We all don’t get to be the best of ourselves. Everyone feels that moment where they are at a crux, a crossroads in which if you don’t act now the moment will be gone. You’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what you would have been if you had only acted. Diana of Themyscira doesn’t know that feeling, only because she is the one who is constantly being the best of herself, all the time. But by the end of ‘Wonder Woman’ everyone, including Diana will be irrevocably changed.
You have been Wonder Woman at some point in your life. For Halloween, a costume party or an ordinary day in July, you’ve gotten a rope, tiara, bracelets and a one piece bathing suit and for a time you were her. Still, you weren’t quite the goddess who doesn’t only embody truth, beauty and wisdom, but comes to understand how to use these ideas as weapons better than any sword or shield. In this origin story we see young princess Diana. Her eyes are vivid, clear. While she doesn’t yearn to leave the island she does want adventure, she wants to be a true amazon. As she grows older she is trained by the Amazonian general Antiope (played by Robin Wright) because where there are warriors there will always be battles and despite the idyllic ‘paradise island’ they reside on, no one can stay hidden away from their destiny. As Diana goes into man’s world, towards the end of WWI (the war to end all wars) she aligns herself with a posse to destroy the evil that is causing this destruction. For someone who has waited all their lives to see this iconic figure on screen these scenes of discovery would seem trite in the hands of any other director. However, Patty Jenkins is a director who knows how to capture violence, wonder and friendship with an intimacy that is nuanced and sucks you in. You’ll be cheering when you see Gal Gadot for the first time in true Wonder Woman garb. It won’t matter that they played the moment a thousand times in commercials. Jenkins will make you feel as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it. And villains aren’t cartoony. Men and women are equally bad for a variety of reasons. There is something behind the eyes of those who are on the wrong side of this war. The actors made them people, not caricatures. But the true evil are those who take advantage of the men who stand by and do nothing to change the world. Sometimes you have to lie in order to be a hero and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) does it beautifully, until he’s encircled in the lasso of truth. Then he’s hysterical.
There is some unevenness in this film. While the directing and acting are on point, the story felt thin. The three characters who help Steve and Diana are not as fleshed out as they could be. Yes, this is a film about the beginnings of Wonder Woman, but the supporting cast needs just as much attention. The Chief, Sameer and Charlie deserved better dialogue. They had ample screen time and delivered their lines well. There’s a moment when the three men are together and Jenkins gives them one of the moving parts of the film. You can tell that this was a labor of love on the cast’s part and that one scene encapsulates it.
Will this film spawn sequels and increase the buzz for the Justice League movie, not likely. For one thing the powers that be need to get out of the way of the creators, writers, directors and actors so that they can have the liberty to tell good stories. Another is they need to trust the films financially. Give the money and get out of the way and your films will do well. Until DC does this, savor ‘Wonder Woman’ and go see it as many times to sustain you.