Wonder Woman, Naïve Feminist

(Dear Readers, this week was filled with computer problems so getting this blog out has been a monumental task. It lacks links and pictures but hopefully you will still enjoy the review. Next week will be better.)

As usual, spoiler alerts!

The newest DC move, Wonder Woman filled the screen this last weekend, earning great reviews and profits. It came across as a feminist film, which seems like a political statement by Hollywood considering all the issues on women and their healthcare. I’m all for political statments, particularly pro-women ones.  While watching, I realized that this movie would not have sold well a few years ago. Remember, American women didn’t get the right to enter combat zones until 2013. Yet here is a princess no less kicking ass and generally being more effective than her male counterpart. Throughout the movie I kept wanting to yell, “You go, girl!”

One factor that makes this a feminist flick is that she is the victor in every sense, particularly when facing a clearly masculine icon, Aries. The battle was painful and difficult, both internally and physically, but she prevailed. The bad guy was played surprisingly well by David Thewlis of Harry Potter fame (Remus Lupin). He certainly was not who I would think of for a god of war. The message of the movie states that humanity is a warlike race but our capacity to love one another makes us redeemable.

The film starts with young Diana, the only child of the Amazonians, wanting to train with the warriors so much that she breaks her mother’s, the queen’s, restrictions at every opportunity. This self-centered willful nature continues throughout the movie. If someone tells her “no,” or “you can’t,” she redoubles her efforts to do it anyway. The queen offers multiple hints that Diane is so much more than the average warrior but keeps her child ignorant of Diane’s true destiny.

Eventually men come to the island in the form of Steve Trevor, followed by boats full of Germans shooting rifles. After the costly battle and Trevor’s explanation, Diane feels it’s her time to join the world and fight Aries. She leaves the island still naïve but hellbent on her mission. Her lack of knowledge of the real world and London society provides some humor as she tries to fit in or act equal to any man, even in a society that greatly discourages it.

The movie also features interspersed scenes of the two minor bad guys, a German general and a malformed chemist, attempting to make a weapon better than mustard gas. Germany is on the brink of suing for peace, something the general hates. My question here was why did the woman have to be scarred? This comic book simplicity (even in a comic book movie)  detracts from the story. The obvious relationship of “scarred on the outside equals twisted on the inside” hits like a sledgehammer. They should have gone for a more subtle statement, because this implies only ugly women are enemies.

Since this is an origins tale, Diane must go through several battles until finally Aries reveals himself. He tells her of her true background and purpose on earth in an attempt to win her over. The “join the darkside” kind of plot twist is clichéd and predictable. However, Gal Gadot pulls off the emotional angst well and provides an excellent Wonder Woman portrayal. Just like Leonidas in the 300, she moves with grace and fierocity in the fight scenes. The slowing of the film allows us to see the moving human form as something fearful and beautiful. Yet like the Batman and Superman flicks, this movie lacks any successful humor or great take-away lines, even though it was visually simulating. Because it is an origins tale, Diane goes through a clear character arc, losing her innocence along the way. Otherwise, the DC movie characters tend to stay unevolved, not matter what happens to them.

I give this movie a 3 ½ to 4 stars. Its worth the price of admission and possibly the cosplay outfit. Certainly I would not hesitate to buy my young daughter (if I had one) the Wonder Woman costume over Disney princess any day.  Then I’d walk her around while wearing  the Amazonian general’s leather and fur costume. That one’s cool for any con or faire.

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