Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman” has not disappointed us. With a sweeping $223 million, it has already created history, and boasted the biggest-ever opening weekend for a film directed by a woman.
For me, as a fan of any movie that is good, after watching it on its opening weekend, the first thing I shared on my Facebook was, “Satisfied! Very much satisfied! It is everything you dream of about a Hollywood action and superhero movie!”
Why did I say so? First of all, “Wonder Woman” has a good story.
Perhaps its plot is a little bit old-fashioned: When god first created man, they were good and fair. They lived together happily. Then Ares, son of Zeus, became jealous and corrupted human. Then gods created Amazons to protect humankind against the corruption of Ares. Ares was defeated in a deadly battle with other gods, but has been hiding ever since to wait for his chance to destroy human again; and Amazons’ mission is to prevent that from happening…
Yet, in this quite old-fashioned plot, a completely new story unfolds. It grasps audience’s attention and hearts every minute; takes them to a wonderful journey, in which they will be completing the sacred mission together with the “Wonder Woman” and thus feeling very much “satisfied”.
Apart from a good story, “Wonder Woman” has a clear, and completely positive and righteous theme. This theme has been very clear from beginning to end, but is best depicted at the finale, when Ares tries to convince “Wonder Woman” Diana to give up, as humankind does not deserve her. Walking towards Ares with much determination written on her face, she declares, “They are everything you said, but so much more. It is not about deserving. It’s about belief; and I believe in love!”
With that, she charges her battle again and eventually defeats Ares and thus saves the world.
With love, she defeats Ares who has been untouchable even with her magic god-killer sword; with love, she chooses to forgive “Doctor Poison” who has created mustard gas with an intention to kill millions.
Again, this theme may sound quite familiar and nothing new. However, in this much-troubled world, when many artists are not sure what to depict, and when some of them have gone so far as to portray garbage or other very ugly and negative things, a completely positive message from “Wonder Woman” is much needed. Perhaps many people are also pondering on what’s wrong with our world, and how we should dealt with our problems. “Wonder Woman” is certainly a movie expression of the screenwriter and the director’s understandings and aspirations about these important issues. And I certainly identify with them in this regard.
To depict the positive theme and messages, Patty Jenkins has grateful adopted a very traditional and realistic style.
Just as Richard Brody has put it in his New Yorker review, “Wonder Woman” “comes close to the realistic style of no style, as if in fear that a heightened or aestheticized one would ultimately contradict the point of the film and serve as a glorification of the very violence that it repudiates. It’s a superhero film with almost no excess.”
Humankind’s arts have experienced different periods of development, with the overall style deviating from traditional and realistic to modern and abstract today. Sometimes it seems there is no standard at all in our art world; and the messages are often quite confusing.
So, for me, “Wonder Woman” offers us some much needed refreshing and true beauty. Combined with its positive theme, it brings us a completely positive experience, especially for those who love classical Hollywood styles.
With this classical and realistic style, the pace and structure of the movie are very well controlled. After one or two minutes’ modern scene opening, the movie soon leads us to Diana’s childhood and the paradise island, where she lives and grows up among the Amazons. In the stunningly beautiful landscape and with gracious pace and ease, the background of the whole story is constructed. In the meantime, princess Diana grows up from a little girl into a mature, charming, strong and fearless young woman with a lot of super powers, ready to save the world.
Then, immediately, a plane thrusts through the invisible shield of the island built by god, and crashes into the sea in front of Diana’s eyes. From this moment on, everything changes…
Throughout the movie, the pace and structure has been controlled in a way that nothing feels too long, too short, too heavy, or too boring. Intensive battles and soothing, relaxing and romantic moments move the story forward in a way that makes you feel everything is just about right.
And of course, “Wonder Woman” ’s characters are charming, funning, humane and thus successful.
As the first female superhero in many years, Diana naturally would draw much attention. However, exactly because she is the first, the expectance would also be very high. So, to create a figure like her is not an easy task.
Diana does not disappoint us. She is young and beautiful, wise yet innocent, with firm faith, a big and compassionate heart, and always charging forward with tremendous courage…She believes in her mission; which was relayed to her by her mother when she was a child. When the time comes, she sets out to complete her mission with no doubt or hesitation.
Although she knew nothing about the hideous human world, with her sacred mission, her sense of responsibility and justice, coupled with the superpower bestowed by the god, she just goes above and beyond all the complexities and calculations of the human world. She charges directly at the core of the problems, defeats the evil god and thus achieves her mission.
At one stage, I was moved to tears when, for the first time since she left her peaceful paradise island and arrived at the turbulent human world, in order to save the women and children who had suffered long enough in the war, she shakes off her human outfit, emerges as a superwoman in her super dress, and heroically charges alone toward the German army against a hail of bullets. The magnificent music, the epic-like battle scene with Wonder Woman as the sole center character, her heroic determination and courage…everything worked together and made me cry.
For her, this could be very “natural”, as she was born to save the world. However, deep down in my heart, in this much troubled-world and when salvation is very much needed, the concept of saving people and being saved alone can move me to tears.
Yes, Diana is a superhero; and she has saved the world. Yet with her innocence, simplicity, and unique personality, she is also so humane, so dear and so lovely.
Now let’s talk about Steve Trevor, the American soldier and spy who breaks into Diana’s world, and takes her away to the war to end all wars. He is, in a sense, only a supporting role of Diana, and also just an ordinary mortal man, though “above average” in his own words.
However, as a solider and also a peace lover, out of his sense of honor and responsibility, he fights shoulder to shoulder with his superwoman lover (Can I call Diana his “lover”?) with same courage and determination.
Most moving is his choice in the end. He chooses to sacrifice his own life to save many, many others by flying the plane full of poisonous gas into the sky and then destroying everything.
For him as a mortal, this is the biggest thing he can do. In terms of capabilities, he is no match for his superwoman lover. However, he himself might have not realized, that when his plane explodes in the air, Diana, who is lying on the ground nearly dead, and has almost lost her will for fight for men who “don’t deserve” her, suddenly sees the explosion, and understands Steve’s sacrifice. She murmurs his name, and suddenly gains enormous power. In myriads of golden rays, she jumps up, rises in the air, and resumes her battle against Ares; and ultimately defeats him, whom she failed to kill even with her magic god-killer sword、、.