Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Comic Book, Superhero.
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nelson, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Ewen Brenner, Said Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock, Lisa Loven Kongsli.
Year Of Release: 2017
Certificate: 12A (UK)
Runtime: 141 Minutes
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer(s): Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder & Jason Fuchs
Synopsis: “Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.” IMDB
I don’t care much to rate this film based on the premise it’s directed by a woman. It’s not the first female superhero film we’ve had, nor is it the first with a strong female lead, but it is the first to be directed by a female. There has been so much debate and, to be honest, over-reaction to this that it’s turned every review or debate about the film turn into a battle of the sexes and status in Hollywood.
Male or female, I do not mind who directs what film. Yes, female directors are in short supply and this films does highlight without doubt they should be given more chances in Hollywood, but I will not let it sugar-coat the film for me in terms of how I see it – I feel many people are afraid to be critical for fear it makes them sound sexist or whatever.
I am not sexist, and champion strong female leads and directors. On that matter, I’ll move on into my review of the film and not the circumstances behind it.
It’s one of the better super-hero films out there in terms of simply a little different in terms of the lead. We get a female superhero to focus on with a decent origin story in a setting that is not modern day. Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, is brought to life by Israeli actress Gal Gadot (and I don’t even care she’s not American – it doesn’t matter). Gadot isn’t the best actress out there, but her stance as a figure fighting for good in a dangerous world is believable. She shows a great deal of layers to Wonder Woman behind the marketed imagery of a steel-jawed warrior. Gadot at least helps you buy into her journey and the reasons behind what she does to get where she is today in the DC universe.
Her supporting cast are a likeable bunch too which helps. Chris Pine, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock and Ewen Bremner form her mortal allies in the battle against the German war machine, each with their own little quirks and back stories. They’re not just there for decoration, which is good. I can’t help feel though that Diana loses some of her sparkle and strength the more Steve develops, and the story becomes more predictable in terms of how much she really depends on him and he makes the sacrifices needed while she just takes care of the canon fodder. Wonder Woman becomes basic woman even when she tries to take charge, because it seems the men just have to be in control!
Danny Huston and Elena Anaya give us some interesting villains but never really hit their stride which is a shame because there is great menace to what they are doing and they aren’t building a super-weapon or terraforming – they are soldiers and scientists trying to win a war, and they are more in touch with us as villains than the usual CGI inter-galactic beings we’ve seen. I just wish we had a bit more from them and that the finale revolved around them more than it did.
The World War One era also helps make this stand out in modern super-hero films. Not since 2011 have seen a film of this genre set in the past which I personally love. It’s different and refreshing and leads to all sorts of B-movie style adventure and action without fighter jets, super modern technology and laser guns. It’s real as it can be, and from industrial London to war-torn Belgium, and even the Ancient Greek inspired Themyscira, it makes for strong visual story telling.
Being a DC movie, the action is thick and fast and loud and dizzying in scale – the opening battle on Themyscira is a great set-piece, as too is the money shot crossing of No-Man’s Land. The use of slow-motion is novel at first and really works, but it becomes a little stale and “for the sake of it” during the second hour or so. Wonder Woman manages to refrain from becoming too much of a CGI character in her action, with good use of stunt doubles and Gadot herself getting stuck in. As things go, she’s quire restrained at parts which allows the characters to shine rather than the action or CGI.
But there are flaws, and the biggest is the drawn out Zack Snyder-esque ending. It’s like Patty Jenkins wrapped up her story perfectly but Zack saw the camera still rolling and created his usual mix of noisy, CGI packed, gloomy and fire based finales. I didn’t care for the final battle at all, because I feel it had already been won, and this was just over-long and repetitive – how many times are things deflected into vehicles surrounded by fire? Boring doesn’t cut it and it’s a real shame because things were going so well.
The humour too at times is a bit hit and miss, and so is Gadot. For me, anyway, I found Diana at times a bit arrogant and irritating. And when she is reduced to a love interest clearly dependent on the choices of others, the hype surrounding her being ground-breaking wears thin – she’s not. She’s the same as the others, just a lot more attractive in a far more flattering outfit.
But to end on a positive – Wonder Woman herself looks great. Her powers and weapons are near perfect for how I imagine them to be, with the sword, shield, gauntlets and lasso. And her costume too is a bit distracting at times, but Gadot does make it look good. Hey, women can get pleasure from looking at hunky male superheroes so why can’t we men now enjoy the female hero’s!
If you take ‘Superman: The Movie’, add it to ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and mix it with ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, but spoil it with an over generous sprinkling of Zack Snyder, then you have ‘Wonder Woman’; the best of the current DC offerings…which doesn’t really mean much, but still good never the less and a step in the right direction. At times, it doesn’t even look or feel like the DC films we are used to, which is great.
I just have a bad feeling ‘Justice League’ will counter all the good work made here and go back to the issues DC had before hand.
But that is another review for another time yet to be seen…