Revisiting Wonder Woman

The 2017 Superhero film Wonder Woman reached HBO and over the last two nights I have re-watched the movie. I did go out and see the movie in the theaters on its release and while the film did not wow me I did enjoy the experience, though not enough to go again or purchase the home video version. I thought it might be amusing to watch the film again and see if it still tracked to my initial reaction.

Overall the film is fun but flawed. I do not feel it was a waste of my relaxing hours to re-watch the movie but the overall effect has not changed for me.

The story is fairly basic, it is an original story dealing with the deep myth of Wonder Woman in D.C. Movie continuity. Set during the Great War, WWI for those who do not know by that title, Diana (Wonder Woman) leaves her sheltered paradise home to destroy the god of war Ares in hopes of freeing humanity his violent corruption and restoring all people to their noble versions of themselves. Along the way we are treated to truly entertaining ‘fish out of water’ sequences, a few stock characters as supports, and Diana’s love, Captain Steve Trevor. In the end Dian learns that she had not been in possession of the entire truth about humanity, war, or herself, and picks up the mantle of Wonder Woman, fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.

The script is rather simple and does not bear close scrutiny, particularly in relation to the Great War itself and the historical record. False dram is attempted by making an excursion into enemy territory as a peace-threatening event while great artillery pieces are pounded both sides. The development of a new and terrifying gas weapon provides a third act ticking clock but the mechanics of that clock are quite silly. (Really who would ever load up a bombed with a timer so you cannot leave it on the ground? Weather, often unpredictable, could doom your base and your brilliant scientist simply because you were forced to delay takeoff.

Originally Wonder Woman was a WWII set story but I can understand why they moved the period to the First World War. That war, now a hundred years in the past, is less well know by popular audiences, giving the filmmakers greater freedom in story telling, without the racists overtones and the Holocaust the morality of the war is murkier than WWII, and finally if your plot is going to revolve about a super weapon that Ares inspires humanity to create in hopes of destroying itself, well in WWII there is only one candidate for that device and that would place Diana squarely against the United States, a situation that would be untenable from a storytelling and box office position.

What makes this film enjoyable to watch is the quite skilled direction of its action scenes, hat tip to Patty Jenkins for excellent visual story telling, and the performances from its two leads, Gal Gadot as Diane and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. This film struck a powerful cord in audiences on its release and a sequel is already in the works. I do hope that Patty and Gal get a better screenplay so we can see them really shine in a manner I am fully confident that they can achieve.

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