Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston
Warner Bros and DC comics have more riding on the first solo “Wonder Woman” film than just earning a profit. This marks the first female led superhero film since Marvel’s “Elektra”, and before that, it was 1986’s “Supergirl”. Wonder Woman is also only the second superhero film (first major one) directed by a female. Patty Jenkins says this is the film she always wanted to make. It’s a huge leap from her critically acclaimed indie Monster, that won Charlize Theron an Academy Award. Jenkins and screenwriters divide the film into three distinct acts; Amazonia, Europe, and battle. More of a drama than an action movie, the filmmakers struggle to incorporate so much history and backstory into one film. It’s far more organized than “Batman v. Superman”’s, not as edgy as “Suicide Squad”, but never reaches the subtle perfection of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
Themyscira is a hidden island that hosts ancient and powerful Amazon women. Among them, Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen), mother of Diana (Gadot) who keeps her daughters’ true purpose and heritage withheld. When the modern world, experiencing their first World War, happens upon the mysterious lands of the Amazons, Diana feels a duty to return with downed pilot and spy Steve Trevor (Pine). She has much to learn in the way of men, but her strength and power is the weapon England needs against the enemy. Diana seeks Aries, the god of war, who she predicts is ultimately responsible for the hate in the world. Trevor’s mission is to stop Doctor Poison (Anaya) from creating a hydrogen gas that could kill hundreds of people if released.
It’s just not the most wow-inducing, knock your socks-off spectacle I think most might expect.
The film opens with a truck from Wayne Enterprises delivering a special package for Diana. This scene provides framing for the events following “BvS”, as we dive into Diana’s history and origin. Themyscira is a beautifully lush computer-generated environment made to look like the Ancient Greek Islands. Here we find Robin Wright in a short but memorable role as Antiope, General of the Themyscira army and aunt to Diana. It’s a fascinating world that provides a stark contrast to the muted grey color scheme of the rest of the film. When Chris Pine’s character joins the film, his character is given an equal narrative to Diana’s, not to mention equal screen time. The character of Steve Trevor provides an “out” for a film that is female centered. Pine delivers his usual performance, he gets some funny quips, plays the ultimate war hero, but the script leans on this male bravado character more than it should.
The second act of “Wonder Woman”, which is mostly developmental, getting Diana and Steve more acquainted, is a bit slow. There are few scenes in the middle portion that rely solely on our leading character, instead the script does what I had feared, and tries to make Steve an equal. Despite the story focusing on a world war, the script avoids the notion of a villain with world domination goals. The humor is also more sophisticated than the teenager equivalent jokes we endure in Marvel movies. Gadot is thoroughly enjoyable as the icon, but “Wonder Woman” isn’t a film about performances or acting range. The latest film in the DC universe should please fans of the character, cement itself as the next step towards that “Justice League” monstrosity, and create a shining example for future female led superhero films to build on. Unfortunately, it’s just not the most wow-inducing, knock your socks-off spectacle I think most might expect.
An imperfect superhero flick that provides a glimmer of hope to the struggling DC division of Warner Brothers Studios.