2017-06-14 / Arts and Entertainment

'Wonder Woman' wraps great storytelling with a powerful message

By JASON GUYER

Warner Bros. picturesWarner Bros. pictures“Wonder Woman” is simply put, wonderful and it actually goes much further than being just a good movie.

“Wonder Woman” is an absolute wonder of a film.

Wonder Woman herself was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who found himself inspired by the Suffrage movement and women’s rights activists in 1941.

Paraphrasing Marston, “Wonder Woman is propaganda for the new type of woman, who should one day rule the world.”

Inevitably came the misogynistic misunderstanding of the empowerment of women and so began the systematic dismantling of Wonder Woman.

The comic industry through the cries that her strength and independence made her a lesbian, Wonder Woman was stripped of her powers and as a founder member of the Justice Society of America was relegated to being nothing but a mere secretary.

Wonder Woman was left to tales of being love sick and constantly dreaming about marrying her love interest Steve Trevor.

But it is 2017, so what would they do with the newest entry in the DC extended universe, “Wonder Woman.”

What will her story be in 2017 and does it do Wonder Woman justice?

I will unequivocally say, that director Patty Jenkins does her justice.

In a column or two or this past year I have stated that the one of the single most important elements to a good movie is a great story. Even more than that — a great story with substance, with sincerity.

Director Patty Jenkins told the New York Times, “It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied away from sincerity, real sincerity, because they feel they have to wink at the audience because that’s what the kids like.”

Sincerity and substance is exactly what she achieved with Wonder Woman. Through the wonderful acting of Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, a higher mark could not have been set, and yet an even higher mark was achieved.

Gadot captures that wide-eyed optimism of a hero yet to be tested and perfectly portrays the evolution of Wonder Woman as she goes from naive amazonian warrior to a truly inspiring and wonder of a woman.

“Wonder Woman” is an origin story and starts before Diana Prince was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), when she was Diana, princess of the Amazons raised on Themyscira, a sheltered island paradise.

Diana meets a pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who tells her about a massive conflict that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

Throughout the film, Wonder Woman challenges herself to be the hero she envisioned for herself as a child, but beyond that she challenges every male around her to do the same.

In “Wonder Woman,” Gadot’s version of the character is constantly getting push back from her male counterparts and constantly being told she can not do this, or can not do that, leading to some of the most profound and beautiful scenes in the film.

This push back leads to some of the most profound and beautiful scenes to come from the “Wonder Woman" film.

First is the “I am not your secretary” moment as Wonder Woman condemns the so called “war room.” Provoked when one general states that soldiers are only there to die because that is what soldiers do.

Finally culminating in two even more powerful scenes in which her love interest Steve Trevor tells her no she can’t do something but although it comes from a different place than others his comments and  he himself often tries to hold Diana back.

Steve in one scene goes as far as saying, “that is no man’s land, meaning no man can cross it.”

Bringing out some of the most empowering scenes I have seen in film, when she stands up and finally says, “No man may be able to, but I am no man.”

Even though those are not the exact words she uses the sentiment is there and I felt it and found it to be truly inspiring.

Jenkins goes on to say, “I wanted to tell a story about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind. I believe in it. It’s terrible when it makes so many artists afraid to be sincere and truthful and emotional, and relegates them to the too-cool-for-school department. Art is supposed to bring beauty to the world.

A sentiment I agree with and felt watching the film "Wonder Woman."

I do not take rating a movie as high as I have “Wonder Woman” lightly — it takes a lot to be truly great, and I would only put a handful of movies ever made in the “five out of five” category. I am a comic book fan and my own personal preferences do tend to lean towards those types of stories, but “Wonder Woman” goes beyond them and is so much more.

In my opinion, “Wonder Woman” is not just an all time great movie, it is a transcendent one and Gadot will inspire and be a hero for generations to come. To women and men alike.

Keeping that in mind there are some things I did dislike.

First there is the tonal carry over from “Man of Steel” and “Batman Vs Superman.” The darkened and often drab tones and color palette used in those films and the DC Extended Universe so far,  I believe does a disservice to “Wonder Woman.”

It works for Batman, but in this film a brighter color palette would have only helped the conveyance of empowerment that comes from the film.

My other criticism is the stylized slow-motion action and I will be honest it is just a small peccadillo of mine. In my opinion slow-motion action sequences work well with some things and not others.

When you slow down quick hand-to-hand combat to see technique and style I think it works. When you slow down the moment a superhero throws an enemy thousands of feet, just to show the enemy falling through the air for an extra 10 seconds then I find that boring and useless. Although to be fair, that sliding leg kick in slow motion was spectacular.

After seeing “Wonder Woman,” there is no doubt in my mind that Gadot was the perfect choice for the role, and I can no longer see anyone else playing her. This is what you want from any actor conveying any type of character, and that is for the actor to actually become that character. 

Gal Gadot does not jus play Wonder Woman, She is Wonder Woman.

Generally I am not the only one to think this way as even Marvel has come out to praise “Wonder Woman” and Gadot’s performance. When your direct competition does that, well then you know you have something special and even Marvel can see that.

In this one aspect DC tops Marvel, and that is with its lead woman character and superhero. I can only hope Marvel aspires to this with Brie Larson in “Captain Marvel.” Wow, I never thought I would ever say Marvel should look to DC, especially after some of the last films.

I had said after the underwhelming “Suicide Squad” that the hopes for the future of the DC Extended Universe were all pinned on “Wonder Woman,” and thankfully so, because Gadot’s Wonder Woman just saved it.

Saving it didn't come without it’s own fight though,  before even opening in theaters “Wonder Woman” had some controversies.

Women-only screenings of the film in Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, New York among other locations were criticized as exclusionary and sexist. The film was also banned in Lebanon due to anti-Israel sentiment spurred by Gadot’s involvement in the film as an Israeli.

In 2017 these issues are at the forefront and a film like “Wonder Woman” that so wonderfully pushes those boundaries forward can be just inspiring as the character herself.

In the beginning of “Wonder Woman” as Diana Prince is leaving Themyscira, her mother Hippolyta, played by Connie Nielsen, looks at her and says, “be careful in the world of men Diana, they do not deserve you.”

In today’s political climate with the issues that plague our nation and the world, that sentiment could not be more true.

We may not deserve “Wonder Woman” or how good this film really is — especially since, in my opinion, I believe its substance and sincerity will be glossed over or missed altogether.

The world may not truly deserve Gal Gadot and “Wonder Woman.” However, “Wonder Woman” is the film that the character of Wonder Woman deserves and it is a movie with a powerful message and heart. And in 2017 Wonder Woman is the hero the world needs.

IRATE SCORE: 5/5

 Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the Graphics Department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at guyerj@eagletimes.com


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