Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis
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. (Source: IMDb)
I will hold my hands up and say that after Suicide Squad, I felt the DCEU was past saving, and this undoubtedly hampered my excitement for Wonder Woman. I desperately, desperately hoped it would be good, I wanted it to be good, and I wanted it to be the film that turned the DCEU around, but I just couldn’t find it in me to be fully invested in all the hype for it, choosing instead to reserve judgement for the film itself.
I’ve never been happier to report that this film is genuinely really good, and whilst I think DC need to get one more good film under their belt for me to be fully back on board, this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
There is one crucial element that was missing from previous DCEU films, and that was a sense of fun; fortunately this is something Wonder Woman has in abundance. Suicide Squad was swinging for the fences a little with the sense of “fun” it was trying to instill, and it so obviously reeked of panicked studio meddling after BvS failed to capture what it is people love so much about superhero movies.
The phrase “superhero fatigue” is being thrown around a lot at the moment, and whilst this film does sadly fall into some of the generic tropes which lead to this aforementioned fatigue, the characters and specifically Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, stop this from being anything but dull.
Easily the star of the BvS show, Gal Gadot is an absolute revelation as Diana, believable both as a warrior and as someone completely out of their depth in the overwhelmingly male dominated world of warfare. She has a wonderful naïveté about her, managing to easily transition from an absolute badass to someone seeing something like snow for the first time, with all the believable and necessary childlike wonder. To see a character like this on the screen, in a film which never lets her be pushed into the background, and it being a big-screen superhero blockbuster directed by a female director, is incredibly progressive. The idea of Diana Prince being an incredible and powerful role model for young girls is a wonderful notion and kudos to Gadot for her wonderful portrayal and Jenkins for breathing life into this character.
Chris Pine is equally excellent as the dashing Steve Trevor, and it was great that he also got a “fish out of water” storyline when he crash landed in Themyscira. This balance in the storyline did a great deal in presenting them as equals and straightaway set the tone for the comedic back and forth that really helped the film to work.
Superhero films can really take themselves too seriously sometimes, but the tone here was just right. Pine and Gadot had great onscreen chemistry and a very natural comedic rapport. Lucy Davis as Etta was also wonderful, sparingly used, but appearing at the perfect moment to inject a further dose of comedic relief.
The battle scenes of Wonder Woman are absolutely spectacular, with the beach battle setting the tone early on, but the real highlight being the No Man’s Land sequence. Seeing Diana suited up for the first time and kicking ass was so thrilling and easily one of the best things about the film.
The sad fact is, with most superhero films, I could probably write this “bad” section before even seeing the film, because once again Wonder Woman suffers from having a weak, under-developed villain, and a CGI-tastic third act. Without getting into spoilers, there are a number of villains, and one of the casting choices for these was really off. It completely took me out of the final battle scene and made it a little tedious; it is one again a big generic battle with things flying around and incredibly obvious special effects.
Special effects wise, there are some moments in this film which are really shoddy looking, sadly laughably bad in places and this also took me out of the moment a little as well.
I saw this movie and you should too. It isn’t perfect, but boy is this better than what the DCEU has offered us so far! Gal Gadot is the star of the show, as she quite rightly should be, and whilst it falls apart a little in places, this is a really solid effort. A step in the right direction for the DCEU, for comic book movies and for women in film. A wonder indeed!