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WONDER WOMAN (2017): Review by Lindsy Bissonnette

WONDER WOMAN (2017): Review by Lindsy Bissonnette

In the middle of the ocean, hidden in a veil of fog and darkness, is a protective shield against the outside world, and in it is the beautiful island of Themiscyra. Safe from the cruelty of humanity, this is where the Amazonian women have survived since the creation of time, after the fall of the gods. But when an American spy crashes his plane through the protective barrier and accidentally brings German soldiers to Themiscyra, the Amazons realize they may not be as safe as they thought. The world outside their safe haven is riddled with chaos and bloodshed, and only one woman can stop the madness, by slaying Aries, the god of war, and ending the war once and for all.

Mankind does not deserve Wonder Woman, but then again, life is not always about getting what we deserve. Wonder Woman -- directed by the wonderful Patty Jenkins -- is exactly the superhero film the world needs. This film is socially aware and one of the most empowering superhero films of all time. Seventy-six years after her creation, Wonder Woman finally gets the origin story she deserves, and Patty delivers. (LMB: 5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

On Themiscyra, a hidden, protected, paradise island, “Diana,” lovingly known to us as “Wonder Woman,” (Gal Gadot) is the only child. Her mother is queen “Hippolyta” (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt, “Antiope” (Robin Wright), is the fearless warrior and leader of the army. All her life Diana has begged her mother to let her train with the Amazons, to which her mother always says no. Thankfully her aunt trains her in secret, until one day her mother finally approves on one condition -- that Antiope train Diana ten times harder than any Amazon before her.

During training, when she is fighting the other Amazons, Diana realizes her true strength and runs away, terrified that she has accidentally hurt Antiope. She goes to the cliff side and turns her head to the sky, when she sees a plane crash through Themiscyra’s border and plummet into the sea. She dives into the water and saves the pilot, pulling him to shore, only to realize that he is a man, the first man to ever be on the island. Unfortunately, he is not alone, and soon German ships break through the barrier and begin to attack the Amazons.

When the fighting finally stops, Diana and the Amazons learn that the mysterious pilot is “Steve Trevor” (Chris Pine). He tells them of a great war happening on outside of Themiscyra. Diana is convinced this war signifies Aries’ return, a day every Amazon has been training for, and that if she kills Aries the war will end. she decides to travel with Steve back to England.

Sadly This means leaving behind the only home she’s ever known, and leaving behind her family. “If you go, you will never be able to return,” her mother Hippolyta warns. Diana’s response: “Who will I be if I stay?”

Steve brings Diana to England and with the aid of his secretary, “Etta” (Lucy Davis), helps Diana fit in with the British crowd. Finally, Steve is able to convince three of his friends to join him on an impossible mission to the front lines in hopes of stopping the war with Diana’s help they begin their journey to end the war ‘to end all wars’.

Along the way, Diana and Steve begin to develop feelings for each other, as she learns more about mankind than she ever did from the books. Unfortunately, Diana also learns of the atrocities committed by man. Her mother’s words ring true as she struggles to comprehend the shades of grey between right and wrong, and is torn between her moral compass, and her compassionate heart.

The screenplay for Wonder Woman as written by Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, and Jason Fuchs (and based on the character created by William Moulton Marston), is unlike any other superhero film for one simple reason: director Patty Jenkins takes her time. Of course the costumes are incredible, the cinematography is beautiful, and the performances are spot on, but unlike many of the recent DC films, and superhero films in general, the humor isn’t forced, the plot moves forward naturally, and Jenkins allows the audience time to settle in with each character, instead of warping from plot point to plot point at breakneck speed.

Each character, no matter how small, gets their fair share of screen time and, with the help of a dynamite script reveal enough about themselves so that the audience can empathize with each character. This division of time sets the tone for the film early on, and even though it runs two and a half hours long, the time flies by, as each moment is genuine from character to character, patiently building audience empathy along the way.

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette (6/6/17) FF2 Media 

Top Photo: Wonder Woman charges into battle.

Middle Photo: Dr. Poison pours over her notes.

Bottom Photo: Sammi, Steve, Diana, Chief, and Charlie after a victory.

Photo Credits: Alex Bailey

Q: Does Wonder Woman pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

YES.

There are so many scenes that make this film pass. Diana, Hippolyta and Antiope have conversations about Themiscyra, and Diana’s training, they talk about war, peace, history, and many other things (other than men).

Etta and Diana talk about what women in England wear, as Etta struggles to find an outfit that Diana finds comfortable enough to wear.

In addition to the quality of the film, there are many other aspects that make it a game changer. First, Wonder Woman is not sexualized or objectified, and neither is Steve Trevor. In fact, no one in the film, male or female, is sexualized or objectified, which is incredibly uncommon, and absolutely refreshing. I was pleasantly surprised to notice an absence of leisurely pans up and down Gal Gadot’s body, and the absence of slow motion sequences where Chris Pine could hypothetically (and dramatically) rip off his shirt and express his male dominance. Despite her historically revealing outfit, Diana and her fellow Amazons are wearing armor, not skimpy corsets, but the most noticeable thing about them, is their strength.

Diversity is another quality that is embedded in the film, and in the best way possible. The Amazons come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and all of them are proud and confident. Instead of the norm on screen, the extremely thin, overly sexualized, women we see as superheroes and it was refreshing to see so many strong women on the screen. There’s an entire scene focusing on the training of the Amazons, which is a rigorous process. It’s not often that we see an entire army of women wielding arrows, swords, shields and learning hand-to-hand combat. We’re accustomed to seeing men in training, with army sequences etc, but to see all female military is extremely empowering. While Themiscyra is a monarchy, they have senators, and what seems to be an open-floor democracy when it comes to issues that pertain to Amazons, but the diversity doesn’t stop with them, Steve’s rag-tag team is made up of a Scottish marksman “Charlie” (Ewen Bremner) that’s suffering from PTSD, a Native American smuggler, “The Chief” (Eugene Brave Rock), and a multilingual middle eastern man, “Sameer” or “Sammi” (Saïd Taghmaoui) who dreams of being an actor but was “born the wrong color.”

Another great aspect the film? One of the antagonists is a woman. “Dr. Maru” (Elena Anaya), also known as Dr. Poison. She is a brilliant scientist working for “General Ludendorff” (Danny Huston), and her evil creations are to be used on the front line. Throughout the film she is continuously searching for the perfect weaponized gas that can penetrate a mask, eventually landing on the idea of an hydrogen-based mustard gas.

Director Patty Jenkins uses every opportunity to make Wonder Woman the glass-ceiling shattering, gender stigma-bashing, female-empowerment film that it is. The film has a great flow, lots of heart, and wonderful moments of comedy, and sincerity. From the well-rounded characters, the gender equality, and all of the fantastic subliminal messaging on the strength, intelligence and empathy of womankind, Wonder Woman is the superhero film we have been waiting for, because it doesn’t target any demographic as being lesser, and instead embraces all types, sizes, shapes, colors of people, and is the first step toward reimagining what superheroes can be. For me, the most touching part of this film is the way that it has empowered little girls internationally, without ever putting down a male.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

Top Photo: Diana stands up for her friends and takes down a thug in a bar

Bottom Photo: Amazon “Antiope” (Robin Wright) uses her impeccable combat skills to fight the soldiers that have invaded her home.

Photo Credits: Alex Bailey

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