Wonder Woman is definitely one of the most recognised Superheroes in the world. Part of the DC Trinity, along with Superman and Batman and was even last years, bone idley made a National ambassador for feminism for the United Nations, which granted if she had been put alongside some real people, would not necessarily have been a bad thing, however, it didn’t quite work out that way. Despite the fact that she has been around since the Second World War, until this year, there had been no big screening adaptations of Wonder Woman. That is insane, we are not talking about one of the obscure characters like Blue Beetle or Dr Strange, we’re talking about Wonder Woman! I suppose there is always that association with the Linda Carter TV show, but at the same time I feel DC should have done something. DC really has to remember that they have other Superheroes to work with besides Superman, Batman and Green Lantern. The film comes out also at a very interesting time, with the New 52 line being dropped and DC’s re-birth line beginning, Wonder Woman is coming out of a period where the comic and her origins went through some drastic changes that did not leave most fans happy. You can thank writer Brian Azzarello for that one, who I talked about briefly in my review of Batman the Killing Joke
Now, Wonder Woman was always on the cards, there was no way we were going to get towards the Justice League Movie without all the Trinity being introduced. Personally, I think that all members of the league should be introduced in their own films before that, but frankly what are you going to do. You have got to catch up with Marvel. When we finally got to see her in Batman V Superman, I thought it was actually pretty good, despite the fact that I thought Gal Gadot was a poor choice. The film has gone through two directors, finally settling on Patty Jenkins to finish the project. She has directed a lot of TV shows, but has only directed one film prior to this, 2003 Monster. But that’s not to say she isn’t entirely capable, after all Ridley Scott worked on Alien after working on adverts. Whilst Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs have worked on the story, Allan Heinberg also worked on the story and he developed the final screenplay, so I suspect most of the writing is down to him.
Now personally, I was kind of looking forward to Wonder Woman, but I also had my doubts. Because the DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t been that good, despite the fact that I gave it semi-positive reviews to Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, second viewings of both have really turned my opinion against them and I don’t think there has been a very good Superhero movie in the DC Cinematic Universe yet. Suicide Squad has probably come the closest, but even then, if you really look at it, it’s a massive convoluted mess. I am amazed that I failed to comment in my review, if this is a team meant to take down Superman, what the hell is Harley Quinn doing in there. So I am hoping this will do the job. Mind you, also, in preparation for this review I watched the animated Wonder Woman film from 2009 that DC themselves put out and my opinion of that has definitely not changed. I still think it’s fantastic, you have got Keri Russel as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor and Alfred Molina playing a brilliant Ares, it’s seriously worth your time and a great introduction to Wonder Woman. Has does this live action film hold up though and is has it been worth the decades to get a Wonder Woman movie?
Wonder Woman is the story of Diana of Themaskira (played by Gal Gadot). She has been training on the Island of Themaskira with her fellow Amazons, who have the express purpose to guard the world from the evil of Ares, the god of war. However, one day a fighter pilot named Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) makes his way to the Island, crashes in the ocean surrounding the Island and is followed by the German army. He explains the situation regarding World War 1 and that the world is in danger from new weapons that he has discovered, developed by General Ludendorff (played by Danny Huston) and Dr Maru aka Dr Poison (played by Elena Anaya). Spurned on by the belief that Ares has finally broken free and is controlling the situation, she believes the only way to help is to join Steve Trevor, make her way to the war and slay Ares.
Wonder Woman essentially becomes an origin story for the character, which feels fairly essential considering that Wonder Woman has yet to have a big screen adaptation prior to this film, so people are not as familiar with her origin story as say Spiderman, Superman and Batman. Despite the fact that there are a few tweaks to the origin story it’s mostly intact from her original comic appearance. Though, the animated film stuck to the comic a lot closer, both versions are actually rather successful at doing this. We’re introduced to the iconic weapons like the Lasso of Truth, her shield and sword aka the God Killer. We are introduced to the Island of Themaskira which is handled pretty well and we are given a taste of the Amazons being a warrior like race. It actually gets this down at a pretty brisk pace, which as a result means, the origin story is out pretty quick at a pretty good pace and we can get on with the story rather quickly, and man, is it a good one. Yes I can’t believe I am saying it either considering the track record of the DC Extended Universe, but Wonder Woman is an absolutely fantastic film.
Let me start, you don’t need to be a fan of the comics to understand Wonder Woman as they get down her character perfectly, which will be an extra bonus for comic fans. You also don’t need to have seen any of the prior DCEU movies, Man of Steel, Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad since the entirety of this film takes place prior to the events of those films. The film owes a lot to a number of other sources, most notably Captain America the First Avenger, which frankly is a great film and the biggest change is where Captain America takes place in World War 2 this one takes place in World War 1, again slight change from the comic origin story, considering her creation came around the time of the second World War, so as a result she was created to be World War 2 propaganda. Wonder Woman, however, is really handled well. The writers of this film clearly understand what makes Wonder Woman tick and they get it down perfectly. Her credent dose is three things, truth, honour, compassion, they get all three parts of her character down perfectly. They also get her nature to the world of man down, how she interacts with the rest of the world, how she interacts with other people. It’s all done brilliantly and this movie should now be the shining example of how to do a female led Superhero film. What’s more the DCU gives us a decent villain. With the previous films we had Michael Shannon’s overacting Zod, Jessy Eissenberg’s horrendous Lex Luther and whatever the hell was going on in Suicide Squad, but Danny Huston does an excellent job as Ludedorff. He is a stubborn general who can’t accept that the war is coming to an end and his side is losing and wow do they handle his character well. I know Danny Huston is well known for playing villains at this point, but he does a brilliant job with this character. I would even say that Dr Poison is a pretty good one as well and considering I am a DC fan boy, she is such an obscure villain that even I didn’t know she was a thing. I am going to have to check out more of her comics to see if they got her right. Steve Trevor is also great, they get down a lot of his charcter down pretty well and while I think Nathan Fillion, in the animated film nailed more of his charming side, I think Chris Pine does a pretty good job playing other aspects of him, though I did think at times he came off a bit neurotic in the role in a way that Steve Trevor often didn’t do. That being said, however, the other thing to talk about is Ares. Now Ares is brought up early on in the film and the film leads us believe there is a linear path as to how we are going to get to him, however, how we get to him and the pay off for this is very well done and throws out a very interesting message about the human nature and the nature of war. Trust me, without going into spoilers, it’s really well handled. I am glad that Ares turns up in the first Wonder Woman movie considering he is one of the most famous Wonder Woman villains.
If there is one issue I have with Wonder Woman, it’s I think that side character can be slightly under-developed. That’s not to say I didn’t think any of them were good, and I actually appreciated that, despite the fact they are a group of mercenaries that Steve Trevor hires, they all represent the nationalities that they are meant to represent. For example, Ewan Bremner from Trainspotting plays the Scottish sniper Charlie, Said Taghamoui plays Sameer in brilliant fashion and Eugene Brave Rock, plays the Chief, which admittedly is a slightly racist name for a native American character, but I let it pass because he gets a good line in about that in the film. Honestly, Wonder Woman is a dam interesting plot, all thing considered. I haven’t even gone into half the details about the film, because I think most of the best parts have not been ruined by the trailer. Though, granted, most of the best action scenes have been ruined by the trailer, but let’s just say, this is an excellent Wonder Woman story.
As for the actors, wow, Gal Gadot, my hats off to you, she plays the part perfectly. My doubt and cynicism over her casting has been completely removed because I actually felt she was fantastic in this role. She really delivers a definitive Wonder Woman performance and I think she deserves to be up there with Keri Russel and Susan Eisenberg for playing this character. Chris Pine I have already mentioned gets most of Steve Trevor down pretty well. I liked Ewan Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock’s performance as well as Said Taghmaoui. Danny Huston is pretty dam good and I thought David Thewlis was very good as Sir Patrick. Connie Nielsen does a very good job of playing Hippolyta, you may remember her placing Lucillia in Gladiator. Danny Huston once again makes an excellent villain and I appreciated the small role of Robin Wright as Antiope and I really liked Lucy Davis as Etta Candy and Elena Anaya as Dr Maru. By the way, if you don’t know who Lucy Davis is, she played Diane in Shaun of the Dead and Dawn Tinsley in The Office. My only real complaint with the casting is that despite the fact they got most of the other actors to nationality pretty well, there wasn’t any Greek actresses in any of the Amazonian roles, which seems rather bizarre considering that the whole thing is based around Greek Myth and Legend, whatever, it works well enough. The cast was pretty dam good.
The cinematography is pretty dam good too. I saw the film in 2D, but I would imagine the 3D is alright, although a few scenes look like they are way too shot in the dark for a 3D setting. I keep telling people this, 3D is at its best when there is plenty of light because of the darkening effect the 3D glasses have. The action scenes are almost all shot brilliantly. There are a few stinkers in the bunch but they don’t drag down the entire film and I didn’t mind the slow-down that much this time since it didn’t seem like a cheap gimmick. In all honesty, it’s pretty dam well choreographed and you can tell a lot of training went into making these moves work. The location shots are also fantastically done. Themaskira looks like it should do, despite the fact that it is actually shot in Italy rather than Greece, though I think they got down the Island’s aesthetic pretty well. I think they did very good at creating a World War 1 period piece with the costume designs and the look of the sets. Speaking of costumes, I think this new design of Wonder Woman’s is very good, it’s a nice blend of a new and more unique design for this film, without taking away what made the old costume design as good as it did and allows her to form her usual moves with the lasso, sword and her bracelets that bounce bullets.
Is Wonder Woman a good film? No, Wonder Woman is a great film. DC finally has a film that can rival Marvel on this scale, which is all I have ever wanted because I think it’s better when they are both making great films in order to provide the best amount of competition. Wonder Woman is a well written, well shot, well acted film and gives something that both new audiences and comic fans alike will enjoy. It will be interesting to see how this will play out with the DC Cinematic Universe going forward, but I think it’s actually a good step in the right direction. I really recommend seeing this one it’s a fantastic film. Gal Gadot does an excellent job in the lead role and the cast as a whole is a pretty dam good one. If it is playing in your area, check it out, it is one you shouldn’t miss.
Further more here’s my friend Ren’s review of Wonder Woman to emphasise the point
Wonder Woman was a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the DC franchise. A much stronger film in terms of its characters, messages and pacing than Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman delivered wonderfully with its inclusive cast, delving into issues such as race and mental health. While some may feel this caters to the so-called SJW (Social Justice Warrior) masses, in my opinion, it is one of the first mainstream films to tackle controversial issues in a way that leaves you satisfied at the end of the film.
The plot centres around Diana (Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman) – the youngest of the Amazonians, a race of warrior women created by the Greek pantheon to lead the human race to greater understanding. However, in the times following their creation, the god of War, Ares, corrupted the human race, forcing the Amazonians to retreat to an island hidden from the outside world. This era of peace is abruptly ended, as a British spy (Chris Pine) working in the midst of the German forces crash lands on the island, the Germans in hot pursuit. Diana comes to the pilot’s aid, and helps him in fending off the German soldiers, at the cost of several Amazonian lives. This causes a realisation in Diana – in order for the Amazonians to fulfil their purpose in the world, she must travel with the pilot and lend her aid in ending the First World War.
Now, I was really hoping that this film would be enjoyable, especially after the last two failed to live up to expectations. While I did enjoy Wonder Woman greatly, there are a few points I must make a note of, mainly centred around the beginning of the film.
Setting the film up felt a tad ham-handed; we follow Diana as she darts through the streets, away from the ancient Greek equivalent of her nanny (in typical show of childish rebellion), eventually reaching the training grounds where she sees the Amazonian warriors in combat, and her aunt (Robin Wright), Antiope, training them. We see conflict between Diana’s mother, the queen of the Amazonians, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Antiope over whether Diana should be trained as a warrior for fear of the return of Ares. Cue the time skip montage, and we see Diana as an adult, easily outclassing the Amazonian warriors seen earlier.
There are better ways to show progression and development in a character, particularly in terms of their motivation, but Wonder Woman did a poor job showing this. By the end of about 20 minutes worth of film, all we know of Diana is that she’s a hopeful girl, a fine warrior, but lacking a lot of depth. There is very little reason for her to want to travel outside of her island besides a motivation that has been touched upon lightly earlier in the film. In my opinion, this delivery was slightly shoddy, however it did nicely pad out the introduction with well-choreographed action and a lot of feminine power.
As I mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman addressed multiple issues that modern blockbuster films seem to have a poor grasp on.
- Number 1: Badass feminine characters. Given the Amazonian population is all female, and their history and culture is built on foundations of strength and martial prowess, it is actually gratifying to see them portrayed in such a positive light. There is not one scene implying that their sex makes them weaker, in fact, throughout the film we are constantly reminded that they are superior to regular humans. Now, contextually, in the time of the First World War, (using the UK as an example, due to a portion of the film taking place in London), women had not yet secured the vote, nor were they allowed to fight due to their perceived weakness and frailty. To have such a parallel to this stereotype provokes mixed reactions from characters in different settings. Generals and high-ranking officials in the British army react to her objections over their cowardice in a predictable manner, believing she speaks out of term due to her gender. However, later in the film, frontline in the trenches, Wonder Woman leads the charge over No-Man’s-Land, helping the allied forces recapture a town under the control of the Germans. Following this, she is hailed as a hero and a saviour, clearly challenging society’s dated ideas on female weakness. Interestingly, (having seen the film once) Diana is not once referred to as Wonder Woman at any point in the film. While this is usually a gimmick used in super hero films, I feel like its lack actually served to bolster the strong female imagery without blatantly labelling her gender (ignoring the title of the film, obviously).
- Number 2: While the bulk of Wonder Woman takes places over the First World War, showcases gruesome injuries and sobering violence, one of the issues it takes time to explore is mental health and trauma. It does this in the form of the character, Charlie, the Scotsman Sniper (played by Ewan Bremner). At times through the film, Charlie showcases his alcoholic and unstable tendencies: suffering from bad dreams, seeing images of his departed friends, and being unable to function due to stress. This is a side to war films that can often be left out in favour of more physical violence and shock horror, however Wonder Woman did a very good job of covering it, particularly due to the broadening knowledge we have regarding stress and emotional disorders. However, for me, Charlie was not just a character written to be a mule for the issue of mental health. Outside of this, Charlie is shown singing and playing the piano beautifully following the retaking of the town. This facet of his character is not something I expected, and it shows very well that individuals cannot be defined by mental illness, or indeed their pasts.
- Number 3: Race. The cast of Wonder Woman is incredibly diverse – the Amazonians shown by typical Greco-period standards, actors of Mediterranean and African descent make up the bulk of the population. Many people of colour are shown in London in army uniforms, including members of multiple faiths and descents. In fact, a supporting character, perhaps a little controversially named ‘The Chief’ (Eugene Brave Rock), touches on the discrimination that Native Americans faced from British Colonists in the early days of United States’ history. Due to Wonder Woman’s naïveté surrounding world issues (including those of race), Diana comes to understand that war and conflict exist in very real ways outside of actual violent warfare. With such a diverse cast, Wonder Woman was never going to fall short on this issue, but I think the manner by which these issues are discussed is exceptional, and is certainly a testament to the creativity of the writers.
Now, action scenes. Given Wonder Woman’s position as a Warner Brother film, headlining the Justice League lineup, we knew from the start that we would receive a hefty helping of epic CGI, but, in my opinion, what we got exceeded expectations.
There is a certain joy that comes with watching the powerful superhero smash stuff to smithereens, and more so when the Big Bad Villain is able to take a punch and continue a gritty melee, but in terms of spectacle, we’re given a gluttonous portion. Explosions; rubble; gunfights; impacting bullets; the whole lot! There are a couple of issues surrounding Physics (Gal Gadot seems to have a tendency to explode when colliding mid-air with large buildings, as you will see if you decide to watch the film), but nevertheless, what we get is thoroughly enjoyable, and is pretty damn cool.
Some rather notable performances were delivered on the part of Robin Wright as Antiope, the House of Cards star, Danny Huston, who seems unable to escape the villain stereotype, and Ewan Bremner (who I’ve only seen in Trainspotting and Snatch, but this has me looking into more). Robin Wright’s aloof yet nurturing air as Diana’s aunt/mentor serves well to oppose the more restrictive and protective nature of Diana’s mother. Her combat scenes do well to impress, and I’m a little upset she didn’t get more screen time, especially with her impressive background in films like Forrest Gump and The Princess Bride.
Danny Huston consistently performs well in antagonistic roles, securing him a bit of a reputation for it in my mind. Throughout the film, he is brooding, typically evil, though at times he comes off as cartoonish – I’d put that down to the writing as opposed to his acting in the role.
I’ve already said all that I have to say about Ewan Bremner’s character Charlie, but yes. Impeccably written, likeable, funny, and honest.
And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say on Wonder Woman. I’m wholeheartedly recommending this film to people due to its tackling of multiple difficult issues. As I touched on earlier, it’s one of the first blockbusters to pull off the dynamic female lead (far surpassing the recent Ghost in the Shell movie starring Scarlett Johansson, who typically struggles to make an impact in those types of role). Without doubt, this is the best DC film that has been put out since the release of Man of Steel.
I hope you all enjoyed reading.
Well that’s me done for this week. However, despite the fact that I planned to review The Mummy, it is becoming more difficult considering how much work is being done on the Liverpool line, which is making it harder for me to get in there and with Manchester, there is a transition going on between the cinema’s, so that’s out as well. So next week I am going to be giving my thoughts on the next DC director DVD film, Teen Titans the Judas Contract.
Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and YES WE HAVE FINALLY GOT A GOOD DCU MOVIE!!!
Calvin – Nerd Consultant
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