With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis.
Wonder Woman is not exactly the movie I have been waiting for, but it will have to do. Since superheroes are the only way Hollywood knows how to sell tickets, at least we have a woman superhero. And lots of tickets have been sold. An Amazon princess, daughter of Zeus and Hyppolyta, Diana is raised at first not to become a warrior, but aunt Antiope makes it clear that she must be trained. Antiope has a long scar running down her neck, and wears the strange headdress that doesn’t really look as if it has a function except to frame her gorgeous face and that of her sister (Hippolyta and Antiope are played by Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright).
It turns out that Diana is not just a great fighter, she has super powers, resting largely in her wrists which when lined by super metallic pads, can deflect bullets, bombs, and worst of all, the wrath of Aries. But I am jumping ahead. First she must deal with her introduction to a human man, one American soldier, posted as a spy by the British during World War I, the war to end all wars. Diana rescues Steve (Chris Pine) when he is shot down by enemy German sailors. The photography of the water, Diana’s slicing through it, finding Steve, and bringing him to the surface, is exciting, as are all the scenes where Gal Gadot must move quickly and athletically through space doing her derring do turns.
The movie moves in and out of seriousness. There is a witty visual sight gag as Steve takes a bath. Steve’s mission is full of suspense. He means to stop the dastardly duo of Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Namu (Elena Ayana) as they prepare thousands of canisters of mustard gas to drop on unsuspecting populations just as the armistice is being drafted. Once Dr. Namu, the mastermind behind the evil weapon, is quite fascinating, with half her face covered in a plastic mask since she was injured terribly in one presumes an accident resulting from something that she herself made.
With the penetration of the sacred space that is the island inhabited by the Amazons, Diana decides to go after the evil Aries who has brought on this war. She brings with her a god- killer, a sacred sword, kept in a tower she must breach by climbing in a fantastic way, breaking the stone with her fists in order to create rungs for her to fasten onto.
Diana’s physical power and indignation at evil come together when she charges across No Man’s Land, a patch of trenches hopelessly caught in the cross fire of a nest of submachine gunning Germans. Once Diana sees a woman with her baby, both of whom are starving, she takes matters into her own hands or should I say wrists which deflect dozens of bullets as she braves all to get to her target and decimate the villains inside. This scene has momentum, missing from some of the repetitive special effects and explosions that bog down the last third of the movie.
The framing device, of starting and ending in modern Paris, with Wonder Woman taking on her true shape and most comfortable costume, is a bit mysterious. I think it has to do with how Paris was attacked recently by terrorists, the new version of Aries. We leave her in midair, presumably on her way to sequels. Now, if only Hollywood would believe that women want to see more movies with themselves as the center of the action and not just the focus of the male gaze. Please Patty Jenkins, will you make some more?