Side note: I know it’s been a while between posts, I have to try to find more spare time to write these. Ideally I’d love to be posting once a week, but I’ve got other commitments that require my time. Thanks for sticking with me and coming back whenever there is new content! Now, onto the review!
Ever since I fell in love with Batman, the Justice League and the interesting cast of DC Comics characters, there have been three things I have been waiting for: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in the same film, a Justice League film, and a stand alone Wonder Woman film. My first wish was fulfilled last year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and my second wish will be fulfilled in November when Justice League releases. As of last Thursday (June 1, 2017), my third wish was fulfilled with the release of Wonder Woman. And what a glorious film it is, capturing the very essence of who Wonder Woman is and what she fights for.
Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, tells the origin story of Diana (a.k.a. Wonder Woman), Princess of the Amazons, as she travels to the world of man to defeat the God of War Ares and save mankind by ending World War I.
Diana (Gal Gadot) is raised on Themyscira, an island hidden away by Zeus to protect the Amazons from Ares and the world of man. While the other Amazons know of the cruel nature of mankind, Diana was born on Themyscira and knows very little about the men who exist in the outside world.
The first act of the film follows Diana from childhood to adulthood, showcasing the vigorous training she undertakes with the highest ranking officer of the Amazons, Antiope (Robin Wright), and demonstrates that she has talents that surpass all of the other Amazons. The film does a great job at subtly introducing Wonder Woman’s signature accessories, her bracers, sword, shield and lasso, without disrupting the pacing.
When British spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on Themyscira and brings a platoon from the German army to Themyscira, Diana is made aware of the war outside Themyscira and is determined to save mankind from the evil she believes to be Ares.
Gal Gadot is the perfect Wonder Woman. She convincing portrays the heroine’s child-like naivety about the world of mankind and her perceptions of black and white morality. Diana has grown up believing that people are either good or evil, but as she experiences more of mankind, she struggles with the idea that humans are not always all good or all evil. Gadot’s performance expressing the ebbs and flows of Wonder Woman’s willingness to fight for mankind is captivating. She also shines during the combat sequences as the fierce warrior and compassionate hero Wonder Woman is.
Likewise, Chris Pine provides a charismatic supporting role as Steve Trevor. The pair have great chemistry throughout the film, despite a couple of somewhat awkwardly written scenes that felt like they were trying too hard to develop sexual tension between the two characters.
The remainder of the film is set in 1918 London and the Western Front as Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor and a ragtag crew attempt to stop German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his evil scientist Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) from releasing a gas that could win the war.
The second act was my favourite of the film, as we see Diana in action as Wonder Woman for the first time leading a push through no man’s land to reclaim a Belgian town. The symbolic moment of Wonder Woman leaping over the trenches into no man’s land is powerful. Trevor tells Diana that no man can cross no man’s land without being killed, but Diana is not a man.
What follows is a series of terrific set pieces demonstrating Wonder Woman’s determination and combat prowess. She’s a more agile fighter than Batman, moving around gracefully in a series of hand-to-hand fights inside buildings, and she demonstrates her power and resourcefulness by taking on seemingly impossible situations without hesitation. The fight choreography is entertaining as each new fight offers something different from the last, while utilising all of Wonder Woman’s weapons.
These sequences are complimented by the powerful score from composer Rupert Gregson-Williams and the inclusion of Wonder Woman’s heart-pounding guitar riff theme which signalled the character’s appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The 1918 Great War setting was perfect for the film. It exacerbates Wonder Woman’s willingness to challenge gender perceptions and the male ruling elite in a time when women had few rights. And it also allows Wonder Woman to be represented as the beacon of hope that she is in the DC universe. London and the Western Front’s grey and brown colour scheme contrasts greatly to the paradise of Themyscira’s lush green fields and crystal clear water. Likewise, the blue and red of Wonder Woman’s attire makes her shine whenever she is on the screen, and demonstrates her ability to empower those around her.
Wonder Woman is a terrific origin story for the binding member of DC’s trinity. The story is entertaining, well written and convincingly acted, with the right balance of comedic relief and seriousness. The action sequences are thoughtfully choreographed and visually stunning, and demonstrate the many facets of Wonder Woman’s abilities. It has taken 75 years for Wonder Woman to star in her own live-action feature film, but the payoff is a wonderful (no pun intended) portrayal of Wonder Woman and the traits that make her a powerful, shining light of hope in the DC universe. And hope and love are something the world could use more of now.