Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Wonder Woman | review by Douglas J. Ogurek

Resolutely she enters the fray.

Finally, a female has joined the contemporary pantheon of high-profile cinematic superheroes . . . not as a peripheral wisecracking vixen or troubled outcast, but rather as an ass-kicking, yet empathetic lead.

Wonder Woman is tearing up the charts—fourth highest opening weekend for a solo superhero origin film, and the highest-grossing opening weekend for a female-directed (Patty Jenkins) film—with good reason.

Using her shield, sword, magic rope, and physical prowess, Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) gracefully dispatches the bad guys. When the film grandiosely portrays Diana in full superhero poise with hair blowing, one can’t help but feel exhilarated by the immense physical and moral power of this protagonist.

The “fish out of water” story is told in frame format, with a present day Diana reflecting on her escapades. American spy/pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) inadvertently discovers the beautiful Paradise Island and its all-female warrior inhabitants, including Diana. When Trevor tells her of the atrocities of the “war to end all wars”, Diana, convinced that Aries is responsible, sets off with Trevor to the front. She hopes to kill the god of war and therefore bring the battle to an end. Trevor, eager to get back to his superiors, goes along with it. So begins a burgeoning co-attraction, an exploration of evil and forgiveness, an opus on women’s empowerment, and an irresistible action film featuring one of the most versatile superheroes to date—Wonder Woman can just as easily bash through a brick wall as she can pull off stupefying gymnastic feats.

Never mind that Diana really has no weaknesses and that villains are one-dimensional. Even more admirable than Diana’s ability to plough through the enemy is her unabashed approach to a misogynistic London. She is not afraid to wear what she wants, speak her mind, and most important, to do something in the face of injustice.

Each of the two main characters’ vastly different world views helps shape that of the other. Diana, raised on an island cut off from the rest of the world, is willing to drop everything to help those in need and harbours no reservations about walking the streets in her conspicuous battle regalia replete with sword and shield. The war-wise Trevor, on the other hand, understands that achieving the ultimate goal sometimes requires tact and covertness.

The spectacle that is Wonder Woman keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish. It’s also inspirational as an artistic achievement. Lately, when I want to take a project to the next level, I’ve been asking myself, “How can I Wonder Woman this?” – Douglas J. Ogurek *****

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