Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THEMYSCIRA TUESDAY

Wonder Woman (2017) is the best DC Comics super-hero movie of all time. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Batman movie from 1966. I’ll always think well of the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, even though both of them have really dumb and just plain awful elements. I liked the first of the Batman movies with Michael Keaton. Some of the other DC movies have their moments. But, from start to finish, top to bottom and in whatever other direction you care to consider, Wonder Woman is the best and, for that matter, one of the best super-hero movies period.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


The framing sequence of the movie is perfect. Bruce Wayne sends an old photograph to Diana and it triggers memories of her coming to “man’s world” during World War I. It is an act of simple kindness for a friend, not at all what we’ve come to expect from the often-psychotic Batman of today’s comics and movies. It gave me hope for Batman or, at least, for Bruce Wayne.

With Diana, we remember her childhood on Themyscira and her growth into womanhood. Against her mother’s wishes, she trains to become a warrior and becomes the greatest of all the Amazon. There is an origin story of sorts and a hint of mystery surrounding the young princess. Origin stories usually drag. This one was fascinating all the way.

When American spy Steve Trevor crashes off the coast of the hidden island kingdom, Diana gets her first inkling of the outside world and a sense of her destiny. She is attracted to Trevor and, as any of us would be, he is bowled over by her.

When the Germans discover and invade Themyscira, Diana learns all she needs to know about the horror of war and the loss to innocent lives. It is a battle both heroic and terrible.

Comics purists may decry the time-shift that has Diana entering our world during World War I instead of World War II, but I think the earlier setting drives home the obscenity of the conflict. Trevor is trying to stop the release of a mustard gas more powerful than any previously known to man. The armies slog through trenches for months and years, spending thousands of lives for mere inches of territory. Civilians are brutalized by the invading German armies. Small wonder that, faced with such suffering, Diana assumes it is all the doing of Ares, the god of war and that, to end the war, she must slay the deity.

There are so many outstanding performances in this movie. Gal Gadot is breathtaking as Diana. Chris Pine’s Trevor is brave and willing to bear wounds to his very soul to protect innocents. Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff and Elena Anaya are terrifying as an ambitious general and a scarred scientist known for creating weapons of death. David Thewlis as treacherous Ares is a commanding villain. Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock bring a grim reality and even some humor to their roles as Steve’s unlikely allies. Lucy Davis is cocky and radiant as Etta Candy. It is a superb cast.

The budding romance between Diana and Steve ends when Trevor gives his life to save thousands of civilians. More than Diana’s climatic battle with Ares and her realization the God of War did not create the evil within the hearts of men, it is Trevor’s sacrifice which sets the Amazon on the path that leads her to a lifetime of trying to bring hope and peace to the world of mortals.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


Wonder Woman is an inspirational film. It shows us at our worst. It shows us at our best. It urges us to choose the latter path. The best super-hero comic books do the same. From its beginnings, the super-hero genre has portrayed an optimistic view of the world. It shows us men and women who are courageous and selfless and asks us to imagine a world where all of us strive to be like those men and women.

I used to joke the only way DC would be able to make a good Wonder Woman movie would be if they hired Marvel make it for them. I’ve no doubt Marvel could have made a good Wonder Woman movie.

DC made a great Wonder Woman movie. 
 
Kudos to the magnificent cast, to screenwriter Allan Heinberg and director Patty Jenkins. All of them exceeded my greatest expectations and gifted me with a truly unforgettable night at the movies.

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I loved the movie, but I think it undercut its own message when the German and Allies became all buddy-buddy after Ares was destroyed. It seemed that Diana was right after all.

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