3 1/2 stars
Okay that’s enough…
A wonderfully fresh and vibrant take on the superhero genre right up until its ending, when it reverts right back to typicality in a frustrating and confusing climax.
I will say at the outset that during my 1980s comics collecting days I was not much of a DC fanboy but WW was an exception by virtue of the excellent run by comics legend George Perez whose placement of the character firmly in the pantheon of Greek mythology was genuinely awesome. Then of course there was the 1970s TV show, a “camp classic” if there ever was one. I still can’t help but smile when I hear its theme song. Okay true confessions, at times I also twirl.
But back to the movie. Stunningly beautiful Israeli actress Gal Gadot is wonderful in the role, perfectly cast I would say, managing the character’s mix of strength and naïveté perfectly well.
Chris Pine as “above average” WWI pilot Steve Trevor also turns in a great performance and British comedienne Lucy Davis as Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy steals every scene she’s in.
But oh my goodness, what are we to make of the confused message of the movie? Everything about the story through the first two acts emphasizes the complexity of war and the shades of grey between heroes and villains: from moving the setting of the origin story from WWII to the more morally ambiguous WWI, to the inclusion of an Indigenous American character to knock Diana’s idealism about Steve Trevor down a few notches, to the repeated references to the oversimplified concept Diana has about how to end the war.
And then what? We get a complete reversal of these themes as the true simplistic villain is revealed, after all. Plus we are then treated to an out of nowhere climactic speech in which Evangelical Christian themes about good and evil, sacrifice, and the saving power of belief are bizarrely shoehorned in.
Now Christ figures and allusions in superhero movies are nothing new of course, and I might have to see Wonder Woman again to verify that the end really was as bizarre as my first impression, but after such a tremendous effort by all involved through the bulk of the movie, this really was an epic letdown.
The only saving grace of the ending is that if you thought, as I did that there was no way they would fit in the cheesiest and most improbable aspect of the TV show, the invisible airplane, you’d in fact be wrong.