As a character, Wonder Woman has been around since 1941, which makes it even more crazy to think that she has never had her own film released in cinemas. That is, until now. The fourth film of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which has been pretty lacklustre so far, Wonder Woman is a film that couldn’t come at a more relevant time.
When American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the island of Themyscira, he meets Diana (Gal Gadot), an Amazonian princess and trained warrior. Upon hearing of the horrors of World War I, Diana leaves her home to fight in the war to end all wars, where she realises her full potential and becomes Wonder Woman.
The DCEU has certainly shown ambition in its short lifespan but each and every one of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were weighed down with either destruction porn, convoluted narratives or just plain old bad filmmaking. With Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins, who just so happens to be the first female to direct a big-budget superhero film, goes back to basics and it truly does work wonders for the DCEU.
Jenkins hasn’t made a film since Monster back in 2003, which is astonishing considering how good that film is, yet it feels as if she’s been an avid filmmaker since then with just how confidently she unleashes the titular Wonder Woman upon the world. Delivering a basic yet inspiring origin story, Wonder Woman is a film that does justice to such an iconic character, ensuring she remains an empowering female character and role model.
Wonder Woman really does feel like a classic adventure film, where the action sequences drive the film forward however, they do so without sacrificing the narrative. Diana’s origin story from her younger years on Themyscira through to her realisation of how horrific mankind can be to one another through fighting in World War I makes for such impactful viewing, Allan Heinberg’s screenplay making the audience feel empathy towards Diana.
Heinberg also ensures that we are watching a film based on a comic book with some delightfully funny moments between the film’s characters. Seriously, I was taken aback by just how funny Wonder Woman actually ended up being, considering how dark and serious most the DCEU has been previously. The action sequences, particularly the No Man’s Land sequence, are so powerful and thrilling, Diana’s emotions pouring out through the majority of them, making for a film the audience can connect with more.
Coming to the performances, Wonder Woman features a lead performance from Gal Gadot that certainly blew away any skepticism I had about her going in to the film. A lot was made of her appearance in Batman v Superman however, now is the right time to properly judge her in the role and she does an amazing job as Wonder Woman. She’s powerful when she has to be and wonderfully funny with a fish-out-of-water demeanour akin to the one seen in Thor. I was most impressed with how effectively Gadot displays the naivety and innocence of Diana when it comes to the war, one particular moment making for one of the more emotional moments in a superhero film of recent years.
Chris Pine makes for a great partner for Gadot to share the screen with as Steve Trevor, who Pine plays with a bit of the cockiness we’ve seen him play Kirk in Star Trek with. The chemistry between the pair makes the love story that plays a major part in the narrative feel much more natural to watch. The rest of the cast, rather disappointingly, felt a little underwhelming, particularly Danny Huston as yet another forgettable villain of a superhero film, and Robin Wright, who gets nowhere near the amount of screen time I was hoping for.
2017 has been a great year for superhero films so far and Wonder Woman ensures that the trend continues, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins sharing a working relationship full of passion to deliver a fantastic adventure for such an important character. Wonder Woman is a massive step in the right direction for both the DCEU and women in film.