Nate got an early look at Wonder Woman last week, and here’s what more of the Psycho Drive-In All-Stars had to say! The stakes for the newest DC Cinematic Universe film, Wonder Woman couldn’t be any higher. All the films leading up to this one have been misfires. They have all been financially viable, but they have been narrative and thematic disasters. Now, with this film DC, is trying their hand at the tale of the Princess of Themyscira, but they are letting Patty Jenkins, the first woman to direct a superhero film, helm it. In the two years leading up to this moment, all the internet trolls have proclaimed things like, “Superheroes are men” or “A woman can’t direct a superhero film.” Well, these trolls got what’s coming to them. Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is close to an unqualified success. Much of that success comes in the casting of Gal Gadot to take hold of the Lasso of Truth and proclaim herself as a natural movie star in the part. Superhero films as of late have become a little stale. Of course, Marvel is still doing great things with all the Avengers, but there isn’t the necessity to the films like there was five years ago. This year shook that convention up a little bit with the release of James Mangold’s last film in the Wolverine franchise Logan and that trend is being reiterated here. There is a necessity to this film that can’t be understated. The opening minutes of this film, which are completely devoid of any men, are transformative for a Hollywood Blockbuster. There are no men, no talk of men, just badass female warriors. This is where we meet a young Wonder Woman who doesn’t understand the extent of her own powers. She begs her mother to be a warrior, not because she craves violence or the powers of men, but because she wants to change the tide of the world. Before long, Scott Trevor’s (Chris Pine) plane crashes onto the hidden island after Wonder Woman uses her powers for the first time, thus removing the force field around the island. This entwines her with World War I where she leads the resistance, and to simultaneously seeks Ares, who she must defeat to return the world to goodness. The film is broken into three parts: Themyscira, London, and the fight to end the war. The first two acts are balletic and have a deft comic note to them that is much needed in the ever-serious DC Universe. The third act doesn’t really stack up to the first two, because it is a superhero ending that is an endless battle. It is more engrossing than the average superhero film because of its coherency. Jenkins alternates from regular motion to speed ramping in perfectly orchestrated strokes and creates a true sense of scale in her action. Even as the action accelerates to maddening speeds, she keeps control of her heroine and finishes the action with a depth of clarity that is refreshing. While the first act is absorbing for the lack of men, the second act is perfect in the way Wonder Woman is doing everything she possibly can to buck convention and destroy the patriarchy. She isn’t doing it on purpose, that’s just who she is. There is a scene in a dress shop that should play as overly comic and maudlin, but Gadot brings just enough wit and exasperation to it. Jenkins’ film has a fully realized texture to it, particularly in the second act, that fully immerses you in wartime Europe. It is a globetrotting period piece that really does invest you in the locales by employing wonderfully realized art design. From Themyscira to 1918 London to the trenches of WWI, Wonder Woman is gorgeous in a way that is too often not the case in superhero films. It flies directly in the face of the rest of the DC Universe; it is bright and playful and completely crisp in the details. It lacks all the grit and grim of the predecessors. The film is truly a success due to the performances. Much was made of Gadot’s casting. Too thin. Too tall. Not muscular enough. None of it holds any water. She brings a true grace to her action sequences. Her physicality in the role reminds me of what Chris Hemsworth brings to Thor. It is her sincerity that wins the day though. She brings a wide-eyed optimism to Diana Prince that shouldn’t be mistaken for naiveté. She will not let the contentions of society or the practicality of a situation stop her from doing what it right. In the hands of a lesser actress, she is flat, but Gadot brings a fire to her. Some of her finest scenes are with Chris Pine. They have a screwball banter that is just playful enough to avoid a twee romanticism. Pine is fantastic as Scott Trevor. He, like Wonder Woman, could easily be a nonentity on screen, but Pine is one of the finest movie stars we have today. In all of his work, he brings a depth and lightness of tone that other actors in similar roles are unable to reach. The dynamic between these two is one of the joys of this cinematic year. I guess people continue to go to superhero films for the sense of goodness in them. In a world that is completely overrun with cynicism and hate, people can’t help but be won over by characters who strive to do good in the world. This is at the heart of who Diana Prince is. Her moral certitude is both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness. This is a character that has been around since 1941, at a time, similar to now, when superheroes were needed particularly a female that is unencumbered by her sex appeal. There is a great moment between Scott Trevor and Diana Prince as they are on a boat travelling to London. Their banter together has been light, snappy and utterly charming. They are going back and forth and skirting around the idea of sex, but with one line she destroys the hopes of all men by saying something along the lines of, “Men are needed for procreation, but not pleasure.” These moments play so well because Diana doesn’t understand how her frankness would be completely inappropriate in this society. In the hands of a female director, we never get an obligatory shot to enhance her sexuality. We don’t need it and Jenkins understands that. And, there is no mistaking, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is one of the most organically beautiful women you have ever seen in a film- she is almost a CGI creation herself. With the stakes as high as they are for this film, I can only hope that it finds a continual audience. Superhero stories are completely dominated by males, both in the lead roles and the director’s chair, but this is completely different. Men are the side characters here. The only one that even registers as a character is Scott Trevor. It feels good to see this type of film on screen. It is a feminist film in the subtlest way possible. It isn’t jamming messages down our throats, but softly winning over critics. There is a scene in No Man’s Land during a battle that shows Wonder Woman in full control of her powers for the first time. This is the moment of the film and it could easily be the moment of the year. Wonder Woman is shown in a true hero shot by herself, standing postured as if she were in an old comic panel. It is both rousing action and a feminist landmark. Is Wonder Woman going to change the world or the tide of feminism? Film rarely, if ever changes the course of history, but for the first time we have a genuine superhero that is a female. The tide is turning, maybe slower than we want it to, yet every stride matters. — Peterson Hill Wonder Woman will totally kick your ass. But first, let’s get this out of the way: I had some serious trepidation as I entered the theater last night. Sure, the previews were promising (despite, or possibly because of, how infrequently I actually saw them), and the artwork on the poster was nicely done. But we all know that flashy trailers and movie posters are not the movie you actually see on opening night, especially where DC characters are concerned. Sure, we had Tim Burton’s take on Batman, then Christopher Nolan’s darkly-hued revision (which still tended a bit toward overkill), and maybe a couple Superman flicks from before I started shaving. But then there was BATMAN V. SUPERMAN (or, in case that wasn’t enough for you, SUICIDE SQUAD). After months of seeing trailers that managed – against all probability – to convince me that his movies might actually be good, I’m convinced that Zack Snyder should just direct those trailers. Plus, there was the actual real-world theater experience of getting seats too close to the screen, having the drunken phone-talker couple yammering on next to us, and the imbeciles in front who took damn-near ten minutes to finally sit the hell down. So my flimsiest ship of hope for this movie was getting slammed hard against the rocks of Suckville. Then the movie started and I realized that they finally got it right. Maybe the folks at DC learned something from all those Razzy Awards last year. Or they decided not to attempt, in one movie, what the folks over at Marvel have been carefully building up since the first Iron Man flick. Hell, maybe it’s just the addition of a female director (in MONSTER’s Patty Jenkins) to their highly-priced roster. The moment is definitely right and ready to hear the women roar. Whatever it is, they’ve managed to craft an all-around ass-kicking, occasionally thought-provoking crowd-pleaser that should leave most longtime fans, both female and male, cheering for a truly awesome superhero. They avoid all of that timeline confusion and crossover madness by mostly taking the character back to her origins. She starts out as little Diana, the only child on an island of warrior women, yearning to join the fray and hone her own impressive battle skills. Mom is naturally hesitant, knowing that the girl is destined for a dangerous life far beyond her protection. Nonetheless, she tells her stories of the Amazonian race that was created to protect mankind, though they have hardly earned her protection. Diana is well-versed in a nearly impossible array of topics, not the least of which is the fallen-angel tale of the war-god Ares. These early scenes are saturated in such vibrant tropical colors, with such an amazing display of ferocious femininity, that it kinda shocks the system to eventually see the polluted, male-dominant gray palette of World War I-era England. She truly is a long way from home, and the fish-out-of-water portion of her story is played nicely against the crash-landed American spy, Steve Trevor. Diana really is a wonder, even while she naively believes that only Ares could be responsible for all of the war and hatred that rage across the globe. There were at least three moments when I wanted to stand up and cheer – right there amidst the dumbass chatty couple and everyone fruitlessly shushing them – and a few more when I found myself getting a bit misty-eyed. There’s the instant, first glimpsed months ago, when Diana is racing through the dusky woods on horseback. She pulls her sword from the scabbard with a jarring silver shing. As simple as it sounds, it was this briefest bit of action (which I caught on some kind of Kevin Smith special) that originally made me want a Wonder Woman movie. Seeing it in the fullest glory of the big screen, it actually gave me goose bumps. There are other so-called lesser scenes as well, the kind of thing Mister Snyder might have left for the four-hour special edition. Like the lingering reaction shots of Diana as she silently passes through a line of the bloodied and battered victims of war. Or the subtly softening expression on her face as she dances with a man for the first time beneath a gently falling snow. Whether it’s the feminine touch, or just the mark of a director who relies on more than just bombast, it’s the details that end up making all of this sing for me. But the greatest victory comes in the act of a woman slowly climbing a ladder into the dreaded combat front known as No Man’s Land. It might not be a big deal to anyone else, but when Diana didn’t make some kind of comment like well, I’m no man, that’s when they had me. None of this is to say that it’s a perfect film. The storyline is not particularly unique, though we do avoid the predictable trope of having to save the entire goddamn world. Some of the characterizations seemed to follow the broad strokes without shading in any further detail. Not to mention that, in true superhero fashion, they went a bit heavy on CGI toward the end. Everything doesn’t always have to be bigger, louder, and longer to reach a satisfying climax. But, honestly, they had already won my heart by the one-hour mark. Maybe I should say that Gal Gadot had won my heart. For many of us who grew up on Lynda Carter, fighting for our rights in those snappy tights, it’s a childhood-engrained image of what Wonder Woman should look like. Yeah, she spun around like a boob-tornado whenever she switched from Diana Prince to Wonder Woman – and she flew through the air in an invisible jet that somehow still left her visible in the air – but it was the 80s and that’s what we were used to. Unlike Snyder’s darker, angsty Superman (who never learned to smile), it was right to throw a shade of somber over this particular hero. I mean, she’s an invincible virgin with more book-learning than real-world experience, leaving home to save a race that might not even be worthy of her. That deserves a little pathos. Besides, with Gadot’s exotic Israeli looks (and a smile that could melt the Fortress of Solitude), there wasn’t much chance that Wonder Woman would come off like an emo-wannabe. So now listen up and hear this roar . . . Wonder Woman kicked both Batman and Superman’s asses. She kicked Starlord’s ass (and Baby Groot as well). She definitely kicked that weak-ass Ripley-clone’s ass in ALIEN: COVENANT. I’ll bet she’s going to kick Tom Cruise’s ass next weekend. She could kick Trump’s ass with her legs tied – and still have enough left to kick Hillary and Bernie’s asses afterward – and don’t even think those dumbasses in Congress wouldn’t get them kicked too. She’d probably kick her own TV ass and she might even kick Michelle Rodriguez’ ass in the FAST & FURIOUS movies (but not in MACHETE, sorry). I have no doubts that she would kick every movie phone-talker’s ass for miles, then take their popcorn too. She certainly kicked my ass last night, and – believe me when I tell you – she will totally kick your ass. — John E. Meredith Back when Warner Brothers first showed footage of Wonder Woman in January of 2016 my first reaction was DC was showing us their Captain America. What I meant by that was we were finally going to get the hero that hopefully will give the DCEU their best trilogy of movies. Batman and Superman will get all the attention and money but the DCEU needed to get a hero that can produce quality films on a regular basis. After the disappointment that was 2016 for the DCEU, could Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot right the ship for the DCEU with Wonder Woman or do we need to cue the Celine Dion and let the DCEU sink? Wonder Woman is the origin story of the feminist icon and bad ass warrior princess. The movie follows Diana from her time as a child on Themyscira to her growing up to become Gal Gadot. During this time we learn the history of the Amazons, the Gods, man, and see Robin Wright be a mentor to Diana. Wright’s General Antiope teaches Diana the way to be a warrior. Everything is great on Themyscira until the day Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) shows up. Introducing Diana to the world of man and the war happening there, Diana knows it time for her to see if the world of man is worth saving. First, I would like to offer an apology to Gal Gadot for doubting her ability to be Wonder Woman. When I first heard the casting news I was not impressed with the pick of Gal for the role. Based on her work in the Fast And Furious movies, I didn’t think Gal could pull off the role. I was glad to be proven wrong. She was able to deliver a performance filled with grace, power and I could tell she had joy playing this role; it showed on the screen. Gal was even able to pull off humor with great timing and facial reactions in the film. Like with Thor in the Thor movies, there are a lot of fish out of water jokes and awkward humor for our hero. I mean she is meeting the world for the first time; it is going to get awkward. But Gal really shines on the screen when she shares it with Chris Pine. The two of them had great on screen chemistry and worked well off each other during all their interactions. They will make you happy, sad, and laugh during their journey in this film. Since Wonder Woman is a super hero film, there will be super villains and sadly they are the worst part of this film. We have Elena Anaya as Dr. Isabel Maru aka Dr. Poison, who has a very interesting look to her but we don’t know anything about her character or why she looks the way she does. I really feel like there is a scene that was cut that would help explain the character better. Because without that scene Dr. Poison is just someone who makes poisons and has a mask and laughs. Not great. Also, minor spoiler, Wonder Woman’s main villain is revealed via a bait and switch. I mean that’s fine but that is a super hero trope that I am tired of seeing. And after the big reveal, they make an interesting choice for the villain’s look that left my saying that is odd and left others laughing. Something that they should have avoided for this film. When the final villain is reveled it should feel epic, not lead to a record stretch. Patty Jenkins, directing her first big budget action film, did a great job with this film. One of the choices I’m glad she made was the color palate change between Themyscira and the rest of world. On Themyscira, the color is vibrant and peaceful but the rest of world is grey and monotone. Which shows the great juxtaposition of a world only knowing peace and world only knowing war. I did think Patty missed a golden opportunity in this film. The scene where Wonder Woman is climbing up the ladder about to enter No Man’s Land, you see it in the trailers, she enters the battlefield to some music but not the Wonder Woman score. One of the few things that was positive takeaways from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is that Wonder Woman is the only super hero right now who has a memorable score. Go ahead and try to hum a score from a super hero film made in the past 15 years that’s not Wonder Woman’s? You can’t, since there isn’t a score out there. So in the scene in which Diane is finally ready to fight and show herself to the world why not have her theme playing? It should have been a glorious reveal, not just a good one. The movie overall works and it better than I expected. The first two acts works well and contain nice moments and good action set pieces. Sadly they didn’t stick the landing with the third act with a final boss fight that is CGI throw down with no real stakes and a villain that they should have designed better. However, after spending last year establishing what the basement for the DCEU looks like, Wonder Woman shows us that the DCEU has a new ceiling and that they want to keep building towards something better. 4 out of 5 stars. — Eric Muller Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Wonder Woman Blu-ray (2017) - Psycho Drive-In September 19, 2017 […] Wonder Woman was released earlier this year, we offered up a number of reviews, almost all of them glowing (oddly enough, we couldn’t find any of our women writers […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.