Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017) film review

Year: 2017
Running Time: 141 minutes
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Allan Heinberg (screenplay and story), Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs (story), William Moulton Marston (Wonder Woman created by)
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner

Wonder Woman is released in Australia on June 1 (Roadshow Films) and the United States on June 2 (Warner Bros Pictures).

Wonder Woman is being hailed as a triumph by many as it has seemingly brought the DC Universe back from the depths of critical despair it has found itself in.

However, it's success is not at all dependant on it's superiority to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Although it is not at all a stretch to say that Patty Jenkins' film has restored confidence in the Warner Bros DC Universe, nothing takes away from the fact that Wonder Woman is thrilling, smart, unexpectedly sweet and most importantly, ground-breaking.

The strength of Wonder Woman lies collectively in Patty Jenkins' flawless direction, Allan Heinberg's strong screenplay and Gal Gadot's perfect portrayal of the superhero we have all been waiting for. The intriguing origins story of Justice League member, Wonder Woman and her alter ego, Diana Prince (although it doesn't seem to be much of a secret in this film that one is the other)  brings together the settings of the idyllic island of Themyscira and the dread of World War I, as she finds her destiny and comes to understand what is worth fighting for in the world of man. While not completely airtight, Heinberg's well-written screenplay makes the story of the inspiring warrior princess compelling and intriguing.

While Wonder Woman first graced the pages of comic books back in the 1940's and was a hit on the small screen in the 1970's with Lynda Carter, finding her place in cinema has been a problematic affair. A film with Wonder Woman at the helm has been in development in one way or another since 1996 with many different directors and actors involved. It's been a long wait, but a wait that has been well worth it as Patty Jenkins is the perfect director for the film and Gal Gadot the perfect leading lady.

Jenkins direction is absolutely exquisite. However well-written Heinberg's screenplay is, there is so much that when transferred to the screen could have come across as extraordinarily cheesy and overdone, but with Jenkins' direction seems almost natural and astonishing. One example of this is the scene when Diana first becomes her superhero self as she walks in the revamped Wonder Woman suit through the trenches in slow motion. Even describing this gives the impression that it could well be painful to watch. Yet, the way Jenkin's directs this scene makes it absolutely breathtaking when combined with the haunting musical score by Rupert Gregson-Williams and stunning cinematography by Matthew Jensen. It is such an important moment in the film and it is executed to perfection.

This is only one example of how Jenkins is able to set her film apart from other films of the superhero genre. These days, superhero films are generally a showcase of mind-blowing special effects and exhibitions of how they be used to create the most spectacular action sequences. Wonder Woman isn't unlike this by any means, but what makes it's fast paced and impressive action scenes even more so is that they are spread out through the film rather than piled on top of one another like so many other films. This point of difference makes Wonder Woman taking on her enemies even more exciting to watch and as incredible as her fighting scenes are, they do not feel like an assault on your senses.

And it is not just the spectacular action that makes Jenkins and Gadot the perfect team. Together they make Wonder Woman so much more than a female superhero who can outplay any villain regardless of gender, although she is definitely this too.

When we first met Diana Prince in last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gadot stole every scene she was in. However, the Diana from that film is a very different one than what we see here and this is a much welcomed difference.

Wonder Woman is the perfect origins story as it not only makes you understand the character more, it makes you connect with her. As Diana moves from her homeland where she is royalty and where gods were worshiped, to London and the world of man, she struggles to adapt to social etiquette. Hilarity ensues as she learns basic cultural differences and in particular, the ice cream scene is quite adorable. Her dialogue during this time could have been over-emphasised (especially considering she is a princess) and the comedy been goofy and forced. Yet, Gadot is so natural, genuine and endearing. She is not only likable, she is lovable. You truly care about her and want her to be victorious. Her reason for being a fighter and a hero is admirable and beautiful, which is something you can't normally say for superheroes in film.

Wonder Woman need not be compared to other DC films for it to be hailed as a success. It is the superhero/action film that we have been waiting for. With it's wonderful hero and brilliant direction, Woman Woman is a grand achievement in a genre where it is becoming harder to please audiences.


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