Wednesday, October 11, 2017

‘Blu-ray or Bust’ - WONDER WOMAN

‘Blu-ray or Bust’

Director Patty Jenkins (MONSTER) is a badass.  Not only did the theatrical release of her epic vision for DC Comics fan favorite WONDER WOMAN receive rave reviews, but it also made more money than any of the other DC universe films to date.  Sorry, producer and DC directorial favorite Zack Snyder, but, thou hast been usurped.

We finally have a DC film that is perfect without a Snyder Director’s Cut.  Which is surprising when you consider that he was one of the writers of the film; clocking in at well over two hours, Warner Brothers must have finally gotten the hint that longer movies sometimes make for better stories.  The slashing of Snyder’s WATCHMEN and BATMAN VS SUPERMAN produced theatrical releases that seemed half-hearted, whereas the longer versions were better told stories, and darn good films.  I appreciate Snyder enough to admit that I am a big fan of his Blu-ray releases.

But the fact that Jenkins’s film does not need a “director’s cut”, or a “special edition”, speaks volumes.  She has crafted a tight and focused story, a visually stunning GLADIATOR for the female masses.  Even with all the hype about strong leading women, and feminism as a super power, it is easy to push all of the gender politics and stereotypes out of the way and just enjoy a kickass film.  Which just happens to be directed by a woman, and stars three awesomely cast female leads: Gal Gadot in the titular role (stop snickering) is a breath of fresh air in a male-dominated and overly chiseled genre.  She captures the innocence, ferocity, and determination that gets lost with other “super” characters.  Her “Diana” is a hero for the ages, one that learns how to fight before finding out who she really is.  Her mother is played by the stoic Connie Nielsen (THE ICE HARVEST), who rules their homeland with a knowing and steady grip.  And the woman that trains her in combat is none other than Robin Wright (THE PRINCESS BRIDE), who is fierce and passionate and leads an army (take that, James Cameron) of female warriors.

And then there is Chris Pine.  This dude is one of the best unheralded actors of this era, and everyone just kind of ignores him.  ‘Oh, yeah, the new Captain Kirk, whatever’.  Uh, pardon me, but did anyone see him in HELL OR HIGH WATER?  How about his uncredited role in STRETCH?  It isn’t just his versatility, it is also his presence, the sarcastic looks, the intelligence bubbling in his eyes.  The man is a hell of an actor, and he shows more layers here than an ordinary superhero film deserves in a supporting character.

The vision that Jenkins and cinematographer Matthew Jensen (the beautifully photographed CHRONICLE and “Game of Thrones”) capture here is a story so visually stunning that you are really in awe of the locations they scouted.  The isle of Themyscira is indeed a paradise, just as much as the torn earth of the Western Front is a gritty, dirty hell.  From the way the film was lit to the way some of the action is slowed down (so you can see just how our heroine moves), there are brilliant strokes of filmmaking in abundance, and they all add to the beauty of this story.         

This is no ordinary superhero film, but it is a film about an extraordinary woman.  It is one that doesn’t need other action heroes, doesn’t need any Avengers or competing super men.  At its heart—and all the girl power!  Reviewers may not like me for saying this—it is a coming of age film, told through the eyes of a little girl that grows into a woman at exactly the right moment.  Bravo, Warner Brothers, for handing the reigns of this film over to the likes of Jenkins & Co., and for not needing a longer cut to fully flesh out what the director had in mind.

Grade: A
Bonus Features:
Blu-ray Necessary: you bet your tattered red cape it is

-- T.S. Kummelman

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