Release Date: June 2, 2017
Running Time: 141 minutes
Don’t send a Superman to do a Wonder Woman’s job. Four films into the DC Extended Universe and in director Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman we finally have an entry that is Marvel worthy. Granted, Man of Steel offered a profound treatise on what it meant to be a God among men, but an argument can be made that the Superman reboot never quite reached director Zach Snyder’s lofty ambitions. But Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice failed in its rush to assemble DC’s mightiest superheroes and Suicide Squad was nothing more than a gaudy mess from start to finish. This brings us to Wonder Woman. By extricating Wonder Woman from the mythology that began with Man of Steel, Jenkins revels in the freedom to craft a standalone adventure that tells the origin of the Amazonian princess turned future Justice Leaguer against the backdrop of World War I. And, by doing so, Jenkins delivers the best superhero film to feature a female headliner. Of course, this seems like faint praise considering we’ve only had to contend with the past disasters Supergirl and Catwoman. But DC deserves credit for prioritizing Wonder Woman over a Batman reboot and the upcoming Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash (assuming The Flash can find a director). Also, let’s not forget that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stole Batman v Superman even if she was shoehorned into the proceedings. To put things in perspective, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in its ninth year and we must still wait another two years for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. And when can we expect Marvel to get around to giving us the solo Black Widow mission we have longed to see for years? In Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is front and center and always in command, operating under a director who clearly has a deep respect and admiration for her and the superhero she plays. And a director who isn’t afraid to bring some levity to the DCEU as a means to relieve some of the tension. Unlike Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, which presented a jaundiced view of the last son of Krypton, especially in regards to his relationship with humanity, Wonder Woman wastes little time positioning Diana Prince as a warrior who is born to fight and raised to protect people the world over. To this extent, Wonder Woman quickly emerges as the most humanistic of the DC films, one that all future offerings should hope to emulate. Bearing this in mind, Wonder Woman shares less in common with the previous films from the DCEU than with the MCU’s Captain America: The First Avenger, which was set during World War II. Both Captain America and Wonder Woman subvert the war genre into superhero spectacles that are driven by an overwhelming sense of duty. While patriotism compels Steve Rodgers to undergo the transformation from physical weakling to super soldier, Princess Diana of Themyscira spends her youth training for the moment when she is required to fulfil her purpose in life, which is to confront and vanquish true evil. In this case, it is embodied by Ares, the God of War. Diana comes to believe Ares is responsible for World War I. So she storms into the thick of battle at the side of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, the U.S. military spy responsible for bringing World War I to the shores of the previously hidden island of Themyscira. Together, they vow to stop Danny Huston’s General Erich Ludendorff and Elena Anaya’s Doctor Poison from developing and employing a chemical weapon before German formalize an armistice with England. This being an origin story, Wonder Woman follows Diana’s first encounter with an outside world she’s sworn to guard but knows nothing about. Gadot exudes a perfect balance of childlike curiosity and horror as Diana interacts with humanity for the first time when she arrives in England and then travels to the frontlines. One minute she’s enjoying a rare victory for the Allies; the next she’s witnessing the evil men can do. Diana is guided through each celebration and massacre by Trevor. Pine, who is used to being the face of a prominent franchise (Star Trek, of course), embraces with gusto the opportunity to play Trevor as a proactive and fully realized sidekick to Gadot’s Diana. He’s Agent Carter to Gadot’s Captain America. Pine downplays his inherent cockiness to portray Trevor as a serious man of action who constantly questions how he can make a difference to bring World War I to an end. In contrast, Gadot strides through a world that her Diana is experiencing for the first time with the confidence and determination to bring Ares to his knees and stop the bloodshed, even if she is unaware of the full extent of her powers. Gadot also displays little patience for the men who view her as nothing more than a woman who should be seen and not heard—or, to be frank, not even seen. She’s there to be heard and she makes sure she is heard. Jenkins never shies away from the sexism that Diana encounters but she also never puts Diana in a position where she must prove herself to anyone but herself. Diana is who she is, the social conventions of early 20th-century England be damned. Wonder Woman in battle is a sight to behold, especially when she enters No Man’s Land to liberate a village from German occupation. It’s jarring to see Wonder Woman in her bright and inspiring costume rush across a muddy battlefield and into the village that is stripped of all life and color. Gadot makes for a striking figure as she dodges bullets and cuts down the enemy with a sword known as the “God Killer.” This allows Jenkins to heighten the violence of a war that Diana enters so late in the day without diminishing the lives that are lost on both sides of No Man’s Land. Wonder Woman stumbles when it comes to the climatic fight that will determine the outcome of World War I. It is CGI heavy, which is problematic because the CGI in Wonder Woman is poorly executed from beginning to end. This is evident early in Wonder Woman during a beachfront clash on Themyscira between Amazons and Germans. Then, during the final minutes of Wonder Woman, it is somewhat hard to visually connect the actor who plays Ares to their CGI-ified version. This was a problem with Batman v Superman, one that DC needs to resolve before dropping Justice League on us on Nov. 17. Speaking of Justice League, Batman v Superman pummeled expectations that Justice League could be as good as The Avengers. Wonder Woman, though, gives us hope that the DCEU is finally moving in the right direction.
Aired: June 1, 2017
Web site: http://wonderwomanfilm.com