Wonder Woman, 2017.
Directed by Patty Jenkins.
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewan Bremner, Lucy Davis, Eugene Brave Rock, Emily Carey, Lilly Aspell, and Saïd Taghmaoui.
Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.
It goes without saying that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman has faced a lot of expectations for the heroine’s first live action film. Those who have been worried in the past needn’t do so now as Wonder Woman proves to be a rousing success for the DCEU, providing a lot of drama, action and, most importantly, heart for audiences.
Gal Gadot impressed in her first, albeit brief, appearance as Diana of Themyscira in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now armed with her whole solo film, Gadot turns up the ante, allowing herself and viewers to really dive deep into the character. She steals the show, conveying Diana’s young naivety and her journey to full-fledged superhero with ease. She really owns the role and delivers many of Diana’s core characteristics: her charisma, compassion, youth and strength. If it already wasn’t clear before, Wonder Woman is not to be trifled with and Gadot makes that abundantly clear.
Chris Pine makes for a compelling second lead as Steve Trevor, an American spy trying to prevent further deaths in war-torn Europe. He’s charismatic and plays the role with some of his usual swagger, yet downplays it to a degree. His chemistry with Gadot also propels the film. They play off each other naturally, making it easy to see how these two very different characters connect with each other. The banter between them is good as well, with most of it feeling organic, though some bits of humour with Diana and Steve, such as whether or not he represents “the average man”, feel a bit forced.
The rest of the supporting cast give good performances as well. Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewan Brenner and Eugene Brave Rock round out Diana and Steve’s team and they add a bit of depth to the group with each character playing into Diana’s discovery of man’s injustices. Connie Neilson and Robin Wright portray Hippolyta and Antiope, Diana’s mother and mentor respectively, giving earnest performances in their brief roles.
Lucy Davis is also great as Etta Candy, delivering a good amount of levity in her scenes, yet she’s surprisingly not in much more of the film beyond what’s shown in the various trailers. Likewise, Elena Anaya’s Doctor Poison doesn’t get a whole lot to do or that much depth to her, despite her intriguing look and position in the film. Danny Huston is also good playing into his villainous character, but hams it up a bit in one or two scenes. Still, the whole cast does very well with what their given.
The film moves along at a brisk pace. The first act has a couple of exposition dumps, telling the history of Themyscira and how Steve comes to the island, but that’s really to be expected and doesn’t unnecessarily bog the film down. There’s never really a dull moment, especially after Diana and Steve journey to the frontlines. The end of the second act and start of the third act drag a bit, but not overly much to have viewers checking their watches.
There’s also a very good balance of story progression and character building moments, with the latter getting far more attention to a greater effect in the film. Wonder Woman’s humour is another strong point; a serious moment is never sacrificed for the sake of a joke. Both blend together nicely, finding a good balance between humour and drama that serves the story and characters. Though, as said above, some of the humour does seem forceful at certain points.
One of the best things about Wonder Woman its cinematography. The film is simply shot beautifully, with a range of colours standing out. Whether it is overlooking the shores of Themyscira, Diana walking through mustard gas or her silhouette in the sun, every shot looks great. Wonder Woman is without a doubt one of the best-looking superhero films ever made, especially when it comes to the action sequences.
The action is very much up to par with what we’ve seen in the trailers. Its entertaining, suspenseful and very well choreographed. There are some action beats that we don’t ordinarily see in these types of films and Diana’s rush through No Man’s Land will go down as arguably the most talked about scene. While the third act does turn into a CGI slugfest, it kind of avoids the typical fight between hero and villain we see so often in these superhero films by making the confrontation just as much, if not more so, a battle of ideals than fists.
Jenkins did a superb job directing Wonder Woman. While it’s not a perfect film, she managed to get so much about Wonder Woman and her world right, balancing story, humour, character development and action very well for the most part. Fans of the character should be very pleased and, just as Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. became synonymous with their superhero roles, Gal Gadot cements herself as Wonder Woman.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★