In the middle of the ocean near God knows where, there is a hidden island called Themyscira occupied by a race of women warriors called Amazons. They were created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect mankind from the return of Ares, the god of war who promised to take vengeance against all of them after inciting a failed rebellion in the distant past.
Cut to modern times, the Amazons are under the reign of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) with assistance from her sister Antiope who is played to awesome perfection by Robin Wright. They sit and wait in a suspiciously calm manner with their impressive athleticism that trumps the standard built of average humans, and the God Killer – a weapon given by Daddy God Zeus believed to be powerful enough to combat the return of Ares.
That pretty much sets up the premise of the box office hit Wonder Woman, and when Hippolyta’s daughter Diana shows her young self on screen, the events unfold towards the concept of the movie in a teleserye-like fashion, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The exposition of Wonder Woman’s origin is paced evenly and with enough entertainment value to keep the audience engaged without resorting to histrionic cheapness, for the most part.
When Diana turns into an able-bodied young woman in the form of the very charismatic Gal Gadot (a reminiscent of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider), the world she was used to changes upon rescuing Steve Trevor – an equally charismatic American spy whose plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. Upon knowing that the world is at war a.k.a. a fictional version of World War I, Diana expresses her desire to help mankind as she believes that it is her destiny as an Amazon – as told by Hippolyta through her bedtime stories when she was a child. Diana speculates that it is Ares who is behind the war, and although her queen mother disagrees, she stubbornly sails off the island with Steve to help humans. She brings with her a golden lasso and a sacred sword that she believes is the God Killer.
Have We Seen This Before?
Truth be told, there isn’t anything remarkable about Wonder Woman as a superhero film. One could argue that we have all seen this before in the Captain America movies, and the only distinguishing element of the film is that it focuses on the journey of a female metahuman. No one can strongly invalidate that point. However, it can just simply be the reason why it can separate itself from the saturated market of superhero movies and their male lead characters.
As a superhero, Diana projects power with a mother’s instinct – warm, needlessly having of a snobby façade unlike her male counterparts, and at the same time fierce without coating herself with a cocky sense of humor to show she could have fun sometimes. She struts her stuff like a supermodel, which is partly due to the beauty and physique of Gal, but oozes with an earthly persona. She is relatable, and her desire to defeat the villain comes from a place that is compassionately human, which is a thing of wonder because technically, she is not a member of the human population. She was born and raised in an invisible island created by Greek Gods, if you know what I mean. You could say that she embodies what Mother Earth should be like if she becomes a superhero, if that qualifies for you as a description. I have read a lot of people call Gal’s portrayal as sexy, but it doesn’t feel right boxing her into that description.
Of Course, It’s Not Perfect
Aside from the uneven use of quality CGI, the problem I have with the movie is the actual personification of Ares. I find it unnecessary because if you are going to look at the totality of what Wonder Woman wants to say, the war itself and the people who chase after it could fill his entity. The movie could have used that subtext to have a strong but subtly executed message that is relevant to what is happening in the real world today. Quite frankly, I cringed when it was revealed that fake-good guy Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) is the god of war. He sports a considerably laughable look (hello, Hydra) as super villains go, which is a detail that equals the side-eye inducing reveal that Diana is actually the God Killer, and not some damn sword.
Dr. Poison, who is played by Elena Anaya from the glorious art-house/horror flick The Skin I Live In, could actually fulfill the role of the evil human antagonist. She is sinister-looking with a half-mask and quietly wicked who barely opens her mouth. Like Darth Vader. Disappointingly, she also wasn’t given much screen time and just disappears completely in the latter part of the movie without even mentioning what becomes of her fate.
Overall, Wonder Woman, which is directed by Patty Jenkins who did brilliant work with the Oscar-nominated Monster, may not be as remarkable as the hype suggests, but it is still a must-watch taking into account Gal’s earnest portrayal of a female superhero character, along with the soft but forgivable feminine soul of the film that makes it a notable addition to the realm of male-centric superhero movies.