With a mere $149,000,000 budget – loose change these days – Warner Brothers has finally released a MARVELous motion picture from the DC comic books stable of stars. And they did it by making this film modelled after a Disney Captain America / Iron Man / Ant Man release. We’ll get to the film after we go over some particulars… that Ant Man was budgeted out at 130 million and brought in 519 million plus. That 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger was budgeted out at 140 mil and brought in 370 plus; 2014’s Captain America Winter Soldier at 170 (bringing in 714 m plus,) and Captain America: Civil War at a huge 250m bringing in 1 billion, 153 m plus. Yikes!
Wonder Woman is superb filmmaking starting off with beautiful cinematography descending down to a package from Bruce Wayne who – thankfully – doesn’t make a personal appearance. No Ben Affleck is a sure sign of good things to come. Inside the gift-wrapped secure suitcase is the aged Wonder Woman and gang-in-Belgium photo from Superman vs Batman – the first appearance by this new Wonder Woman the best thing about that noisy and awful monstrosity passed off as a motion picture.
Diana Prince – played brilliantly by the face of Gucci’s Bamboo perfume – and a frequent resident of The Fast and the Furious, Gal Gadot (#4 from 2009, #5 from 2011, #6 2013 and kinda sorta in 7, 2015) is not your mama’s Wonder Woman of Cathy Lee Crosby and Lynda Carter, though Carter is thanked in the credits. This Gal Gadot Wonder Woman is the real deal and will do much to obliterate the cheesy TV character that was more camp a la Adam West’s Batman show …and hardly a goddess. The big difference is that as sideways as the television Batman and Wonder Woman were, Adam West rose above it all with dignity and obtaining a sort of bat signature, a credibility that he shared with Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and so many others who brought the TV comedy to a certain level of charm. Because the acting was superb.
The acting in Wonder Woman 2017 is equally superb, as is the direction by a woman mostly known for her work in television, Patty Jenkins. Zach Snyder has a hand in the storyline, he being the executive, if you will, in charge of the DC Extended Universe.
The audience gets to figure out which era this is, but for the sake of the timelines, let us have a little history. All Star Comics #8 appeared in December of 1941 with Wonder Woman, her first appearance. Jack Kirby, co-creator of The Fantastic Four, co-created Captain America with Joe Simon in March of 1941. According to Wikipedia, this film is set in World War 1, November 1918. This is all very important as Captain Kirk 2, Chris Pine (born in 1981,) is Steve Trevor here, looking like actor Chris Evans (born in 1980.) None of this is a coincidence. When you see Pine as Steve Trevor jump on a motorbike in Wonder Woman he might as well be Chris Evans jumping on a motorbike in Captain America. The roots of Wonder Woman, on the coat-tails of Captain America eight months later in 1941, definitely reaching for the huge Captain America audience, only adding as many female filmgoers into that mix as they possibly can.
This critic writes his own reviews, staying away from the other press for the most part until my essays are on paper. However the CBR headline caught my eye as for the past forty-eight hours prior to writing this I’ve been describing Wonder Woman as the best DC film since The Dark Knight, and – voila – I am not the only critic / filmgoer with that idea. http://www.cbr.com/wonder-woman-best-reviewed-dc-film/
The film is breathtaking on many levels. Tremendous sets, plenty of bang-up, shoot-em-up action, and the horrors of war presented in as tasteful a way as possible, but still quite ugly.
Gadot – and Pine – have a cleansing effect on the mustard gas and the appearances of Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya,) and General Ludendorff (Danny Huston, one of the Colonel William Stryker characters in the X-Men Wolverine series) – Dr. Poison turning Ludendorff into a kinda sorta Red Skull straight out of Captain America. With competing comic book companies the parallels are obvious and, for the world of film, almost essential for entertaining this rabid audience. To go on might reveal plot that you want to experience for yourself. All in all, this is a brilliant film, it touches all the right chords, and is the first step – finally – in DC turning around its inability to make superhero / science fiction films of the quality that is – most clearly – in its mission statement. Wonder Woman has finally arrived and she is more powerful than TV viewers were ever given a chance to see and experience.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.