Wonder Woman (2017) Review
Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, The Killing) and stars Gal Gadot (Fast Five, Keeping Up with the Joneses), Chris Pine (Star Trek, Hell or High Water) and David Thewlis (Harry Potter, Naked). "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". The DCEU set off on a rocky road - Man of Steel, BvS and Suicide Squad were all disappointments for many - will Wonder Woman have the power to break the curse?
Wonder Woman is not only the DCEUs best film yet but it is the best superhero film I have ever seen. It just gets everything right - Warner Bros and DC have finally pulled off a pretty much flawless movie. This is one of my favourite films of the year - it's a tight race with Beauty and the Beast for number 1 but oddly, both films have very similar themes and messages. I didn't expect Wonder Woman to be as poignant and have so much on its mind. Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman and Chris Pine really shines. Finally, DC did it - they returned to form!
The narrative is well structured, well paced and easy to follow - something the DCEU has failed to get right as of now. The film begins developing the character of Diana as we watch her grow up and train. Steve Trevor then arrives and informs Diana of the evil that is in the world and being the kind-hearted, admirable woman she is, Diana has to help. There are lots of smaller, character moments within Wonder Woman which I really enjoyed - it gave time for the characters to bond and create a believable connection. The boat ride from Themyscira to 'the war' was a really nice scene with some comedic and touching elements. There's also a nice moment outside a folk pub that was actually quite beautiful - Diana's commentary on dancing was quite funny. In fact, all of her commentary was pretty amusing and Wonder Woman is a very comedic film - another thing DC finally manage to get right is balancing a light tone with a darker one. Another strong element was the score - it fitted in beautifully with what was occurring on-screen, I don't usually notice a score but it's always a good thing when I do.
There are few action sequences within Wonder Woman but they are all very very good. Less is more. The first moment where Diana ventures to No Man's Land was masterfully done. The dialogue between Trevor and Diana before she decides to fight was effectively written, I actually got shivers when she stood up for what she believes in and started to fight. This scene really did catch me off guard as the emotions it aroused just hit me, it was beautifully done and no superhero film before it has been able to make me feel the way Wonder Woman did. The character is heroic and selfless - a true hero.
The second major action sequence occurs in the third act and I honestly believe it should be seen as a masterclass for future filmmakers wanting to create a third act battle. This sequence continued to build throughout - it starts off with Diana confronting the main red-herring of the film, Ludendorff and then falsely believing the battle is over. Diana soon realises that people are continuing to fight despite Aries supposedly being defeated. The true Aries is then revealed (more on that soon) in his human form - Diana confronts and fights him. The fight progressively gets bigger and more aggressive and results in Aries transforming into his true form. Diana then unlocks a power within and has a realisation and defeats him. If that isn't the perfect and most climatic third act battle I have seen, I don't know what is. There was no dull moment, it never became repetitive and tiresome - it just continued to build. Fantastic. Diana's monologue is also very touching.
The twist is that Sir Patrick played by David Thewlis is actually Aries and at first, it was a surprise that didn't really make sense but as he explained himself, everything came together. Moments that could be flawed early on in the film were solved by Aries' involvement - for example, when Dr Poison suddenly comes up with the recipe for the deadliest gas, it's because Aries subconsciously whispered it to her. There is a short moment in the film where I thought that Aries was just going to be a myth and a big misdirect - Trevor explains to Diana that maybe some people are just bad people and have made that choice. Trevor couldn't be more correct - in the world of the past and the world of today, there have been bad people and there always will be. However, Wonder Woman's central message is what it means to be human - to love, to have courage, to care - it's all very charming. However, Diana isn't defined by a man - she actually works with him in most action sequences - unity is another theme. I honestly believe that love is the solution to all bad things in the world - not just love in a romantic way but love in a humane way. There is a brilliant moment where Diana takes a look at Dr Poison without a mask and sees the human within her, she chooses not to kill her despite her evilness - she is better than that. The reveal of Aries didn't disappointment and the message of the film was unexpected and very poignant to today's world. On that note, when Aries is revealed, Sir Patrick actually says something along the lines of 'evil doesn't always look the way you think it does' - that statement can definitely be applied to today's world and all the prejudice that still exists.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman. I can't see anyone else doing as good of a job as she did - she is charismatic, personable, likeable and just does a damn good job. My only worry with Gadot is I feel she is the perfect example of casting the right person in the right role as I can't see her working well elsewhere. Gadot delivers some of the important lines with such a warm tone to her voice that really heightens their importance. Wonder Woman has also climbed the ranks in my personal opinion of favourite film characters - she comes across as such a kind-hearted person who just wants the best. Wonder Woman doesn't understand why humans let time dictate us, she learns what love is, she doesn't understand war and wants to stop it at all costs. She fights for peace and hope. However, she isn't a perfect character - she comes across as naive at times but I think it is vital that the character is flawed as nobody is perfect.
Chris Pine has a career-turning moment in Wonder Woman - his portrayal of Steve Trevor is brilliant. I don't think I've been this impressed by Pine before - he's always been the lesser 'Chris' in my opinion but I think that could easily change. Steve Trevor is a really admirable character - I think that's what makes this film so special - it treats its male characters with just as much care and respect as it done the female characters. Wonder Woman could have easily been a super feminist film that loves women and hates men but it doesn't do that- it emphasises unity and working together. There is a great moment in the middle action sequence where Wonder Woman struggles to get to a shooter in a tall tower but the men all team up and form a stool for her to bounce off of. Pine is superb and his chemistry with Gadot is fantastic, this film wouldn't have been the same without either.
As for the other acting talent, everyone does a good job - David Thewlis is a convincing good guy and a convincing villain. I actually really liked his voice as Aries (unlike Enchantress in Suicide Squad or Salazar in Pirates 5). Elena Anaya who plays Dr Poison doesn't go overboard but is still crazy and evil - there's a moment in the film where leaders of the war (on Germany's side) group up to sign the armistice but Dr Poison and Ludendorff invade and set the gas on all of them - this was a shocking scene that was pure evil. Some of the Amazonian women were a little forced and young Diana had some uneven moments but all-in-all, the performances were strong.
The weakest part of the film was probably the visual effects. In some scenes, they were fantastic and flawless but in others, the green screen effect was pretty obvious. I also don't know if I was a fan of Wonder Woman's movements- she moved at quite a fast speed so it would have been nice if we got a better glimpse at her movement. However, slow motion was used effectively in the action sequences to give a better picture of what was going on. The cinematography was good though - the colours were very rich and there was a cool effect on some of the shots to give a vintage style.
Wonder Woman is the best superhero film I have ever seen- by quite a bit. This film is sophisticated and well made- Patty Jenkins should be so proud of the masterpiece she has created. The narrative is well structured and the action sequences are well executed. Gal Gadot is perfectly cast and does an exceptional job. The villain(s) are all brilliant and truly evil. Chris Pine shines and does a terrific job as the honourable Steve Trevor. The uneven visual effects are my only complaint but they are definitely good enough. This is an important film with an important message and I urge you to see it - you won't regret or forget this remarkable cinematic experience.