Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Elena Anaya
Wonder Woman is the latest in the DC Extended Universe expanding on her storyline first introduced in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice. There’s a lot riding on its success to keep this universe afloat after their previous movies have yielded mediocre reviews from audiences and critics. This version of Wonder Woman, with the dynamic Gal Gadot in the lead, traces the character back to her early days as a young Amazonian girl living off a private island shielded from Ares, the Greek god of war. She is surrounded by fierce women who spend their days training as warriors for his evitable return. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Nielson), is aware of her special powers and wants Diana to go through grueling training at the hands of her aunt Antiope (Wright) knowing she will be the one to save them. Their lives are disrupted one day when World War I pilot and spy Captain Steve Trevor (Pine) crashes down off the island’s shore. German soldiers are hot on his tail, as he has stolen a secret notebook from Dr. Poison containing plans for the German army. Diana fully believes that Dr. Poison is the return of Ares and is destined to go with Trevor to take him down. They leave the island against Hippolyta’s wishes and sail back to London in hopes of stopping the war.
Producer Zack Snyder and the rest of those involved with the DC Expanded Cinematic Universe should thank their lucky stars that Wonder Woman is a fantastic step in the right direction. This is by far the best DC film in years. The first three films in this universe have been overly long and just felt like a constant hyper speed of loud action and explosions with a lack of storytelling and care to the characters at hand. Wonder Woman feels more in touch with Marvel’s Captain America as Diana Prince is portrayed more as a war hero than the light crime fighter we saw from Lynda Carter in the ‘70s TV series.
Wonder Woman marks a comic book movie first as Patty Jenkins is the first female director to take on the genre. Her last major film was directing Charlize Theron’s Oscar winning performance in Monster in 2003. Jenkins brings a deep humanity to this story that was severely missing from Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. As Diana continues on her mission, it becomes apparent that she’s a superhero that leads with her heart fighting for the ones she loves. She learns that war is filled with hate and that only love can conquer the hate that surrounds us. Jenkins easily lets the film take a breath when it needs to find the quiet intimate moments between Diana and Captain Trevor in conjunction with their urgency to find Dr. Poison/Ares. Pierce and screenwriter Allan Heinberg keep the origin aspects in check, as Diana’s background doesn’t take up too much of the film’s run time. It never feels bogged down in exposition, and in turn, gets to the heart of the story within the first thirty minutes after a fantastic battle scene with the Amazonian women kicking butt against the Germans. None of that can be said about the other DC films.
Pierce takes another page from the Marvel handbook by finding quite a bit of humor within the film. Gadot and Pine have great chemistry together. Their introductory scenes together are filled with funny banter given to Diana having never seen the male species. Pierce directs the “fish out of water” aspects with a farcical sense of comedic timing when she arrives in London. The gritty, war torn London is a stark contrast to her vibrant and lush island of Themyscira. Gadot’s comedic timing may be a surprise, as we already knew she could handle the combat aspects of film. She has a military background as she trained in the Israeli army before making it as an actress in the Fast and the Furious movies. She can crack the golden lasso and take any villain down with the best of them. She makes Diana a strong role model for young girls, as she’s a fighter and has no time for the typical gender roles placed in society.
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is the superhero we need in the genre. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow hasn’t been given strong enough material despite the multitude of Marvel movies she’s been featured in. As Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot has proven to be a great Lynda Carter replacement. The charming Chris Pine, who has had a strong run of hits lately, has a great energy next to her. People should race out to the theater and prove there is a demand and need for female directed movies and female led superhero movies. There’s no reason why Wonder Woman can’t make the same hundreds of millions of dollars that a Marvel movie would rack up at the box office. The rest of the DC Extended Universe needs look back and realign with what Patty Jenkins has accomplished here. It’s first DC film since The Dark Knight Trilogy that shows actual dimension. Jenkins took time to build the character into someone we cared about, made her sympathetic yet flawed, and had her lead from the heart. She’s vulnerable in one scene and can kick ass in the next.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Flock to Wonder Woman and make it the movie of the summer.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS