DC Comics movie universe has been getting their clock cleaned when compared to the Marvel films. Marvel films have been better quality, received by critics with tons more praise by both critics and fans and the most important element, at the box office. I was not a fan of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice; theatrical cut or the extended director’s cut, which is unusual. Most of the time the director’s cut of a film is better than a theatrical cut. But Zach Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman was a mess. So when Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman and Patty Jenkins was hired to direct the next origins story in the DC universe called Wonder Woman, most people, including myself groaned and eye rolled.
To say that Wonder is the best film released from the DC universe is not saying much. Aside from Suicide Squad (which I loved and thought was unfairly maligned) there has not been much to cheer for from DC comics. That is until now with Wonder Woman. This is a great film, no matter what comic universe you come from. It is a great film on its own merits as a stand alone film, as well. Propelled by Gal Gadot’s best performance to date and director Patty Jenkins being in the director’s chair, Wonder Woman is an adrenalin fueled treat from start to finish. Throw in a solid performance from Chris Pine and you have one of the best films of the year, so far.
This is an origins story that starts with Diana (Wonder Woman) as a child on her island of Amazonian warriors, led by Antiope (Robin Penn) and Diana’s mother Hippolyta, who is also sister to Antiope(Connie Nielson). The film progresses as Diana trains and becomes a woman more capable than most. But her true power is still untapped. One day, a World War I plane crashes into the sea in front of Diana. She saves the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) only to find out that German boats are not far behind him. Discussions ensue about what to do with him and it is finally decided by Diana that she will go with Trevor back to the front and find Ares who, they believe is the mind behind World War I.
The problems with the DC films so far, has been they are over stuffed with cheap looking visuals, muddled stories, shoddy acting and poor direction. None of that is the case with Wonder Woman. This film is teaming with life, color, humor and terrific action sequences. Jenkins has created a film that is glorious to look at, not just because of the attractive cast, but the cinematography is simply spectacular, as well. Rupert Gregson-Williams provides another shot of energy with his score and the Wonder Woman theme will get your blood pumping. The score goes well with the film, but you can listen to it on its own and still enjoy it. Additionally, if you are concerned with Wonder Woman’s 141 minute run time, don’t be. The pacing of Wonder Woman is excellent.
As for the alleged political themes that Wonder Woman may be implying with its storyline (responding to a woman only screening that outraged some). I did not pick up a political agenda from the film. Other than the rather simple “love-conquers-all” mantra that the film boils down to in the final action sequence, I did not pick up a hint of a pro-feminist, anti-man sentiments. Patty Jenkins is wise to steer clear of making any kind of political statement. She simply tells an origins story for a new franchise and starts from stage one. Scriptwriter Allan Heinberg, who has almost exclusively written for television, does a good job of creating a character, Diana, who goes from a naïve island warrior to a woman who is shocked at man’s inhumanity to man. She is simply horrified at what one person is capable of doing to another and Gadot does a great job of conveying this to the audience.
If I had any problems with Wonder Woman it is the lights and laser show at the film’s climax. It is almost entirely visual effects driven as she tries to vanquish the evil ones. Having said that, Wonder Woman is a terrific film with vibrant story telling, stunning cinematography, a star making performance from Gal Gadot and very assured direction from Patty Jenkins. One final thought. Patty Jenkins was hired to direct the second Thor film. After several run-ins with studio execs over the direction of Thor: Dark World, she was fired. This infuriated the film’s star Natalie Portman and if it were not for a contract she had with the studio, Natalie would have left the Thor film, altogether. Alan Taylor was brought in to finish that film. I was not a fan of Thor: The Dark World and I can only imagine just how good it might have been had the studio kept Patty Jenkins on. If Wonder Woman is any indication, the studio was stupid to fire her.
Wonder Woman – ****1/2 out 5
Wonder Woman – Rated PG-13 for comic book violence, some sexuality and sexual innuendoes, language
Wonder Woman – Run Time is 141 minutes
Wonder Woman is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.