WONDER WOMAN Review
DC and Warner Bros. have had a, less than stellar beginning to their Cinematic Universe. With the mixed reviews of Man of Steel and the all-out war between critics and audiences and DC fans over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition excluded) and Suicide Squad, they need a Hail Mary to keep them a float till Justice League. Enter Wonder Woman.
Having stolen the show in BvS, Gal Gadot leads the origin story of Diana of Themyscira under the direction of Patty Jenkins and alongside Connie Nelson, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis and Chris Pine. Wonder Woman, like many DC films was surrounded with controversy; many disapproving of the choice of Gadot as the lead, rumours of pesky reshoots and a number of other attempts to tarnish the films reputation before its release. Thankfully, Gadot shines as Wonder Woman, heralding the arrival of the DCEU.
In short, Wonder Woman follows Diana as she leaves her island paradise of Themyscira and the Amazons to assist the marooned Steve Trevor in ending World War 1, a war that enemy of the Amazons, Ares, Diana believes is responsible for.
Wonder Woman is what a superhero film, particularly a DC film should: powerful, enjoyable, entertaining, emotional and most importantly, optimistic. Gadot radiates hope and joy and inspiration, sometimes bordering on naivete, but that’s what makes her an instant classic; she is what superheroes used to be before they went through their teenage years and became broody and concerned themselves with the moral grey area. She is set on her mission and isn’t concerned with what others think of her. She has a responsibility to help humanity and it may not be important, but, like in No Man’s, it’s what she is going to do.
The first third of the film is spent with the Amazons, a mixture of various ethnicities and models and sports women, who struggle to keep up with Gadot’s unique accent but make me (the white, heterosexual male) feel empowered for no reason other than “bad-assery”. Nelson and Wright offer unique motherly figures for Diana, with a truly heart wrenching moment when Diana willing says farewell to her home and mother.
Once in Man’s World, Diana works alongside Pine and his band on loveable renegades (Taghmaoui, Bremner, Brave Rock) to beat Ares. It’s here that the film shines. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry is magic and instant; a pure delight to behold and proof to nay-sayers that Gadot can act. A scene on a boat (that may or may not be improvised) where the two discuss love, relationships and the *cough* pleasures of the flesh is a delight and incredibly mature and personal.
Something the Marvel films lack, is a sense of stake with characters quipping their way out of situations. In Wonder Woman, the humour is earnt and the themes discussed would be considered risqué by Marvel’s standards. Another thing Marvel lacks is compelling villains. Wonder Woman offers some cliched villains, leading to Ares who is the real villain and should have had more time to develop. But what we get is a charismatic villain who believes in himself and nearly seduces Diana, and the audience, over.
Wonder Woman represents the chance for woman to admire someone. Through Gadot and Jenkins capable and experienced hands, they deliver big. Wonder Woman’s revel in No Man’s Land is one of the most powerful, intense and stunning pieces of any superhero film (possibly film) in this decade, and deserves applause.
In a vile and turbulent period of history (in film and present day), Wonder Woman and DC offer something Marvel haven’t: a hero to aspire to be; a film that homages the classics and (hopefully) sets the standard for the modern superhero film: fun, inspiring and filled with hope.