Wonder Woman

Year: 2017
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis
Written by Fiona Underhill

Usually I start a JumpCut review by discussing what drew me to the film and my expectations of it. However, there are two major shadows cast over this particular movie. 1) DC – believe me, I could write A LOT about previous DC films and how it has affected my expectations of ‘Wonder Woman’, however, I’m not going to. 2) Feminism – an endless stream of articles have been produced about what this film does or doesn’t do for women. It feels like the weight of half of the world is on Wonder Woman’s shoulders. However, I am going to endeavour (and I may fail) to write about this film on its merits as a standalone feature. 

After a brief prologue, we first encounter Diana (who will become the lovely Gal Gadot) as the only child in the city of Themyscira, a paradise peopled by the Amazons – a tribe of female warriors given the duty of guarding mankind. However, they have abandoned this cause (which they view as hopeless) and retreated to their secret and protected island. They remain highly skilled in combat and continue training, led by Antiope (Robin Wright) – their greatest warrior. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Gladiator’s Connie Nielsen), wishes to protect her daughter, but Diana is headstrong and has the urge to learn the ways of her people. This idyllic haven is punctured one day by a WWI fighter plane, which crashes into the waters just off the islands, followed by German troops in boats. This leads to a stunning beach-based fight scene, which frankly had me welling up with emotion. 

The pilot who has crashed into this mythical world is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and he leads Diana on a mission to try to stop ‘Doctor Poison’ – a brilliant German scientist, from formulating a deadly gas that can dissolve gas masks. This is in what should be the dying days of The Great War, with politicians behind the scenes frantically negotiating their way towards Armistice. One of these politicians is Sir Patrick (a lovely surprise to see David Thewlis) and another beloved British actor in the London-based scenes is Lucy Davis (Dawn from The Office) as Steve’s secretary – Etta. Steve Trevor assembles a small band of rogues (including Charlie, played by Ewen Bremner), to attempt to stop the gas from getting as far as the trenches. 

Firstly, ‘Wonder Woman’ is full of humour. Much of this comes from the ‘fish-out-of-water’ Diana – a demi-god with little experience of the world of men, negotiating the world of war. Secondly, it is visually stunning. The action scenes are thrilling and yes, I will say it, this has a lot to do with the sheer glee of seeing a badass woman on screen in what could not be more of a man’s world. What to say about Gal Gadot? She is physical perfection and she does play Diana’s prowess, coupled with vulnerability and confusion very well. Chris Pine is playing a variation on Captain Kirk – sharp wit, ego, honour and the ability to be blown away by someone he underestimates. Coupling the world of superheroes with the world of twentieth century war does work surprisingly well (I will avoid mentioning one of my favourite Marvel films that does the same). 

Hopefully you have got the gist by now that I loved this film. It wasn’t perfect – there were moments of lull that made the film feel slightly too long, but it was definitely more exhilarating than boring. I am sure Diana will ‘play nicely with others’ in the upcoming DC ensemble films and I can’t wait to see what she does next. I hope she gets to have sequels in her own right – I will assuredly be turning up for them. It is thrilling that at long last, a female superhero in a film DIRECTED BY A WOMAN is getting her due (I warned you that I probably wouldn’t be able to reign it in). I urge you all to support this film in the all-important opening weekend – you won’t regret it. 

Fiona’s rating: 8.5 out of 10

 

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One thought on “Wonder Woman

  1. A fairly solid film, let down by a finale taken directly from the book ‘How to End a Superhero Film in the 21st Century’. The optimism and excitement around the film made me really hopeful for something more substantial than the average DCMU product. Something that would help me to remember that even the MCU had some awful films in its infancy (Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2) and therefore give me hope that Snyder et al could improve their output from their sub par product to date, to….well, ANYTHING more.

    After 90 minutes I was confident that the tides were turning in their favour, but once the credits rolled I felt my optimism had not borne fruit.

    Gadot is breathtakingly beautiful and has made the role her own. I really enjoyed the performance and presence of Saïd Taghmaoui as Sam and also the non-spoken bad-assery that Robin Wright brought to her role (that was seemingly partly sourced from her performance as Claire Underwood in House of Cards). Beyond these two stand outs, I felt the rest of the cast were disapointingly (but not surprisingly) bland. I found myself wondering if the importance of making the first female led superhero blockbuster movie caused the filmmakers to put all their efforts into only writing one decent female character for the majority of the film (post Themyscira), as both Lucy Davis’ character and the tertiary bad guy (gal) Dr Maru were really underwritten (especially the latter, who was begging for backstory but just seemed to fizzle out).

    It looked good though, especially the early battle scene on Themyscira and a stand out fight between the title character and a whole German unit set in confined quaters and accompanied by her now familiar score.

    But overall, I feel I perhaps set my sights too high and therefore came away disappointed. I should admit my own fault in this. Knowing that Zack Snyder was producing the film I should have at least maintained some caution that the film may not meet my optimistic expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

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