Warner Bros. 2 hours 21 minutes PG-13
Leave it to women to make this film soar. This is the first female directed live action superhero adventure with a female in the lead since 2005! And it’s pretty awesome. Good action, writing, message and comedy make this 4th installment of the DC extended universe a complete package. We recommend you see this extravaganza on the big screen so you can cheer and laugh along with the rest of the viewers. The battles are well choreographed and slowed down at strategic points so you can fully appreciate the moves.
There have been many false starts including one in 2005 by Director Patty Jenkins herself who bowed out because she was 5 months pregnant. But Jenkins says that directing Wonder Woman was always her dream. She was a big fan of the TV series and pictured herself as Wonder Woman fighting to help others on the playground as a little girl. Her passion for the project comes through. She even tried to get Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner from the original 1970’s TV series for cameos, but Carter is touring with a cabaret show and Wagonner gave up acting in 2005.
Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston, set in WW II, but Jenkins decided to place it in WWI because she thinks it reflects more of what we’re dealing with globally today. Zack Snyder (who has a cameo as a WW 1 Soldier), Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs came up with the story and Heinberg wrote the clever screenplay. Interesting to note that he was hired in 1996 by Ivan Reitman to write and direct a Wonder Woman movie back then. No go.
Gal Gadot is every bit a hero as Diana Prince.(Fast and Furious franchise, Batman v Superman and former Miss Israel) She plays the daughter of God Zeus and mortal Hippolyta played by Connie Nielsen (The Good Wife). Hippolyta knows of Diana’s potential powers and tries to keep the little girl, (newcomer Lilly Aspell) sheltered and safe by not letting her sister, Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) train her as she does the other Amazon women on their island.
Yes, we get to see Wonder Woman’s origin story for the first time, down to the unusual explanation of how she was crafted out of clay. Even as an adult, Diana appears to be innocently ignorant having lived in this all female protectorate. She wants to be a warrior so intensely, but her mother resists that notion. Diana finally wins her chance to become a strong and stunning warrior in scenes training with her relentlessly tough Instructor/Aunt Antiope. She is one tough cookie pushed to the max discovering powers she didn’t know she had. Gadot trained hard for months learning horseback riding, martial arts and more. She flies, scales walls, knows how to wield a sword and uses her shield and wrist cuffs to full advantage.
Enter Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine. Pine says before he accepted the role Jenkins acted out the whole script with him over lunch, from beginning to end, and he was hooked. She is a great storyteller who is passionate about Wonder Woman and what she stands for.
Pine plays a British spy being chased by Germans who crash lands where men are not welcome. After the Amazon women battle along with him to keep a fleet of German men at bay, they are left with Trevor in their midst. Awkward! He is of the modern world and they are not. That’s where the comedy comes in. Pine’s timing and delivery of some funny lines provides fun centered around how uncomfortable they are around each other. Gadot says Pine caused more takes because he would constantly crack her up. Pine’s inspiration was Harrison Ford’s attitude in Indiana Jones and Michael Douglas in Romancing The Stone, both fun adventures.
When Steve explains that he is a spy trying to help end the “War to End all Wars,” Diana she finds her purpose. She wants to help save the world and when he sees how she can obviously kick major ass, he asks her to go back with him. Will they bond? He reassembles with his posse back home. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui, Charlie (Ewen Bremner, Trainspotting and T2) and The Chief (stuntman Eugene Braverock). They each have their talents helping Trevor and Diana track and fight the villains.
Diana is obviously a superpower when it comes to hair and makeup as she never looks messed up. The camera loves her high cheek bones and her slim but strong 6 foot stature. The scene where she’s trying on fashionable clothes worn by women in the early 20th Century and testing them for fightability in the store under the supervision of Etta (Lucy Davis) is very entertaining.
Director Jenkins keeps Diana positive. Her reactions to violence are not revenge but protecting herself. She really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. She will only unleash her powers to defend herself and others and fight evil villains like Dr. Maru/Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya). The doctor obviously experimented with her own brews and wears a mask to cover her mistakes which makes her look like a very strange Phantom of the Opera. There are villains who aren’t who they seem to be, like Sir Patrick (David Thewlis, Harry Potter), plus tons of extras as soldiers who come at Diana and her cohorts.
There is almost too much action and too many hugely enormous explosions and fire. And there are times when you might say, how did we get here? Especially curious was lack of continuity when Diana’s sword is stuck on a roof above her, but she suddenly appears landing where she was just standing now with it in her hand, ready to fight Aries, son of Zeus. Uh oh, we now have Diana fighting the black sheep of the family.
Not only is Wonder Woman an action film for all ages and genders, but it has a great positive message: no matter how ugly the world gets because of war and dictators, we must be good, protect one another and do right by one other. Jenkins has made a superhero film that has a truly cohesive story, even though it gets a little cheesy emotionally at the end. Still, we can't wait to see the next one. Gadot was drawn to her character because Wonder Woman stands for justice, peace, wisdom, love, acceptance, and compassion which, she says, are all becoming rare in our world.