A Wonder Woman for wonder women
Mention “Wonder Woman” and what comes to my mind is a scene in which the heroine flies through the air in an invisible jet, which to my young mind then was the epitome of a technological wonder.
Next would be the LSS-inducing “Wonder Womaaan” refrain of the TV series’ theme song, ushering in a series of cheesy scenes with Lynda Carter flashing those ridiculously curly lashes as she throws her golden lasso and starts spinning at lightning speed.
So yes, I am a fan of the TV series. Sue me.
You must understand, I never mistook the show for a feminist manifesto. While I appreciated the novelty of a woman gifted with super-hero powers who used these to fight evildoers, I didn’t find any inspiration from WW at all. At most, she was a novelty. At worst, a parody, a humorous figure pantomiming the super-hero poses of her brothers in the DC family while making sure not a strand of hair falls out of place.
I had no intention to catch the “Wonder Woman” movie, maybe because I didn’t want to be disappointed by my memories of those afternoons spent in a thrall before the TV set. But then friends of mine, whose feminist judgment on facets of popular culture I trust, started posting rave reviews. Curious, I dragged the reluctant hubby to a movie house, choosing a premium theater that featured luxurious Laz-e-boy couches, with free popcorn to boot!
Bad news for senior members of the audience. The chairs are apt to induce slumber; so comfortable are they, and if I had the foresight to bring a long shawl with me instead of a teeny sweater to shield me from the glacial air conditioning, I would have fallen asleep and missed a good movie!
Yes, friends, the movie is good. One aspect I truly appreciate is that it provided an “origin story” for Wonder Woman, who is introduced as Diana who, so her mother Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons tells her, was created out of clay. Although her mother forbids Diana from training as a warrior, her gifts at combat are honed in secret by Antiope, a top Amazon general and sister to the Queen.
Though the Amazons were created as a force to protect humanity from the rampages of Ares, the God of War, so much time has passed such that Themyscira, the island refuge of the Amazons, has long faded into obscurity. That is, until American spy Steve Trevor somehow crashes the time barrier and washes up on Themyscira’s beach, with Nazi marauders in hot pursuit. Following one of the most epic battles fought with unapologetic ferocity by the Amazons versus the Nazis, Diana decides to join Steve to help him bring a secret notebook to the attention of Allied leaders and, by the way, to save humanity from destruction.
This is because she believes it is no less than Ares himself who has orchestrated the conflict, which it turns out is World War I, engulfing much of the world in armed strife, with the added threat of chemical warfare.
Israeli actress Gal Gadot portrays Wonder Woman with ferocity and calm devotion to her mission. Unlike Carter, she never falls into the temptation of turning her role into a parody, and she takes us with her. But, as my daughter mentioned in a post, it’s a wonder how she maintains her dewy make-up, with not a curl out of place, despite her superhuman feats.
Chris Pine as Trevor is fittingly charming, and does an admirable job subsuming himself to the wonders of the heroine he has partnered with while acquitting himself creditably as an operative.
Also quite effective were Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, and Robin Wright as General Antiope, who are tall, fleshy and imposing both in their roles as serene goddesses and as fierce warriors.
Props to director Patty Jenkins who ticks off most of the highlights of male-oriented action films, especially those based on comic book franchises. At the same time, she manages to throw hints of sexual politics and female self-determination in the movie, from the epic beach battle to the way our heroine leaps over crevasses and No Man’s Land with breathtaking confidence. A Wonder Woman for today’s wonder women!
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