This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Wonder Woman” is directed Patty Jenkins and stars; Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis and Elena Anaya. This is the story of Diana, princess of the Amazonian people. She was trained to be a warrior, but kept in the dark about who and what she really was. Then, when a military pilot crash-lands on their secluded island homeland, Diana learns of the wars happening in the world outside of theirs. Feeling she must help stop the bloodshed, she leaves her home and returns with this pilot to fight the war and put a stop to it. And along the way Diana learns of many truths about her history, as well as the power she possesses, and what her real destiny is.
There has been a lot of pressure put on this film to be a success, and for many reasons. The female led solo film pressures aside. DC has clearly stumbled out of the gate with building their DCEU. With “Wonder Woman” being the first solo film since “Man of Steel” there is certainly a lot of widespread curiosity about this project. As well as an unprecedented and sudden reliance on this film to reinvigorate the DCEU, given they have many more projects in the works over the next handful of years.
Now people love success stories, and this film is absolutely and example of one. This film took the pressure of the media world, the studios, and the comic fans, right on its shoulders and pumped out a great movie, and one of the all-time great character origin stories. “Man of Steel” was a good movie, but a flawed one and since the DC launched their cinematic universe with a darker tone, the reception has been divisive. But in my opinion “Wonder Woman” is the first film that took that dark tone and created a film that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Marvel in terms of overall quality.
The writing team behind this one developed a well-structured story. Director Patty Jenkins took this script, had an imaginative vision for it, and executed it extremely well. The character of Diana was perfectly developed and you grow with her during this film as the result of that. Now we did get a glimpse of Wonder Woman in “Batman V Superman” but she felt tacked on to an already over bloated script and we got to know little to nothing about her. Which in the end made this film so much more intriguing as we get the full story of who she is, where she came from, and how some of her personality traits were developed over time.
Diana was kept in the dark by her mother about the many truths to her existence, and while she thought this was protecting her daughter, it was really just hindering her safety. Something that I thought was well captured in this script. Diana grows from a naïve princess safe in a tropical paradise, to an unstoppable warrior in the heart of battle, and this story-arc was incredibly entertaining to watch. I thought the writing team, and Jenkins in particular, had a strong vision for how the character would be depicted and it was effective in portraying the Wonder Woman like any other hero. She was vulnerable early on as many heroes are. And as she grows into her powers and learns more about her history, she evolves into the powerful superhero that I remember and loved from the comics.
The dialogue was very well written and does a great job of building the characters, developing their dynamics, and progressing them with a smooth flow without leaving loose ends or plot holes. The main plot was intriguing and had just enough layers to create a fast-paced film despite an over two-hour run-time. Because you can invest in the story-line, feel the tension it is wanting to build, and its effective in pulling you into the world of the story.
However, no matter how good your film looks, or how tightly written your script is. A comic-book movie relies drastically on the lead performance. Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman brought the media world to life and many questioned the choice. But, in my opinion, she hit a home-run with this performance, and owned the role. Something that is not easy to do, for even the best of performers, is to make the viewer forget they are watching you. In other words, to make the audience feel like they are watching Diana Prince, the famous Wonder Woman, and not Gal Gadot. Something I think she absolutely accomplished with this performance.
Gadot effectively captures the persona she was trying to deliver. I think she did an excellent job of showcasing how the characters personality, and her vulnerability as a result of not knowing all the information about her past. Slowly grew to the same level of her confidence, which was something she never lacked. Watching that growth throughout this story was something that really elevated the viewers connection to the character in a positive way.
Chris Pine’s character was also well written. He wasn’t exactly unique but Pine brings more than enough charm and energy to the role to make a lasting impression. Pine and Gadot also had a strong chemistry with one another that make many of their scenes land with the intended impact. They have a fun rapport with one another that makes some of the more lighthearted moments effective in breaking the tension when needed. With the dynamic of Diana never having been in the company of a man, the script was able to utilize that element to create some fun organic humor.
As the for the action, it was fantastic. There were some well-choreographed, large scale action-sequences that were visually appealing and very intense. There were also some smaller fight-sequences and set-pieces that enabled the film to portray the warrior skills Diana had learned. As well as some nice sword-play and a couple of enjoyable moments with the ‘Lasso of Truth’. The special-effects were relatively very good but there were some moments that felt a little like the “Matrix Reloaded” visually. But it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment by any means. Besides, when you are working with a smaller budget than any of the other films in the DCEU thus far, you do what you can, with what you have.
I also would have liked a little more development in the villain and without going into spoilers I will leave it at that. This film was heavy on the story of Diana, and her growth into the Wonder Woman we were introduced to in “Batman V Superman”. Which was great, but the antagonist could have been woven a little deeper into the story. Another minor nit-pick in this film would be some of the styling to the action. I felt the slow-motion capture during some of the sequences got a little repetitive and possibly with some longer shots and maybe some sweeping camera pans it could have added some variety to the visual appeal.
But overall this was an impressive movie. Jenkins direction is excellent. This was a comic-book movie woven seamlessly into a war-drama and the combination is fantastic. The performances are good from top-to-bottom, and Gadot delivers a true female comic hero with her portrayal, and I cannot wait to see what she does as Wonder Woman in future films.