A Wonder to Behold! Wonder Woman Film Review
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, and Elena Anaya
Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg
“A Wonder to Behold”
I am coming to Wonder Woman from a unique perspective. Or at least that’s what the internet tells me. I have liked all of the DCEU movies so far since Man of Steel. (Yes, even that one. YES, that one too). I am by no means under the assumption that they are perfect or without flaws. Every movie has faults, and these are no different. But regardless I have enjoyed them for what they are. So I am not going into Wonder Woman expecting the DCEU to be “saved” or anything like that. (And with the first three DCEU films sitting at over 2 Billion at the international box office, despite what you may hear, they don’t “need to be saved”). I went into Wonder Woman without any of those hang-ups, and I am very happy to say that, whether or not you liked any of the previous DCEU films, Wonder Woman is an absolute triumph.
Even for those that didn’t care for Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, a lot of people came out of it enjoying relative newcomer Gal Gadot’s take on the iconic character of Wonder Woman. Everything that worked with her in BvS is amplified in her solo film. Gal is a force of nature bringing strength, kindness, and heart to Diana of Themyscira. Unlike most female action heroes, though, she is not simply a copy/paste of male action hero tropes slapped onto a woman. Her femininity is a part of her strength, not the source of it. She is able to portray love, strength, courage, and, at times, heartache and pain. She is a fully fleshed out character that Gal brings to life with aplomb.
Chris Pine also gives a fantastic performance as British Spy Steve Trevor. Thankfully, Pine doesn’t just recycle his Captain Kirk shtick. His chemistry with Gal is one of the highlights of the film. Never does the romance feel cheesy, sleazy, or forced, but in line with classic War movies of the time. It feels real, romantic, and passionate. He is charming, sly, and cunning, a World War 1 Han Solo that you can’t help but root for.
Thankfully, the film rests on the shoulders of its two stars more than the rest of the cast. While nobody does a poor job, they aren’t exactly given much to do either. Lucy Davis as Etta Candy is charming as all get out, but not given much material to work with outside of a few comic relief scenes in the second act. I would have liked to see more of her, or the rest of Trevor’s *ahem* Suicide Squad, but the focus of the movie stays where it belongs, on the titular character herself.
Beautifully shot and choreographed, the film brings some much needed color and life to the DCEU, and the actions scenes are spectacular. In particular, one scene in the middle of the film is one of the best superhero action set pieces I have ever seen, and was a wonder to behold in IMAX. Director Patty Jenkins brings her A game and does not disappoint. She has already been confirmed to direct the sequel and that can only be a good thing for Wonder Woman’s future in film.
One thing I found very much to the film’s benefit was that, unlike the similarly structured “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the film does not stray away from the horrors of war. The film doesn’t go full grim dark, but it doesn’t shy away from the fact that this is a war, and war is hell. Seeing Diana deal with the consequences of war in Man’s world is heart wrenching to watch and adds a lot of value to her character that I appreciated.
But the movie is not without its faults, however minor they may be. The film’s two main villains, played by Danny Huston and Elena Anaya, fall victim to the standard comic book film villain tropes that nobody outside of the Marvel Netflix Universe seems to be able to avoid. The finale of the film also falls victim to the “comic book movie trope”, and devolves into a CGI slugfest that, while fun to watch, feels tonally out of place with the rest of the film.
Overall however, Wonder Woman delivers on the absolutely MONUMENTAL task of being the first major female led superhero film (about damn time as well!), and has set the path for more to follow (Here’s looking at you Captain Marvel!).