Friday, 30 June 2017

Wonder Woman Review

It was only last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the second entry in the DC Extended Universe, that first introduced us to Princess Diana of the Amazons (Gal Gadot). Better known as Wonder Woman. During the midst of the chaos that was caused by the fallout of Batman and Superman's differing ideologies, Wonder Woman, who had spent the majority of the film posing as her alter ego Diana Prince, stepped onto the battlefield and showed the boys how it's done. The intrigue and enigma that surrounded this character can be seen as one of the few highlights of Dawn of Justice, but can Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman (2017) save the faltering DCEU?

Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana, a princess who lives on the hidden island of Themyscira, with the rest of the Amazons, who were created by Zeus to protect the human race. After saving the life of pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who tells the Amazons of the Great War, Diana travels to the battlefront of World War I as she believes that the god Ares has returned and started the war in a bid to destroy mankind. Wonder Woman brilliantly mixes fantasy with history, in a similar bid as Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) did, seeing an other worldly character in the midst of a historical battle is something that can easily be seen as overtly out of place. However, Jenkins manages to perfectly blend the boundaries of reality and fantasy.

The narrative itself does give in to the standard superhero formula that viewers around the world have come to expect from films such as this; the hero is established, the hero follows their moral compass and decides to help fix a problem, the hero ultimately overcomes their obstacles and is victorious. However, it is extremely difficult to overly fault Wonder Woman for following this narrative structure as it still has its own twists and turns as well as making up for it in so many other areas. Most noticeably the performances. Gadot brings a perfect blend of grace, intelligence, fortitude and beauty to her role. She delivers an incredibly likeable Wonder Woman to her audience and wins them to her side in no time at all. The same can be said for Pine's Steve Trevor, he brings a great deal of life and soul to a character-type that is usually reserved to simply be a love interest for the protagonist. And, despite playing two almost polar opposite characters, the chemistry between Gadot and Pine is real and absolutely brilliant to watch. They are brilliantly, and comically, supported by Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock.

One of the most refreshing things about Wonder Woman is seeing a female lead at the helm of a superhero film, especially during this current age of 21st century feminism, as this is a first for either DCEU or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Diana also doesn't fall into the naive "woman out of time" role, despite being in a completely different world and culture she maintains her composure and isn't afraid to stand up to Steve's army superiors when she believes that their actions are immoral, and goes as far as to state that they should be more like the Amazonian Generals, who fight alongside their women instead of standing at the sidelines.

A final factor that can also be viewed as refreshing, especially for the DCEU, is the quality of the action sequences. Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman were both guilty of rather rushed, messy fights scenes. Something rather shocking when you come to think of how much of a lover of slow motion shots Zack Snyder is. So, it's extremely pleasant to see such extremely graceful yet sleek action shots, espiecally those involving the Amazons, whose movements are juxtaposed against their sluggish enemies.

Long story short, Wonder Woman is the first decent entry into DC's shared universe and will hopefully set the standard for Justice League (2017) and its other successors. If Wonder Woman is anything to go by, there is hope for the DCEU yet.



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