Plot: Diana of Themyscira (Gal Gadot) is a young, idealistic woman. She is raised amongst a community of powerful women on a beautiful, hidden Island, but her peace is shattered when a chance encounter with spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) draws her into a bitter global conflict and leads her to question all she has learnt. Can she embrace her destiny and become the hero the world needs?
The DCEU has had something of a shaky start, and that’s me putting it diplomatically. I was less than impressed by ‘Batman V Superman’ & ‘Suicide Squad‘. They are two bloated, messy films that may lay the groundwork for a larger cinematic universe, but hardly did much to generate excite for me about future movies. On the podcast, neither myself nor the guys could muster much enthusiasm for the future of Warner Bros. & DC Comics grand vision, but I’m pleased to report that ‘Wonder Woman’ bucks the trend and in fact, may just be the movie to rescue the whole endeavour!
‘Wonder Woman’ is fun. This is something I never thought I would say about a DCEU movie, but it’s true. From the opening act and the lush, beautiful scenery of the Amazons home world, you immediately get the sense that this is a movie that cares about the audience experience, more than setting up future plotlines and finding obscure ways to introduce future characters. The plot focuses on telling a simple story of a ‘fish out of water’ having to learn the complexities of a new world torn apart by war. For the most part, it works wonderfully well. There are some great scenes in the 1st act of the film dealing with Diana’s education and her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) trying to protect her from the inevitable battles to come. The 2nd act is fantastic, dealing with Diana’s struggle to understand why mankind does what it does and Gal Gadot’s screen chemistry with Chris Pine brings a great deal of human and sincerity to the movie. Speaking of the leads, Gadot was far from my first choice to fill the iconic role of Wonder Woman on the big screen. Frankly, she was dreadfully unwatchable in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, to the point where I very loudly guffawed on the train journey in to work when I read the news. Her cameo in ‘Batman v Superman’ went some way to allaying some of my fears, but here she cuts a far more confident and convincing figure. Pine is as watchable as always, and Lucy Davis provides great support as the relate-able and resourceful Etta Candy. Robin Wright has a solid cameo as Diana’s warrior aunt Antiope, and the other actors cast in the role of Amazons all look the part.
Directing a movie like ‘Wonder Woman’ was always going to be a daunting feat. Thankfully for us, Patty Jenkins does a fine job structuring the action and balancing the needs of the plot and character development. Some of the action scenes are truly thrilling and masterfully constructed and filmed. Aside from some moments, the movie handles the visual effects elements well and there are some eye poppingly gorgeous cinematography, and you get a real feeling of the sense of place and time. The period setting detail is well realised. I know some have complained about the similarities between this film and ‘Captain America : The First Avenger‘ but honestly, there are times where this film handles very similar themes in a far more authentic and sophisticated manner.
The were some negatives though. the 3rd act of the film is entertaining in parts, but the confrontation with the main villain Ares is a bit underwhelming. Mainly because the reveal is done via a plot twist that you will frankly see coming from a mile off. The pay off for this felt flat for me, plus there is a huge reliance on CGI that, whilst needed to convey the drama of what is unfolding, plays out in a cartoonish manner that is at odds with the brilliant 2nd act. The other villains are generic German bad guys, with one of them being based on an existing comic book character that has a fascinating backstory. Perhaps they are saving the details for a sequel? The other villain is literally so cardboard cut out, I struggled to remember his name at various points, even though the script references him several times.
‘Wonder Woman’ is a fearless, thrill ride of a movie. It has strong performances in general and an adventurous tone and energy that you cant help but get swept up in. It certainly doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, but ultimately celebrates the triumph of heroism in the face of adversity in a way that the other DCEU movies could only dream of. It’s accessible to those who have no knowledge of the comics, whilst still including enough nods to keep the die hard comic book fans happy. The significance of this movies success also should not be lost on the audience. We finally have a female led comic book movie that young girls all over the world can be proud of and inspired by. ‘Wonder Woman’ is easily the best that the DECU has to offer, and if this is a sign of things to come, I will certainly feel a lot more at ease about the future of these iconic characters on the big screen.
Final Score : 4 out of 5