Cast - 83%
Story - 88%
Music Score - 84%
Effects/Quality - 86%
Originality - 83%
Wonder Woman has finally arrived, in more ways than one! Marking the fourth film in the current critically mixed DC Extended Universe, and the first big budget blockbuster film for the character, there’s a lot of extra attention on this movie and rightfully so. With hopes of fans and big plans of DC Films’ parent company and distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures on the line, as well as being the first female lead superhero big budget theatrically released movie, which is also the first of the genre to be directed by a female, this is an important film in so many ways. Despite carrying the weight of so many burdens on its shoulder like Atlas himself, it seems as though in the end, all that was needed was a women’s touch.
Director Patty Jenkins hits it out of the park (or bats a six to use cricket terms), notching an important win under her belt not only for herself but for the newly lead Geoff Johns and Jon Berg lead DC Films division. While ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ enjoyed good returns at the box office and through home video releases, they received mixed and lukewarm reception from fans and critics alike due to scripting and editing choices which broke up the flow of the stories and fundamentally missed the mark on some of the characters themselves, changing their personalities to suit the script rather than craft the movie around them instead. Both those instances appear to be addressed in ‘Wonder Woman’. No doubt a fresh director and vision helped as the narrativ is tighter and brings Wonder Woman’s personality to the big screen in ways we had only dared hoped for while staying fundamentally true to her comics back-story and character.
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny.
Framed by scenes in the present, this story is focused firmly on Diana’s origins in the past which was a smart decision, giving this movie room to breathe and set its own tone without largely having to worry about the continuity with ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ in the present. This structure is not unlike ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ in this way, and not just because of its later war setting, which should be taken as a compliment.
The scenes on Themyscira (Paradise Island) are visually stunning in both scope and visuals, with the Greek influenced style of their architecture mixed with some original designs. The Amazon warriors are portrayed as every bit as fierce as they are in the original comics through the years, with the depiction of their fight style being something new we have not yet seen on screen and is on full display during earlier battle scenes, with some creative camera angles to convey the action. Wonder Woman herself shines in later battle scenes with similar explosive might and fierce style, leaping into action with force and everyone attack or defence has such weight behind it, you’ll almost feel sorry for the Kaiser forces having to fight her…almost. Everything from her fighting style, to her protective gauntlets/bracelets, to the use of the lasso of truth and her updated iconic costume all amount to a very faithful depiction of Wonder Woman which will make fans of her DC Comics adventures, animated appearances and general audiences alike very happy. More than that, the early scenes are visually rich as well as the colour palette is bright and vibrant during our time on the island, while appropriately less so as we enter man’s world and the battlefield of World War I, unlike some of the oversaturated, filtered and at times desiderated colours of the earlier DC Films movies. These mixed with the musical score of Rupert Gregson-Williams help to uplift this film right from the start.
More so than anything this film gets right for me, is the overall tone of the story which gels hand in glove with Diana’s personality. She’s strong, independent and more than capable of holding her own in battle or any given situation for that matter. As we delve through her origin tale, we also see how much she has a defined sense of right and wrong, presented through several choices made throughout, and a burning desire to help people due to believing in the best in humanity. It is this overarching genuineness and optimism that more than anything, lifts this film up above the others that preceded it above. After all, if she didn’t have hope that she was doing the right thing and making a difference in the world, why would she bother going on this journey at all? Complementing this optimistic feeling throughout is the right amount of humour, primarily in the interactions between Diana and Steve Trevor, as well as other supporting characters at times, in how they deal with Diana’s mythology and then her fish-out-of-water interactions as she learns about our world (in the mid 1910’s but our world nonetheless). It hardly ever feels forced and is a welcomed change of pace from the ultra serious and sombre ‘Batman v Superman’, as they pick and choose where and with which characters to sprinkle in the humour.
One could raise issues with the culminating battle in the third act but will not go into that to avoid spoilers. The rest is so pleasing that this seems rather minor compared to the rest of the overall film which carriers such heart throughout as the film focuses on Diana/Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot, despite being a highlight in her brief appearance in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, was still a question mark for some heading into this movie. Question no more because she is without a doubt the best thing about ‘Wonder Woman’. She is able to convey the fierce warrior nature of Diana as well as the heroism, love and hope of the character as well. Whether in hard hitting action scenes or the quieter character moments, she proves equally capable of carrying both and holds our attention. Chris Pine turns in a great performance as U.S. pilot and spy Steve Trevor. He has great natural comedic timing and also some chemistry with Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince as they engage in conversation and explore the differences between the two contrasting worlds from which they belong. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen are great too, conveying the stoic Amazon warrior Antiope (Diana’s aunt) and the caring, nurturing Queen Hippolyta (Diana’s mother) respectively; both displaying traits that we later see develop in Diana as she progresses on her journey to becoming Wonder Woman. Lucy Davis is a blast as Steve Trevor’s bubbly, comical and loyal secretary Etta Candy and we have some good performances by Danny Huston (General Ludendorff) and David Thewlis (Sir Patrick Morgan) as well as the other notable cast members.
As a result we have an action packed story that is will please and make you feel a little sad and emotional at the right times, but also leave you hopefully and upbeat by the time you walk out of the cinema. Who could ask for more than that from a story like this? It doesn’t break the mould of the genre but still delivers a good story and movie going experience within it all the same. Anyone can enjoy this film from children, boys and girls, to adults as well. I think families and younger girls might get even more of a thrill out of this movie. DC Films gets a big win with ‘Wonder Woman’ and her future appearances in ‘Justice League’ will be all the more powerful and pleasing to audiences with the solid work of this film paving the way. There’s no post-credit scene but you can enjoy a pleasing song by Sia early on into the credits that helps solidify the whole journey and experience in your mind. A highly recommended movie to see this weekend with friends and family and one that will earn a place in many people’s Blu-Ray collections.
Reviewed on: Cinema 3D
Available on: Cinema 2D, Cinema 3D, IMAX 3D
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Superhero
Age Rating: PG 10-12 V
Estimated RRP: R50 – R120
Release Date: 02 June 2017
- Optimistic, hopeful and packed with heart
- Comic accurate depiction of Wonder Woman and some supporting characters too.
- Gal Gadot and Chris Pine
- Third act reveal and final battle? (sorta / kinda)