This review is coming to you, several weeks after viewing in an attempt to be unbiased and unaffected by initial impressions that aren’t always reflective of opinions with time. The reason why this is important will become apparent but for now, for anyone who has been living under a rock and isn’t aware, Wonder Woman is the latest solo outing in the DCEU, bringing Gal Gadot back to the big screen, after her explosive introduction in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film takes place at the height of World War II and after a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons, Diana leaves home to aid him in fighting this terrible war.
Gadot had a clear advantage before this film even begins, her appearance in Batman v Superman is a beloved highlight for even those who struggled to enjoy it. It’s a struggle to not adore such a wonderful, talented, strong, intelligent (and yes, beautiful) woman and all those attributes shine through in this film. There’s a pure, curious, natural and perhaps even naive nature to Gadot’s performance, which is enchanting and impressively manages to do so without becoming condescending or patronising. A quality which is heightened by the addition of Pine’s Steve Trevor, the two may be running a little low on the romantic chemistry but their blossoming friendship is a joy to watch, with the help of some amusing and well written quips.
The two leads are clearly the strongest in the film with Robin Wright’s Antiope and Lucy Davis’ Etta coming in closely behind; watching the former in the early battle scenes of the film is certainly a joy. The weaker cast lands of the villainous side and though none of them do a bad job, their minimal impact and the difficulty in rallying against them that creates, is a slight disappointment. That aspect however is one of the few weak points that the film experiences, and has a rather large hand in one of its other main weaknesses which is the finale, Wonder Woman runs a magnificent race but is wobbly over the finish line. Wobbles arising from a few unfortunate script and character choices which lessen its effectiveness in those final moments.
Those issues do not, however, undermine the fantastic work done in the film, Patty Jenkins’ direction is brilliant, the choreography and stunt work is absolutely tremendous and exhilarating to watch, helped in no small way by Rupert Gregson-Williams terrific score. The cinematography is stunning, especially alongside some great special effects work and it truly feels like a genuine piece of outstanding team work.
The true success and meaning of the film however lands squarely on the shoulders of its titular character, people may try to tear this film apart, analyse it piece by piece but the reality is, for countless generations watching Gadot as Wonder Woman on the big screen will be an emotional, cathartic experience. For the abundant women who have existed in a world of cinema dominated by male heroes (for which I include myself), even those who may not have in any real capacity considered that situation, watching a powerful, compassionate woman taking the lead with such vivacious energy and strength is incredibly meaningful. This is a film that needs to be seen, that young women need to experience and a bright beginning of what will hopefully be a future of strong female roles in blockbusters.
Putting that aside for a moment, Wonder Woman is an exciting, entertaining and enjoyable film, with an undeniable charm, a beguiling lead and plenty of moments to laugh, cry or pump your fist in the air with the best John Bender impression you can muster. It’s a step up from the inherent issues that tripped up Batman v Superman, with a more succinct story and smoothly flowing direction and should give hope to those waning in their support of the state of the DCEU.