[Review] Wonder Woman (2017)

Since the character of Wonder Woman first appeared in a comic book back in 1941 in All Star Comics #8 she has been a main stay of DC Comics. Along with Superman and Batman she is the next biggest hero in that universe, with the three of them forming the Trinity. Diana Prince has existed for well over 70 years and it has taken this long for the character to grace the big screen in her own film. Superman and Batman have had many films over the years, as well as TV shows.

Wonder Woman did have a popular TV series in the 70’s starring the amazing Lynda Carter. After this however there hasn’t exactly been much of the character on the small screen or big screen, with her appearances being in animated shows and films. The time has finally come for her to have her own film after her big introduction in last year’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, but did it live up to the characters stellar reputation? Absolutely!

Diana (played by Lilly Aspell as a child and Gal Gadot as an adult) was born on the isolated island of Themyscira with the Amazons. Her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson), wants to protect her from fighting and from the wars that she faced. However, Diana has other plans and askes General Antiope (Robin Wright) to train her as a warrior like her fellow Amazons, despite her mother’s protests. She becomes a powerful fighter and has more power than she knows, a secret that is hidden from her for her own protection. The day comes when a pilot crashes near the island and Diana saves him. The pilot is spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and he had escaped German soldiers who also come across the island. After a beach battle that sees some of the Amazons killed, Diana finds out that the world is at war and she believes the God Of War Ares is responsible. Feeling it is her duty to face him and stop the war she requests Steve take her to the front lines so she can stop the fighting.

This is an origin story at its core, it tells the story of how Diana left the Amazons and became a hero. It is not a regular origin story, she does not stay hidden or find out about what she can do. She was trained for action, this is her introduction into the world at large and to fight a war that she does not want to see happen. Diana stands for peace and with no knowledge of how the world is she finds out the hard way that things are not as black and white as she thought. Not only does she learn a lot of lessons along the way, she still stands up for what she believes in and takes in what she does learn. The war she sees is taking place in World War I, or as Steve puts it to her the ‘war to end all wars’. She is a fish out of water but this approach is not milked, it feels natural and it is part of how she grows as her own person.

The relationship she shares with Steve is an important one, he is her guide to this new world and at the same time she acts as a guide to him. They both teach each other many things, while both being strong individuals and while he is taken a back that she is a powerful woman he knows he cannot stand in her way. Wonder Woman is a film with a lot of heart and passion behind it, this is felt strongly with how it is written with a script by Allen Heinberg and direction by Patty Jenkins. The difference between this film and the two previous DC films is that it does not feel dark, and Diana herself really feels like a hero. She is not someone who has faced what Batman has faced in this universe and she handles things differently than Superman.

With such a different setting, the opportunity was there to make this film feel different and offer a fresh look in the superhero landscape. It is proof that a female lead superhero film can be complex and action packed, and not dumbed down for audiences like Catwoman (2004) and Supergirl (1984) were. There are many battles to face, with perhaps her own battle being the biggest one she has to face and overcome. There are the villains to face with Ludendorff (John Huston) and Doctor Maru (Elena Anaya) who use chemical warfare to gain the upper hand and their latest invention could wipe out millions. It is a big feat to get through, and with the belief that Ludendorff is actually Ares, Diana feels that her mission is most important.

When it comes to action the film has a lot of it and feels right, it isn’t there just to appease fans, it all has a reason for being there. The journey through No Mans Land is a big one, and it defines who Wonder Woman is and will be for years to come. It is almost crazy to think that this scene almost didn’t make it into the film, Patty Jenkins fought for it and the film is all the more stronger for it. It manages to inject humour as well, it is not over done or unwelcome it balances out with the rest of the film. There is drama and of course as one would expect some romance, it is very natural with chemistry being strong between the actors. The friendships formed along the way make sense and Diana is a person that has charisma and naturally you can see how others are drawn to her.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, she embodies everything that the character stands for and disappears right into the role. She was the stand out in Batman vs. Superman and she is naturally the stand out here. This is her film and she was the right choice to play her, it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing this version of Diana. You can believe she is a powerful being, she has so much heart and passion that one just wants to stand up and fight side by side with her. Chris Pine was the right choice for Steve Trevor, the chemistry between the two actors was perfect and they played off of each other well. Connie Nielson and Robin Wright made for some powerful Amazons and their scenes certainly stood out. John Huston is a great actor and it is always fun to see him in a villainous role. Elena Anaya was another good stand out as Dr. Maru, showing some great acting chops and managing to get her emotions across behind half of a mask. David Thewlis as Sir Patrick was a welcome addition to the cast, sharing some good scenes with our leads.

Patty Jenkins was the right choice to helm this film, she brought so much to the table and had the strongest passion for this character and story. It is fantastic to see her successfully tackle a big budget film of this nature, and in doing so she has made one of the best comic book/superhero films since The Dark Knight. It is hard to find any fault with Wonder Woman, the film gets everything right and it definitely warrants repeated viewings. Wonder Woman will stand as this year’s best blockbuster, and it is a huge step in the right direction for DC.

Rating:

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