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Wonder Woman

The wait is over.  Wonder Woman has arrived.  Despite months of speculation on the critical response the film would receive and the financial fortunes of a female superhero film, Gal Gadot’s Diana gets to flex her might for the world to see.  And what an outing it is.

The film starts out in the aftermath of Batman v Superman as Diana receives a long-lost keepsake courtesy of a certain billionaire playboy.  From there, we’re transported to Themyscira as Diana recollects her early years with her mother, Hippolyta (played by Connie Neilsen), and her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) before being pulled into the world of men and the events of World War I.  Action, humor, love, and compassion ensue as Diana makes her way to the front of the war to combat Ares, god of war and last among the Greek Pantheon.  From the very beginning, Patty Jenkins draws us in with the beauty of Themyscira and the camaraderie of the Amazons.  One particularly beautiful sequence has Hippolyta explaining the creation of mankind and the downfall of the Olympians with beautiful imagery that is powerful, fresh, and a joy to watch.  Jenkins continues to prove her directorial prowess by having scenes of daring strength and power (think Diana on the Western Front from the trailers) flow seamlessly with smaller scenes of warmth, bonding, and character development such as after Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) save a small village from entrenched enemy forces.  It all comes down to a showdown with Ares that is fun to watch.  One of my biggest joys was to see that DC keeps with its tradition of having compelling villains that have depth and motivation.

The actors give top-notch performances as well.  Gadot is great as a woman trying to navigate and make sense of a world that has none, all the while struggling to hold to her personal ethos and sense of self as the events and people around her threaten to demolish both.  Chris Pine does fantastic as Steve Trevor, a man that has his own doubts and insecurities but is driven to do something to stop the death around him.  And both Gadot and Pine have natural chemistry that shines in their interactions with each other.  Also, Elena Anaya does an amazing job as Dr. Maru, making us feel some bit of empathy for the aptly nicknamed Dr. Poison.

There are some instances where practical effects would do for CGI and where some performances become one-dimensional.  But these do not detract from the overall beauty of Wonder Woman.  Make no mistake; this is no Logan.  But Jenkins has added depth and complexity to a genre that is all too often about style instead of substance.  Wonder Woman is 4.8/5.  It’s damn near perfect.  The woman is a wonder.

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