Wonder Woman Review – Entertaining Action and Charm

Wonder Woman Review – Entertaining Action and Charm

After the science-fiction fuelled destruction of Man of Steel, the gloomy and over-the-top Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and the poorly paced and scripted Suicide Squad, it was perhaps wise of Warner Bros. to offer up a simpler origin story as its next film in the DC Extended Universe. We never really were given a good understanding of Diana as a character in her first appearance but director Patty Jenkins took the character back to her roots earlier this year and delved into the philosophy and intentions of the character with World War I as a backdrop. What followed is a mostly successful movie that establishes the why and what of Wonder Woman which also obliterated any notion that female-led action roles don’t do as well as their male counterparts.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman to many is a symbol of female empowerment and this theme runs throughout the film whether Diana is saving Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from a bullet or a soldier, putting lofty male politicians in their place or simply having more common sense than those around her. Jenkins doesn’t take any steps to hide or diminish this factor and instead places it front and centre in the plot creating moments of sincerity and comedy against the setting of a patriarchal world in which men have their say. The very fact that we don’t often see such a gender role reversal in big budget movies makes this film an important one and arguably does more for the advancement of female-led action roles than Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has done since 2005.

The film starts off in Themyscira, a mythical island paradise of powerful Amazonian women made by the gods to protect humanity from Ares, the god of war. The peace is broken when Steve Trevor, a World War I pilot crash lands off-shore followed closely by German troops. These opening scenes do a good job of showing Diana’s innate curiosity with the world and her desire to fight for her beliefs. She quickly establishes a bond with Trevor and the two actors have good chemistry throughout the film. Gal Gadot has to carry the majority of this film and does a fine job acting both charismatic and charming. The training and fight sequences on Themyscira are really entertaining and it’s refreshing to see vibrancy and colour compared to Zack Snyder’s gloomier colour palate.

Wonder Woman

Once Trevor and Diana reach civilization, Diana becomes the classic fish-out-of-water character somewhat goofily reacting to things around her. While this could have been slightly cringe worthy it works really well as Diana’s balanced attitude to life rubs up against the reality of the time, for example her remarks to Trevor’s secretary about how she is essentially a slave or her confusion at not being able to attend a meeting of all-male ministers. Wonder Woman is endearing in this film in a way that recognises her importance to those around her in terms of her strength but also her compassion. Diana often confronts the idea of leaving those in suffering behind with difficulty and the film does a good job overall of presenting the damaging impact of war than its closest analogue in the MCU, Captain America: The First Avenger¬†such as Steve Trevor’s ally who is obviously afflicted with PTSD.

Unfortunately this nuance does not extend to the villains of Wonder Woman who are often very cartoonish with some fairly bad lines of dialogue. General Ludendorff is the stereotypical German general seeking power while Dr. Meru is an over-the-top character more at place in Looney Tunes than a film like this. There’s more going on behind the scenes with the antagonists as you’d expect but even this turn of events devolves into exchanges of cheesy dialogue and the obligatory climactic fight scene.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a powerful statement for female-led superheroes to come and is certainly the most well-made of the DCEU films so far. Gal Gadot impresses and charms as Diana while also saving lives and defeating her enemies. Although there are some disappointingly simple villains, the film works because of its charm, vibrancy and gender role reversal.

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