supporting character/damsel in distress. There’s a scene in the movie where he’s sent to use his sex appeal in a beautiful piece of role-reversal, and it doesn’t feel out of place or heavy-handed AT ALL.
That brings me to how gloriously feminist (small “f”) this film is. There was definitely a concerted effort to turn so many sexist tropes in filmmaking on their ears, and that was done in many scenes and in many ways in the film, but never at the cost of the story. It was all so elegantly done that you don’t necessarily notice it at first.
The film’s biggest stumbles are in the climax. The resolution of both the fish out of water and the coming of age stories come together well, pretty much as promised, but the change in the film’s tone is almost jarring. The climax of BvS was the best part of that movie (mostly because of Wonder Woman, come to think of it)…now imagine taking that scene out of that film and putting it at the end of, say, Back To The Future. That’s an extreme example, and there is NO plot dissonance at all, but the change in tone is striking. Thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because Diana faces nothing but human threats throughout the film, and then she’s suddenly facing down the god of war. They only solution I see involves peppering more supernatural threats throughout the film, but that would have ruined a very well put together film, not to mention undermining both the fish out of water and coming of age elements.
I know that I WANTED this film to be good, and all of the positive buzz came out, I was a little concerned that everyone felt that way, and that people were glossing over its flaws. Not at all the case. Maybe it’s not quite as good as Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s every bit as good as the first Iron Man, and like that film, should have been the first entry into this universe.