It’s no secret that the DC Comics Extended Universe has had a rocky start. Finally, with its fourth film, we have a movie that’s more than just OK, in fact you could say it’s WONDERful. Too much? Yeah too much.
Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman not only surpasses the other DC movies, it manages to outdo a lot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films too. Epic in scale, this is an origin story that seems fresh, Gal Gadot giving a performance so assured and so measured, she owns the screen every time we see her. Personally, I feel like Gadot has attained the level of Hugh Jackman or Christopher Reeve already. She just is Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman’s story is an origin tale, but without too many of the usual tropes. Opening with a scene in the present, Diana recieves a photo from an unseen Bruce Wayne and reminisces about her life. We’re shown the gorgeous Themyscira and the Amazons who live there. Young Diana Is trained to be a warrior by her aunt and life seems to be going great. It did remind me of the start of Moana, and I mean that as nothing but a compliment.
By rescuing Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the first man she ever laid eyes on, Diana is thrust into World War I. A German fleet attacks her home and Diana decides she has to stop this war, blaming Ares, the God of War for the atrocities.
The second half of the film feels less like a superhero film and more like Fury or Saving Private Ryan but with a Greek Mythological twist. Wonder Woman manages to be action packed, thoughtful and universe-building while still maintaining its own tone. The scene in which Diana marches across No Man’s Land, deflecting bullets was breathtaking and powerful and sums up Wonder Woman in one short piece.
The tone and feel is perfect. Yes, it has to fit into the already planned DCEU but Patty Jenkins has managed to make a beautifully shot movie that’s very much it’s own thing. We get an adventure movie that’s so much more than I expected , a new cinematic hero with unwavering sincerity. This film never gets cheesey. It bold and earnest and is proud of what it is. I’d compare it with Captain America The First Avenger, another period comic book movie, but Wonder Woman is a much more complete film overall.
Diana’s connection with our world is mostly played for laughs at first, before she realises the horrors of war and what man is capable of.
By man, of course, I mean humanity. The recent outcry over a female only screening of this film was both stupid and hilarious. Of course they should do a female only screening, it’s a great publicity event and it makes sense! The irony, however, that men would object to and criticise this women-only screening of a movie that features a women-only island being attacked by men, is not lost on me.
The ensemble cast of Wonder Woman is not overly stacked with A-List names, relying instead on Gadot’s instantly iconic performance and some solid supporting actors. Chris Pine is great as Steve Trevor, a layered character, not just a one dimensional love interest. Following his turns in 30 Days of Night and X Men Origins: Wolverine by playing Ludendorff, Danny Huston’s comic book movie villain streak continues! His snarling warmonger teams with Elena Anaya’s porcelain masked Doctor Poison. The rest of the cast is largely quirky character actors, Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock form Trevor’s diverse band of mercenaries, providing laughs, heart and depth to the film. David Thewlis pops up as Sir Patrick Morgan while Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright play Diana’s Mother and Aunt respectively. I really liked Lucy Davis as Etta Candy. Absolutely hilarious and in fact coming close to stealing the show, shining in all of her scenes.
Wonder Woman is a film with very few flaws. It’s intelligent, deep, exciting and most importantly FUN. A character filled action romp that takes its self seriously but is never po faced over dour. Proving why the character is the perfect counterpoint to Batman.
Thankfully and indeed similar to Marvel’s recent Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, this is a movie in a larger Universe that doesn’t feel the need to serve any other story than its own. Respecting itself and the audience, I’m greatly appreciating that we got a complete story and I was left wanting more. The best DC Movie since The Dark Knight and a fantastic primer for Justice League. Don’t miss this one.
Wonder Woman is in cinemas now.
FOR FANS OF:
Captain America The First Avenger (2011)