Saturday, October 21, 2017     Volume: 31, Issue: 46
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New Times / Film

This weeks review
A QUIET PASSION
ALIEN: COVENANT
BAYWATCH
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
IT COMES AT NIGHT
MEGAN LEAVEY
MY COUSIN RACHEL
PARIS CAN WAIT
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
THE CIRCLE
THE LOVERS
THE MUMMY

'Wonder Woman' upends patriarchy with a winning heroine and thrilling story

WONDER WOMAN

PHOTO BY WARNER BROS. PICTURES

WONDER WOMAN


Where is it playing?: Downtown Centre, Stadium 10, Park, Galaxy

What's it rated?: PG

What's it worth?: $ Full Price (Anna)

What's it worth?: $ Full Price (Glen)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Patty Jenkins (writer-director of Monster) directs this origin story of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who was raised as Diana, an Amazon princess trained as an unbeatable warrior on a remote island. When an American pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes in the waters off her home, Diana learns of a world war waging in the outside world and agrees to accompany Steve, determined to fulfill her destiny. (141 min.).

Glen: Wonder Woman is certainly an interesting character. Originally created by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter in 1941, she’s based in part on early feminists including Margaret Sanger. So she’s created by men, which may account for her remarkable beauty and skimpy outfits, but she’s meant to be a feminist, many of whom I would guess wouldn’t approve of her overt sexualization. Why must she be beautiful? Why must her outfit be so revealing? This origin story tries to answer some of those questions while creating a character who’s both incredibly strong and powerful yet also naïve and vulnerable. Gadot is basically perfect for the role. The 5-foot-10 Israeli model, actress, and martial artist served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years and won the Miss Israel title in 2004. Like Diana/Wonder Woman, she’s beautiful and fierce. The film actually opens in present day when we see that Bruce Wayne had delivered an old photograph to Diana of her with her comrades Steve Trevor, Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) taken during World War I, which leads to an extended flashback of her protected childhood, her eventual warrior training, her saving of Steve, and her first foray into saving the world. It’s a pretty engrossing story—earnest, with doses of humor and gripping action sequences. It also tees up the next two DC Comics films Justice League, which is currently in post-production, and Justice League Part Two, which has been announced but hasn’t started filming. I have a feeling Wonder Woman and Gadot are finally going to give Marvel Comics a run for its money at the box office. This was a ripping good yarn!

Anna: Gadot is built for the part of Wonder Woman; in addition to her beauty, the woman can kick ass. While still donning the iconic red and blue body suit that shows plenty of skin, the outfit leans more toward utility than some of the comic book drawings, especially during the Bronze Age (circa ’70s and ’80s) when Wonder Woman’s cleavage practically had its own side story. In fact, the film pokes a bit of fun at the whole thing when Diana arrives in London and must dress the part of a proper lady. She’s wrapped in layers and petticoats, kicking out her legs and asking, genuinely puzzled, how people are supposed to fight in such ridiculous outfits. She’s an exasperating and curious partner to Steve Trevor, unwilling to follow his direction simply because he’s a man at a time when “men know what’s best.” Her childhood among fierce, strong women does not allow her to see the world through that male perspective, and her dogged determination to kill Ares, God of War (played by an actor you won’t see coming), and save mankind is unstoppable. I think Jenkins did a great job giving the character depth and more to do than just look hot, deftly staying away from presenting a Wonder Woman who does feminism more harm than good. It’s great to see a woman finally make the cut as a superhero worthy of her own movie, and she makes it all the more tempting to check out the Justice League movies in the future.

Glen: One of the film’s more interesting angles is Diana’s belief that if she can just kill Ares, he’ll no longer have the power to poison men’s hearts and war will cease, which is why she’s so determined to find and destroy him. General Lundendorff (Danny Huston) and his chemist underling Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) certainly seem to be the manifestation of Ares, but the mythology that Diana believes controls the world of men is far too simplistic she learns. This origin story and Diana’s first foray into superhero-dom is her true coming of age, where she discovers that the world isn’t black and white and that men are complicated. It couldn’t be any other way, otherwise Wonder Woman’s story would have ended with this first battle and she could simply return to her island paradise. She’s a deeply empathic person who can’t stand to see injustice and refuses to turn away when she sees it. The original plan was for Trevor to take her and his team around the trench warfare of no man’s land and infiltrate the enemy on its flank, destroying Lundendorff’s chemical weapons stockpile. But in the film’s central rousing set piece, Diana instead heads straight for the enemy, braving German machinegun nests, mortars, and tanks. The sequence is proof that you don’t need to be a man to stage an amazing cinematic battle, and hopefully it will land director Jenkins more big-budget jobs. Since writing and directing Monster, she’s been largely relegated to directing TV series episodes and made-for-TV movies. Hats off to DC, Warner Bros., and the producers of Wonder Woman for turning over the reins of this feminist story to someone with the smarts and the know-how to give Wonder Woman the film she deserves.

Anna: The final showdown is a CGI-heavy whirlwind of epic proportions, par for the course in all superhero flicks in recent memory. While it’s always fun to see bigger-than-life explosions and blood-pumping hand-to-hand combat, the most enjoyable part of the film for me was Gadot’s dive into Diana’s character. She’s overwhelmingly committed to justice and kindness, and learning that her mother was right—mankind does not deserve her—is a truth she’s reluctant to accept. She’s strong and stands up for herself, oblivious to the fact that a roomful of men may not want to hear the opinion of a woman. She sees her path to killing Ares, and will not let danger or love stand in the way. The woman is a badass in every way! I for one am glad little girls have a hero of their own to be in awe of on the big screen this summer. ❍

Split Screen is written by New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.