Action Adventure

'Wonder Woman' Film Review: DC's latest does justice to a true Amazon original

June 1, 2017Ben MK

No one ever said being a superhero was easy. But being a female superhero, especially one at the forefront of a high-profile summer blockbuster? Well, that's difficulty on a whole other level. That said, director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot certainly make it look effortless, as Wonder Woman surpasses the DC Extended Universe films that have come before it, beating Marvel — whose female-led Captain Marvel is still two years from hitting theaters — to the punch along the way.

An origin story, Wonder Woman never refers to its title character (Gadot) by her superhero moniker. Instead, we know her only as Diana, daughter of Hyppolyta (Connie Neilsen), the queen of an all-female race of Amazon warriors created by Zeus himself. For centuries, the Amazons have resided on Themyscira, a paradise island hidden from the outside world by a shroud of fog. Then one day, American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes in the surrounding waters, inadvertently — and literally — bringing dozens of German troops to the island's shores.

Suddenly, it becomes apparent that while the Amazons have been basking in the peace of their homeland, a great war — the Great War, in fact — has been raging in the world beyond. Could this be the work of Ares, the god of war who was banished by Zeus so many ages ago? Diana thinks so. And thus she leaves Themyscira for World War I's front lines, determined to stop Ares and to fulfill her destiny, and armed with her golden lasso of truth, her shield, her sword, and the years of battle training provided by her aunt, the great general, Antiope (Robin Wright).

Needless to say, the result rests largely on Gadot's statuesque shoulders; and, thankfully, she delivers in spectacular fashion, imbuing her character with an awe-inspiring combination of ferocity and spirit. Make no mistake, Gadot's performance isn't perfect, but her portrayal of Diana as someone who's pure of heart and willing to sacrifice for the greater good is exactly what the DCEU needs. More importantly, she's utterly believable in the role, wholeheartedly selling the notion of a no-nonsense crusader who happens to possess super strength, agility and fantastical powers.

As for the rest of the film's characters, many of them exist almost solely to propel Diana's arc forward, to bestow opportune moments of comic relief, or to antagonize her, and, as such, are rarely afforded the same opportunity for genuine depth by screenwriter Allan Heinberg. Still, the diverse cast — which includes David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis and Elena Anaya — bring the requisite degree of respectability to their parts, with the clear standout being Pine as Diana's love interest/sidekick.

Of course, the million-dollar question on many moviegoers' minds will be whether the movie itself does justice to the character, her legacy as a feminist icon, and her over three-quarters-of-a-century of comic book lore. Long story short, the answer is a resounding yes on all three points. As Wonder Woman, Gadot kicks butt and sets herself up as a role model to be emulated by young women everywhere, while the film structured around her keeps audiences mesmerized with its entertaining hybrid of fish-out-of-water story and action-packed hero's journey. Keep it up, DC.

Wonder Woman releases June 2nd, 2017 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 21 Mins.

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