Wonder Woman,
directed by Patti Jenkins
(Warner, 2017)

It's been decades in the making but it was worth the wait: Wonder Woman is wondrous, indeed.

From the ingenious World War I setting, to the spectacular Paradise Island, the stunning action sequences and, of course, the beautiful hero, Diana, the Amazon trained to be an invincible warrior, Wonder Woman is an unforgettable experience. Drama and action are doled out in equal amounts, each gelling well with the message.

Gal Gadot is a perfect fit for the role, owning it from start to finish. The attraction between her Diana and Chris Pine's Steve Trevor is heartwarmingly real. Diana's metamorphosis of understanding and adopting mankind is ably portrayed. The film as a whole is entertaining, well thought out and deftly put together.

DC sets its titular hero in the era of World War I. The war is at its height when pilot Steve Trevor crashes in the waters off the island of Themyscira, where the warrior princess lives and trains with her Amazonian counterparts. Diana, eager to help fight the good fight (and put a stop to what she believes is the work of the war god Ares), joins Trevor at the European frontline. The narrative then shifts to the "war to end all wars," e.g. the war with Germany, and the hunt for a deadly weapon of mass destruction. It's a life-defining decision that brings Diana face-to-face with her past and her destiny.

Director Patti Jenkins' brilliant recreation of the world of Greek mythology is narrated by Amazonian Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Jealous over Zeus's creation of the first race of people, a race he apparently loves more than his own children, Ares, the son of Zeus, "gifted" newly birthed humanity with fear, anger and war. To save mankind, Zeus gave them the Amazonian warriors as protectors. Escaping the slavery of Hercules and the wrath of Ares, the Amazons made a safe haven for themselves on Themyscira, shrouded from the rest of civilization and especially from Ares himself.

Diana's upbringing in an Amazonian world is enchantingly showcased, providing much of the eye-popping visual heft of the film. Her belief that it is her sacred duty to protect the world is so strong that it compels her to defy her mother. Diana soon finds herself in London alongside Trevor, his friendly secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) and an unlikely band of heroes. Together, they try to stop a madman -- who may indeed be driven by Ares, or possibly be Ares himself -- from restarting the war on the day the peace accords are signed by releasing a highly toxic form of mustard gas.

From child to adult, Diana is revealed to be a passionate and warm individual who is also strong and aggressive when she needs to be, accessing an inner hardness that's the source of her greatness. She was born to be a hero. Yes, there's lots of pulse-pounding action and terrific fights, with every weapon including the golden lasso on display, but there's emotional resonance as well. Wonder Woman balances ideology, mythology, war, love, humor and some rather amazing character development against the backdrop of a stunning visual extravaganza.

Diana's innocence and loving ideology, so graceful and yet so childlike, is convincingly portrayed. This is the film's main allure: its heart, which it never loses. All in all, this is one masterfully crafted epic, an amazing movie that's one of the greatest superhero stories ever told.

review by
Mary Harvey

17 June 2017

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