Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya
Run Time: 141 mins
‘Wonder Woman’ is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe and a true test for the future of this cinematic universe. DC suffered a one-two punch last year with both ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ and ‘Suicide Squad‘ being critically mauled and ‘Man of Steel’ also dividing opinion in 2013. I really enjoyed BvS and it was unfortunate that ‘Suicide Squad’ didn’t live up to expectations due to the studio seemingly panicking at the turgid reviews BvS recieved and compromising David Ayer’s vision. ‘Wonder Woman’ has been of particular interest in its development as first of all, it’s our first proper look at this iconic female superhero and also it is directed by Patty Jenkins who seems to be a great match for the material and gives the impression that she genuinely cares for this character. Gal Gadot made a very good impression in a small role in BvS last year so if her character can be anywhere near as good as in that film, this is on the right course. Jenkins has assembled a strong cast comprising of Chris Pine as the male interest for Wonder Woman, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and also screen thespians such as David Thewlis. This is a crucial film for the DCEU for it to retain any credibility – it needs to have a hit on its hands or this cinematic universe could very well crumble and hopes for ‘Justice League’ with Zack Snyder in the director’s chair aren’t exactly high.
‘Wonder Woman’ is immensely enjoyable for a long strength of its lengthy runtime, has a lot of heart and is surprisingly quite human for a comic-book film. Action sequences are used quite sparingly in this film, Jenkins really puts these characters at the forefront and develops them strongly. The performances, pretty much across the board, are excellent and the film looks great visually. Unfortunately, it does fall into the trap of stumbling in its final act where it becomes quite formulaic and contrived but until this point, it is a very fine film and definitely the strongest DCEU film so far.
The performances pretty much across this board in this film are universally great and whatever worries people initially had over Gal Gadot’s casting is more than put to rest. Gadot manages to balance the naivety, innocence and ferociousness of her character perfectly and is very charismatic. She was great in last year’s ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and this just further makes her case. Chris Pine, an actor who I don’t normally like, is also great in this and is really elevating himself lately with this and ‘Hell or High Water‘ which he was also superb in. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry is excellent and there are a couple of scenes which are note-perfect with their interactions. The ever-dependable David Thewlis puts in a great performance as does Elena Anaya’s villain, Doctor Poison who is surprisingly fairly subtle at times – I was a little worried she would be quite hammy in this as she can be in the past. The only exception is Danny Huston as villain General Ludendorff who has simply been miscast and his performance often verges on pantomime-like.
Patty Jenkins’ direction is outstanding and she clearly has a lot of respect for the character. It’s also refreshing that tonally, the film is quite neutral and I was worried that she would try and overemphasise the point that she was a female director directing a female star. The film closely resembles Richard Donner’s 1978 ‘Superman’ in tone and the initially intimidating 141 minute run time flies by. Unfortunately, Jenkins can’t quite escape convention in the film’s climax where it does get a little boring with the overused villain showdown but not to the extent of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘ which really hurt that film.
Rupert Gregson-William’s score is unfortunately not all that memorable but it is at least good to see him retain some continunity by reusing Wonder Woman’s theme throughout the film. Matthew Jensen’s cinematography is assured and particularly in the first act, manages to get some really vibrant shots on Themiscyria.
Overall, ‘Wonder Woman’ is a step in the right direction for the DCEU and for the most part, it is refreshing to see good character development and chemistry in a behemoth such as this. This is the best film in the DCEU so far and firmly puts them in competition with Marvel even though I did like ‘Batman v Superman’ last year and I will always defend David Ayer for his initial vision of ‘Suicide Squad’ before it got so brutally butchered. I just hope Zack Snyder’s upcoming ‘Justice League’ doesn’t revert the DCEU back to negativity but for now at least, this is a strong superhero film that is for the most part, a strong piece of work bar the conventional ending.