Don't be put off by my title: there is nothing sinister here chaps!! Indeed, with my general 'bloggings' I shall attempt to delight and astound you out of the mundaneness of a middle class suburban life, into the magical world of the Sophster!! Mystical...

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Sophie's Film Choice #16: WONDER WOMAN

To set the scene for this post: I'm currently on an East Midlands train, with a Caffe Nero iced coffee, rinsing the free Wi Fi by streaming Spotify and tapping away on my macbook air. I'm practically the millennial version of J K Rowling.

Now I've got that out of my system: to business. Last night I saw Wonder Woman. And now I want to BE her. So to stop myself from crying inside, I'll just have to write about the film instead.

Having been officially bummed out by most films in the DC universe that I have seen (the Batman franchise mainly), I had heard much happier things about Wonder Woman - including a lovely, candid interview with Gal Gadot on the Kermode and Mayo film review - and took a stab in the dark that this would sufficiently fulfil my 'Friyay' vibe. Me and my lovely work colleague hotfooted down to Leicester Square (from our conveniently placed Covent Garden office), grabbed a cheeky Burger King and took our seats for two and half hours of escapist, super hero fun. 
"Don't. Stop. Me. NOW!"

Having purposely steered away from the trailers (because of course all the best parts are in them, amirite?!) I found Wonder Woman totally refreshing. I've seen a lot of coverage on the feminist strengths/weaknesses of the film, so I'm just going to take it as I found it with some things that left an impression on me: 

Gal Gadot gives such a lovely, powerful yet vulnerable portrayal of Diana (aka Wonder Woman, although no one calls her this yet) that she immediately wins you over. As an origin story, we witness Diana as she is brought up by the Amazons (inc. Claire Underwood with a... Greek? Turkish? accent) to hold the only the highest ideals and become a stunningly fierce warrior. When catapulted into the human world during the First World War by Steve Trevors (Chris Pine), she puts the rest of the characters to shame in her genuine belief that humans are wholly good. Plus her hair in the slo mo scenes is so swishy. 

The culture shocks work in many ways: from a Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones style opening which reveals the golden and luscious Themyscira, to the grey, polluted scenes of London, to the eeriness of the Western Front, there is ample opportunity for both comedy and reflection. Diana's reactions to early 20th century human customs, including trying on wartime ladies' fashion ('How can a woman possibly fight in this?') are contagiously charming, helped along by Lucy Davis' comically matter-of-fact performance as Steve Trevor's receptionist. When Diana doesn't understand why the men won't risk going over the top into No Man's Land to save innocent lives, the results are uplifting and quite beautiful. 

"The pool did NOT look like that on the Thomson website"

It doesn't go over board on super hero references. There are deliberate nods to Batman to frame the film, as well as a cheeky ribbing of Clark Kent's 'undercover glasses' look in the clothing shop, but the film concentrates on the story at hand. In fact, I would describe it as more of a war film with a super hero protagonist than vice versa. (There is a battle scene towards the end that is very reminiscent of X Men, but we'll forgive that as we are in a WHOLE other universe). 

The chemistry between Diana and Steve definitely works (even if laid on a little thick at times due to some obvious one liners, overly lingering close ups and one perfectly timed snowfall). Both characters are driven by the need to protect others, yet self assured and confident of their own abilities - i.e. actually likeable. People have criticised the relationship as profoundly un-feminist: Diana is too naive or innocent and Steve acts as a teacher figure, but to me this is completely misread. The humour and joy in their chemistry grows from the very difference between this assumption and reality.


Assumption: Diana is from a land of no men. She clearly doesn't know what sex is. 

Reality: She is more well read about reproduction and the 'pleasures of flesh' that probably any man alive. 

Assumption: Diana is a woman and therefore needs protecting. 

Reality: Let's all hide behind her because we will literally die immediately in this war unless she's fighting like a demon.

"Moaning... Myrtle?"
I could go on and on but I'll wrap up with some final thoughts/highlights: 

1) The 'Golden Lasso of Truth' is epic and I want one.
2) Could Chris Pine be the next generation of Leo Di Caprio? Will keep track.
3) Little girls have some great new role models this last year (there were some definite echoes of Disney's Moana in the film's themes).
4) Could have done with a little less CGI / electric guitars. Let's not get into Twilight territory now.
5) If Indiana Jones tells us anything, chuck in a few evil Germans and you're on to a winner. 

All in all, great Friday fun which makes you want to run through the streets in an armoured dress, baring your wrists at things and feeling like a boss. Big thumbs up! 

Til next time gang,
 Super Soph™

PS. Now stopping as it turns out I get travel sick when writing on trains. This is clearly why I don't have a multi-million dollar book series.