by Peter Kosanovich
Wonder Woman is, in many ways, the superhero movie we needed right now, both as a society and a viewing audience. This movie was a work of love.
However, Wonder Woman is definitely flawed. I have been immensely critical of Zack Snyder and the cinematic universe he has established for DC and Warner Bros. He desaturated the color palette of his movies, required everyone to conform to his overuse of speed-ramping in the editing suite and wrote stories that were overly convoluted, didn’t flow and gave us no emotional connection to any of the characters. While my deepest condolences and best wishes go out to the Snyder family in their time of sorrow (he left this film after the sudden death of his 20-year-old daughter), these stylistic choices have harmed the quality of these movies. Because of this, Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman, was required to go outside her normal wheelhouse to accommodate his style. Generally speaking, she managed to accomplish this, but on occasion it got in her way of telling a compelling story.
Like most of DC’s movies, Wonder Woman went through a number of scripts, directors and producers, right up until just before principal shooting. Patty Jenkins stepped in last-minute after Snyder left; this meant she was working with already established scripts, storyboards, shot lists, locations, much of the crew, etc. These are hardly ideal conditions for a director to step into and still manage to hit a home-run. To that I say, “Bravo Patty Jenkins!” You deserve any and all praise you get.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I teared up at points! That is not an easy feat to accomplish with me. That is a testimony to Jenkins’ understanding and devotion to her characters. The script was not the strongest, but Jenkins managed to bring out some of the best moments through the performances she brought out of the actors. I commend her.
Wonder Woman takes place during WWI, “The Great War.” In his escape from German soldiers, American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash-lands at the Amazonian island of Themyscira. He is rescued by Diana, AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who agrees to return him to the war because she believes it is her duty to save the world of man from Ares, the Greek god of war. While in Themyscira the world is filled with bright, vivid colors—paradise—but upon reaching London, Diana comments that “it’s hideous,” noting the bleak color palette often associated with war and the industrial era of the time.
After assembling a team, Steve and Diana go to the front; we see images of amputees, civilians fleeing danger, smoke and ash raining down. Here the now-iconic “No Man’s Land” scene occurs, as Diana cannot just stand by and watch the carnage of war. It is here that we feel the power of Diana, the power of Wonder Woman, the power of women. It is an incredible scene, and very emotionally resonant and empowering.
Overall, I loved this movie. I did have issues with some of the writing, some of the speed-ramping and one particularly awful piece of CGI/VFX, but most of that I attribute to the constraints with which Patty Jenkins was required to work. I cannot wait for the sequel, when Patty will hopefully have more creative control. Regardless of the issues, Wonder Woman exceeded expectations from an emotional standpoint. It felt compelling, and it made us care about the characters.
Wonder Woman was wonderful! It spread love and hope in a bleak and uncertain world, and was empowering and resonant in all the right ways.