Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Ewen Bremner
Running time: 141 mins
Release date: 1/6/17
The most world renowned Female superhero, after 76 years of being stuck on the comic pages and small screen, finally comes to cinemas across the world and here’s the good news: it’s pretty damn good.
After debuting in Batman vs Superman and following Suicide Squad, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman corrects the wrongs made by Marvel’s cinematic rival, DC Films, by using the correct source material and by basing it in a realistic setting, World War 1. It’s here the characters can blossom and interact in a way that’s entertaining, heartfelt and sets up one of the clearest Superhero origin stories since the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man and X-Men.
The unusual director’s chair belonging to Patty Jenkins of award winning Monster fame, is a solid choice here and works well at creating a modern and believable tale of a race of Amazonian women hidden away from the world, brought to the world of man when an American pilot named Steve Rogers (played by Chris Pine) crash lands in their paradise. After detailing the world war that’s ravaging the world outside of theirs, Diana decides to help and go to frontline of the war to kill Ares, the God of War, in which the Amazonian’s believe to the source of all evil.
As a Superhero action film, Wonder Woman is great at creating memorable sequences, very Zack Snyder-esque, focusing between slow-motion shots of aggressive fighting to quick hand-to-hand combat and then massive explosions and damage. The fighting style of Wonder Woman is very easy to watch and enjoy, from the moments she trains in the first act, to her first taste of war on No Man’s Land, with bullets and shells being deflected off of her indestructible shield and armour, to the final fight in the third act.
Each are different in their own way, with a sense of purpose to why they occur and the reasons behind her involvement. This isn’t your dark, overly-sensitive Batman or Superman though, but rather an emotional caring woman who fights for justice, peace and for others. By having a “team” next to her, there’s a comradery element that’s fun, and touching, especially Diana’s relationship with Rogers, which for the first time in a DC film feels real and genuine. Chris Pine produces a solid performance as always, allowing him to have a hero’s path to lay down a comedic and supporting role to Gadot’s show stealing.
Many were against her casting for Wonder Woman for calls against her performance, being too tall or skinny, being Israel, and I can categorical say that Gal Gadot is a fantastic Wonder Woman whom will be one of the most interesting people to watch in the next Justice League film and further Wonder Woman adventures. Her charismatic presence on screen along with her obvious beauty and charm, help build a solid foundation to grow upon. She is central to this film, and for a man-centric Hollywood to have a female superhero film that has a female lead, with the narrative and character decisions be revolving around her alone, it’s exciting and only been seen in a handful of films. This will be a new tipping point I imagine with the Captain Marvel coming out soon, and perhaps the start of Hollywood’s faith in female-led action films that don’t star Scarlett Johansson.
The only criticism I would have for the film is the villains of the piece, which, with the back catalogue DC comics has for this universe, is a run-of-the-mill German general and the Greek God, Ares. It’s a villain working for a bigger villain which is okay, but doesn’t hold the same weight as perhaps The Joker or Lex Luthor.
Similar to the same issue Marvel films have, where they are throwaway oppression-type dictators who either want to rule the world or damage as much as they can. Their arc isn’t strong nor do we care about their demise in the end. We know it’ll be over in under 2 hours, but there isn’t any stakes at place. Wonder Woman falls short because of this, although it does great at surprising and being confident enough to do what it does in the third act (no spoilers here).
But overall, a strong entry in the franchise, one that will turn many heads in a positive direction towards the upcoming Justice League, and might even put out the fires of the past wreckages containing Batman, Superman and Harley Quinn.