This isn’t the movie review you should be reading.
At least, it’s definitely not the one I expected to be writing after viewing Wonder Woman, the first female-led comic book film to hit theaters in well over a decade.
I thought these words would be smart, if the film had failed us they could have been cutting or curt, I thought I’d fill my screen with an insightful investigation about feminism, superhero culture and a much-needed shift in the pop-culture lens.
But seeing Wonder Woman reminded me that movies are not just there to be dissected and analysed, they also exist to be lived through and enjoyed. Which is why I’m going to tell you something that I never thought would make it into my review…
I’m a fully functioning adult, and I cried while watching Wonder Woman. Twice. I cried twice.
Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, an actress who was first introduced to us via the understated, indie series of films known as The Fast and Furious.
Here Gadot plays Dianna, an Amazonian princess living on the island of Themyscira, a lush paradise populated by a fierce race of warrior women who can knock off some wicked moves with a sword and all have heads of hair that would put a Victoria's Secret catwalk to shame.
From the moment we enter Themyscira, and watch possibly one of the best shot action sequences unfold on a beach, it's immediately obvious that there's something a little different about this DC comics flick, apart from it's female lead.
The world of Themyscira is compelling and imaginative and the action sequences inventive and eye-catching. Think Amazon warriors with swords and shields leaping toward their foes on a beach, arrows piercing the air and Robin Wright gallantly leading an army into battle on horseback.
This is the moment that I realised what Wonder Woman really has going for it, something that current iterations of movies in the DC Extended Universe are sorely lacking.
Wonder Woman wants you to enjoy it. Badly.
And after years of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and to a lesser extent Suicide Squad, playing hard to get with audience emotions and caring not what you think about their dark, overblown, striving to be complex but coming off lifeless big screen offerings, it's nice to feel like Wonder Woman wants you to have a good time.
To put it bluntly, Superman and Batman are the guys that halfheartedly take you to a party and then leave you to find your own way home, while Wonder Woman is the person who fronts up the next day with coffee and a hopeful smile. And doughnuts.
Audiences have been fighting off a flood of superhero origin stories for years now (seriously, if I have to watch that kid be bitten by a radioactive spider one more time I'm going to start beating myself in the head with The Bat Signal) but because this is Wonder Woman's very first big screen outing, there's a lot of story to play with.
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Basically, Wonder Woman is set against the backdrop of of World War I, where the beautiful island of the Amazons is stumbled upon by America spy Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine, who as usual is oozing charisma and humour and plays fantastically against Gadot's Dianna).
Steve is being hunted down by German troops and, once the Amazon's have slaughtered his pursuers, he and Dianna set off for London and then find themselves on the very front lines of the war.
Even though Wonder Woman is a film with only one female lead character, it still manages to be to be completely feminist and female empowering. Due to that the fact that the character of Dianna has agency, is endearing and compelling to watch, and a true hero in every way.
It's also refreshing to see a big screen female superhero not be overtly sexual in her dealings with other characters.
Yes, the iconic Wonder Woman outfit is alive and well here, flashy boots and bustier, whip and all, but Dianna herself is unaware of her looks and sexuality and so does use them as a tool. This time around, her outfit is less male fantasy fulfillment and more altruistic savior of the planet.
Not that there's anything wrong with the Black Widows and the Harley Quinns capitalising on their sexuality as a means to their own end, but it's nice to see that not all female characters need to be sent down the same path.
Wonder Woman also has another trick up its sleeve many a modern hero movie is missing, and that thing is stakes.
Lately, too many big screen outings have taken their third acts, that pivotal time when tensions should be high and audiences should be on their edges of their seats and squandered it on our heroes fighting a generic CGI army and a some sort of power beam coming from the sky (yes, even the near perfect Avengers is guilty of this).
But Wonder Woman is more than just an action movie, it's also a war movie and, just like the awful life event it takes inspiration from, there is no true happy ending without having to pay a very high price.
But the fact that Wonder Woman is a fast paced, enjoyable cinematic experience is not what caused my eyes to well up as I sat in that darkened cinema.
It was the fact that this movie was even playing in front of me at all, that this character was truly on screen and I was here to witness it, that made me both sad and proud.
I hadn't felt that way since I was 11 years old and the very first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer appeared on my TV screen. Because there, for the very first time, there was a strong, funny, female hero at the center of her own story.
I remember being excited because Buffy's success was sure to open the flood gates of similarly fully formed female heroes, now that this iteration was here and such a success.
Except, it didn't, not really.
It came and went and now it's 20 years later and a female led, female directed superhero blockbuster still feels like a rare gift from the Gods.
And so, when that Wonder Woman theme music swelled for the first time, I felt my eyes start to sting. Because 11 year old Laura really needed to see this, and she had to wait a hell of a long time for it to happen.
Wonder Woman is already being hailed as one of the best reviewed superhero movies of all time and is projected to make a bucket load of money.
Let's just hope we don't have to wait another twenty years to see this tried again.
Wonder Woman is in cinemas Australia wide now.
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