Wonder Woman (2017)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, David Thewlis
I know Hollywood would have us believe otherwise, but for me, Summer Blockbuster Season begins with the summer and that’s June 1st and so, to officially kick off this Summer Blockbuster Season 2017 we begin with the first big movie of the summer, Wonder Woman (2017). Here’s the thing with female laden Hollywood films, studios have little faith in them. More often than not, they tank at the box office. Examples of this are films like Supergirl (1984), Catwoman (2004), Elektra (2005), Barbwire (1996), Aeon Flux (2005) and most recently Ghostbusters (2016) to name a few of the ones that have underperformed. If you ask me, these movies tanked, not because they starred women, but because they were not very good, in fact, a lot of them are terrible. Which brought me to believe that Hollywood purposely made movies starring women terrible, because Hollywood is run by a bunch of chauvinist pigs and they don’t want female films to make it on the big screen. But that’s my conspiracy theory version of things. With Wonder Woman, it looks like things are changing for movies starring female superheroes. Could things be looking up for them?
I applaud film studios who are trying to break with those old fashioned stereo types towards women. For example, I applaud Disney films because they are trying to break with these stereo types by putting female leads in the Star Wars movies. I applaud filmmakers like George Miller, for making Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) about Imperator Furiosa’s story rather than Max Rockatansky’s story. Point is, if you guys have been reading my blog for a while, you know I am against being gender biased, I believe men and women should be given equal opportunities in Hollywood. So yes, I am against female actresses being paid less than male actors, I am against the female prototype of the “damsel in distress” and I also believe that there should be more female voices in filmmaking, which is why I love the fact that Wonder Woman (2017) was directed by Patty Jenkins, the female director behind the Academy Award winning Monster (2003). So we have a woman, directing a film about Wonder Woman, the biggest baddest of all of the female super heroes. Is the movie any good?
There’s something really weird happening with this film, people seem to love it collectively even before seeing it. It’s like everybody has already decided that they will love it. I think it has to do with the fact that Wonder Woman was probably the best thing about Batman vs. Superman (2016), or it could be that feminism is at an all time high, or it could be that people want Hollywoods portrayal of women on films to change. Whatever the case may be, I went to see the film last night and all the shows were sold out. Reviews are calling it “the best superhero movie ever made”. The are also calling it the best DC movie to date. But was it really that good? After all the ultra positive reviews and buzz, of course my expectations were high. Did I enjoy it as much as I thought I would?
Well, it’s not “the best comic book movie ever” but I did enjoy it. I do think it’s better than some of the films that DC has put out. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t mindblowingly good. It was just good. And that aint bad! I am glad that it wasn’t directed by Zack Snyder, the guy who’s directed practically ever DC movie for years now. It’s not that I hate the guy as a director, but I just wanted to see someone else’s take on the DC Universe. On Wonder Woman, you feel exactly that. This is a female’s take on the super hero film, which is refreshing. Wonder Woman has a lot of heart to it, there’s romance, there’s compassion, Wonder Woman is driven by love. The film is as ‘girly’ as it should be. After all, this is the superhero film told from a female perspective, so of course, while Wonder Woman is a strong female character who kicks ass when she has too, she’s also very sensitive, she’s concerned about the importance of human life, she loves babies, she has a sensibility to her that’s sorely missing on male laden comic book films in which super heroes destroy whole cities without so much as flinching. It was refreshing in this sense.
What is most important about Wonder Woman in my book is that it’s making a statement for women across the world, and for women in cinema in general, so of course the film makes references to gender issues. It goes into how men think vs. how women think. The ladies in the audience will be pleased, the film switches the age old “lady in distress” cinematic trope, to the lesser seen “man in distress” situation. As it turns out, it’s the woman saving the guys on this movie. The men are the supporting characters, it basically takes gender roles we’ve seen in films for decades and turns them upside down and this is good. It’s not about man hating either. Wonder Woman falls for Chris Pine’s character, she finds him attractive, so it’s not about “Men suck! Long live women!”, it’s more about speaking up for women, changing mentalities, breaking with old paradigms towards women in society.
So these aspects make Wonder Woman an important comic book movie. Is it a good comic book film? Sure, it’s an origin story. It has action, it has good special effects. In essence it’s a fish out of water story, with Wonder Woman encountering society for the first time. Having been brought up in the mystical island of Themyscira, the real world is a new experience for her. She gets to enter the “world of men”, a world she immediately clashes with, having been brought up in an all female society. It’s a faithful translation from comic book to film, we get Amazonian warrior women, we get her magic lasso, bullets ricochet from her bracelets, this is Wonder Woman and she kicks as much ass as you’d expect her to. Gal Gadot owns the character and makes it hers.It’s a good beginning for the character. Here’s hoping subsequent films get bigger and better, but for now I’d say Wonder Woman is off to a good start. So finally, we have a good female laden super hero film! And it's name is Wonder Woman! Go see it, it's the movie of the moment for good reason.
Rating: 4 out of 5