IFE Film Review: Stereotype-smashing Wonder Woman gets woke

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Comic book fanboys who steered clear of Wonder Woman in theaters fearing that it might be too delicate and girly for their manly sensibilities should definitely think again. Not only did Wonder Woman breathe much needed new life into Warner Bros’ snooze-worthy DC Comics franchise – I didn’t call Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the “yawn of justice” for nothing! – but it might just be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. And the fact that Wonder Woman was directed by a woman – indie helmer Patty Jenkins, who recently became the highest paid female director in Hollywood history for the planned Wonder Woman sequel – makes that feat even cooler.

An epic, action-packed adventure yarn with the brainy heart and soul of an indie character-based drama, Wonder Woman reinvents the heroic comic book origin story in ways you’d never think possible in a town that has rebooted Spider-Man from the top three times in fifteen years. And despite the odds being firmly stacked against it – quick, name another successful superhero movie with a female lead, I dare you! – Wonder Woman didn’t simply rake in a golden-lasso-worthy $820 million-plus at the worldwide box office but it also completely changed the conversation about the financial viability of big, female-driven, action movies in Hollywood. Of course I would argue that the success of The Hunger Games series had already proved that point four times over, but, hey, what do I know?

Aside from a killer extended opening set on the mythical Amazonian island of Themyscira, most of the action in Wonder Woman takes place in Europe during World War I. And though fans of the original comic book and the first season of the 1970’s TV series might find themselves missing the WWII milieu in spots, setting the action during the “war to end all wars” is actually the perfect choice for the film. Not only does it lend the action scenes a fresh, gritty edge but it also gives the impressionable young Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince (played by a spectacular Gal Gadot), a chance to witness, firsthand, the darkness that lurks in the hearts of man before kicking some serious bad guy ass in the trenches of the Western Front. And when was the last time you saw a summer blockbuster set during World War I? Like, never. So bring on the gas masks and giant Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bombers, baby!

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After a quick overview of her early years on an island entirely populated by women, Wonder Woman opens with Diana rescuing American pilot Steve Trevor (Star Trek’s Chris Pine) after his plane crash lands in the waters nearby. Learning about the horrors of the war in Europe from her new guest, Diana decides to leave the island, her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Gladiator’s Connie Nielsen), and the proud family of warrior women she was raised by in the hopes of saving the world from further bloodshed. But after fighting alongside Steve and his ragtag team of multi-ethnic compatriots in Europe, Diana quickly realizes that the line between the good guys and the bad guys is tenuous at best, especially during wartime.

Featuring top-notch supporting turns from Danny Huston (Big Eyes, Children of Men), David Thewlis (Naked, the Harry Potter series), Shaun of the Dead’s Lucy Davis as Steve’s plucky secretary, Etta Candy, and Elena Anaya (Talk to Her) as one of the greatest female comic book villains of all time, Doctor Poison, Wonder Woman also offers up House of Cards’ Robin Wright as the sleekest sapphic warrior on Themyscira, Diana’s aunt, Antiope.

But the true standout here is Godot, who transforms a 75-year-old feminist icon into a living, breathing, refreshingly complex and often imperfect woman with movie star wattage to burn. Even without her signature invisible jet, Godot’s star rockets to the stratosphere in Jenkins’ fierce, hugely entertaining Wonder Woman. Now bring on the sequels!

Now playing on select American Airlines, Delta, EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates and Air Canada flights worldwide, Wonder Woman is also available via streaming at iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play.

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