Wonder Woman Movie Review
Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins get the DC Extended Universe back on track.
Released: June 1st 2017
Length: 141 Minutes
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Ewen Bremner, Said Taghoumi, Elena Anaya and David Thewlis
Since its inception in 2013, DC’s live action renditions have struggled to gain ground, juggling too many characters and plot threads in a bid to keep up with the competition. After several missteps with Warner Bros’ lofty ambitions, Wonder Woman takes the studio to heights not seen in half a decade, becoming the new standard to beat for future films in its cinematic universe.
Traveling a century into the past, Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) lives peacefully among the all women tribe of Amazonians, created by the Greek God Zeus on the island of Themyscira. She grows up on tales of justice and hope, training to be a warrior under the watchful eye of her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). When American Spy Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into their island, she journeys to the human world to put an end to the injustice and suffering brought about by World War One. As an opening to one of the most recognisable characters in comics, WW keeps things straightforward and simple; you get a real sense of Diana rising beyond her roots and the narrative rarely leaves her side. When Wonder Woman finally arrives on the European battlefields, the film pulls you into her mission with a viciously thrilling action scene; you believe in her conviction as her character has been built up so brilliantly. The only gripe I had with the plot was a final act twist that could have had more build-up and mystery surrounding it. Other than that, Wonder Woman hums along at a great pace, never lingering on one plot component for too long while also providing a healthy amount of development when it comes to origin stories and the world they inhabit.
DC has had some problems with its characters recently but Wonder Woman goes a long way towards breaking that trend. Having been given the spotlight after an all-too-brief appearance last year, Gal Gadot owns the titular heroine here. She’s a fearless warrior and the actress (alongside the other Amazons) brings real physicality yet it’s often Diana’s disconnect from the world of man that makes her so interesting; over the course of the film she makes several realisations and discoveries against the backdrop of World War One that really drives home her goals and resolve. It’s made even better by the bond she forms with Steven Trevor, a calm yet understated spy who’s just as capable in his skills as Diana is. The camaraderie that grows between Diana, Steve and the rest of their company has just the right amount of nuance to it; their characteristics are light-hearted but never distract from the central plot and characters. The bridge between the Amazonians and humans gives way to a few comedic moments and misunderstandings and the writing works in the different tones very well. The cast is rounded off by David Thewlis, whose accent and position within the British ranks anchors the film into its time period and while the villains may be fairly weak by comparison, their motivations still feed into both the setting and Wonder Woman herself.
Wonder Woman moves away somewhat from the rough and grim look of its predecessors, resulting in a far more appealing film all-around. It all starts with colour, literally; the film’s opening bursts into life with a lush, idyllic island paradise that contrasts heavily with the grotty war-torn environments of humanity. Yet even when the setting changes to the middle of a grey industrialised London, there’s still plenty of personality to be found. Detailed sets and costuming wear their authenticity proudly and when the action kicks off, phenomenal destruction effects and a heap of slow-motion effects bring a serious weight to it all along with the seamless editing and direction. But WW also has some more tender moments as well; the wartime setting gives way to more sombre, thematic moments that reflect the harsh nature of the conflict. These in turn, tie themselves into the central character, resulting in a commanding hold on the viewer’s attention. The music takes Diana’s roaring main theme introduced in Batman V Superman and escalates it while also layering quieter pieces around the plot. Because of its scaled-back approach and further charm, Wonder Woman makes a bigger impact than other entries in the DC Universe.
Wonder Woman is simply the best live-action DC film since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. It doesn’t do much to shake up the superhero genre, nor is it out to prove a point. The film simply does what it does to a fantastic standard, delivering a sense of charisma, gusto and substance that the DC Extended Universe has been sorely lacking. They keep this up and we’re sure to see some brilliant things from WB’s movie roadmap.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars (Brilliant)