Survival after graduation depends a lot on how much of a safe space the books and lecture halls have weakened the muscles from being in open air. There among the filth of society we walk and wonder what kind of things are going on in other people’s heads.
Diana of Themyscira (Gal Gadot) is learned, but it’s a far leap from libraries and training in green fields to the world out there and being able to process and understand what is actually going on. Wonder Woman is a film piece about leaving school and stepping across that graduation stage to see what horrors the real world has in store. And it’s other people. Such is the morass of those with agendas and who get their rocks off on being evil for the sake of it’s Tuesday.
There is a naivety in Diana that is written plain as she ventures outside the bubble keeping Paradise Island secret. There across the face, that look of wanting to understand what is going on and where one fits into the world. Pain and misery are there all around with so much that cannot be done. That Diana’s first instinct is to follow the path is the line that falls ahead of everyone. Life isn’t that simple. Life is filled with shadows and loose fitting grates ready to take your head off if you’re not careful about where you leap.
Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is that friendly word of advice that’s been out there on the front line and knows a thing or two about not getting your ears clipped. About understanding the confines of what to work in. About what is normal or what is right enough to get by. A voice you can only listen to so much before it’s time to leave it aside and forge your own path.
When Wonder Woman finally takes the stage and comes into her own it’s a show of defiance, a resolute will that she owns the place. That the steps she’s making are her own choice and it’s not until then that the confidence and power of Wonder Woman is born. A lesson in being able to take destiny in your own hands and charge across, growing into more of the person you were meant to be.
It doesn’t hurt to have a theme song that explodes the scene and pushes back everything else to announce your intentions and channels a thunderous pulse of energy and determination. (Which brings back the sounds of X-Men: The Animated Series from the 90s.)
The pacing nails down the mundane frustrations of those months (or years) between the bouts of anything of note happening. There in the streets walking about hoping the next corner has some kind of light or movement to get you through another day without that crushing dark grey all the time. It’s grim without it being the only thing it knows how to do.
Even in the thick of war and maimed bodies, it’s not a constant gloom & brood session. There are moments of levity and laughter that poke through with the daylight. A welcome chance to take pause on life and enjoy what time we have before the next cloud approaches.
Then, in the fading light of the last great battle, the struggle runs with pain and shouting and loud noises as it goes quietly in the night. It’s the end of a simple existence as we know it. Fight as we may it’s going to happen a lot in the dark days. Not just because it’s faster/easier to render explosions against black, but because the bright is waiting on the other side. There is a step toward an existential crisis about the true nature of being and chaos, but it stops before it spirals into a full exploration to chew the fat on.
Wonder Woman represents the reality of not always being able to reason why people do things. The questions are both why are there bad people in the world as much as why are there good people in the world. It’s a horrible and beautiful place to exist in. That we somehow wake up another day to be able to look over our past and reminisce is for those among us that have a working memory and the sensory feedback to run fingers over our scars.
Reviewed on Monday, 26 June 2017