Patty Jenkins / Gal Gadot , Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis / Action-Fantasy / 2017 / 12A / 141mins
The late great comic George Carlin once opined, ‘If there is a God, I am convinced he is a he, because no woman could or ever would fuck things up this badly.’ Patty Jenkins is that God, a female director who has righted the wrongs of DC Comics’ failing film universe with the blockbuster of the summer.
An old photo rekindles old memories for Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) in modern day France. Explaining her past, Diana is revealed to have been raised on the island of Themyscira, an isolated paradise for the Amazons, created by Zeus to protect humanity from the corruptive influence of the god of war, Ares. When WWI spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands off the coast, German Army in hot pursuit, Diana realises her destiny lies further afield, beyond the confines of Themyscira at the Western Front, to defeat Ares once and for all.
To say Jenkins has done a good job with Wonder Woman really is an understatement. The DC universe was in the throes of a post-BatmanVsSuperman crisis – regaining a shred of dignity seemingly impossible. But lo and behold, this is the thrillride it promised to be.
On this showing, Gadot has all the makings of a screen legend. She has the composure to weave determination, power, authority, empathy and feminity into an icon. She embodies Wonder Woman in every sense. She owns it. Pine opts for the easy route, transferring the debonair swagger of his Captain Kirk persona to Steve. He’s funny, charming and not overly macho – job done.
Gender politics is, predictably, brought to the fore (this is 1918, after all). Diana is mocked for being a woman but she calmly deconstructs societal roles by simply being who she is. At first it’s played for laughs till her gradual dominance over the male characters creates an even plane, then a permanent shift toward feminine superiority.
Thinking about the content, it’s strange that WWI is not documented by filmmakers on the same scale as WWII. Sure, there’ve been some classics (All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory, Lawrence of Arabia) but nothing notable has been released this century. Till now that is. Wonder Woman‘s No Man’s Land scene is one of the highlights of the entire movie. It’s superb crafted action. Dark, faceless enemies; a barrage of weaponry; Diana’s bright costume the only light – the imagery is obvious, almost biblical.
No scene is more spectacular than Pine’s thousand yard stare into the camera at the end. Dawning realisation, acceptance, then a smile – sacrificing himself for the greater good, for mankind (us, the audience). It’s compelling viewing and a fantastic use of breaking the fourth wall.
There’s a handful of other shots that make the grade (Diana amidst the orange gas in the village; the white screen in the final battle etc.) and, with the balanced script in tow, Wonder Woman is seemingly well rounded. One major flaw: its too long. Some scenes could have been removed or edited heavily. Also, there are half-expected cheesy blockbuster lines (“If you won’t join me then I WILL DESTROY YOU” *mwahaha*) which annoyingly dilute the plot.
With flaws few and far between, you can’t help but fall for Wonder Woman‘s magic and power. Even most of those who aren’t au fait with comic book films will be entertained. The blockbuster done good.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 4
Wonder Woman is out in cinemas now
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