Man of Steel: meh, BvS: less said about that the better, Suicide Squad: meh and now Wonder Woman. Not a lot to beat.
Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins and stars Gal Gadot as the titular character (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman) who has grown up on a remote Island called Themyscira which is populated by only women. She has the desire to fight and do the right thing, despite being discouraged to do so at every turn. Until Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands and speaks of the war to end all wars (World War 1). Diana cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost. She leaves her home along with Steve Trevor to join the war and stop a plot which could change the tide of a war near its end.
First off, Themyscira. IT’S COLOURFUL. It’s so refreshing to see a DC film where there is some colour to it. It is so bright and vibrant and is a pleasure to look at. I loved every second of the time we spent on Themyscira and enjoyed the mythos that it introduced. The visuals throughout this film are amazing. Patty Jenkins hadn’t directed a film for 14 years, 14 YEARS and she definitely hasn’t lost what earned her the praise she received for ‘Monster’. The action is entrancing, enthralling and exhilarating throughout. Although there may be too much of a reliance on slow motion which sometimes I think distracts you from what is actually going on, seeing the amazing acrobatic skill in real time would’ve been nice for a few of the fight scenes. In a couple of scenes characters become starkly obvious CGI characters and this took me out of the movie a little bit, they weren’t really necessary and kind of took away from the great, practical looking, scenes we had just witnessed. Along with the colour something that differentiates this film form the rest of the DCEU’s offerings is optimism, the characters are happy, they have more facial expressions other than depressed. There are a few scenes where I found myself just smiling from ear to ear. This film is a joyful triumph and I haven’t felt this uplifted during a film for a LONG time.
A lot of the joy I felt throughout the film comes from the beating heart of the film, Gal Gadot. I’m not going to lie I was more than worried about her casting and I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong. This is one of the most engaging performances I have seen. She is brilliant as well as being incredibly attractive she happens to have the makings of a great actor in her belt. She played the fish out of water perfectly, the fact that she doesn’t understand her surroundings makes for great comedy but also leads to her just storming in and dominating all the men in the room with one scene that will stick with me for a while. However, she isn’t just a naive comedic out she can instantly and become an utter badass. Along with Diana, the other Themyscirans, with little screen time, are great. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen are the stand outs and boy do they kick ass. Chris Pine is slowly becoming a titan of the Hollywood, rivalling Tom Cruise to be inducted into the club of the upper echelon of movie stars. From knocking Kirk out of the park in every Star Trek, to crushing it in Hell or High Water last year and now we come to Wonder Woman. And the trend continues, he again has a very layered character that is steers away from exploiting annoying clichés. He is funny, he is sympathetic and he is endearing. I really liked his character and his performance and the relationship he has with Diana. Lucy Davis plays Steve’s secretary and is a nice breath of fresh air when she pops up here and there. The discount Howling Commandos: Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock… well they’re fine. They serve their purpose, they share some decent banter and help out during the action but they’re a little underdeveloped. It almost feels like when the film was being written, they got to the end and were like ‘oh we better give at least one of them a backstory ah just give that one something from the book of war clichés’. David Thewlis is in this movie! I had no idea he was popping up and he always gives a good performance. He has an interesting twist to his character that I didn’t see coming also. Danny Houston and Elena Anaya are good villainous characters, underdeveloped of course as is with every superhero movie but they both give stellar performances. Houston is incredibly intimidating and Anaya plays evil well. But there’s not much to either of them.
The overall villain of the film is Ares, The God of War, and I don’t really know how I feel about that. They try and add a twist to the villain but it’s not quite pulled off. It just feels like a big missed opportunity, there’s aspects of Ares that I think could have been a lot better. In the end it becomes Diana fighting a CGI character who can do literally everything and there isn’t any stakes because of course she will win, we’ve seen her in the present day. They actually try and make it out where we could see a third act without the CGI monster but ultimately, they go down the other route. I think if you just tweaked a couple things, the road of non-CGI could’ve been pulled off. But what do I know I’m not a director or a screenwriter. I cannot wait unitl a superhero film gets the third act right, I feel that’s the last thing they need to conquer.
Wonder Woman has a lot of messages and mostly they’re incredibly well put across. I don’t feel slapped in the face by feminist agendas or feel disgusted to be a man. I get excited to see a female superhero on the screen just as much as (or maybe more than) a male. The men in this film aren’t just dumb sex crazed idiots, they have layers and are well performed. It also has social commentary on the time of World war 1 and that of how the war was fought with the rich generals claiming the credit yet sit in rooms in London. The overall message from Wonder Woman is that love can win any war and stop any conflict, this is portrayed beautifully and again it isn’t preachy you don’t fell assaulted, it all flows along with the movie. There is one message towards the end of the film which I’m not sure if I understood but If it I did understand it, it feels like she was taking the blame away from the soldiers fighting the war. I don’t think this is a very healthy message to tell especially considering what happens in about 30 years. But like I said this could be a misinterpretation on my part.
Despite its few flaws Wonder Woman is an utter blast from start to finish, I’ve heard complaints about pacing issues but they weren’t apparent to me. From the acting to the direction it’s all just done so well. I just don’t think I’ve had such a fun time at the cinema for a while. It aslso is definitley one of the best scored superhero films ever and that Wonder Woman theme might be the best theme since the Imperial March. As of right now this definitely breaks into the top 10 comic book films for me and is definitely the best film of the summer in its infancy this year and any film has a high bar to reach now. Wonder Woman is 100%…