GAL GADOT SAVES THE DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE AND FEMALE SUPERHERO MOVIES!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Gal Gadot ready to fight as Wonder Woman
For the longest time, comic book movies with a female protagonist had a very rough start, pretty much rock bottom for the superhero film genre. There was the dreaded Supergirl movie from 1984, 1995’s Tank Girl starring Lori Petty, Marvel’s 2005 disaster, Elektra with Jennifer Garner, and probably the most infamous of all the much despised 2004 Catwoman film that gave Academy Award winner, Halle Berry a terrible outfit and a Razzie.
But out of all the superhero franchises I was expecting to fix this long problem I was not expecting it to be the DC Extended Universe (Yeah, the franchise that had three miserable releases prior). Well after those three strikes DC has given us a homerun with Wonder Woman, the first live-action film adaptation of the character.
Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 4-6, Date Night, Triple 9) reprises her role from last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice as Amazon warrior princess, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Patty Jenkins (Monster, The Killing, Betrayal) directs and the two of them deliver so far the best installment of the DC Extended Universe and the best female superhero movie of all time (What Catwoman movie?). Yes, the movie has some Zack Snyder taint in there, understandable since he’s producing it, but his trademark use of slow-motion doesn’t overstay its welcome and there’s more of a variety of action and thrills to even it out (Maybe he should just stick to producing the rest of the Universe).
The film follows Diana, a princess in the Amazon who as a child dreamt of becoming a warrior to protect her people. However, her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen-Gladiator, One Hour Photo, Nymphomaniac) forbids it and tells her stories about how Ares (David Thewlis-Dragonheart, Harry Potter franchise, The Theory of Everything), the god of war corrupted mankind and killed all the gods except Zeus, but she disobeys her and trains in secrecy with her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright-Forrest Gump, Nine Lives (No, not that one!), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) until she discovers her true powers.
As a young woman, Diana rescues a World War I pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine-Star Trek franchise, Unstoppable, Hell or High Water) being pursued by German soldiers who is revealed to be an Allied spy and has stolen weapons information from the Germans about a new deadlier form of mustard gas in development. Diana is certain that Ares is responsible for causing the war so she arms herself with a shield, sword, and the Lasso of Truth, becomes Wonder Woman, and goes with Steve to find him and end the war before it destroys mankind.
The film also stars Danny Huston (The Aviator, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitchcock) as ambitious German army General Erich Ludendorff, Elena Anaya (Van Helsing, Point Blank, The Skin I Live In) as mad scientist, Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison, Lucy Davis (The Office UK, Shaun of the Dead, All About Steve) as Steven’s comical but loyal secretary, Etta Candy, Said Taghmaoui (Three Kings, Hidalgo, The Kite Runner) as master of disguise, Sameer, Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting, Snatch, Snowpiercer) as heavy drinking sharpshooter, Charlie, and Eugene Brave Rock (Hell on Wheels) as opportunist, Chief.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a satisfying blast from start to finish and the best DC Extended Universe and female superhero movie ever. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the best film based on a DC Comics character since The Dark Knight (The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t count here!), the story is solid, the action is thrilling from beginning to end, there’s COLOR here yes DC acknowledges that it exists, and the acting and character development is spot on.
Gal Gadot owns the Wonder Woman character and she’s given much more to work with than being shoehorned into Batman v. Superman, which was already pretty busy in terms of plot. She kicks plenty of butt while showing an image of women empowerment and a curious personality and the chemistry she has with Chris Pine is undeniably charming.
The movie’s focus is mainly on Wonder Woman, pretty much where it should be but I really appreciate that the film takes time to make its side characters just as likable. Chris Pine isn’t a Mary Jane type character despite the roles (stereotypically) being reversed and he helps her just as much as she helps him, Lucy Davis is very funny as Etta, and Ewen Bremner is a joy to watch as Charlie probably because it’s basically his Trainspotting character in a World War I setting.
My only real issue with the film is the villain, without giving anything away I didn’t really find him that interesting and he comes off as a bland, cliché character out for power and destruction. But I’m really nitpicking here and it’s far from ruining the movie, it’s spectacular no matter what.
Wonder Woman is one of those superhero movies that I recommend to anyone, even if you’re not a fan of superhero movies there’s much more substance and engaging characters here than in any of the flashy MCU or other DCEU films. The story, acting, action sequences, characters, and writing are more than enough reasons to give it a watch, and I’m willing to go see it again, something I’d never say about Catwoman or Elektra, well played DC.