MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo: Warner Bros. Films
Directed by Patty Jenkins. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine
Although I first saw Wonder Woman at least a month ago (and originally had no intention of reviewing the movie), the film continued to resonate with me and I found myself recommending it to people this summer. This is not only a surprise entry in the generally subpar DC Comic Universe, but a remarkably well-made and entertaining film for all ages, featuring an inspiring female hero.
Before she became “Wonder Woman”, she was Diana (Lilly Aspell), growing up as a young girl in the paradise world of Themyscira. Her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) wants to protect Diana, but the girl longs to be trained as an Amazonian warrior by her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). There is an urgent need to protect the world from Ares, the God of War. Diana grows into a young woman (Gadot) and learns how to fight. One day Steve Trevor (Pine), an Allied pilot, is shot down near their island by German forces at the start of the Great War. Soon the Amazons find themselves fighting German invaders (successfully, with some significant losses) at home, but they suspect that Ares is in league with Germany. Diana leaves for England with Steve, being sure to take along her golden lasso, shield, battle suit and the sword known as the God Killer.
Once in England, Diana must not only try to understand a different culture, but also come to a self-knowledge about herself, her powers, and what kind of heroine she is meant to be. It is interesting to remember that the time of World War I was a time of female suffrage as well as the first major conflict that utilized chemical warfare. Both of these themes are used effectively as backdrop to the action-adventure that follows.
The film also adds a team of sidekicks that includes a Scottish sniper (Ewen Brenmer), a Native American smuggler (Eugene Brave Rock) and a polyglot spy (Saïd Taghmaoui). While none of these characters (and most of the Germans) never rise above stereotypes, there is a good-natured intentionally inclusive world of characters (including Amazons of many races and ages).
It is great to see a female character as a positive role model, freed from the burden of merely assisting a male hero. Although there is definitely some romantic tension between Diana and Steve, Diana is clearly in control and able to take care of herself. Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been in some of the Fast and Furious films as well as last year’s spy comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, but she has created something wonderful as Wonder Woman, a performance that can stand alongside Christopher Reeves’ Superman as one of the all-time great superheroes.
The film is fast-moving, engaging, emotionally stirring and often funny. Although its realm of gods and goddesses is different from our Christian worldview, Wonder Woman dares to ponder the principalities and powers behind Good and Evil. Everyday decisions may have eternal consequences. That’s some good theological stuff to ponder as you pass the popcorn.
Three halos: A powerful superhero origin story done right.
Two pitchforks: War violence; war deaths; mild swearing; good-humored mild sexual innuendo.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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