Remember a few weeks ago when I was complaining about Warner Brothers' lack of marketing for Wonder Woman? It might have been because the suits in Hollywood knew that when the time came this one would market itself.
Opening this week at the Whistler Village 8, Wonder Woman is hot right now, really hot. At press time, the flick, directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, TV's Entourage) and starring Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious), is the top scoring superhero movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates film reviews from around the globe. Every media outlet has picked up on the story, the people that estimate box office numbers are doubling down, and Wonder Woman is suddenly the most anticipated film of the summer.
And the good news is, it lives up to the hype (mostly). Beginning right after the end of Batman v Superman, Diana Prince (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) is set up as a sort of peaceful warrior who is reluctant to save mankind because she's been burned by our kind before.
And then the origin story kicks in: Wonder Woman is an Amazon, a super secretive race of warrior women created by the gods, because why wouldn't you create an island full of perfect ass-kicking nurturers if you could? The Amazons live in peace until sometime during the First World War when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands with several Germans hot on his tail. The Amazons, led by Robin Wright's head warrior Antiope, battle the evil Germans and suffer some heartbreaking losses so Diana joins Steve and visits the world of man to defeat the evil plaguing humanity, which she believes comes from Ares, the Greek god of war. Cue the fish-out-of-water hijinks, semi-romantic subplot, and some really incredible battle sequences. Wonder Woman is legit.
But it's not perfect. At 141 minutes, the film is too long and the climax is disjointed from the bulk of the film. Up until the final battle, Jenkins weaves a pretty complex superhero flick — Diana has doubts, her belief in the simplicity of Good vs. Evil gets rattled, as does the very value of victory at all. The chemistry between Pine and Gadot (and a romantic subplot that actually adds to the story) makes for one of the most intriguing superhero duos in cinematic history. He gets a lot of the good lines, but Gadot captures Wonder Woman's stiff personality perfectly. She is a demi-god with a Lasso of Hope (no invisible jet in this one, sorry kids) raised in isolation and sheltered from the grey-area morality of human civilization (and lack thereof). In the age of antihero superheroes (Deadpool, Suicide Squad, etc.), Wonder Woman has to seem a bit old-fashioned, and it works. That is until the very end when everything devolves into an extended crash-bang spectacle of CGI and the kind of ridiculousness that makes the Avengers movies boring. Still, though, up to that point, Wonder Woman delivers.
Will it make enough bread to convince Hollywood that female-driven franchises are a bankable endeavour? Who knows, but in the new cinematic reality the audience is starting to make those decisions themselves. News out of Cannes this week is that Netflix will produce a Rihanna-Lupita Nyong'o heist movie that was literally dreamed up on Twitter after someone posted the idea beneath a photo of the two stars at a fashion show. Twitter fans went bonkers, and mass-suggested director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) to direct. A few tweets later and she was on board. Actress-writer Issa Rae will reportedly pen the script. Peer pressure works.
This is notable, not only because it's a film made by four African-American women green-lit by a major studio, but also because it has come together via the same concept as a fan-funded Kickstarter film, but the fans didn't need to send in the money. It could also be Netflix's next big f*ck-you to the cinematic establishment that just snubbed them at the prom in Cannes. And there's no way this film won't be amazing, wait and see.