“Wonder Woman” brings women empowerment to center stage

“Wonder Woman” couldn’t have come at a better time for the DC Extended Universe. After a string of movies that didn’t really deliver the wow factor, it’s a relief to see that Patty Jenkins was able to helm a film that satisfies both fans and critics.

“Wonder Woman” could be DC’s saving grace this year. Although previous movies – “Man of Steel”, “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”, and “Suicide Squad” – did well on the box office, they weren’t impressive for the critics and quite a number of fans. “Suicide Squad”, at least, can now boast of an Academy Award. Haha.

The case is different this time, however. “Wonder Woman” satisfies in almost all levels. It’s interesting because it’s low-budgeted compared to the other superhero films yet that didn’t affect the outcome.

It’s about time that a woman take center stage. As the first film made about the most famous Amazon warrior, “Wonder Woman” could be the precedent to future female-led superhero films. You can say also that it’s one step towards female empowerment. It’s directed by a woman and the way Jenkins presented the movie painted a strong image of what and how women should be. Gal Gadot was very effective in her portrayal. Unlike her first appearance in Zack Snyder’s “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” where she was just a mean fighting machine, her take on Diana, daughter of Themyscira was believable. She was three-dimensional and very endearing.

I think many people looked at Black Widow as the chick-role-model-hero for a long time but she just basically played second fiddle to a group of guys. While there’s nothing wrong about the way her character was written and presented in all the films she was on, Black Widow deserves her own marching band. Let’s hope that Black Widow movie pushes through.

Anyway, “Wonder Woman” pulls you in from the get-go. Maybe it’s the anticipation after months of waiting or the idea that it’s Gal Gadot but there’s something about the first few seconds of the movie that will tell you something awesome’s about to come your way.

And boy it did.

There’s so much about the movie to appreciate. It’s a good origin story for Diana. Allan Heiberg wrote a screenplay that perfectly showed how an effective origin story should be told. It didn’t digress with unnecessary scenes nor felt like a boring bedtime story.

Speaking of bedtime stories, you are going to love the scene where Hippolyta tells a young Diana the story behind the Amazon warriors’ existence. It was one of the film’s highlights for me. The execution was perfect. Flashback scenes, for me, are tricky because they have the tendency to take away from the present scene. And something like this – the Amazons’ back story which can actually be an entire movie itself – has the potential to shift a viewer’s interest from the actual scene if not done right. It was the perfect way to tell us viewers why they exist and give us a glimpse of what’s about to happen in the story.

It’s perfect because it’s like a moving painting and although the flashback itself is very immersive, you’re still attached to the actual scene.

Jenkins was able to sew together past and present events with such ease, which I think is one of the challenge of origin stories. The bookends were really smart. It gave us an easy way to transition from one time to another without any confusion. It was very simple yet effective.

We see Diana working at an office in Paris where she gets a package from Bruce Wayne – an old photo of her along with a group of soliders in WW1 – and that triggers the flashback to the picturesque land of Themyscira. It’s interesting for me how that old photo is used in the film because it connects the movies together. We saw at “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” that Wayne discovered this old photograph of Diana, giving us a hint of the dynamics between their characters in future movies.

Aline Bonetto’s marvelous production design is one of the things to watch out for in the movie. The film was able to capture the mood of the particular time and place from the mythical Themyscira to the battle grounds of WW1, which perfectly complemented the impressive cinematography (Matthew Jensen). The fight scenes were hypnotic, especially when the sequence starts to slow down a bit. Although I found it a little of an overkill when I saw that happen more than twice, the combat scenes were a joy to watch. Well, mainly because it’s Gal Gadot kicking some serious butt.

Obviously, the star of the movie is its lead star. Gadot has this amazing ability to showcase how Wonder Woman should be: fierce, fearless, kind, courageous, a little naive, stubborn, and loving. Diana was three-dimensional and she showed us how all these qualities can be boxed inside a character and that these can be portrayed without betraying the character. One minute she’s the stubborn young woman who won’t take no for an answer and is willing to defy her mother’s orders because she feels she’s doing the right thing; then she becomes this sweet, naive, funny young woman who’s a little confused about the nuances of society while still maintaining her core traits: courage, loyalty, and faith.

Her and Chris Pine, who plays Steve Trevor, were fun to watch on the screen. The chemistry isn’t obvious at first but as the plot moves along and we see them get to know each other better, you’ll sense the sincere concern for both. I thought, at first, that maybe the sexual tension between them wouldn’t end up in bed, which would be nice because she’s Wonder Woman and it might be good to not do it but when they finally showed them going at it, I realized that it was better that way because it showed Diana as a real person (or demigod).

Gadot is perfect for the role in every single way – from the way she speaks to her combat skills to even the little nuances of her voice and facial expressions. She perfectly fused the human and Amazonian demigod into one beautiful and alluring form that’s definitely worthy of being center stage.

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