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Thoughts on Wonder Woman 2017

With an opening in the very respectable range of $100 million in North America, the new Wonder Woman movie is certainly taking the world by storm (the overseas box office is in the $122 million range). Critics and audiences alike appear to love it And I? Well, what follows are my (spoiler-filled) thoughts on the film.

First, let's open by saying that I'd give the new Wonder Woman movie a 7 out of 10. If you want something even simpler than a numerical system, I give it a thumbs-up. Having said that, there are a lot of minor criticisms I have about the film, things that could have made it better.

Let's begin with how much of the first-third of the movie is kind of clunky in parts. The island of Themyscira, home to the all-female tribe of Amazonians, is beautiful and I wanted to learn more about it. Alas, the film doesn't spend enough time there. We see scantily-clad women tumbling and fighting Germans, we see a bit of their city and great tower, and Chris Pine's character takes a nude bath in one of their glowing wellsprings. And then Pine and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) leave.

The scenes on Themyscira range from the good (the combat and battle-training portions, along with the bath and overall breathtaking views from the cliffs), to the muddled (a German warship that simply disappears from the plot, some clunky exposition about the history of the Greek gods, the Amazonians and mankind, and a queen who changes her mind on a dime). I dunno... something just felt a little off.

Even though I am interested to know more about Themyscira, it has to be said that the film hits it stride in the portion from when it leaves the island until Wonder Woman kills General Ludendorff. Seeing the London of 1918 recreated, the ramifications of the horrors of war, spotting the British actors I've seen in countless British TV shows, the scenes of intrigue between Ludendorff and his chemical poisoner, Isabel Maru, the castle gala, the sequence across No Man's Land and liberation of a Belgian village, to the lovely rejoicing later in the evening, that span of the film was full of fun, action, danger and true adventure.

Alas, it was telegraphed throughout the movie that Ares, the Greek god of war, was behind the conflict of WWI, so of course I braced for his arrival, even though I didn't really want it. I grow weary of super heroes fighting super beings. How I wanted for Wonder Woman's final showdown to be with Maru, the Doctor of Poison. Female-to-female (which would have fit-in much better with the feminist motif of the picture). At any rate, the arrival of Ares was suitably dramatic and, as far as these types of villains go, he was pretty kick-ass.

The movie is book-ended with scenes of Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's alter-ego) in Paris. While they are tangentially related to the main plot, and we already knew that Diana was in present-day because we saw her in Batman v. Superman, the scenes still failed to really connect with the rest of the movie. I was left wanting to know what all had happened with her since 1918. What had she been up to? What was her life like? Did she go back to Themyscira? What happened to the Amazonians left behind there?

I could pick at other things about the film: The fact that we never get a truly clear idea of what, exactly, the poison gas that Maru has developed actually does (aside from kill); How it becomes very clear, at least in hindsight, that none of the human characters were really needed; That it wasn't obvious (at least not to me), that the the place Diana rides back to on horseback and she sees gassed is the Belgian village she'd just liberated; Or how socio-political issues are clunked into the dialogue (stuff about racism and women getting the right to vote).

It probably comes across as though I disliked the Wonder Woman movie. I didn't, honest. Despite all of my questions and misgivings, it manages to rise above the the sum of its parts and is a strong, feminist super hero film that I hope a lot of people see and enjoy. And the No Man's Land scene is worth the ticket price alone. I just wish the film had paid a better attention to detail at times.


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