Wonder Woman (2017) Review: They Finally Got It Right
After the critical failures of both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, all eyes have been turned to Patty Jenkins and her Wonder Woman movie to see if she could be the saving grace for Warner Bros’ DC Film Universe. Not only has she risen to the challenge magnificently, but she has also crafted a highly entertaining and emotionally moving film. Finally, DC has a movie in their film universe that can go toe to toe with any Marvel movie to date and hold its own!
Written by Allan Heinberg (comic writer for the re-launched Wonder Woman title after the wrap up of Infinite Crisis), Wonder Woman is the origin story of how the warrior princess of Themyscira became the bad ass, strong-willed woman we all know and love today. Heinberg’s writing is excellent. His characters, simply as they’re written, are more than simple archetypes; they are three-dimensional, with well-defined arcs. The bad guys are a bit less so, suffering some from the general cartoonish aura most bad guys tend to have. There are also a few plot holes, but they don’t really interfere too much with the story, so you’re not exactly left scratching your head in confusion.
Patty Jenkins (known for her work writing and directing the Charlize Theron movie Monster) does a wonderful job as director. She keeps the film at a fast, yet steady pace and she does incredibly well at keeping the action nicely framed without editing it to death. Patty, along with her cinematographer Matthew Jensen, take some cues from Zack Snyder in some of her incredibly epic shots; but she succeeds where he fails in that those shots feel earned by the time they happen. Instead of just a cool shot that is nice to look at, Patty and Matthew give us these shots in a way that informs the character, drives the story and leaves the viewer floored by what they’ve just seen.
Gal Gadot turns in a great performance as the titular character, playing Diana Prince with all the youthful naivety of a sheltered girl out of time. She’s expressively charismatic and is obviously loving every second of her time on set. She also acquits herself incredibly well in the action scenes. She’s fast and graceful and her background in the Israeli Defense Force certainly helps her pull off the highly physical fight choreography. Chris Pine also does well as Steve Trevor, the cynical and world-weary soldier who is taken by the strong-willed, yet childishly naïve Diana.
Rounding out their rag-tag group of misfits on a suicide mission are Eugene Brave Rock as Chief, a Native American mercenary; Said Taghmaoui as Sameer, a master of disguise and spycraft; and Ewan Bremner as Charlie, a Scottish sniper. And the baddie of the film, Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff, seems to have a great time being menacing, chewing the scenery whenever he’s on screen. Elena Anaya is Dr. Maru, AKA Dr. Poison, the disfigured mad scientist who is working to create a kind of mustard gas so deadly and potent that even gas masks would be useless. While they both are effectively creepy and evil baddies, they do suffer a bit from the cartoonish bad guy syndrome I mentioned earlier. Still, they do well despite the fact.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a hell of a great film. It’s epic, it’s relatable in a way I didn’t expect, and it’s emotional. It would have made so much more sense to me if they had built the DC movie universe around this film instead of Snyder’s Man of Steel, as this would have perfectly set the tone for the films that would have come after. Patty Jenkins’ exploration of idealism vs reality in a story of heartbreak and sacrifice is certainly the saving grace we’ve been looking for, but I don’t know if this marks a turning point for DC or if it will be a lone standout of excellence. Go see this, ASAP! It is well worth your money!