They finally went and bloody did it: Wonder Woman is DC’s best release in years.
Unlike many, I didn’t hate last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While I completely understood the many criticisms launched at the film, I wasn’t totally put off by its meandering plot and clumsy character development. Plus, it introduced us to Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince – a.k.a, the titular Wonder Woman.
Say what you like about that movie, but Gadot’s performance as the Amazonian goddess was one of the stronger parts of the whole piece. And that carries over into her own film; Diana Prince is well above a lot of the supporting cast when it comes to charisma and general on-screen presence. She even rivals the infinitely likeable Chris Pine as Prince’s male sidekick, Steve Trevor.
For anybody not aware of the general plot of the movie (though with modern trailers, I find that unlikely), Wonder Woman begins on the island Themyscira. After the typical introductions are made, Steve Trevor crashes on the island in a German plane, and befriends Diana; telling her stories of the “war to end all wars” occurring not far beyond their shores. Convinced it is her duty to assist mankind, Diana tags along and together the two of them head for London.
While it sounds like a fairly generic storyline for a first-time superhero movie, there’s a couple of sharp twists which I didn’t see coming. They aren’t mind-blowing, but manage to make a standard narrative that little bit more engaging. Make no mistake: the plot is always forwarded by Diana and Steve, but there’s a handful of side characters that manage to offer some uncharacteristically light-hearted moments – at least, as far as DC is usually concerned. The most consistent of these personalities is Etta (Lucy Davis); Steve Trevor’s assistant. Not all of the jokes manage to strike as much as they were intended, but it’s always nice to have a helping of levity in a universe usually focused on grittiness.
It’s the weighty combat and action that makes Wonder Woman truly memorable, though. While it’s not directed by Zack Snyder, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise; a lot of the hand-to-hand fighting scenes feature plenty of slow-motion shots to highlight how athletic Wonder Woman really is. These arguably take away from the pacing of some of the action, but when they’re used more sparingly, it does make for some pretty spectacular moments.
What’s not so spectacular is the film’s obsession with huge dumps of back-story. I understand that this is the first time many cinema-goers will be introduced to Diana Prince, but the opening of the movie is so sluggish because it relies almost solely on explaining what the island is, who lives there, and why they must do what they do. This is information necessary to the plot, but the delivery of it could have been made so much more interesting than one character explaining it to another. Maybe show a tapestry, or a gradual flow of info to make it feel less dense; whatever happens, this is something DC need to work on when introducing all the other members of the Justice League.
I am genuinely excited for the upcoming Justice League film after seeing this, though, and that should be a great endorsement in itself. Somehow, the character I was least interested prior to the DCEU has now become a close second to Affleck’s Batman. Considering Gal Gadot leaped into the public consciousness back with 2009’s Fast and Furious, she hasn’t done a bad job at all giving life to this iconic hero.
With Wonder Woman, DC have shown why we should care about them as much as Marvel. With the right direction, their upcoming superhero releases could be something truly special.