An Ideal of Hope
Wonder Woman is an action film of the growing superhero genre, directed by Academy Award winner Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot as the famous Amazonian heroine. It is the first film featuring a female comic book character as the protagonist since 2005’s Elektra, and is the first Wonder Woman film to ever be released in cinemas. The film tells the story of Diana Prince, a young woman growing up on an island in paradise, where only female warriors live and train to fight as protectors of the world. When World War I soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands near the island, he brings news of a great war in the world. This compels Diana to follow Steve into the outside world, in order to defeat a great evil and fulfil her duty in saving mankind.
Though marketed as a standalone film and an origin story, Wonder Woman is the fourth film in the DC Extended Cinematic Universe (DCEU), taking place almost 100 years before the events of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. At best, the previous DCEU films have been divisive, being profitable at the box office but relatively unpopular with critics. For some fans, disappointment was a recurring theme when it came to these films. Meanwhile, reports of Warner Bros. constantly making changes to their slate of future DC films, including the addition of new films and the repeated changing of directors, hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in the future of this cinematic universe. Unsurprisingly, all eyes are now on Wonder Woman to launch this diverse superhero franchise into the stars, as fans are hoping for it to be ‘the DCEU’s first great movie’ as some may say. Can Gal Gadot and Co. channel their inner superhero and finally give the world the Wonder Woman they deserve, or is this herculean effort too much to ask for in an already unstable movie universe?
It is no secret that the pressure to make a good, no, GREAT film is rather high considering the mixed feelings for Suicide Squad, and I am happy to report that the team has delivered. Overall, Wonder Woman is a confident, emotional and powerful film, with great performances topped by Gal Gadot’s beauty and charisma. The story, tone and pacing are overall solid, though parts are better cut and better paced than others. Though it follows what is now considered a clichéd superhero origin storyline, it is executed with passion and depth, which in this case is what matters most. Its themes are timeless and well-conveyed. Its action sequences are glorious though some may argue that slow-motion is used excessively. And its score represents another home-run in the DCEU, an element that has never quite been well-realised by the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). For fans of Wonder Woman, the superhero genre and action films in general, this is an experience you will likely enjoy.
The Wonderful Gal
Heads were turned when it was first announced that Gal Gadot would play the iconic superheroine, but here she silences her critics with a performance that is fierce but vulnerable. Gadot uses her physicality to mesmerise in action scenes, but also has quieter, more heartfelt moments in the film, mostly in scenes with Chris Pine’s equally charismatic Steve Trevor. Their chemistry is solid and the film should be commended for allowing these smaller moments for characters to breathe and develop. Trevor is the main source off which Diana discovers the true nature of the outside world, and is tightly related to a central theme of the film: innocence. The film is very much a tale of an innocent child, full of kindness and purity, and the difficult journey she takes in realising the reality of life on Earth. Through her eyes, we see the horrors of war and feel her naivety and purity slowly slipping away as she reaches a greater level of maturity and understanding. This is also represented by the increasing darkness of colours through the three acts, where the first act has colours which are sunny and lush, the second grey and depressing, and the third dark but with elements of vibrance.
Director Patty Jenkins may just be the biggest hero of in the film, guiding the cast and crew through a film laced with well-executed humour, steady pacing and explosive action scenes reminiscent of Guy Ritchie and Michael Bay’s best, all while keeping the audience engaged and constantly well-informed about the character’s motives and goals. Her collaboration with the screenwriter, editor and actors show on screen, as opposed to the less-than-5-star treatment David Ayer allegedly had on Suicide Squad. But another member of the team that deserves big props is composer Rupert Gregson-Williams, who pays homage to Hans Zimmer’s original Wonder Woman theme from Batman v Superman, while injecting it with more of the same powerful elegance. When those easily recognisable tribal drum beats are followed by that adrenaline-inducing electric guitar riff, goosebumps are sure to ensue.
Deserving a Better Universe
Though the first act of Wonder Woman takes place in easily the most beautiful setting, there are certain elements in editing that could have been improved, specifically in a scene involving Diana’s armguards. Certain takes could have been held a bit longer to invoke a greater emotional response and make the viewer care more about the mystery surrounding Diana’s past, but this was understandably rushed through as the film is almost two and a half hours long. Like many Marvel movies and its DC predecessors, the villains of Wonder Woman are poorly developed characters, which is also understandable as those characters serve only to show the heroine in the best light. Though some are purposefully done in a tongue-in-cheek way, the film is not without some cheesy dialogue, particularly from the aforementioned villains. And speaking of cheesy, the final frames of the film are borderline ridiculous, clearly taking the style-over-substance route. But all in all, these are explainable, nitpicky flaws that don’t really shift the audience’s focus away from an otherwise captivating film.
Wonder Woman was said to be created as a model of all the characteristics a woman should aspire to have: kindness, grace, and strength, much like Superman is a model for men. With this film, Wonder Woman has also become a model for all future DCEU films, serving as a platform to learn from and improve upon. Simply put, it is everything you expect from a superhero film, and while it won’t win any Oscars, it is sure to win plenty of hearts. Gone is the bad taste from Suicide Squad (almost) but a new challenge arises: Justice League. The question is whether Zack Snyder’s latest directorial effort can match or even surpass the brilliance of Wonder Woman, finally setting up that DCEU hot streak that the Marvel universe seems to have. While critics are sure to be wary of disappointment, Wonder Woman is a victory of the present. A victory that should be celebrated for breaking new ground via a film that is just, well, wonderful.
Overall Score: 8.3/10
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Gadfly from Olde London Towne on February 25, 2019:
The Wonder Woman saga still prevails !
Nick Oon (author) from London on June 02, 2017:
@Fullerman5000 Thanks mate. While I love superhero films in general, I never had a favourite studio as I'd like them all to be good. Looking forward to JL too! Enjoy the film if you're going to see it! :)
Ryan from Louisiana, USA on June 02, 2017:
I am a huge DC fan. While I enjoy Marvel films and the way they have put out many incredible films, I have always been partial to DC. I did enjoy Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman (Although it could have been better). I have been hoping DC will get back on track and this seems like a better start. I can't wait to see this film. And I am also pumped about Justice League. Great review.