Wonder Woman Review

“I used to want to save the world, this beautiful place. But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within. I learned this the hard way, a long, long time ago.”

The opening narration of Wonder Woman is a familiar but chilling sentiment for the DC Extended Universe. In this brave new world of gods and heroes, we are reminded of the great fire that fuels war between humans as we are taken back to the early days of the First World War; one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. And we are thrown into the centre of it through the experiences of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) as she navigates a harsh world.

The spectacle of the opening scene shows Diana’s childhood in her homeworld of Themyscira. Much to the disapproval of her mother – Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) – she aspires to become an Amazonian warrior as strong as the ones she watches on the training grounds. General Antiope (Robin Wright) sees potential in Diana and trains her to become a capable fighter over the many years to come. Already from this moment, we see the incredibly contribution the film will make for young girls and women everywhere. Here, Diana is every girl that wanted to be a police officer, an astronaut or a soldier, but were told they couldn’t because they weren’t born a boy. But the Amazons are not bound to this social exclusion, and can be whatever they wish to be.

Later, years into her adolescence, Diana saves spy and pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from a plane crash who brings news to Themyscira of a great war to end all wars. Believing herself to be the only one that can stop it, Diana goes with Steve to war-time Europe where things are not as colourful as her homeworld. The streets of London are decrepit, and the once-beautiful vistas of France are corrupted by the German expansion. What follows is a fish-out-of-water story; Diana attempting to adjust to this brave new world while also bringing the spirit of the Amazons to the men who need it most. It’s a binary experience, with the yin of Themyscira’s graceful decor harshly paralleled to the yang of the devastating war.

Although the film slowly builds its characters through this juxtaposition of two worlds colliding, its true strength comes through Diana’s willpower to confront the war head-on. While the men behind try to stop her, as well as those ahead, she carries on. She ploughs through these hardships and overcomes barriers that lead her and the other characters to triumph. While female-led action flicks have become more common as of late – see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Hunger Games as recent examples – this felt like the first film to truly embrace its female presence, which is largely thanks to the grouping of Patty Jenkins’ momentous control of the frame and Gal Gadot’s charming performance.

By any count, that is not to say that the camerawork is perfect. The slow-motion is overdone to a huge grade, which greatly distracts the viewer outside of the few shots where it fits. But the cinematography; camera angles, colour grading, pan shots, are all estranged from each other between the two worlds. Themyscira encapsulates beauty, grace, bright colours, whereas Man’s World conveys darkness, corruption, industrial workings. Ultimately, it allows us the advantage of exploring Diana’s exposure to this new place.

Like a three-course gourmet meal with a half-baked dessert, one of Wonder Woman’s unfortunate shortcomings lies in its final act where it shreds itself of the appropriate war themes in favour of a typical comic-book climax. It’s nowhere near as powerful as the time spent leading up to it, and thus leaves a disappointing taste in your mouth. Despite that, it is still better than any of the previously produced DC Universe films, and is such a minor grievance that it won’t largely detract from the overall work.

Viewers that weren’t on-board with DC’s cinematic universe need not worry about Wonder Woman’s quality. Its flaws are few and far between, most of which can be forgiven due to the vibrant script and encouraging performances, with a vivid direction also holding the ceiling up high. It’s the best comic book film of the year, easily beating Logan and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, and leaves the door wide open for the rest of the Justice League team to enter later this year.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.