Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (A.J. Bastien) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Wonder Woman [2017] (directed by Patty Jenkins, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs based on the DC Comics [wikip] Wonder Woman [DC] [wikip] characters created by William Moulton Marston [wikip] [IMDb]) formally rolls-out this quite significant character in the DC Comics Universe [wikip] [DC] to moviegoers of this generation worldwide.  Viewers will find similarities between the Wonder Woman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] character (played here quite marvelously by Gal Gadot) and both the Thor and Captain America characters of the Marvel Comics Universe [wikip] [MC].

The story of Wonder Woman's origins begins on an idyllic island on the Aegean Sea populated _entirely_ by women warriors named Amazons who in this story were said to have been created by the Greek God Zeus to protect humanity from the evil machinations of the Greek God of War Ares.  The island was kept hidden from humanity by a dense outlying circle of mist that was so thick that virtually no human found it worth-while to try to penetrate it.

And so it was that the future Wonder Woman, named Diana, grew-up on this mythological "garrison island" populated, again, _entirely by these women warriors_ The Amazons who did not age but rather trained for a War that could but did not necessarily need to ever happen.

A fair question becomes: Where were the men? ;-).  The fair response was: They _weren't needed_.  These were mythological warriors after all, created directly by Zeus.  Indeed, even Diana, we learn was created _out of clay_ (kinda like Adam in the Genesis story [2:7] ;-), by her mother Hippolyta [wikip] [IMDb] (played in the film by Connie Nelson) and Zeus breathed life into her.  Indeed, a good part of the film involved a rather interesting query into the necessity / nature of sexual / gender relations...

Well, one blissful, sunny day (like any other day), the now young-adult Diana (played by this point by Gal Gadot) looking out toward the sea / horizon spotted what would be a World War I era German plane that _penetrated_ the all but impenetrable ring of fog / mist that circled the island, the plane crashing into to the sea.  The jumps then into the water to save the pilot dragging him to shore.  As she does so, she (and the other Amazons) spot a a sizable World War I era landing party pursuing on the water said downed pilot.  A battle between the platoon of German soldiers (armed with World War I era rifles) and the Amazons (armed with the bows/arrows and spears / daggers of Classical Greece) ensues.  In the end, the Amazons because of superior numbers win...

Who was the pilot of the German plane and why were German marines pursuing him?  Well it turns out that the pilot was actually an American, named Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) who was escaping from a Turkish / German base on the Mediterranean with plans regarding a ghastly chemical weapon that the Turks / Germans (allies during WW I) were developing that they hoped would turn the course of the War in, then, its final stages.

The young Diana, hearing Steve Trevor describe the war becomes convinced that this War MUST HAVE BEEN INSTIGATED (and LED) by the Evil God Ares, and DISAPPOINTED that the "older / wiser" AMAZONS remained _unconvinced_ (that Ares ! was behind this War), SHE departs with Trevor to find / fight this Evil Monster.  Much ensues ...

Among that which ensues, Diana, coming to be called by her human compatriots as "Wonder Woman" as her adventures progress, discovers that World War I  was a war that _really couldn't be blamed_ ON ONE GUY:  She's convinced at one point that the German General Ludendorf (played in the film by Danny Huston) an actual notorious German WW I era general (who in actual history after WW I had connections to Adolf Hitler) was Ares incarnate.  Yet, she discovers that "things were a bit more complicated than that" -- crimes as large as Wars _can't_ really be blamed SIMPLY on "one or another person."

So Wonder Woman's story here offers Viewers A LOT TO THINK ABOUT.

In the first place, with regard to gender and sexual relations, Viewers are invited (repeatedly) in this film to reflect on relative necessity of sexual relationships to make one happy.  After all, Diana grew-up on an island inhabited entirely by women ... Even more profoundly, the film offers Viewers an opportunity to reflect on the nature of happiness to begin with:  Is "happiness" to be simply equated with "pleasure" (If so, then simply putting _everyone_ on a morphine or heroin drip, would suffice to make "everybody happy...") or is it more than that?

Here I'd interject that while in this film Diana seems to suggest to Trevor that the Amazons on her Island simply found happiness by learning to "pleasure themselves," that in the Christian conception of Dante's Divine Comedy, the Amazons of this story would have then found themselves in the Third Circle of Hell -- In the First Circle would have been those righteous pagans who simply never knew God.  In the Second Circle were the Lustful ho decided to look for their ultimate happiness not in God but simply in another.  In the Third Circle were the Gluttons who realized that they didn't even need another to be Happy.  In the Fourth Circle were the Greedy who realized that there was "only a limited amount of Happiness out there" and sought then to "hoard happiness" or otherwise steal it from others, and finally in the Firth Circle were the Despondant who realized that "Happiness was simply unattainable" and were divided into two groups, the Angry near the surface of this group who were still upset about this and the Sullen who brooded below not seeing even a point in complaining about the lack of Happiness ("it just does not exist.")

In any case, the film offers Viewers with the possibility of reflecting on the Nature of Happiness: What actually makes us happy (again, is it simply feeling, hence something that can be produced simply by taking a drug of one sort or another, or it is _more than that_)?

Second, the film invites us to reflect on the Nature of Evil (a fairly significant preoccupation of the original makers of DC Comics).  Can one really blame Evils such as Wars on individuals?   THIS IS AN IDLE CONCERN TODAY as many people (certainly on the Traditional Left) are increasingly viewing current U.S. President Donald Trump as being "Hitlerian" in tendency.

Yet this film would argue that Evil is more complicated than that: That one CAN'T BLAME EVIL on SIMPLY ONE PERSON.  "Ludendorf" it turns out wasn't simply "the one to blame" for the carnage of WW I ... it was far more complicated than that.  Even Turner, who was fighting "Ludendorf" was telling Diana: "Perhaps we're ALL to blame for this War..."

Anyway, this is _not_ "a dumb film," and IMHO is certainly best DC Comics [wikip] [DC] based film since The Dark Knight [2008].  So by and large .... A REALLY GOOD JOB.

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