'Wonder Woman' review: Full of verve and wonder

In one key scene in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, a clearly distraught woman begs for help from Diana (Gal Gadot) – an Amazon princess who decided to leave her home to rid the world of the god of war's influence – to save her village from German invaders. 

Steve (Chris Pine) – the American spy on a mission to thwart Germany's plan to release chemical weapons – immediately tells Diana no. It is impossible. It is too dangerous. It is a no man’s land. It isn’t practical in the midst of the more pressing need to move forward. 

Diana, however, doesn’t listen. 

Instead, she removes her trench coat, revealing a modern take on the decades-old superhero’s costume. She storms straight into the desolate warzone, warding off a barrage of bullets with her mythical bracelets. In a matter of minutes since she stood up to a man’s staunch declaration of everything she can’t do, she is leading an entire army of men into battle.

 

Zeal and earnestness

It’s a triumphant scene, one that fully embraces the gaudiness of the turn of events to produce an emotional impact that is unassailable. 

Within the narrative of a heroine whose eyes are opened to a world embroiled in war and strife, the scene is the much-needed turning point. It's a grand, dramatic upheaval in a story that overindulges in the experiences of a woman who tries fit into a society where everything she stands for is bizarre and foreign. 

Within a very popular genre that has always championed exemplary men saving the world, the scene feels like a subversive response to the mainstream male-dominated narrative. It pulsates with all the pent-up energy of women who have been kept in the sidelines. 

What is most striking about Wonder Woman is its apparent zeal and earnestness. This isn’t a superhero movie that stumbles in its half-baked attempts to overachieve and become allegories of real world problems while persisting as studio-backed products. Jenkins’ movie has all the pleasures of an old-fashioned adventure, with characters of simple intentions and unperturbed by traumatic histories.

Somewhat unconventional and moving

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment

There is a romance between Diana and Steve that is noteworthy in how gentle it is portrayed. 

It has an innocence that is appealing, a certain awkwardness in the way it presents two grown-ups who are clearly connected in some emotional way navigating their relationship as equals. Again, Jenkins concocts lovely moments here and there. Diana and Steve exchanging innuendos aboard a boat, or dancing while the village they saved is being engulfed by snow.

Wonder Woman is a superhero movie that does not delight in destruction and catastrophe. Sure, there are upfront displays of wartime horrors, but the movie doesn’t seem to be motivated by a need to overdo the savagery for the sake of eye candy. This is probably the closest a franchise flick has ever gotten to maturity in its depiction of violence.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment

Its message seems simplistic, if not totally corny, when backdropped against the overcomplicated affairs of other caped crusaders who throw jokes at each other while cities are being toppled. 

The movie, however, only stays true to the objective of psychologist William Moulton Marston in creating a comic book character who represents the power and strength of a gender chained by conventions. In Jenkins’ movie, she champions hope and love, and while they are slogans that have been cheapened by shallow sentiment, here it is curiously unconventional and at times quite moving in this movie.

Unabashed spectacle and enjoyment

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment

Wonder Woman isn’t bogged down by seriousness and cynicism. 

Even in its many moments where it reaches for some sort of relevance, it still manifests an affinity for unabashed spectacle and enjoyment. It is refreshingly uncomplicated, and amid its burden of equal representation for women in the business of saving the world, it never feels like it admonishes the stark inequity. – Rappler.com

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.