Director: Patty Jenkins
Run Time: 141 minutes
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Ewen Bremner, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, et al…
Plot (taken from IMDb): 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, discovering her true powers and true destiny.
Ever since Chris Nolan left the fold after The Dark Knight Rises, DC have been struggling to put out quality movies. In a (rather) desperate attempt to copy Marvel’s success, they are now releasing all their films as part of a cinematic universe. Unlike Marvel, however, we find DC in the beginning of their universe. They are slowly introducing us to their characters and generally the style of movies we should expect from them over the next decade or so. DC’s cinematic universe is darker in tone to Marvel’s with plenty more brooding, but so far, less charm. That is, until Wonder Woman.
Patty Jenkins has delivered the first good DC extended universe movie after the flimsy Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and so bad I didn’t bother to watch it Suicide Squad. Few would argue against the point that Wonder Woman was one of the highlights of Batman v Superman and in her first ever cinematic appearance, this trend continues. Gal Gadot’s depiction of Wonder Woman is pretty much spot-on and the film around her isn’t bad, either. This is a film that starts too slowly, but once it gets going, you’re in for one hell of a ride.
The film opens with a modern-day Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) opening a package from none other than Bruce Wayne (gotta have those nods to the extended universe) – an old photgraph of her alongside some World War One Buddies. Of course, this then turns into a feature-length flashback. Before we get to see Wonder Woman kicking ass in WWI, however, we first need to spend far too long on Themyscira, learning about her childhood. The film is very quick to tell us that Diana wants to be a warrior, but her mother, who’s only the flipping Queen, doesn’t want her to fight, telling her that war is full of horror and pain rather than glory. Instead of showing us a long, drawn out version of events, they could have just opted for a much quicker montage of her growing up, learning to fight agains the will of her mother.
There’s one section of the opening that is of note, however. We learn of Ares, and that only the fabled “God Killer” can end his ravage of the Earth. Fast-forwarding somewhat, we see a plane fly through the invisible barrier of Themyscira and crash into the sea. Diana quickly dives in to save the pilot from drowning. The Amazons learn that there is a great war taking place outside their hidden realm and that it is the worst the world has ever known. Diana is sure that the man behind all the death is none other than Ares and that she must kill him in order to end the war. Escaping from the island alongside pilot (and spy) Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the two set off on a journey to end the war from a threat of carrying on even further thanks to a maliscious gas developed by Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya).
This is where the film truly kicks off. Diana is thrown into a world full of anger, hunger and death. This is a journey of discovery for her. She discovers that man can be violent, cold and manipulative, she discovers that there is beauty to be found in the darkness and she discovers who she really is – Wonder Woman. The action scenes throughout are terrific and carry with them a visceral feel akin to the best of what Batman v Superman had to offer. This is a visually striking film with some spectacular shots coming when they enter the fray of the front line in Belgium. Diana responds angrily to the soldiers not wanting to help in areas they simply cannot afford to risk themselves (especially considering they are close to an armistice). So, much to the annoyance of Mr. Trevor, she decides to help by throwing herself into No-Man’s Land.
What ensues is aggressive, but powerful scenes of Wonder Woman using her own might and will against the menacing machine guns and shells of the German troops. It’s loud and slightly frightening, but entertaining stuff. When the small troup attempts to save a small Belgian village from its German aggressors, we see the best of the film. Patty Jenkins knows how to deliver emotionally powerful action sequences. We are treated to plenty of light-hearted shenanigans alongside the grim realities of WWI too. This is no Man of Steel. There are plenty of jokes and pleasant moments in Wonder Woman to entertain just about anyone. This is particularly prevalent whilst the film is in London, with Lucy Davis putting in a great, hilarious turn as Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta. It’s not all doom and gloom here and there’s practically no brooding to be seen.
Wonder Woman is exciting, vibrant and wonderfully acted from all involved, but it isn’t perfect. The revelations towards the end of the film felt predictable and far too cheesy for their own good. The final fight, too, was a bit of a letdown. The final fight was flat compared to the visceral aggression of the fantastic scenes in Belgium. There’s an overbearing use of CGI in this final fight, too, looking somewhat out-of-place compared to the rest of the film, where computer effects are used a little more sparingly. Wonder Woman built itself up so well in the middle that it’s no wonder the film fell a little flat at the end, it’s difficult for any film to maintain a sense of momentum and quality throughout every scene and only the best of the best manage it.
Despite a far too slow opening and a limp ending, Wonder Woman is a fantastic film that brings the excitement and (ahem) wonder into DC’s extended universe. From when you first enter the dingy sights of War-inflicted London, you know you’re in for a treat. Along with the LEGO Batman Movie and Logan, Wonder Woman shows that 2017 is a great year for the Super Hero. Wonder Woman is far better than anything Marvel has delivered as part of their cinematic universe. For the first time I find myself excited about this year’s Justice League movie. Can’t every DC film from now on be directed by Patty Jenkins? This was a much-needed win for DC.
Wonder Woman represents the first great film of DC’s extended universe and it’s a wonderful film in its own right.