The reviews for “Wonder Woman,” which stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot and is directed by Patty Jenkins, are glowing and reaction is off the charts. On Rotten Tomatoes the movie is tracking 94% positive critic reviews and 93% audience approval.
According to Box Office Mojo, Wonder Woman brought in an impressive $11 million from Thursday preview screenings which began at 7 p.m. at 3500 theaters. This is slightly behind the $11.2 million “Guardians of the Galaxy” brought in and ahead of “Doctor Strange’s” $9.4 million.”
But here’s what really gets me excited: This latest installment in WB’s DC Comics Universe proves not only that audiences want to see females in lead roles, including as superheroes, but that women can direct these movies as well if not better than men. Women have broken another glass ceiling and studio heads who greenlight movies are going to have to pay attention.
Box Office Mojo cites more impressive figures: “Compared to the last three DC Comics films, Wonder Woman currently holds a 75 rating on Metacritic, a score much higher than the likes of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, of which only Man of Steel scored higher than 50 on the Metacritic scale.”
So does the movie live up to its hype? It sure does! I saw it at a critic’s screening the other night and I have never seen a packed movie theater so intensely focused on the screen. There were no surreptitious cell phone distractions nor audience chattering and even the popcorn chumping seemed subdued.
As for Wonder Woman, here is a hero that’s brainy, kick ass and full of heart. The movie seems to say that if you have a colossal, universe challenging task, say like ending World Wars, don’t bother with the troops, here’s a problem only a woman can solve.
And Wonder Woman feels less like part of a franchise industry than a fully dimensional movie. It’s a mix of genres, including screwball comedy, action thriller, romantic love story and superhero caper. Gadot and co-star Chris Pines have real chemistry and my favorite scenes in the film involve the witty and romantic banter between them.
Their first encounter is electric. As Princess Diana, daughter of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons (Connie Nielsen), Wonder Woman had never seen a man before Chris Pine’s character crashes (literally) into the Mediterranean island paradise where she and the other warrior women live and train. In one delicious early scene, Wonder Woman sees Chris Pine’s character, a gorgeous blue-eyed airman, nude. This is the first time she’s seen a naked man in the flesh. Their interaction, her sly gaze, his shyness, is a reversal of what we usually see on screen. “Are you like all men?” she asks him matter of factly. “No, above average,” he replies haltingly, but, let’s face it, with completely honesty.
You can tell “Wonder Woman” is directed by a woman. She is a beautiful, young woman, of course, but absent is the male sexual gaze. You admire her strength and smarts. She wants to do good in the world. She is witty and brainy but also unworldly and completely mystified by the modern world’s cruelty and violence. There’s a lot to admire in this woman who wants to end war. This movie will leave you on an emotional high and for a superhero movie where it’s generally all about the action and special effects, that’s saying a lot.
(Photograph courtesy of Warner Bros.)