Monday, June 12, 2017

Movies – Wonder Woman

It’s about time DC Comics inspired a movie I can recommend without hesitation. Wonder Woman takes a bit of the sting out of having a series of horrible films that do a terrible disservice to the public and the heroes they represent. Indeed, WW is the finest film featuring a DC hero since the second Christopher Reeve Superman movie. And that was in 1981.

The filmmakers took such care to make the cast living 3D characters, not campy cartoons, like the recent Superman and Batman movies. She is also well established to be a hero, again, totally unlike the recent Batman and Superman movies. And finally, she is likable. Men want her and women want to be her. Again, totally unlike ... well, you get the message.

The film opens during World War I, a time period I question for the movie. Wonder Woman was created in 1940 and is a creature of World War II. Perhaps the producers thought a WWII adventure would be too reminiscent of Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger. The time period definitely works in the WW film though, as does most everything.

When Steve Trevor crashes a plane near Wonder Woman’s hidden island home, someone must return him to the front, and fight the War God Ares, whom the Amazons suspect is behind the world war. Diana volunteers and is soon all over Europe fighting the forces of anarchy—including Mars, who is involved and turns out to be a surprising mystery member of the cast.

With one notable exception, everything about this film works—the cast, the script, the marvelous special effects, the fight scenes, everything. Gal Godot makes a glorious Wonder Woman. She could stand a sandwich or two, and I don’t think anyone could be more perfect than Lynda Carter (who should have had at least a cameo role), but Godot is the best cast of the new Justice League actors. The only thing that didn’t work for me was, believe it or not, the music. It’s generally well composed; I just could have used something more upbeat and inspirational. Take for example the scene where Wonder Woman sees a downtrodden population and decides to let her powers loose against the Germans for the first time. This is a blockbuster, thrilling part of the movie. When she lets loose in slow motion, the music is epic, but so, so gloomy.

Think of the opening strains of John Williams’ Superman theme. When Christopher Reeve ran into an alley with that music and ripped his shirt apart to reveal that “S,” crowds wanted to rise to their feet and cheer. Not so for the big scenes in Wonder Woman. When Diana leaped onto the battlefield ready to wreak her righteous indignation, the epic and inspirational music should have been swelling and intensifying to a grand crescendo. Instead, the gloom of the battlefield pervades, and the audience is left with the feeling that she doesn’t want to do this—she has to. C’mon, Hollywood! Let our heroes inspire us with their strength and goodness! Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed by it! A minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless. DC just can’t let their heroes or movies be 100% heroic or inspirational. We always have to be reminded the world is a dark, dismal place. This is what Marvel does so well and why the Marvel movie machine is head and shoulders above DC.

Other than that, Wonder Woman’s first outing in man’s world was a rousing success. I hope this has a positive effect on every future movie made by DC. Go see it!

Rating: ****½ stars out of 5 

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