So recently went to see the new DC Film Wonder Woman and wrote a review for a University Film Society Page I help run, it’s getting a good response so I thought i’d post it here. Full disclosure, one thing about me is that I’m a huge fan of comic books and comic book films but I do still objectively review things, however in this case I am slightly love-struck by this film as you will see. Non Spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen it yet:
So this weekend the first female directed, female led Superhero film of all time was released. It has already grossed over 223 million dollars worldwide and wowed audiences and critics alike across the globe. I had the pleasure of seeing it twice over the last three days and in short, it’s a triumph for both DC films, the genre and for the character of Wonder Woman. Now and again a movie comes along that captures the morality, the essence and the spirit of a character and this film is one of those. Powered by the old school adventure feel of the likes of Indiana Jones but also the epic mythological flourishes that remind one of Hercules, Wonder Woman is exhilarating in terms of spectacle, heartfelt in terms of narrative and thematically rich in the messages it sends about war, hate and love and the cost of all three.
The entire cast is likeable, charismatic and give their all performance wise. Gal Gadot is witty, strong, vulnerable, passionate and has a heart of gold making her utterly perfect as Wonder Woman, she is perhaps the emotional counterpoint of the film as we see all of the horrors of WWI through her eyes. Chris Pine shines as Steve Trevor, an american pilot who literally crashes into her life and takes her on this adventure from the island paradise of Themyscira into the heart of ‘Man’s world’, bringing all the dashing, rugged action hero charm and dry humour reminiscent of Harisson Ford. Other members of the cast such as Danny Huston’s General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison have less to do and less development as the film’s secondary antagonists but still fill their roles with all the gleeful wickedness and villainy required. Anaya does however get some good dramatic material to her character in her facial performance and the haunting mask she wears over the right side of it and in a particularly powerful scene in the climax.
The main villain’s identity would be a spoiler so I shall not discuss that but as for the rest of the cast, they all do a fine job although special props must go to both Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta and David Thewlis’ Sir Patrick Morgan who delivers a committed and layered performance that is quite different to the roles he is most well known for. The film is beautifully shot in terms of cinematography and deftly mixes superb visual effects with some incredible location work and set design, the colour pallet is also gorgeous, from the rich sun-kissed greens and natural browns and golds of paradise island to the harsh blues and greys of 1918 Europe. A final note, Rupert Gregson Williams’ score is both stirring, intricate and when needed to be quite powerful. At 141 minutes long the feature, surprisingly is very well paced, gradually building up to the action but yet still remaining engaging and fun, mostly through the banter between Pine and Gadot. It does slow down where it needs to but never so it drags or makes one look at their watch.
Another quick note, there seems to be an odd criticism of Superhero film finales and particularly how they involve a huge scale fight between the hero and the antagonist, some seem to have the opinion that having a big final fight is somehow wrong for a comic book film. I disagree vehemently as this is one of the staples of the genre, just as the western has it’s gunfight at noon the superhero film has it’s final confrontation. Wonder Woman’s final clash is large scaled, visually spectacular and actually has a lot of dramatic and emotional weight which gives it a level of power that perhaps some final fights do not have.
Those are my thoughts on this film and I feel that when you witness Wonder Woman climb out of the trenches of German occupied Belgium determined to save lives, standing clad in a beautifully designed version of her iconic armour, you too may feel such feelings as I did. Even if you aren’t into comic book films it’s still worth a watch as it’s a very entertaining and powerful film that sends a message of hope, optimism and love which are things we seriously need right now. Plus it is a moment in history, and an important one at that.