Wonder Woman Review
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Written by Allan Heinberg, based on a story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs
Starring Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Chris Pine, Lucy Davis, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner, Eugen Brave Rock, Elena Anaya
Cinematography by Matthew Jensen
The launch of the DC extended Universe with Man of Steel was plagued with problems. Since Marvel and Disney were five years ahead at establishing a multi-tiered universe at that point, DC and Warner Brothers had to play catch-up. Man of Steel was lackluster so Warner Brothers thought injecting Batman and Wonder Woman into the universe built in Man of Steel would generate critic and fan buzz. It didn’t work and critics tore down Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad leaving the fate of the franchise resting on the proverbial shoulders of Wonder Woman.
I was prepared to dislike Wonder Woman because of how I felt walking out of the theater after Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. DC and Warner Brother’s don’t have a great track record when it comes to building a multifaceted universe based on their comic characters. Though with Patty Jenkins at the helm, my skepticism wasn’t at full force.
Character Growth and Change
Gal Gadot’s performance in Batman v Superman was lauded as the standout. Could her stand-alone film propel the DC Extended Universe to great heights? Yes, it can.
Taking place in 1918, four years after the start of the first World War, Wonder Woman, or Diana, sets out with Steve Trevor, to find kill the god of war, Ares, to save the world from destruction.
Gadot’s Wonder Woman is far from the stoic, knowledgeable goddess we saw in Batman v Superman. She’s naive, stubborn, but she has convictions and will stop what she’s doing to help the little guy.
Her innocence never comes across as vexing because she’s a character that has an arc – she grows throughout the film, taking in everything in as a learning experience. Seeing the world through the eyes of Wonder Woman shows the atrocities of war in a way that comic book films have yet to show.
Throughout the film we see soldiers with missing limbs, hear the sounds of crying babies under the cover of gunfire, and see the turmoil of regular townsfolk in the middle of the warzone. Wonder Woman’s writer and director combo of Heinberg and Jenkins take the time to show Diana’s impact wherever she goes.
The No Man’s Land sequence shows just how much Diana is willing to help the innocent, even if that means sacrificing her goals to make it happen. A far cry from her decries in Batman v Superman where she stated: “gave up on society.”
There’s even mention of PTSD, though it’s brushed off to the side fairly quickly.
Far From Captain America
Unlike its Captain America counterpart, Wonder Woman does a much better job of breathing life into its side characters. The characters of Sameer, Chief, Etta, and Charlie are fleshed out to feel like real people. They aren’t carbon copies of The Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger.
Gal Gadot, while not the greatest of actors, holds her own against more well-established actors like Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, and David Thewlis. Gadot isn’t just fighting and swinging swords, she’s acting and showing a progression in the character that would not have been believable if the acting was poor.
Colorful, Musical, Jarring Editing
Many fans complain about how the color palette is bland and boring. Wonder Woman has a wide range of colors and contrasts from the bright, bold colors of Themyscira to the drab smog-laden battlefields of Germany, to the Renaissance-era paintings showing the battle of Zeus and Ares. There is enough variety to prevent the film from being too boring.
Editing is an issue I had with the film. It seems like larger fight sequences were cut short for time and the editing didn’t compensate for that change. It’s small but when Wonder Woman throws her hands up to block a bullet, the very next shot shows her in the air. Fight sequences have this issue where the preceding shots don’t flow right with the next.
I was reminded of an Every Frame A Painting video about music and how most blockbusters’ scores are bland and generic. Wonder Woman’s music nearly falls into that trap but the electric guitar riff heard in the trailers and in the battle sequence halfway through the film will be remembered for years down the line. It creates a rouse out of me the same way the techno synths still do from Mortal Kombat.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a solid film that marks new ground for Warner Brothers. Far from a perfect film, there is a lot I enjoyed about Wonder Woman. At nearly two and a half hours, Wonder Woman breezes on by and keeps your attention. Does this have me excited for what’s in store for the DCEU? No, but it does have me excited to see where this character goes to next.