I can’t review Wonder Woman like any old film. It shouldn’t be so momentous that a woman director has directed for the first time a superhero film, that cracked $100 million opening weekend. But it is. Patty Jenkins had directed an Oscar winning independent film, Monster, that cost $8 million, had garnered the Directors Guild Award for the TV Series The Killing — and yet…. the headlines said it was a “gamble” to let her helm a superhero film. It is maddening. When young male directors are given huge action or superhero films after smaller indie films, it’s not called a gamble. The Mary Sue called out this double standard misogyny.
I can’t separate my review of the film from what it has felt like to read about other women’s reaction seeing the film. It’s everything to see a woman centered superhero film, directed by a woman. And then there are the pictures of the little girls who dressed up to see the film, or got to meet their heroine. Gah!
I was a young girl when the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV show aired in the US. I watched it every week!
It is everything for these girls now to have both a female lead for Star Wars and now Wonder Woman.
So, how was the film? It was good. Very good. I don’t know if I can call it great merely as a film — but at this point, it’s not merely a film, it’s a cultural phenomenon. I can’t separate all my feelings out. I will tell you that Gal Godot was excellent as Wonder Woman. When she was cast, people said her accent would be horrible — you know what? I thought it was perfect. It made her seem that much more “other” — that she had been raised on this isolated island away from the world.
Chris Pine was fantastic. It was huge that someone who had headed up his own franchise, Star Trek, was willing to play the sidekick to a female Superhero. This is what Chris Pine said back in 2015 when he was cast as Steve Trevor:
“What excites me most is to work in a movie with a superhero woman. With a woman in the lead role. I am teamed with this intelligent, beautiful and strong woman to defeat the villains and save humanity.”
He had a nice comedic touch in early scenes with Gal Godot, and there was great chemistry between them, too, especially in a nice scene where he teaches her to dance. Let me just tell you also, another nice thing about a woman director — we learn just how much male nudity you can have in a PG-13 film! He’s not a damsel in distress, but he’s always the one to say, “No, Diana, you can’t do that.” And then he turns around and she’s already done it. Like the incredible No Man’s Land scene.
I really enjoyed the early part of the film, where we see little girl Diana watching her aunt, General Antiope train the Amazon warriors. And how cool is it that Robin Wright, Princess Buttercup herself is this badass warrior! Connie Nielsen was also perfectly cast as Diana’s mother.
I really enjoyed the film right up till near the end. It was a solid film. The battle on the Amazon Isle was great. But nothing was so visually stunning that it took my breath away.
Where the film was a bit lacking for me was the villain reveal and the way the film ended. I won’t go into spoilers exactly why. My main issues, though were with the villain’s motivation. As my son said, “The themes got a bit muddy there at the end.” Still, this was a film that was about something and not just watching superheroes crash into buildings. Diana believes in the inherent goodness of humanity, and then learns the world is more complex than she thought. Someone’s sacrifice restores her faith in humanity.
There is actually Oscar talk about Wonder Woman. This is big. And I’m not just talking about technical VFX awards. Anne Thompson of Indie Wire wrote today that she could see a supporting nod for Chris Pine and a best actress nod for Gal Godot. Wouldn’t that be something to see?
I have been going back and forth on my rating between four and four and a half stars. It’s not a perfect film, but it felt so damn good. Gal Godot is the perfect Wonder Woman — And for those little girls!