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Wonder Woman: “It Is My Sacred Duty to Save the World”

Wonder-Woman-Image

WONDER WOMAN 

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Release Date: June 2, 2017

Cast:

Gal Gadot as Princess Diana, Wonder Woman
Chris Pine, Capt. Kirk in the remake of Star Trek, as Steve Trever
Connie Nielsen from the Gladiator as Queen Hippolyta
Robin Wright from Forrest Gump as Princess Diana’s aunt and trainer, Antiope
Danny Huston from Clash of the Titans (Poseidon)  as German General Ludendorff (Villain)

Wonder Woman is a full length feature film released June 2nd, produced by the highly successful DC Entertainment Enterprise which has developed superhero genre movies from classic comics characters including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and others. DC (Detective Comics) was founded in 1934. Some superhero movies were originally produced in the 1940s; others were developed into TV series. It’s hard to imagine any baby boomer today (and some pre-WWII kids)  not growing up reading these superhero comics and watching TV shows and movies in the 50s’, 60’s and beyond featuring these  popular comic characters.

Fast forward to the current era of state of the art CGI (computer graphics imagery) animated superhero action films and our kids and grandkids now are just as crazy about these same old comic characters as we were in bygone times. My fourteen year old son and I went to watch Wonder Woman during the July 4th holiday weekend. I missed the outing when he first saw it with his mom the prior week. He likes all the superhero films. For a fourteen year old kid, who doesn’t?  To be honest, I’ve panned them all as glorified video games with Hollywood actors replacing one dimensional cartoon figures from the comic books. But now they’re playing second fiddle to flashy CGI animated film technology merging HD sound and video and lightning speed action which has no relationship to the real world.

But then again, this is about science fiction, “fantasy” stories, is it not?  He got my attention when he said Wonder Woman was a great, virtuous heroine who used her super powers to end World War I. Interesting story line. He nearly fainted when I invited him to view the movie again.

The leading star, Gal Gadot, is a 32 year old actress and model, former Miss Israel. She was born Petah Tikva in Israel; married in 2008. She has two children. She served two years as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat trainer. Her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. She has an amazing screen presence with her 5’10” frame and it made sense that with her training as an Israeli soldier and husky voice, she was very much up to the part of the 21st century Wonder Woman.

I won’t give away the story line for those who haven’t seen the film. As background for this review, let me provide the highlights.  Diana is a sheltered Amazon princess raised on an isolated island paradise, Themyscira. The time period is World War I when an American pilot crash lands offshore and Diana rescues him from a watery grave, the only mortal man ever to step foot on the island of the Amazons. He tells her of the terrible world war causing much suffering among humanity.

The American pilot and beautiful Amazon warrior woman are dazzled by each other which develops into a romance. But other than a brief embrace and kiss (perhaps in two instances if I recall), parents should have no issue with the movie’s romantic scenes; no graphic, gratuitous violence either but rather the usual battle scenes as expected in such action movies keep your senses revved up. Mercifully the lines between the good guys and villains are clearly drawn and never blurred.

Diana is convinced that the god of War, Ares, has been unleashed on the world and she can use her supernatural powers to stop the evil he is inflicting on the human race. She has been well-trained as a warrior schooled in the best ancient martial arts the Amazons have perfected. She is the daughter of Zeus and the Amazon queen, Hippolyta. Despite the queen’s objections, off she goes to the Western front to conquer evil with her American pilot in the middle of No Man’s land. Before leaving, she declares “I cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost. It is our sacred duty to save the world.” Impressive.

As a cinematic production, the movie is a visual delight. The dialogue between the characters is at a level teens and young adults would relate to in an action film (think Indiana Jones). What was attractive in the leading star’s convincing performance, in my opinion, was her natural innocence and naivete about the modern world, considering she was coming from an isolated island of women warriors.  Confronted abruptly for the first time by an outside world filled with violent men with their horrific weapons of destruction intent on annihilating each other in the western front trenches of France and Belgium, it should have been a traumatic shock for her. But she never misses a beat as she charges forward leading the hapless, stalemated Allied forces. Again, this is fantasy and science fiction.

The plot is not complex. Heroine with super powers and mortal companions seek to prevent the villains plotting to head off the armistice soon expected to end the war. The movie ends on a high note, somewhat bittersweet, predictably setting up the Wonder Woman franchise for a sequel in the near future. She does not return home to the idyllic island of the Amazons but stays in the world of men.

A final note about the use of mythological figures in the film. The person of Zeus, mythical ruler of the Olympian gods, never takes the stage. In a typological sense, powerful Zeus is a type of God Almighty, the  God of the Hebrew and Christian bible. Ares, the evil son of Zeus and Hera, the Olympian god of war who takes human form in the film intends to destroy mankind through war. He fits the archetype of Lucifer, the fallen archangel once great in heaven and now accursed for his hateful design to ensnare and destroy souls. The Amazons were a tribe of women warriors in Greek mythology, daughters of Ares, but the screenwriters didn’t get the relationships quite right.  In the film Queen Hippolyta is the wife of Zeus and the Amazonian warriors her subjects.

Would teenagers identify Wonder Woman, the Amazon warrior princess, with the modern, secular notion of radical feminists seeking equality for women in military combat units? I don’t think so. Diana does not seek to compete with male soldiers but rather uses her supernatural powers to save mankind and lead the allies to victory. One can discern a type of St. Joan of Arc, the real warrior wonder woman who led the French Army to military successes in the 15th century.

Perhaps in future sequels, Princess Diana, the Wonder Woman, who now lives in the world of men, will discover the real God.

In Apostle Paul’s sojourn to ancient Athens, he saw the city was “full of idols”. (Acts 16:1) The learned Epicurean and Stoic philosophers took him to the Areopagus (public meeting place and court of the Greek elders). There he preached the eternal sermon that has resounded across the centuries. “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:23-25) “A woman named Damaris and others joined Paul and believed.” (Acts. 17:34)

I can imagine Diana in 21th century America accepting the real God made man, Lord and Savior of the world. The Greeks were religious people. Wonder Woman’s last words, “Only love can truly save the world” affirms the message of the apostle John: “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another … By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren … let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn. 11-18)

Four thumbs up for Wonder Woman! Mom and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, take your young ‘uns to see Wonder Woman. They’ll enjoy it and I think you will too.

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