Wonder Woman (2017) Review

This film was everything I expected it to be. Now, so far I haven’t been a DCEU fan, I hated Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman. In their quest to be different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCEU took on a gloomy and dull visual palette and were also dull in terms of the overall tone of the films. While that approach may have worked for Batman, they didn’t quite fit with Superman.

Wonder Woman is the antithesis to those films and to everyone who said that superheroes, in the current climate can’t be optimistic. One of the best aspects of the film was the overwhelming optimism, the kind I felt at the end of The Force Awakens, the certainty, that come what may, good will prevail over evil. I loved that distinct lack of cynicism, it was so wonderfully refreshing.

In terms of the two halves of the film, the first half definitely works better while the second half drags a bit but not for long. And those moments of quiet were used well, to establish emotional connect with characters beyond the immediate protagonists.

Patty Jenkins deserves heaps of praise especially in light of all the fake negative reviews that strove to derail the film. When I went to watch BvS, I went in with zero expectations, but with Wonder Woman, I went with expectations, I expected the film to be amazing and for Wonder Woman to be an absolutely badass and Jenkins delivered on both counts. It really does bring to mind Christopher Reeve’s Superman, its charm, optimism and hope.

The world of Themiscyra was beautifully crafted, it was beautiful and every bit the paradise that it was meant to be. The Amazons were fierce and it was a joy to see different ethnicities among them. I only wish we spent more time with them.

The film is also beautifully shot, the cinematography was stunning. And I was thrilled to learn that it was shot on film, 35mm. There is something about film, that digital just can’t replicate or replace. The fight scenes were also beautifully shot and choreographed. They were thrilling and really pulled the audience inside with a mixture of tight close-ups and wider establishing shots. They were coherent in a way that so many fight scenes aren’t.

I loved Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright as Queen Hippolyta and General Antiope respectively. Such beautiful strong women, it was easy to see them taking on enemies and emerging victorious. Wright as Antiope especially a joy to watch, so fierce and formidable.

I loved Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy and feel slightly bummed that in all probability we won’t see any more of her considering that she’s probably ancient by now. She was hilarious without being a caricature. The motley crew that Trevor puts together to get behind enemy lines, was also fun. They were diverse without that diversity being overtly stated. Again, I wish we had spent more time with them.

I am not a huge fan of Chris Pine but I loved him here. He was excellent as the slightly jaded pilot/spy Steve Trevor who slowly rediscovers hope and optimism. But Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana was the real star of the film. She owned the role of Wonder Woman and shut up all the people who doubted the choice to cast her. She was charming and her optimism and naïveté were believable. She really invested in this role and it paid off. Her chemistry with Pine was also amazing and served to make their relationship believable even though they had only known each other very briefly. Their interactions were a joy to watch and their camaraderie was one of the high points of the film.

Of the villains, Danny Huston’s General Ludendorf along with Elena Anaya’s Dr Maru were suitably sinister and even had a mad scientist-evil mastermind laughter moment. One of my only complaints of the film is that the villains felt somewhat underwhelming. I wish the script had fleshed them out more. I also feel that the marketing should not have revealed who Ares was (I won’t mention it here in case there are those who are as yet unaware of that tidbit) Knowing about that reveal undercut its effect.

Wonder Woman is the film we and this character deserve. It is fun, funny, charming, full of hope and optimism without ever being cheesy. It is a joy to watch and I hope we see a sequel soon with Jenkins once again at the helm. People need to watch this film and make sure that it is a hit, we need this film to make money, to tell the studios that female-lead films and blockbuster films directed by women can be both critically acclaimed and box-office successes. That female directors aren’t a gamble.

P.S. – would it be too much to ask for a film about the Amazons on Themiscyra? I would pay to watch that film.

 

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