Saturday, June 03, 2017

My Review of Wonder Woman (2017)

Written by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg & Jason Fuchs
Directed by Patty Jenkins

Diana: "I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves."

Her time was imminent. After years of movies and television pilots that failed to materialise, one of the few things that even the most staunchest of critics in relation to the DCEU were united in was the fact that Wonder Woman herself was a revelation within the current DC movie universe.

After stealing the show from both her fellow superheroes in last year's Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the time had come for Gal Gadot's Diana Prince to go it alone and let's just say there was a lot riding on this movie. Perhaps more than any other superhero movie we've had in the last decade if we're being frank here.

Female led superheroes have been a rarity and when they've happened, they haven't been quite successful (Supergirl and Catwoman being two obvious examples) but while Marvel have been late in the game with a female superhero led movie, the DCEU on their fourth effort have gone in guns blazing and the result is nothing short of spectacular.

I know it's in our nature to be wary when critics gush about movies, especially when they go overboard with it and when a superhero movie is drawing comparisons to Christopher Reeves Superman and The Dark Knight trilogy, it's one hell of a mountain to be climbed. The thing is though, the hype is entirely justified. Wonder Woman is that good. It's arguably even a little bit better.

The movie opens with a present day Diana Prince in the Louvre looking at that photograph we've previously seen and the flashes back to Themyscira when she was a little girl, eager to fight much to the reluctance of her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) but with the support of her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright). Hippolyta and Antiope are merely supporting characters but their screen time is essential and Themyscira is gorgeously captured on the big screen.

The movie charters Diana's transition from childhood to adulthood on Paradise Island as she learns the story of the Amazons, the Gods, humanity and the dreaded Ares, who's a threatening returning presence. This only goes to fuel on Diana's desire to fight even more and the arrival of spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) along with some following Germans and a few deaths soon has Diana grabbing the Godkiller sword and determined to make her own path with Hippolyta realising that she cannot stop her daughter from fulfilling her destiny.

With Diana and Steve both leaving Themyscira and having the shared goal of stopping the war (Diana through wanting to kill Ares, Steve by stopping two baddies from advancing a deadlier version of the mustard gas), the two of them soon end up in London to bag some more allies - Charlie (Ewen Bremner), Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) before heading to the Western Front in Belgium to stop the war from reaching a horrific conclusion.

It's during this where the movie really comes to life. Diana's essentially a fish out of water and her first experiences with mankind are definitely a mixed bag. While she enjoys simple things like seeing a baby and eating an ice cream along with trying on dresses, she's also caught in the horrors of battle and the scenes where she charges through No Man's Land are nothing short of glorious as Diana really becomes a hero.

However it's her battle with Ares that motivates her actions and while she mistakes Danny Huston's sadistic, General Erich Ludendorff for the war god, the real Ares himself doesn't actually emerge until nearly the very end of the movie. Expertly played by David Thewlis, Ares is without a doubt the best villain we've seen realised in the DCEU so far and while his screen time is less than expected, he truly delivers on the menacing front when Ares's true intentions are revealed.

The battle sequence between Diana and her half brother are stunning but also feel consistent with the same sequences we've seen in the previous three DCEU movies as well. As for Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) herself - she too had some decent screen time, a nice sense of menace and was the only baddie who made it out of the movie alive, so maybe she could be seen again perhaps.

As for the love story between Diana and Steve - I loved it. Both Gal Gadot and Chris Pine have incredible chemistry and throughout the movie, the connection they forge is very organic and beautifully done. Steve himself is a fantastic character, well drawn out and his own sacrifice definitely delivered a gut punch to the heart.

Along with some beautiful action sequences, gorgeous effects and direction from Patty Jenkins as well as the timely commentaries on mankind and humanity, the movie also has some really lovely light touches. Lucy Davis in particular is great as Steve's secretary Etta Candy and Diana's bemusement at human customs is done brilliantly without ever demeaning the character or jarring the narrative to boot. The movie may capture the horrors of war but it also showed the beauty of humanity too with a hero truly rising from the ashes in it's title character.

- I loved the new DC logo with most of the main players at the start of the movie. I have to try and find it somewhere so I can spot the rest of the characters though.
- The alias of Wonder Woman is never mention in the movie though. The movie opened and ended with present day Diana, pre Justice League I imagine.
- The filming of this movie actually finished up the same day Diana's creator, William Moulton Marston was born - that would be May 3rd.
- I liked that there were some subtle homages to Lynda Carter's Diana as well in the movie. Have fun spotting them.
- Rupert Gregson-Williams soundtrack to the movie is gorgeous. I also quite like Sia/Labyrinth's To Be Human song at the end credits too. The end credits were also beautifully done.
- Chronology: Set during the ending of World War 1. A sequel (which is definitely going to happen) will be set in the present day, according to rumours.

Wonder Woman is without a doubt a triumph. I've enjoyed the previous three DCEU movies but there weren't without their flaws but this movie really raised the bar. Hollywood no longer have the excuse of pretending that female led superhero movies cannot sell as this movie is a testament to how much they truly can. Whatever your stance is on the DCEU franchise, put it to one side and go see this movie. In some respects, it's a mission statement. In every other respect, it's one of the best superhero movies of all times. This movie is an icon in the making.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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