Friday, 16 June 2017

'Wonder Woman' Review

It's safe to say that the DC Extended Universe hasn't got off to the best of starts. with 'Batman V Superman' and 'Suicide Squad' failing miserably and 'Man of Steel' being nothing more than an average film. Due to this, a lot of pressure was on the shoulders of their latest film to bring some credibility to the series. 'Wonder Woman' brings life to the DCEU by blowing its predecessors out of the water and in doing so, takes its place amongst the hierarchy of superhero films.

Before she became Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was an Amazon Princess called Diana, a warrior who was brought to life by the God Zeus. Diana grows up on an island hidden from the rest of the world until World War 1 spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the island. After saving Trevor, he tells her of an ongoing conflict that is killing many people all over the world. Believing this to be the work of the evil God of War Ares and that she can help end this trouble, Diana decides to go with Trevor to help fight and try to end the war.

Patty Jenkins makes her long-awaited return as a director in a feature film with only her second film and the first big budget movie that she has helmed. Due to her lack of involvement in feature films, it was questioned whether it was a good idea for Jenkins to direct such a big budget and socially important film. Once the credits start rolling, all of those doubts have been put to bed as 'Wonder Women' succeeds on many levels.

It's been made clear that DC should look to Marvel as inspiration for how to handle their cinematic universe, with it looking like DC have been rushing their projects to catch up with their competition. 'Wonder Woman' does what no DCEU film has done before. It is handled with care and precision as every detail is used to help progress the character and the story. A bit more time could have been spent on looking at exactly what Diana's powers are - as someone fairly new to the character, there were some surprises that seemed to come out of the blue. In comparison, 'Wonder Woman' unsurprisingly does a better job than the DCEU's previous origin stories, creating an instantly likable, entertaining and charismatic lead character from the beginning.

When it was announced that Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman, I was very skeptical. I was yet to see her in anything as a lead character and thought of her has someone who would only be capable of providing a supporting role. I never thought that she would be considered to be one of the first female leading roles for a modern superhero movie, especially with all the pressure that would come with that responsibility. Thankfully, I was proved wrong. Any queries I had surrounding the Israeli actress were removed after watching her fantastic performance as the Amazon princess. Gadot shines throughout the film, whether she is adapting to 1910's Europe or showing great humour and wit and of course, in the action scenes. Fans of the character can relax knowing that their beloved heroine is not only in good hands but is the shining star of the franchise so far.

Of course, Gadot is not alone in her quest to bring credibility back to the DCEU. The only Chris not in the MCU Chris Pine plays off Gadot as Steve Trevor, an American Spy who crash lands on Diana's island and brings her to the war effort. Pine and Gadot share excellent chemistry as Trevor is tasked with explaining and guiding Diana through 1910's war-ridden Europe. Due to the chemistry from the pair, the moments where the two are just traveling and getting to know each other are just as enjoyable as the superhero action that you are expecting. The likes of Robin Wright, Ewen Bremner and Connie Nielsen provide good support but don't have a patch on Gadot and Pine who really steal the show.

With superhero films, the downfall is usually that the villain is not that strong and this, unfortunately, is the case for Wonder Woman. The film actually has three villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya) and later on in the film Ares (David Thewlis) but there isn't enough focus on any of them, especially the latter. Ludendorff and Dr. Posion are the main targets for Steve Trevor and the war effort but there isn't much from them that is memorable. We aren't given any reason to really fear these characters or feel that they can be a threat to Wonder Woman which makes it obvious how the eventual encounter will end up. There is some intrigue behind the Dr. Poison character which I look forward to seeing more of in the future. There is a twist surrounding Ares and that he has been masquerading as someone else all along. For me, this twist didn't work too well and took me out of the film as I couldn't imagine a God just sitting in day to day life as some sort of politician. I guess it does make sense that the God of War would surround himself with people sending others to war whilst they stay and twiddle their thumbs.

What 'Wonder Woman' does so well is create so many morally complex situations. Steve Trevor is constantly faced with difficult decisions, made harder due to Diana's rash decision making and lack of knowledge. The actions of the characters really affect what happens in the next scene to drastic effect. These moments really take a toll on Diana which makes her seem human and that she truly feels the effects of what she has indirectly caused. This is something that isn't often developed too well in this genre but 'Wonder Woman' really succeeds with this element.

With such a high-budget superhero film like this, you expect the action to be very good and that is true for the most part. Jenkins does well with the action although does seem a bit obsessed with the slow motion effect during scenes. These are a bit overplayed and do make it feel quite video game like at times but the most important part is that it is all easily visible and won't give you a headache. A problem that I do feel with the DCEU's action, in general, is that the final battle is just punches and people being sent for miles rather than something that seems choreographed. That is just a personal preference but it did disappoint me that the climatic battle did end up like that. Other than that, there aren't many complaints. The over the top action scene is absolutely incredible which is made even better due to Rupert Gregson-Williams score that had inspiration from the Wonder Woman theme in 'Batman V Superman'. Those who enjoy the typical superhero action films will enjoy Wonder Woman as the standards are met for the general audiences.

I'm surprised by how good 'Wonder Woman' actually was as I certainly had doubts surrounding the film and its lead actress. Thankfully, they've proved me wrong big time and even more impressively, restored my faith in the DCEU. In a time where a superhero film is released every other month, 'Wonder Woman' does a great job at feeling fresh and maintaining a high quality. An important film that hopefully opens more doors for female filmmakers and inspires many more

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'Wonder Woman'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not, which I encourage that you do. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

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