I wasn’t as big of a hater of Batman v Superman (find out in my review here) but they were trying to rush things a little too much in trying to create their own cinematic universe as Marvel has already done successfully. Man of Steel technically doesn’t count so here is the start of the real DC cinematic universe and what a start it was.
Synopsis: An Amazonian princess named Diana lives an idyllic existence on an island occupied solely by female warriors, but her life changes forever after American pilot Steve Trevor crash-lands nearby. When he tells her that a massive war is engulfing the planet, she decides to travel with him to the outside world, hoping to use her powers to put an end to the conflict. Along the way, she becomes the legendary superheroine known as Wonder Woman. (Rovi)
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Director: Patty Jenkins
Running Time: 141mins
For as long as there have been superhero films, there have been superhero origin stories. In terms of other similar films, this one was not all that different but did it better than most with the first Captain America film probably being the best comparison. The DC cinematic universe has felt rushed for the most part, leaving the universe and its characters underdeveloped. This film serves as a compelling journey of self-discovery of an Amazonian woman named Diana (Gadot).
Diana had lived a mostly sheltered life on the isolated female-dominated island of Themyscira with her Queen mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Things quickly changed when a mysterious man named Steve Trevor (Pine) shows up to inform her about the horrors of WW1 happening in the outside world. Thing that Ares, the god of war, was somehow responsible by corrupting man into going to war. It was the duty of the Amazon to protect mankind from Ares so she decided to go against her mother’s wishes by taking it upon herself to stop him.
Experiencing the real world for the first time meant a learning curve for Diana and watching it play out was very fun to watch. Diana and Steve’s relationship was incredibly awkward at first and got better as they got closer over the course of the film. She was smart but she knew nothing of the outside world so it was up to Steve to teach her, leading to some great exchanges between the two. While this could have gotten repetitive quickly, this was saved by the likability and chemistry between the two.
The story took place around the time of WWI so this was a time where society did not consider women as equals which proved to be another hurdle for Diana but she slowly overcame these stereotypes while proving herself to her male companions. We all knew what she was capable of so seeing her in action was exciting to watch. The film featured plenty of memorable action sequences that were all well shot and the fight choreography was well done and as with most other action films, it perhaps relied a little too much on slow motion. Even so, the story was so fast paced that it didn’t dwell anywhere for too long.
It was revealed that Steve was a spy working for the British. He was on a mission to retrieve intelligence on the German general named Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his evil chemist named Dr. Maru or Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya). Ludendorff was a proud general so he was still willing to win at all costs so he wasn’t ready to surrender along with the rest of the German military. To do so, he enlists Dr. Poison to develop a weapon to defeat his enemies.
Standing in his way were Diana, Steve, and three of his friends, Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewan Bremner), and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock). They had some fun interactions and had chemistry but these side characters didn’t add much to the story and weren’t particularly memorable. However, the story was about Diana and Steve to a lesser extent.
The best part of the film had to be watching Diana’s journey of self-discovery, learning about herself and the rest of the world. The WW1 setting helped to emphasize her views about humanity. She learned that people were more complex than what she believed in that they were all capable of both good and evil where it is ultimately love that overcomes all which is a worthy message. There was also some commentary about women which won’t come as much of a surprise. It mostly stemmed from the time period but it never became preachy.
The action was well shot and the film was also very beautiful because of excellent cinematography. The vast landscapes and the sheer scope of Themyscira were well portrayed and it did a good job at contrasting this with the bleakness of the outside world. The fantastic score also helped to set the mood nicely. Some may find the final act a little disjointed compared to the rest of the film but that was okay.
Regardless of everything else going on in the film, it either lives or dies based on Gadot’s performance as Diana/Wonder Woman and she definitely did not disappoint here. She was simply captivating to watch here, being funny at times, dramatic at times, and also handling herself nicely with all the action scenes. The only negative would be that she did appear wooden during some of the emotional scenes. Pine was likeable as Gadot’s sidekick and had good chemistry with her while not taking too much of the focus away and were fun to watch together. Huston and Anaya were decent villains although they could have used more development. Lucy Davis stole many scenes as Steve secretary Etta.
Overall, this was a great superhero film, featuring a compelling and excitingly action-packed, albeit unoriginal, journey of self-discovery that was executed better than most thanks to a good script and a marvelous performance from Gal Gadot.
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