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Wonder Woman (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Wonder Woman

WONDER WOMAN (2017)

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Lilly Aspell, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Ann J. Wolfe, Ann Ogbomo, Emily Carey, Doutzen Koras, Marling Ng, Eleanor Matsuura and Samantha Jo.

Screenplay by Allan Weinberg.

Directed by Patty Jenkins.

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. 141 minutes. Rated PG-13.

To resonate with millions in the current pop culture climate is a daunting feat. To do it as a movie with so much lore and cultural capital pre-built in is even more incredible, because it is very easy to miss a mark with a hopeful blockbuster. Thankfully, Wonder Woman succeeded in establishing a widescreen persona for a classic character with meaning for the current moment while mostly not giving in to cliché and bombast that so often damages the impact of the superhero genre.

The most profound achievement here is showing a woman character who knows she belongs in any situation that arises. Whether it be war or politics, every time Wonder Woman appears and others question her pure existence in the male-dominated space, she does not back down from her known and understood position.

It is not because she is a princess or, as we find out in the end, a god, it is because she has existed in a world that did not ever take women for granted. This powerful idea of belonging without a doubt is tremendous for the now and the future. Sure, Wonder Woman is a very good popcorn entertainment, but this overarching idea makes it a brilliant movie for our time.

So much works in this glorious comic book adaptation that any chinks in it armor can easily be overlooked. Success begins with the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. A mostly unknown acting quantity, she does not enter the screen with a star persona that the viewer can already connect to her. This allows the audience to get to know her and Wonder Woman on an equal playing ground which is a master stroke of casting.

Gadot’s Princess Diana is a determined character who will not be stopped from ridding the world of evil. Just as believable in running through World War I battlefields in full Wonder Woman garb or in disguise at a pub figuring out a plan of attack, Gadot is the perfect fit for an Amazon out of place in a world being destroyed by men.

One cannot overlook the other great cast members. Robin Wright’s brief, but striking General Antiope updates Wright’s princess of The Princess Bride to an active provider of training and readiness for any possible war. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is a cool, calculating character that show’s Pine’s ever-evolving depth as an actor. Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy is a pure delight, adding a layer of humor and playfulness that adds extra dimensions to the film’s tone. David Thewlis is always a wonderful addition to any cast, but his two-sided personality as a fake political savior and the real God Ares that Wonder Woman had been warning of the whole film, despite everyone’s dismissal of such a power at play, is fascinating.

The direction and writing are the other keys to the film’s success. Patty Jenkins directs with an eye for detail and the understanding that the film should be lean and rewarding. Her Themiscyra, the home of the Amazons, is a bright, gorgeous antidote to the bleak darkness of the world outside. The color palette shifts are most brilliantly shown during the fantastical moment when Trevor’s plane crashes through the barrier shielding Themiscyra from the rest of the world.

The scripting duties of Allan Heinberg working from a story by Zach Snyder, Heinberg and Jason Fuchs fleshes out the archetypes with satisfying results. The playful banter of Candy and the back and forth between Wonder Woman and Trevor on such topics as love and war make the film more than skin deep.

If there are any gripes, they are with the very bizarre thinking behind burying the rousing “Wonder Woman Theme” by Rupert Gregson-Williams in the closing credits. First revealed in Batman vs. Superman, this theme, which is as memorable as any recently conceived one in the superhero canon, should be front and center. With more entries to come in the Wonder Woman film world and appearances in Justice League and beyond, this theme is bound to get played out more and more.

Wonder Woman is just what 2017 needed, a jolt of feminism, empowerment and high-quality entertainment for all to enjoy.

Chris Sikich

Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 18, 2017.

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