Directed by: Patty Jenkins Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
Its no secret to anyone who’s read my previous posts on the blog that I’ve disliked DC’s more recent attempts to create their own cinematic universe. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice I disliked because it was a mess, taking hints from what I felt were the wrong sources. Suicide Squad annoyed me for similar reasons, and nothing felt particularly outstanding (also I think Jared Leto’s Joker was dreadful)
However, Batman V Superman did have some redeeming factors, one of which was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Admittedly, she isn’t in it for very long, but her limited presence in the film made it worth seeing through to the end.
So when they announced a stand alone film for the character I was excited, I think the character has been owed a film for many many years; Wonder Woman is a cultural icon for millions and it surprised me how long its taken for her to have a spotlight in live action.
Thankfully, this version of Wonder Woman has proven to be an excellent watch in my opinion, standing apart from the “Extended Universe” for the purpose of this story and highlighting why Wonder Woman is such a compelling character to follow.
We follow Diana, princess of a warrior race of women known as Amazons, living in peace on Paradise Isl- sorry, Themyscira, till one day an American pilot named Steve Trevor arrives with the Imperial German army pursuing. After telling them of “the War to end all Wars” (AKA World War I) Diana decides to leave her home to fight and save the war from what she believes to be the source, the war god Ares. What follows is a tale of conflict and hardship as Diana may realise that things may not be as black and white as she was taught.
So I’ve got to talk about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman because so far I think she’s been very good as the character. Her costume, character and charm tells the story of a warrior princess stronger than anyone else in the room, rather than being made to look pretty. My initial concern for her being fit for the character was washed away by just how well she played her. Her initial awe of the outside world, her naiveté changing over time as she begins to understand more of the world around her, they are all complemented very well. Sufficed to say, I’m looking forward to seeing her again in the Justice League film.
Other characters were good too; her group of friends that accompany Diana complement her experiences with a world at war; her comic-adapted love interest, men turned soldiers in a world that despises them. Rooting for them throughout was easy when they’re fighting alongside Diana.
While I wasn’t as crazy about the villains of the film. With Ares being more well known (because he’s Ares obviously..) more attention is given to him. Consequently the other villain, Dr Poison, is not given enough time to demonstrate why she could be a good villain. There’s also another character who takes Diana clothes shopping when she arrives in London, and while she’s plenty of fun, she’s not really in the film enough for me to grow too attached, and that’s a shame.
But for the most part, the characters complemented Diana, and helped to bring this story together.
The story itself is simpler than previous DC Extended Universe films; its essentially your standard “fish out of water” story set in World War One. But it actually works well in this case; there’s less focus on the world building aspect (at least any more than is necessary) and more on why we should be following Diana and why this all matters.
The WW1 setting helps in this respect; I’m impressed by how well they presented a morally grey atmosphere rather than something too black and white, which is what I feared. The story revolves around Diana seeing that things aren’t always decided between good and evil, two concepts which became difficult to divide during that bloody conflict.
As an aside, I have to respect the fact that they didn’t just show British and Germans fighting in this war, and that it was a world war, and so had Turks, Indians and Scots involved as well. Not many others demonstrate that aspect of the war and I am glad that they did.
Ultimately, while the story did start to veer off near the end with a somewhat anticlimactic final battle, it serves its purpose and I’ll take above average over a confusing mess.
Complementing this is the setting itself, ranging from actual bright non-gritty vistas like Themyscira to the war torn battlefields of France, there’s no doubt that the filmmakers here knew what they were doing. Oh and Wonder Woman’s theme, when it plays, is awesome.
Wonder Woman has given me a little hope that Justice League may be good, and that’s an encouraging thing. Before this film I’d sort of given up on the DCEU. But seeing how well those involved with the project can do once they put their mind to it, I will definitely be giving Justice League a go, if only for the fact that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will be in it.