She Is A Wonder

wonder-womanIt is easy to forget that “wonder” is a much bigger word than its normal usage.  We say, “I wonder what time the movie starts.” Wonder Woman brings the wonder in its old sense, the emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or surprising. Gal Gadot also delivers a noble and yet wondering quality to her portrayal of the Amazon princess. So for both the story and the woman, I say it’s time to go to the movies. Now to the details. . .

I could go into huge detail breaking down the symbolism and tropes expertly deployed in Wonder Woman, which is, in my opinion up with the best of the DC superhero movies recently released. But I won’t. I’ll tell you a few things I liked, and a couple of things I didn’t; though the movie is great, it isn’t perfect.

(Here There Be Spoilers.)

 

Likes

The lush cinematography was worthy of a superhero movie, none of this sepia-toned stuff like we’ve seen in the last couple of Superman movies. It’s not four-color, by any means, but it’s brighter.

This Diana is the Wonder Woman of long established comic-book canon; of the three big DC heroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), her movie portrayal has been the least deconstructed.

I was wondering how the DC Cineverse would tell Diana’s origins and portray the Greek gods; after all, as with the Marvel Cineverse, the DC movie writers have largely avoided invoking straight-up magic and mythology. It’s all been “superscience,” really. The answer they came up with was. . . a story Hypolita tells to her daughter. My best guess is that the Greek gods were some kind of “space gods”, and in any case they’re no longer around except for Ares.

Speaking of Ares and the gods, the portrayal of their actions and motivations in the story Hypolita tells is a thinly disguised Christology. The gods create man to be good, Ares hates them and corrupts them, and goes to war with the other gods when they won’t help him destroy mankind. Ares is defeated, but not forever, and he remains in the world to further the corruption of mankind. Zeus creates Diana, who finally defeat Ares to save mankind. . . Diana, raised in a paradise, is innocent of all the evils of mankind, but is willing to fight and die to save humanity from Ares. Right there in the movie, it says that humanity is corrupt, undeserving of salvation. We are saved by love. It’s hard to get much more Christological than that.

And the action was fast, furious, leavened by just the right amount of humor and even serious commentary on war. It’s a great ride, and a movie worth adding to my collection.

Dislikes

Every movie does stuff like this. Every. Single. Movie. So this stuff doesn’t really count against it.

Thymescria (Paradise Island) is located somewhere in the Aegean Sea, between Greece and Asia Minor. We definitely know this, because Steve Trevor’s plane, which he flew from a base in the Ottoman Empire (probably somewhere in modern-day Turkey), crashes there. He and Diana leave the island by boat, which, overnight, arrives in England, sailing up the Thames to London. What?

I know why they did this; there had to be a few scenes that highlight Diana’s amazement/bewilderment with “man’s world.” They wanted to put those scenes in London to keep the plot pace clicking. But there are other things they could have done that wouldn’t break your suspension of disbelief. There were a few pieces like this; other than the overnight voyage, I was able to pretty much ignore them.

But there was this; the Amazons spoke English. This is handwaved by Diana claiming (and demonstrating) that the Amazons know many, many, many languages. Okay, but how? After all, they are completely cut off from and ignorant about the rest of the world. There are hints of sacred “superscience” in the background (instead of a Blue Healing Ray, they have blue-glowing healing pools, and Diana’s armor and weapons are super as well). I think the original plan was for them to have some kind of Sacred Object of Understanding that could instantly learn and teach such things, but if so it was dropped. I think it would have been cool if they’d spoken ancient Greek (with subtitles), until suddenly gifted with the Language of Man as spoken by Steve Trevor. I could imagine the Amazons having a Classical Age understanding of the world (they used bows and arrows, after all), while possessing some millenia-old gifts from their space gods.

Oh yeah, and then there was the question of Diana’s age. Either she took a long, long time to physically mature, or her birth was much more recent than you would think from the story her mother told her, or. . . I’m not sure what the alternative is; possibly the whole island being a Brigadoon? If it did take her a long time to grow up, that would explain at least how she learned so many languages; she was in school forever (though it still doesn’t explain her teachers).

In Diana’s final battle with Ares, it was like the two of them were just pulling new powers out of their hats from moment to moment. In Diana’s case, it was foreshadowed that she didn’t know her full potential, but the whole thing violated one of the major rules of superhero fights; before the Big Fight, you must clearly establish the strengths of each side. Ares used superstrength, telekinesis (down to the molecular level), ultra-class electrokinesis, and, oh yeah, command of mental powers, illusions, maybe teleportation. It really was hard to keep track.

Truthfully, the most satisfying fight of the movie happened much earlier.

But these are minor details; overall I give Wonder Woman 4 out of 5 stars. It was a solid, satisfying movie, a worthy entry into the ranks of superhero movies of the last few years. I look forward to the sequel.

 

 

 

 

 

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About George

I am a reasonably successful self-published author ("successful" means I can pay the bills and am highly rated in my Amazon category), former financial advisor (writing is more fun), and have something in common with Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond. Guess.
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5 Responses to She Is A Wonder

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard says:

    Thank you for the review.

    I’ve heard other good reviews from people who’s opinions I trust.

    Of course, there are also idiots out there….

  2. Simple answer to Ares having quite a few powers. He’s a god, able to bend reality with his will. In fact, it’s heavily alluded to that willpower allowed Diana to win that fight.

  3. jimmy says:

    More MARVEL guy than DC. This movie further strengthens my reasoning. I haven’t seen it yet but want too from all the good comments and reviews. So…why do they change their characters so much. DC always over-powers their characters and never gives answers to the how’s and why’s of their characters powers and upgrades. Aren’t their characters good enough as is? Be like Marvel making a HULK movie and giving him laser eye beams and the power to fly. Hulk not good enough or powerful enough? Yeah its a comic movie but at least keep it within the realm of some reality. Like, how did Superman lift an entire island laced with Kryptonite when only a marble of the stuff brings him to his knees. Ahhh DC, you wonder why your in the movie shape your in. Hell, this movie seems to have ripped off elements of Captain America’s movie. Sad!

  4. Brendan says:

    My biggest question: what the f*ck is up with that armadillo? It’s not native to the Mediterranean, and the shot is such that it’s inclusion pretty much has to be intentional. But why?

  5. My complaints had to deal with history. I was so excited that they were going to set the movie during WWI. Then they did it. And…WTF?! Every historical movie struggles with accuracy. But I can’t imagine if they did a Saving Private Ryan where D-Day takes place in Italy during 1940 and involves the Tsar of Mexico. That’s about how bad they screwed around with the real historical WWI. To me the biggest issue was they didn’t even *need* to do any of that. Have Steve Trevor be in the Lafayette Squadron if you want to get an American in action before 1917 and flying around in plane outmoded by 1915. Or the French Foreign Legion–a number of Americans joined up as early as 1914 to fight specifically against Germany. Plenty of good mythical-symbolism there. Makes a lot more sense to set the movie earlier in the war if you want to talk about the development of deadlier and deadlier poison gases. Maybe, gosh, you could show Ares pushing the war to get bigger, nastier, and deadlier along the way from 1914-1918. Maybe even work that up as the increasing war increases his power sort of thing? Make him a real genuine bad guy opponent? While tuning historical lump of suet Quartermaster General Ludendorff into a buff herculean baddie was amusing, again, you could’ve done better and by the time frame of the movie (Maybe as early as Halloween to November 11th 1918) Ludendorff had had a nervous breakdown, resigned, tried-and-failed-to-un-resign, and was basically totally out of power and influence. The very end of the war there? That also wasn’t in the trenches. The trenches were a great metaphor and visible symbol of Ares and the madness of men but the war was broken wide open and was a war of maneuver and movement by november 1918. The massive trench fortifications of 1916 and 1917 were irrelevant at the end. Again, all you have to do is slow things down. Don’t try to compress the entire movie to take place in like a week, two tops. Steve craps out into the island say, around 1915, 1916. The Germans keep looking, eventually stumbling into the island’s waters. They land and make the attack, still playing out the way it did because even though Steve’s been on-island a while most Amazons don’t believe his wild tales of automatic weapons, armadas of flying boats, and ships of metal that move with no slave rowers or sails. Steve and Diana still head to England but take a slower trip there with Diana marveling at one damn thing after another that modern humans have created. Stretching this out also gives the still mainly off-screen romance a reasonable time to blossom into something that Diana keenly feels the loss of that photograph of even a century later. Let Diana spend some time actually tracking Ares. Let Steve and Diana maybe work to get the USA in the war as part of that since Ares would naturally be involved in such a major expansion of the war. There’s just SO MUCH they could have and should have done to make a movie that would arguably be even stronger, with many of the same beats, but spread out into a reasonable timeline that, bonus, gets to weave a fantastic story around something vaguely resembling actual history.

    One of the funniest things though is something the movie got right that everyone I’ve met thought had to be faked. That massive ridiculous huge wooden bomber that Steve stops? It really existed. Sure it wasn’t full of death gas, but the Germans had 3 R-types by the end of the war and they were the largest planes in the world for an entire generation, up until WWII, and had a wingspan of ~160 feet.

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