Monday, June 05, 2017

The Wonder of Wonder Woman

Months ago, I had very mixed feelings about going to see the Wonder Woman movie. I was never a big Wonder Woman fan in the first place. I'd read the comics sometimes in the '60s, watched the amusing Lynda Carter show in the '70s but was never really into it. I was really sick to death of the current Marvel and DC comic movies - the Marvel movies were no longer very funny and the last good DC-related movie was probably Batman back in the late '80s.

I always liked heroic, smart and/or very inquisitive women. Give me someone like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, Harriet from the Harriet the Spy books, Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings, Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies, Ripley from the Alien movies (at least the first 2 movies), Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, Marie Curie from history, Eleanor Roosevelt from history (who, on surface, was not overly heroic, but she really learned to be over time).

A few years ago, I'd run into some interesting info on Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (while I don't think I ever met her, her lovely Dad Frank had been my guidance counselor in high school so I've watched her career with interest). Fascinating that Wonder Woman had some real life inspiration from suffragettes and probably Margaret Sanger! Growing up, I'd found Wonder Woman kind of irritating for the overly brief costume and a bit much emphasis on her physic. But she was quite strong, even in the old days. The current brand of superhero movies were just getting too bombastic with no plot and very bloated and endless fight scenes. So I figured I'd give the new movie a pass.

And then I started seeing the trailer for the new Wonder Woman movie. It was an impressive two minutes. Interesting photography, athletic leaping about, some humor...maybe this would be good. I'd always hated the slow motion in movies like The Matrix but the use of slomo in the trailer made sense for Wonder Woman.

So I went on the first day. I went on about one hour of sleep, so during the first hour of the movie, i dozed off periodically and missed a few points. The theater wasn't terribly full for a 12:30 show, but it had more than the 10-20 you often see during the first show on a Friday. I did manage to stay awake through most of the second half and really enjoyed most of it. The scene where Wonder Woman rose out of the trenches and ran across the battlefield was extremely moving on many levels.

There were at least two backward-nods to "Great Famous Feminist Moments in Movies and/or Books." The scene I mentioned featuring Diana racing across "No Man's Land" just screamed the famous moment from Return of the King where Eowyn rips off her helmet, yells "I am no man!" and kills the Witch King (with help from another "non-man," Merry). The other moment was a little quieter and I missed it during it first time I saw the movie as I was sleeping. But I went again on Saturday with my family. There's that amusing scene when Diana and Steve talk on the boat, and she explains that she understands about pleasure seemed like a shout out to Teri Garr's famous comment in Tootsie "I'm responsible for my own orgasm."

The action scenes were all well-shot, and there was always enough character development and dialog to keep the movie interesting. Strong photography, effects, costumes, production development, acting, script - this is probably the best comic-based action movie I've ever seen, though I'm still debating between Wonder Woman and the '78 Superman. I ranked it an 8 on IMDB. Congratulations to Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot & the rest of the crew - you did a great job!!


I had such hope that maybe, just maybe, the 20 minutes of bloated fighting at the end of every action movie would not happen in Wonder Woman. When Diana killed the German general, I nearly stood up and cheered. But then she realized that even though she thought she'd killed Ares, the war was going on...because the war-mongering general was not Ares, but someone more behind-the-scenes was...which, after a few minutes of interesting discussion about how Ares worked, launched into about a 15 minute-long boated fight scene. Oh well, at least it seemed a little shorter than usual, and the bits that featured Steve added some real pathos to the ending.