By Raphael Bein
“Wonder Woman” opened June 2 to immediate box office success — to the tune of $275,095,580. However it is not only monetary triumph that sets this film apart, but the character of the story, and the message it carries. “Wonder Woman” tells a story of empowerment that is not typically found in most blockbusters.
Gal Gadot, the new face of the DC Comics universe, has had a career that already has plenty of fame. She is the face of the Gucci “Bamboo” perfume, a Miss Israel winner, a cover model for many magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Glamour, and has had a role in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise. While her career thus far has highlighted the cosmetic, her new movie is anything but superficial
Gadot’s most recent project — as Diana Prince of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman — gets the superhero origin story treatment.
The movie opens on the island of Themyscira, which is occupied by an all female cast of warriors, who are called the Amazons. The movie quickly introduces Greek mythos themes, though deviating from the original comics.
To avoid spoiling the experience, I will merely introduce the necessary element: Wonder Woman’s nemesis is the war god Ares. The movie puts heavy emphasis on the tolls and value of war, set against the backdrop of the brutality of WW I.
After the movie leaves its initial setting on the island of Themyscira, it takes a turn that truly brings the terror of war into view. The brilliance of the film is how it bonds heart pounding action with true depth that explores the value of heroism compared to the value of connection and love. Part of that blend is shown by the transition of Wonder Woman’s character from innocence to a deeper understanding of how war works.
Her initial perspective sees combat as exhilarating, but as she ventures into the battlefields of WW I, or as it was known at the time, the Great War, she comes to new realizations about the character of violence, and that it has less to do with glory and more to do with misery.
In many scenes, she is distraught about her inability to help everyone, and must focus her efforts on her goals, rather than on each individual she encounters.
After a shocking plot twist, the movie comes to a head when she realizes that the ability to love and care is more powerful than her extensive combat prowess. Once again, without spoiling anything, the movie sells that message in dramatic fashion.
Beyond entertainment and depth of message, the movie stands out as a tremendous work. Flawless costumes and makeup are now an industry standard and this film meets and surpasses that standard. A particularly memorable scene is found in the center of the plotline, where she is challenged to find clothing that is acceptable for 1910s women. The elegance and accuracy of the costumes in this scene is incredible.
Barring some unsavory performances by some of the Amazons at the beginning of the movie, the delivery and dramatic skill of the cast is stellar. Gadot is joined by a host of top performances, particularly David Thewlis as Sir Patrick. Chris Pine’s performance as Steve Trevor excellently fulfills the needs of a leading man.
The writing is well paced and timed, and invokes a wide range of emotion. Many scenes are serious and purposed, but several are comedic, and these are some of the most memorable. One scene between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, taking place on a boat, is home to hysterical and racy humor that is one of the biggest highlights of the film.
While no great blemishes can be found in “Wonder Woman,” the one issue that is noticeable is the difficulty it suffers in regards to pacing. The lack of lulls in the movie creates a somewhat bewildered and frenetic feeling at certain points that detracts from the viewing experience.
“Wonder Woman” tells a moving and exciting tale of heroism, and is a great choice for moviegoers this summer.
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