Wonder Woman (2017) Review: Finally.
About an hour into ‘Wonder Woman’, Princess Diana of Themyscira awakens on a ship pulling into London in 1918, at the height of the Great War. Her companion, Steve Trevor, gleefully welcomes her to jolly old London, but the smoke and concrete of the industrial centre of the world are nothing but revolting to the Amazonian Princess, whose home is brimming with colour and life. “It’s not for everyone” Steve retorts. In that moment, the two might as well be talking about the recent slate of DC films, which have been criticized for being overly gritty, to the point of being completely inaccessible. Thankfully, ‘Wonder Woman’ is a breath of fresh air, and gives this cinematic universe its very best film. I realise that doesn’t mean much but trust me, it’s good.
Tonal shifts aside, ‘Wonder Woman’ is also groundbreaking in a much more important way. Perhaps ceiling shattering is more appropriate, as ‘Wonder Woman’ bucks the trend of superhero films, and gives a serious treatment to a female superhero. Who would have thought that maybe, just maybe, audiences might be interested in seeing a different perspective, than that of the male hero? ‘Wonder Woman’ shows that a woman can be more than a mere damsel in distress.
For all it does for the current cinematic landscape, ‘Wonder Woman’ is a superhero movie that is pretty paint by numbers. It follows the same basic structure we’ve come to expect from these films. The real treasure is in the cast and their interactions. Mainly the two leads, Wonder Woman herself, played by Gal Gadot, and Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine. The two have a chemistry that keeps the film feeling engaging, even if nothing particularly exciting is going on.
It takes a good while for the titular heroine to actually do anything heroic. I myself appreciated the slow burn the movie practiced. It gave the characters the development necessary to make its more flashy moment have any sense of substance. For all those anxious to see Wonder Woman deliver the true strength of a goddess, she’s right there with you. Diana spends most of the film eager to become the hero the world knows her to be. When she finally gets the chance, the wait and anticipation pays off beautifully, as ‘Wonder Woman’ gives a scene that is not just riveting, but also massively inspiring. It’s the most awe-inspiring superhero film, since Richard Donner’s Superman.
For many, Donner’s Superman is the gold standard of superhero films. For others, it stands as a relic of a bygone era, out of touch with our modern times. ‘Wonder Woman’ magically fuses the two viewpoints, with a story that accepts the world as it is, but imagines what it could be. The closest I can compare it to is ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. The difference is, whereas that film felt much like an Indiana Jones type adventure film, ‘Wonder Woman’ grounds its story, making it feel more relatable. I realise it’s a movie about Greek Gods living among us mortals, but hey, the tone is the tone.
When it’s not busy being a fantasy war period piece that contemplates the true nature of man, it’s also a pretty damn good fish out of water story. Diana gives you everything you’d want from a stranger in a strange land. She’s naive enough to be adorable, but not enough to be frustratingly ignorant. She never comes off as stupid, and instead gives the movie some of its best social commentary, as Diana points out the archaic practices that are as foreign to us today as they are to her.
To touch on the look of the film, it refreshingly gives a break to the drab and bleak aesthetic that so many blockbusters employ. Any desaturation is strictly for story purposes. Wonder Woman stands out in the grim exterior of the battleground, as the beacon of hope that she is. It’s not the Crayola box explosion fever dream that is ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’, but it’s got a good grasp of its colour palette.
The action scenes are filmed spectacularly, the dialogue is rewarding, but most notably, the characters are well developed and relatable. Although her origin story may seem a little more than familiar, Diana’s story is inspiring and it gives the uplifting feeling one looks for when going into a superhero film. In a summer like this one, it’s nigh impossible to see everything before they leave the cinema. This is definitely a film worth seeing on the big screen while you can.
Rating: Big Screen Watch