WONDER WOMAN – DC FINALLY HITS A HOME RUN!!!!!

SHORT TAKE:

Wonder Woman is a true corker of an action adventure hero story as well as a genuine class act of good military mission story combined with a super hero origin story and some honest to goodness Christian virtue and humility – ALL – astonishingly and surprisingly, with a woman in the lead.

MY TAKE – SPOILERS!!! Though I will try to keep them to the minimum necessary to make my points.

As much as I like Scarlett Johanssen as an actress and Black Widow as a character, there is a reason I think Marvel has never planned an origin story for her. I just do not think – or DID not think – a woman could carry off a lead action adventure super hero story. In addition, I grew up with Linda Carter’s red, white and blue over flowing D cup and lasso in one of the cheesiest TV shows ever filmed. So when I heard they had proposed a Wonder Woman movie I thought they had designed a ship made with a hole already in the hull. But I was wrong.

First off – and I say this as a card carrying heterosexual – Gal Gadot is one of the most stunningly beautiful women I have ever seen. And the Amazons she is a member of do not try to fight like men. The writers wisely make sensible use of women’s lithe agility and maneuverability, concentrating on their ability with bows rather than strength. In addition, Ms. Gadot is an honest to goodness hero, herself, having spent two years as the sports trainer with the Israeli Defense Corps. In addition, she had swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training in preparation to play Diana. So when she appears to be kicking some genuine a** – well boys, I wouldn’t cross her.

Second – there is a really good plot. And I don’t just mean a compelling well held together story about a group on a mission to stop the production of a super killer gas at the crucial point of armistice during World War I – though this part of the story was well thought out. I mean that there is a timely theme of Christian mercy, forgiveness, honor, noble purpose, compassion and acceptance of mankind’s sinful but redeemable nature, which foundationally supports the excellent Desperate Journey like mission on which the group embarks.

Third – there is humor. The story never takes itself completely seriously. It is fully aware there is a comic book flavor to it. The story unfolds almost as though – ala Princess Bride – a grandpa is relaying a story of which he was proudly a part to an adoring grandchild. But it never makes fun of nor disrespects the genre or the conceptual impetus which is the genius behind the basics of the story.

Fourth: Attention is given to detail. Things that happen later in the movie are naturally set up earlier in the plot. There aren’t any cheats. In addition, there are moments of revelation for each of the characters which give just enough back story to help understand their motives without throwing it in your face. The writers and director have confidence in the audience’s ability to understand the characters but allow the characters some privacy. For example, Ewen Bremner’s Charlie is supposed to be a marksmen, but at a crucial moment can’t shoot. He later has a terrible nightmare which is never explained. But Sameer tells Diana that everyone struggles with their own demons.

Fifth: There's a wonderful supporting cast, including, among others I mention, Chris (Captain Kirk) Pine as Steve Trevor – Diana's companion-in-arms.

Sixth: There are some terrific small moments. For example: Diana and Sameer (Said Taghmaoui) have a "language – off". He says he can speak a number of languages and quips to her in a foreign language, to which she replies, then she says something else in another language, to which he responds, and back and forth. Finally she throws him some "ancient Greek" to which he concedes defeat. Then Steve comments: "Are you two done now?"

IMPORTANT SPOILERS FOLLOWS!!!!! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!

Foretellingly the Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), Sameer and Steve run through what feels like a ritual script:

Chief: Let's get what we want.

Sameer: Get what we need.

{NOTE: KEY LINE NEXT}

Steve Trevor: And never get what we deserve.

It will make perfect sense when the time comes.

Near the beginning Diana rescues Steve from a crashed plane as he is drowning. The only thing he manages to save from the plane is the pocket watch his father had given him. When he later gives it to Diana it occurred to me the film makers beautifully were making the point that Steve, from the moment Diana pulled him from the water, was living off of borrowed time – time Diana had given him and which Steve then symbolically passes, baton-like, in gratitude, back to her.

In an incredible scene Diana insists on interrupting their primary mission to help a beleaguered village being abused by German soldiers. When the others in the mission group, including Steve, refuse, saying they don’t have time, Diana decides to go alone through "no man’s land" – a front line demarcating the two enemy lines for which no one has seen a change in months. Diana sheds her disguise and walks into battle singlehandedly taking on the bullets of an entire front line – thereby spurring Steve and his companions to follow her and give her support which in turn inspires the rest of the soldiers to follow, which breaks the enemy line. At no point does she say "but I am not a man". The scene is so well done that she really kind of earned the right to say it but in a moment of tremendous restraint and class the writers do not succumb to the temptation.

And there are a myriad other comments and moments which make this film rise head and shoulders above, not just most of the infamously bad DC movies like Batman V Superman or the trite Suicide Squad but also the in-your-face bad taste that was Deadpool or the ho hum of the later Toby McGuire attempts at Spiderman.

I really can’t praise or recommend this movie highly enough. I would even venture to elevate this from "movie" to the status of "film" in that there is literacy and literature within.

This is not at all to say it doesn’t ALSO fit the rock ‘em sock ‘em action adventure mold. There’s plenty of amazing heroics, superhero gymnastics, bad guy pulverizing, magic swords and super hero feats of daring do. But these fit neatly and seamlessly into a well crafted movie against a backdrop of humans trying to do their moral best in a time of great evil. Were the language heightened to iambic pentameter I think Shakespeare would have given it his nod.

 

DC should be very very proud of this latest installment. If you liked Christopher Reeves Superman, The Avengers, both Captain Americas, and Iron Man then you are going to LOVE Wonder Woman.

Mighty DC has FINALLY NOT struck out. Well done DC.

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