There is a ton of pressure on Wonder Woman’s shoulders going into this movie since DC’s voyage into creating a cinematic universe has been tumultuous. Needless to say, she (it) has been given the herculean task of saving the derailing DCEU hype train from the depths of despair, to the heights the project reached when it was first announced. When pressure gets too great, it can either burst a pipe or forge a dazzling diamond and it is a big sigh of relief for me to say that when that pressure is put on, Wonder Woman is thankfully of the latter.
Before being known as Wonder Woman, she was Diana, Princess of The Amazons. She was born and raised on a sheltered island paradise known as the Themyscira, inhabited by a race of formidable warriors who train to defend the world from harm’s way. When American pilot Steve Trevor accidentally crash lands his plane on the island, he tells Diana and her people about ‘The War to End All Wars’ happening on the outside world. Driven by her spirit to seek justice for those responsible, Diana leaves Themyscira with Steve to help stop the war before it ends millions of lives.
Being the first good solo adventure of a female superhero, there is an inexplicable sensation of a great shake up in the whole status quo of the conventional superhero genre. It does so in spectacular fashion, imbuing a sense of heart and passion in Wonder Woman, who is both shackled by her deluded perception of mankind and baffled by the brave new world around her. The film takes us on a journey, following her mature from a cute toddler to the heroine she is when she first steps out of the trenches into the battlegrounds of World War 1 and it often feels like a coming-of-age story for her. That is completely cool because we watch her transform from that naïve adult, looking at the world through a key hole as she was sheltered from danger since birth to someone with a greater understanding of the people around her. Also a full-blown demigoddess who has the strength to annihilate an entire army in a fit of rage. That entire process makes everything a very personal and telling story for us.
The film’s adventure of self-discovery is well written as Patty Jenkins embraces her characters as active protagonists. Be it Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor or the warriors of Themyscira, they are under pressure to make decisions based off their own adversity, big or small, to do what is right. Over the course of the story, all of their actions, all of Wonder Woman’s experiences after she leaves Themyscira make for compelling arcs which reveal her true character and inner nature of who she is. The culmination of her journeys are visually represented in the developing power of her fights and conviction in seeking justice, which is very much characteristic of what Wonder Woman is all about.
As entertaining as the entire movie is, it runs into a little trouble when it comes to the action scenes which make use of lot of green screen capture. The special effects was pretty poorly rendered in that sense and it becomes most conspicuous when the third act arrives. A customary big final battle ensues and the blazing fire from gasoline explosions and phoenix-like aura surrounding Wonder Woman in the background were more distracting than I would like it to be. You will probably appreciate Zack Snyder’s superb technical direction of photography in Batman V Superman more after seeing the handiwork in this.
But for what the movie lacks in cinematography during the moments laced with action, it makes up for substantially in its stylish combat. Armed to the teeth with the Lasso of Truth, indestructible bracers and her ever reliable sword and shield combo, Diana leaps, charges and engages in close combat ever so often while interchanging with her weapons of choice swiftly. Contrary to popular belief, the many slow-mo and top-down approach to the fighting scenes never gets tiring. As one shot ends, the next skirmish beckons us and it is as breath-taking as the last.
The character of Wonder Woman has always stood for something of pure goodness – power, courage and wisdom being a few of the numerous qualities she is endowed with. Today, she is more than just that. As corny as it may sound, she is the brightest beacon of hope that the DCEU has now. Gal Gadot’s unflinching performance as Wonder Woman deserves praise and it is momentous how this movie has at last ended the stink run of films from DC. The sense of optimism that The Princess of Themysicara has pumped into the bleak souls of sceptical fans all over the world is indisputably massive. Bring on the Justice League!
Should you spend money and time on it? Yes
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg
Based on: Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya
Running time: 141 minutes