Preamble: I saw this weeks ago but I wanted to write this in light of reading some negative reviews that were so contrary to my own beliefs that I was stunned and confused. I wanted to make sure that there are some reasonable positive reviews out there too, regardless of how small my voice is.
When I was a kid in the late 80s (and early 90s), my dad introduced me to Gustav Holst. At the time, Mars: the Bringer of War was the most memorable one. It sounded like epic movie music! At the time I was unaware of the context of that piece, however. Later, when I understood the horror and tragedy of World War 1, Mars had a vastly different meaning.
I still remember when my dad told me the story of the Christmas Truce. It was not long after going to the War Museum here in Ottawa and walking through the recreation of the Somme trenches where I saw a human hand and face in the mud. Needless to say, I viewed the concept of war very differently. Not as a fun G.I. Joe game, but as something very, very sad. I learned of my Grandpa’s experiences on a Corvette escort ship / submarine hunter and watched The Cruel Sea. It wasn’t a fun thing at all and I might never have been born if Grandpa had been on an unlucky vessel.
When I first heard that Wonder Woman would occur during the Great War, I was impressed and excited (not in the usual way of anticipating super hero movies). I was hoping that they’d do the historical event honor without too much schlock. I wasn’t disappointed.
There is something incredibly touching and tragic about a noble-hearted demi-goddess super hero in golden armour charging across the Somme. She wants to end human suffering because of war and her desire to do so is pure and selfless. And ultimately a bit naive in a beautiful way.
Wonder Woman was a great film in my opinion: exciting action scenes (great battles that were easy to understand), characters who I cared about (Robin Wright’s warrior-instructor was surprisingly likeable despite not knowing her for long), strong emotions (I teared up at several scenes, especially when Diana first arrives at the front lines and sees the suffering first hand) and great casting (all very believable actors who took the subject matter seriously).
The movie also showcases a lot of diversity. Some folks complained but I loved it because it really emphasised that the Great War was a WORLD war and affected a lot of nations. It made the world feel larger.
I really liked Diana. Gal Godot was great and showed far more depth than I anticipated. Chris Pine was great as her co-protagonist. His final scene, despite following a few familiar tropes, still had an emotional impact for me.
The supporting characters were cool too. I genuinely felt touched that Ewen Bremner’s character displayed crippling PTSD which inversed the trope of the usual expert sniper. I felt that this film respected soldiers as human beings despite the super hero film genre. It wasn’t a recruitment/propaganda reel like Michael Bay’s Transformers massacres.
To me, the WW1 was really the ultimate victory of the God of War: it set the stage for a whole new world. Even though Diana defeats Mars in the end, it doesn’t really matter in the long run, which added to the bittersweet feelings of this movie.
However, it did make a difference. After the villain’s defeat, there is a scene akin to the Christmas truce as soldiers from both sides (pointedly young men, further revealing the tragedy of that war) seem to come out of a daze and find themselves showing compassion and camaraderie. Top notch.
Wonder Woman is another film that elevates the super hero genre. Most of the internet disagrees with me and is instead focusing on whether it has too strong of a “Feminist Agenda” or not enough of one. Those people are un-ironicaly waging a war of ideals that makes me sad: they don’t seem to care about the messages of the film itself. The tragedy continues, it seems.