By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Good things do indeed come to those who wait. It’s taken 76 years for the comic book character “Wonder Woman” to get her very own stand-alone film. But it’s here and “Wonder Woman”
is every bit the wildly, entertaining DC Comics movie that fans have been anxiously longing for.
“Wonder Woman” stars Gal Gadot (upcoming “Justice League”) in the iconic title role. It’s the first female-starring superhero film directed by Patty Jenkins--also a woman--who is best known for her 2003, debut feature movie, “Monster” which is based on the life of convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
Unlike the popular 1970’s “Wonder Woman” TV show that starred Lynda Carter, Jenkins’ movie eschews cheesiness and has an epic and even regal feel to it.
And when was the last time you could say that about a DC Comics movie?
Screenwriters Zack Snyder (“Justice League”), Allen Heinberg (TV’s “The Catch”) and Jason Fuchs’ (“Pan”) bold and empowering “Wonder Woman” begins as a fascinating and meticulous origins story about Princess Diana, aka Diana Prince (played as an eight-year-old by Lilly Aspell, upcoming, “Extinction” and at 12 by Emily Carey, TV’s “Casualty”).
Diana is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, upcoming “Justice League”) and Zeus who grew up on the beautiful, hidden island of Themyscira, where all the Amazon women are trained as warriors.
Not Diana. Her mother wanted to shelter her from the historic war torn culture. This despite, Diana watching from afar and emulating the fighting movements of the warrior women hoping she will change her mother’s mind.
Luckily for Diana, she learns to fight on the down-low from her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright, TV’s “House of Cards”) who is impressed by the young girl’s courage and strength. And as Diana gets older and becomes more skilled at fighting, both Antiope and Diana’s mother know her fate is sealed.
Not only is Diana a fearless warrior, but a thought provoking individual who believes her calling is for a greater good. That becomes much clearer when an American pilot named Steve Trevor (a terrific Chris Pine, “Hell or High Water”), crash lands in the waters near the island. Diana springs into action and pulls him from the crumpled airplane right in the nick of time.
They learn about each other rather humorously. Diana has never seen a man of course and naturally has a few questions. She asks him if he’s a “typical example of his sex.” He replies, “I am above average.”
Diana takes her first venture off the island and heads to London with Steve. As Word War I rages on, Diana feels compelled to end all the death and mass destruction. But first, she must find some more suitable clothing to wear to blend in among the rest of the Londoners. That’s where Steve's secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis, TV’s “Better Things”) comes in and attempts to gives Diana a contemporary makeover. These lighthearted and humorous moments mesh nicely with the film’s darker ones.
Diana is convinced that finding and killing Ares, the Greek God of war will bring an end to everyone’s pain and suffering. However, Diana’s mission isn’t easy. There are other obstacles in the way such as a haughty German army officer, General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston, TV’s “American Horror Story”) and an evil chemical weapons specialist, Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya, “The Summit”) who works alongside Ludendorff.
What are they up to?
Well, Steve is about to find out and when their clandestine scheme is exposed, this is when “Wonder Woman” shows her might.
The action scenes are rollicking and have Wonder Woman dodging a barrage of bullets thanks to her gold armored bracelets, amazing shield, a “Godkiller” Sword and “Lasso of Truth.”
This “Woman” isn’t afraid to mess up her hair, although it always looks amazing even as she’s soaring in slow motion or hurling soldiers through the air like empty soda pop cans.
As Steve and Diana prepare to take down General Ludendorff, they get some major reinforcement from a crackpot team of fighters that include: Sameer, an actor turned spy (Said Taghmaoui, “The Infiltrator”); a sharpshooter with issues named Charlie (Ewen Bremner, TV’s “Will”), and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock, TV’s “Timeless”), a native American Indian who doesn’t think that Diana’s talk about Ares the Greek God is as far-fetched like everyone else does.
Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis, TV’s “Fargo”) reveals himself as much more than a British superior and financier as he attempts to wield his power over “Wonder Woman,” but meets his match.
Gal Gadot, who starred as Gisele in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, is an excellent choice as Wonder Woman. So is Chris Pine as her love interest. Their timing and chemistry is impeccable.
What makes “Wonder Woman” stand out from the comic book pack, is that the filmmakers didn’t resort to making the character or the movie so comic book-y. It's smart, provocative, clever, fun and overall a wonderful, cinematic achievement.
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Check Out This Trailer For "WONDER WOMAN"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.