Starting in 1975 and for four years on ABC TV actress Linda Carter became the first popular face of the character “Wonder Woman”. In comparative terms by today’s standards Carter’s earlier presentation of the female super human crime fighter while smart, beautiful and sexy, had a tad vulnerability especially while playing her disguised incognito persona of Army Officer Lt. Diana Prince against her mortal superior in the way of Captain Steve Trevor of the Office of Strategic Services United States Army Air Service Corps (actor Lyle Waggoner).
In retrospect Carter’s “Wonder Woman” offered up some rather modest displays of super hero ability such as being able to leap high, use her lasso for great effect, to ward off bullets with her arm bands and to occasionally toss objects farther than her male counterpart. But in the end carter’s version was always sanitized to what I could only surmise was an attempt to appeal to a broader wholesome family TV viewing audience. Well it’s 2017 and man oh man has Wonder Woman changed, this time out with actress Gal Gadot in the leading role as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.
We find the film version beginning with the young woman’s earlier life as a 5000 year old Amazon immortal princess named Diana, daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus and the half-sister of a God named Ares. From the onset as an Amazonian woman she is continuously and ruthlessly trained to be an unconquerable warrior on her sheltered island paradise.
On a chance encounter one day young Diana meets an American pilot named Steve Trevor, a Captain from the United States Army Air Service. Steve tells Diana about a world she is totally unfamiliar with, particularly a world filed with massive conflict, filled with political and human strife raging worldwide. Translation, its World Ward 2.
Upon listening to Steve’s stories, Diana becomes convinced that she can stop the global threat, so she leave the confines of her safe home for the first time to fight alongside strange men in a war. Ultimately it is the war conflict that helps her discovers the full measures of her powers and her true destiny as an Immortal Amazonian.
REVIEW: With an opening sequence that narrates the early origins of Diana Prince and the Amazonian Island women’s commitment to their way of life, “Wonder Woman” gets off to an exhilarating start by offering a concise back story of their origins from the God Zeus. It also showcases their relentless “muscular” fighting and training techniques, their bravery to fight ferociously and mercilessly in battle and to be collectively connected through emotional strength as a superior race of women without ever being simplistically or mythically only female driven. They are within their own right intense, strong, intelligent, passionate and gifted people, who just so happen to be women too.
Actress Gail Gadot is perfectly cast as “Wonder Woman” as she delivers a powerfully fresh new face to add to the whole superhero franchise storyline. Gadot doesn’t just fly about in some sexy skimpy outfit with a glowing lasso, she creates a far more substantive character by embracing her natural given intelligence and confidence without ever being “the girl” or “the daughter” in the movie. Her Diana Prince exudes from start to the film’s finish an ability to convey an effective moral earnestness to command and to lead with charisma and personal fortitude. She receives respect for who she is without having to repeatedly ask for it. Her words, her actions and her abilities speak for themselves which serve as the conduits to the respect she receives.
Now, there are some minor flaws to the film. One in particularly early in the film involved the sleeping arrangements on a boat that I am sure on paper was meant be funny with some typical male – female exchanges encased in some nervous unrequited sexual tension between Diana and Steve. For me their interaction here was awkward in its execution and really never offered up anything that was either funny or interesting between these two leads. I wish the Director had taken note to delving more deeply into the films major subplot about the moral decay of humans in the world. Examining more intimately their perspectives into their different lives and their different views of how two worlds coexisted one in a constant state of peace (Diana’s) and the other in a perpetual state war (Steve’s). To me this was a wasted moment for the films overall arc.
The other minor problem I had was the overall transitioning of Diana’s story as she leaves the island to come to the modern world of London in the 1910s. There were an array of new characters introduced here as we learn what the new mission will be for Diana that would hopefully save the world (as Diana saw it). Most of the dialogue here and some of the new characters introduced here seemed very one dimensional, lacking any real depth of why they or any part of their story was important to the mission going forward. You could make the case that they were forgettable and irrelevant to the films overall story.
Still, I found this adaptation of “Wonder Woman” to be more than empowering for women for women sake as a central heroic role model. For me it provided a unique new character that is both erudite and beautiful, erudite and witty and erudite and strong and at no time were these virtues ever in conflict with one another. Nor did the film to its credit take up any useless time offering up cliché scenes where a women lead would normally spent time verbally justifying her existence and place in the world before being fully accepted. This “Wonder Woman” moves very freely and confidently on the screen to be who she is without any equivocation or explanation. This is especially unique given the historically period of World War 1 when the film takes place where women generally back then were not so readily recognized first for their intellectual assets before their obvious beauty.
'Wonder Woman” has a running time of 2:21 that has a solid narrative story filled with genuine fireworks especially in the last 50 minutes. Gadot takes her lasso acting talent to deliver a cut above superhero filled with just the right powerful emotions, spectacular actions scenes, well timed – well placed comedic humor and above all a display of goodness and heart that felt real. These qualities will only get better as the story moves forward with many more sequels to come offering much, much more in the way of genuine excitement and thrills to come.