The Wonderful Wonder Woman: My Commentary

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Contains spoilers for Wonder Woman(2017) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

A few weeks ago, I got the pleasure to see the Patty Jenkins directed film, Wonder Woman. Now, Wonder Woman has been my SECOND favorite superhero for as long as I can remember. (Batman is my favorite 😃). I’ve read countless comics, I’ve seen every animated film that she’s featured in and I’ve collected many pieces of merchandise over the years.  She’s not just a member of the Justice League but she is a member of the DC trinity; one of the leaders. She stands right alongside the other two heavy-hitters: Batman and Superman. Yet, aside from Lynda Carter’s fantastic portrayal in the 70’s, there has been no live action Diana Prince. Think about it, Batman has had a number of big screen, live action movies AND countless animated incarnations. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, there are over 25 of them.   Superman has  8 live action films and many great series of his own (Lois and Clark ya’ll ❤) . In comparison, Wonder Woman has one TV movie, one TV series, and one animated film. How is it that such an iconic character has had to share so much screen time with her brothers in arms? Many times, she is shown as the backbone and voice of reason for the trio. Most recently, she showed the boys what they needed to do in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice . Even with the odds stacked against the crew, Wonder Woman merely smirked and continued her assault on Doomsday. (Raise your hand if you got goosebumps.) So when a live action film was announced, I was beyond ecstatic. My girl was FINALLY going to be on the big screen! She has been an icon since her debut in 1941  so I knew that she was going to shatter the glass ceiling.

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(No biggie!)

Wonder Woman tells the story of Princess Diana of Themyscira, the Daughter of Hippolyta. Formed from clay by her mother’s hands and given life by Zeus, this woman was a wonder from birth. Yes, she is an icon and she has a countless number of fans around the world. We’ve seen and/or read her story numerous times.  I already knew that the film was going to be great so I could not help but sit on the edge of my seat.  I kept my eyes wide and my ears open so that I would not miss a thing. I was merely enjoying the film when a crucial moment graced the screen: No Man’s Land. Diana wanted Steve to take her to the heart of the war because she was determined to end it. Unfortunately, the soldiers who had been posted there had made little progress against the Germans’ fancy weaponry. Steve, in an attempt to protect Diana, tried explaining to her that there was no way to advance. But Diana boldly declared that SHE would advance. The woman of wonder courageously breached the barriers of No Man’s Land to go toe to toe with every machine, every bullet, and every man that had been holding the town of Veld hostage.  I. cried. like. a. baby. I had to ask my sister for tissues. No matter how much I wiped my eyes, the tears kept coming. I could not ignore the extended metaphor that was playing before my eyes. It’s hard to believe that this pivotal moment was almost cut from the film! As mentioned before, this is the first Wonder Woman feature film. Most of major super hero movies feature women as part of a team or as a love interest. But on June 2, 2017, Wonder Woman unabashedly entered the “No Man’s Land” of super hero films. As a young, black woman, I have encountered “No Man’s Land” many times. During my freshman year of college, my speech professor told our class that he was surprised that two of his former black students were excellent speakers. I walked out of class with tears in my eyes that day. I wanted to scream at him and give him a piece of my mind. But after speaking with my mom, I went back with courage and grace to show him exactly why I was excellent. I made an “A” on my final and an “A” in the class.

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(Pictured: The metaphorical tiara I wore during each speech)

But as with any project, there are critics. There are some who see this film as a tool to promote feminist agenda. The term “feminism” has a negative connotation these days and the media isn’t helping. Of course, there are those who claim the title and depict themselves as members of a “man-haters” club. Is Wonder Woman a feminist movie? Yes, yes it is. Real feminism is not bashing men every 5 seconds. Real feminism is being true to yourself without adhering to society’s standards. Real feminism fights for the equality for all people. And real feminism is exhibited beautifully through Gadot’s interpretation of Diana. She demonstrates her strength without asking for a pat on the back and without emasculating her male comrades. Diana Prince is a sheet of titanium and she is a snowflake.  She unapologetically scrapes the floor with anyone who threatens the common good but she also loves dancing in Steve’s arms. Diana courageously brandishes a sword and she squeals at the sight of a baby. She literally goes head to head with machine guns and weeps for the people affected by horrors of the war.  She can be the bull AND the china shop and she is not afraid to be either one. This is feminism.

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(Feminism.)

Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman and the public agrees. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has grossed over $700 million USD worldwide . I was unaware of Gadot before Batman v Superman but let me tell you, she has immortalized Diana of Themyscira. Not only did she save the world, but she saved herself from the confines of her role as a traditional Princess. Even as a child, she ruled with grace and determination. During this journey, Diana made gains and suffered losses. She experienced the bliss and loss of her first love. It was through this journey that she became Wonder Woman. With the success of this film, I hope that Hollywood can see how important films like these are. At some point, everyone faces a “No Man’s Land”. People of all ages, colors, and creeds can relate to this woman’s journey to make a difference. Did Wonder Woman break the glass ceiling? No, she annihilated that thing.

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(Boom.)

Because I am a music head, I could not help but make a playlist while working on this post. Here is a link to my playlist that I simply titled “Wonder”. It includes “To Be Human” by Sia and Labrinth from the Wonder Woman soundtrack and other songs that I feel embody the character. Enjoy! <3

 

 

 

Beauty and the Beast 2017: My Analysis and Review

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If you haven’t seen this movie yet, turn back now. This post contains spoilers!!! (Pulls piano out of pocket Dun dun dun dun!)

FreeImages.com/T. Duff

(Pictured: Not me.)

It’s been a month but I must say that I am still intrigued by the live action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (known as BATB on Tumblr). The more I think about it, the more I realize how clever this version is. Let me start by saying that I am definitely a fan of the original 1991 classic. It’s my family’s 2nd favorite Disney movie that we still quote to this day. In fact, we bought our tickets early and saw the film together. I couldn’t contain my excitement as the day got closer. But a few thoughts plagued the back of my mind. Namely “Pls don’t mess up the songs.” “Don’t ruin the characters.” “Don’t change the story too much.” “Pls keep it pure like the Cinderella adaptation.” I’ll admit that I initially wasn’t too keen on Emma Watson’s casting as Belle. It’s not that I doubted her acting chops, it just that she didn’t seem like “Belle” to me. (Silly, I know, but this is the only way to explain it. :P) Also, I didn’t like the Beast’s design. He didn’t look ‘real’ enough for me (you know what I mean). I kept telling myself that I had only seen trailers and that I would need to see the movie as a whole to get a clear picture. Disney wouldn’t ruin one of their classics. It had to be great.

I was right. This movie blew me away. Let me tell you why. This live action adaptation cleverly takes elements from the original 1991 classic and reworks them into an even more chilling story. The moral of this tale is to not judge a book by its cover.  Of course, we know that Gaston was a misogynistic, arrogant (favorite colorful word). I knew these things going into the theater. But 2017 Gaston hides this which is what makes him seem more sinister than this animated counterpart. Not only does 2017 Gaston use manners while going through the village, his physically abusive nature towards Lefou is absent. In fact, the two appear to be best friends rather than man and errand boy.

(I'm 100% sure that Gaston wore this as a sleepshirt.)
FreeImages.com/Josh Klute

(I’m 100% sure that Gaston wore this as a sleep shirt)

As the movie progresses, I notice how the titular “Beauty and the Beast” not only applies to Belle and Beast (or Adam according to the internet) but to Lefou and Gaston… Hear me out.  Belle takes her father’s place in the Beast’s dungeon and becomes his prisoner. After he saves her life, she saves his when the wolves who tried to kill her overpower him. It is through his physical healing process that they form a mutual respect for each other that gradually turns into love.

On the other hand, Lefou faithfully follows Gaston and actually has a crush on him in this version.  While the two appear to be bros, their relationship is not a healthy one. LeFou’s blind loyalty to Gaston puts him in compromising situations in which Gaston can manipulate him. After Maurice refuses to give Belle’s hand to Gaston, he leaves Maurice to die in the woods. Maurice survives and accuses Gaston of murder at the tavern. A menacing stare from Gaston causes LeFou to unwillingly lie for Gaston. Initially the prisoner, Belle is free to go after Beast’s change of heart. But LeFou is confident in his friendship with Gaston and feels obligated to stay out of fear. His admiration for everyone’s hero gradually turns into disgust. In fact, 2017 LeFou dejectedly sings that they are hunting the wrong beast during the “Mob Song” scene. At this point in the film, Gaston has fully unleashed his true colors and his rage prevents him from thinking rationally. He has Maurice and Belle locked up and threatens to do the same to LeFou if he questions him again. Earlier in the film, LeFou is able to talk sense into Gaston. Not anymore. Injured during the raid on the castle, LeFou calls for Gaston’s help to which Gaston tells him that he’s on his own. It is then that LeFou accepts that Gaston is not his friend and that he needs to move on.

FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla

(LeFou everytime Gaston does something morally compromising.)

In the final scene of the film, the titular “Beauty and the Beast” theme song plays. Belle, Beast (now human), and the rest of the cast happily dance on the ballroom floor. In a clever piece of editing, LeFou switches partners and ends up with Stanley  just as Madame Garderobe beautifully sings the line “Beauty and the Beast”. Belle is free and her Beast has transformed. LeFou is free and his beast is no more.

FreeImages.com/Kaan Tanriover

(Free.)

I love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Although there were changes made, it still has a fairy tale feel. Love transformed one beast and envy created the other. The story was strong and the songs were nicely executed. Even the new songs fit the narrative perfectly (Evermore is still on repeat). Like most Disney films, audiences can enjoy BATB at face value or dig deeper to explore the themes presented throughout. I do believe that this film will be a topic of discussion for years to come. Thanks, Disney. ❤