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Pictures: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress, had been auditioning for the part of Wonder Woman. She was on a long flight to Los Angeles talking about quantum physics with a professor sitting next to her seat. After the plane landed, she opened her phone. There were 20 missed calls from her agent. Gadot called back. “You’ve got the part. You’re Wonder Woman,” her agent said.
“No. Oh. My. God!” Gadot started screaming on the plane with her most masculine voice.
“What’s going on?” the professor asked.
Gadot shrugged it off. Nothing. The role was to be kept as a secret.
Today, Gadot, 32, is to become a worldwide sensation when her portrayal of the female superhero hits the cinemas across the globe. No more secrets.
Gadot and the director Patty Jenkins were fairly unknown people in the movie business, unlike the most popular female superhero to date, especially if you were born in the US somewhere between the 40’s and 70’s. Jenkins was best known for her horrifying drama of a prostitute turned serial killer in the 2003 film Monster – Aileen Wuornos. Gadot made big screen appearances in her role as the scantly-clad Gisele in a couple of installments of the high-octane action franchise, Fast & Furious.
Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941. By 1969, there were already 182 issues of Wonder Woman out. Strong and brave, an Amazon warrior, she was considered a feminist icon. She demonstrated that every woman had innate power and that Wonder Woman was superior to her male counterparts.
We saw a glimpse of the modern Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from last year, where Gal Gadot, wearing a gold tiara, bullet-deflecting bracelets, swinging a shield and a sword, helps to take down a gigantic mutant in the company of the two popular male superheroes.
In the modern adaptation, Diana Prince’s (Wonder Woman’s alter ego) skills are at first constantly underestimated by men. Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), her male companion depicting the average man together with his entourage constantly underestimate her ability to kick down bad guys. But when Wonder Woman blocks a storm of bullets with her shield and takes down a church tower where a sniper is hiding with her bare hands and boots, they are starting to become convinced of her powers.
“You mean you found her in the Amazon and there are a lot of women like her and no men?” Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), a conman in Captain Trevor’s team, asks at one point. The piece of dialogue is a perfect example of the men’s attitude.
Wonder Woman takes on today’s standard approach when considering movie length: two hours twenty-one minutes. In result, there is also room for character development – and unfortunately – for jokes that fall flat. In a screenplay by Allan Heidenberg, the man known for writing several TV episodes from Sex and the City to Grey’s Anatomy and The O.C, we are smacked in the face with sexist jokes and cheesy humor.
At one point Captain Trevor asks: “Have you never met a man before? What about your father?”
Wonder Woman: “I have no father. I was brought to life by Zeus.”
Due to its platitudes, Wonder Woman starts to drag toward the middle of the movie but fortunately starts to add interest again toward the end with added sentimentalism. We are also occasionally introduced to some simple but effective humor:
Wonder Woman: “[Sees London for the first time.] It’s hideous!”
Captain Trevor: “Yeah, it’s not for everybody.”
In a superhero blockbuster like this, you expect the action to be top notch. It is, kind of. Gadot underwent six months of martial arts training from Brazilian jujutsu to kung fu, kickboxing and sword fighting. She was also enlisted in the Israeli army for two years. She actually knows to handle weapons, and this also landed her roles in the Fast & Furious flicks, which in turn helped her to become the superheroine of today.
With this in mind, it’s sad to see some of the action scenes distorted with too many slow-motion effects and unnecessary close-ups. Ok. some of it may have been necessary as she did some of her fight choreography while pregnant but in general, Jenkins should have allowed more wide-shots while Gadot was showing off her skills.
The fight choreographer Ryan Watson certainly knows what he is doing; not only has the Tae Kwon Do expert made a long career as a Hollywood stuntman, but his name also appears behind the fight choreography in the aforementioned Batman versus Superman. The special and visual effects in Wonder Woman are on the top level, produced by massive teams.Add a massive budget to the mix: about 150 million dollars, and we can be assured that the lack of money is not really the problem, if the movie fails.
Wonder Woman is a fresh take on the superhero genre. Despite its occasional cheesy humor, it will keep the viewer entertained.
Wonder Woman premieres in cinemas on June 2.