by Lachlan Anderson
Rated M. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright. Directed by Patty Jenkins.
Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, AKA. Wonder Woman, was easily the best part of last year’s joyless slugfest Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, it’s exciting to see her step out on her own in this latest instalment in DC Comics rival franchise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. And Wonder Woman could be the best instalment so far.
Diana (Gadot) is a princess of Themyscira, a hidden island created by the god Zeus and inhabited only by warrior women known as the Amazonians. When the peacefulness of their lives is interrupted by the arrival of Steve Trevor (Pine), an American spy fighting in World War I, Diana chooses to journey with him to the front lines to put an end to the war and kill Ares, god of war, who seeks to destroy humankind through their own conflict.
It’s been a few strikes against DC Comics and Warner Bros. as they have tried to play catch up with Marvel Studios, to bring the Justice League to the big screen for the first time. Given how poorly Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad did critically, a lot of pressure is being put on Wonder Woman to reverse the trend. Luckily for the most part it succeeds. This is easily the most fun from any DC movie so far. Gadot does exceptionally well not just as a butt-kicking superhero, she also plays fish-out-of-water scenarios with confidence. It’s refreshing to see the usual romantic subplot inverted: Steve is the love interest, though a capable fighter himself, and Diana is the hero who retains her agency, something that female characters don’t usually get. There’s also plenty of commentary on the role of women in society as Diana’s assertive Amazonian qualities are played against the 1918 Europe setting of the film.
It’s not all comedy though. Director Patty Jenkins knows this is a comic book movie and doesn’t try to hide that fact, so the action sequences are sleek and highly stylised. A lot of Zack Snyder’s (Batman v Superman) visual flare has been passed on to keep continuity with the other films in the series. Think lots of slow-mo action shots. The only drawback is that Snyder’s penchant for explosive CGI third acts gets pulled across too, which weighs down the latter half of the movie as well as some momentum killing
Wonder Woman is built heavily on Greek myth (how they’ll work the Olympian gods in with Kryptonians for Justice League, I’m not so sure) and asks some good questions about mankind. The fall of man is portrayed as the work of Ares, though there is always the question that man is simply self destructive and evil. Even the “good guys” like Trevor are flawed and broken by war.
Are we destined to ruin ourselves through endless conflict? Do we even deserve to be saved? You don’t have to look far to think that our default setting is not the best. But Jenkins’ film also reflects that there is hope for us. All we need is a hero to know us, and love us despite our flaws. Thankfully we do, in Jesus.
The Verdict: The most iconic female superhero finally stars in her own movie, and it’s about time. Wonder Woman is fun, confident and action packed and Gadot was born to play this character. Some third act issues and underwritten plot points detract but this is still easily the best DC cinematic universe film yet. 4/5
Wonder Woman opens worldwide this week.