a kate west review/reflection

Oh, wondrous Wonder Woman. THANK YOU.

I finally got my superhero movie. I didn't even know I needed it. I knew I wanted something different. That we all desperately needed a change from the norm. We got different alright. We got something revolutionary. And validating. Some fiery inspiration. And even a little personal vindication.

It's not perfect. You can read some film critique below. If you want. But socially? It's timing couldn't be better. In this current climate of consciousness-raising against mansplaining, man-interrupting - amidst awareness of the all too prevalent and myopic (and so very tedious) male gaze, women get their OWN heroine. We don't have to share her with male opinion or dress her up as a male fantasy. Y'all get to watch, sure, but you don't have to have a say. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is her own woman. She's ours. She comes from an island of proud warrior women who don't need men - they can tend to their own affairs, thank you very much. Having attended an all girls' high school, I can tell you that not worrying about men listening to what you think of the book you're reading is a delight. Uber refreshing. You end up boldly raising your hand in every class from then on, because your opinion matters. Your thoughts and feelings are important to you and you are not shy about voicing them.

But back to Diana. She was born to care and made to save the world. We don't deserve her. But because it's the right thing to do, she will fight for us. And thank God. The men are screwing everything up and getting us into World War I. By the way, it's nice to have a period piece with earlier kinds of Germans (pre-Nazi). I love the look. Very Von Baron. As for Gadot herself - she is glorious. Emotionally vulnerable and impenetrable as a goddess. She brings female compassion to the front and shows us how strong that can be. Heart and soul are freely given in every scene and she is truly riveting. And she's beautiful. In an unadorned and pure way. She's doesn't compete with other women - at least not in the petty way we learn to. We're not jealous of her. Because she's embodying us. She's carrying our spirit, voicing our warrior cries. We are her.

I remember watching Lynda Carter in the classic television show and kinda wanting to be Wonder Woman. In a vague princessy way. But not in the more seriously epic way I wanted to be a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. It just wasn't fierce enough for me. I craved the fire and iron will to battle monsters in hell. Camp just can't do that. This movie though, wow.

Diana wanted to learn to fight ever since she was a wee lass. Auntie Antiope (Robin Wright) was the supreme role model to teach her - and how. Director Patty Jenkins really captures the bad-assery of those Amazonian battles. Unflinching in the face of danger, each solider is as committed as the next. Enter adorable Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. Diana saves him from drowning with his plane, and in return he shows her the harsh modern world that had been hidden from her all these years. After much soul-searching, Diana's mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) finally lets go of her daughter and watches her disappear across the waters toward evil.

Although technically Diana was sheltered on her island, she wasn't "sheltered" and in fact, can handle herself very well. She has no qualms about speaking up, taking charge, making decisions for herself and maintaining a steely moral code. Thrust into the battlefield, in the middle of the world's first great terrible war, Wonder Woman is born. Crossing into No-Man's Land (disregarding being told not to by the men) she strides straight toward danger, fearlessly deflecting bullets. This is the pivotal scene that made so many women cry. Diana doesn't care about naysayers. She was raised to follow her own truth, her own conviction, because she believes in herself. Too many of us compromise ourselves, allow doubt to creep in, swallow the lie that women are less than. Wonder Woman is more than. She is everything in that moment. She is exquisite. It's one of the most emotionally satisfying sequences I've seen in a long time. I carried it with me long after I left the theater.

The final battle is a little tedious, sure, as is the twist of the big baddie. But I forgive. Interesting though, to have an evil female scientist in Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) who gets a wonderfully nuanced scene with Chris Pine - kudos to both of them. Nicely done.

Overall, I was stunned by how affected I was. I'm sure dedicated fans of graphic novels experienced this kind of thing before. The depiction of ultimate confidence in yourself. It's new to me though. Women aren't normally coached in that kind of self-sufficiency. Some of us learn it. But in general, society discourages it. Since Diana grew up neurosis-free, she easily soars above the rest. True, it doesn't hurt to have the advantage of super powers. But in a metaphorical sense, we can all give ourselves wings, no? I think we were starved for this perspective. Which is why it made us cry. Diana is simply Diana, with no agenda. And not trying to male bash here, but c'mon, you guys had your validation movies oh, so many times over. Let us have this one. And that's the thing about Wonder Woman too - she lets you all come along for the ride. Enjoy.

Photos: Warner Bros. Pictures

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