Amazement, admiration, delight, pleasurable, marvel – all are synonyms for the word wonder and appropriately describe the first universally lauded and refreshingly good movie from the DCEU, “Wonder Woman.”
After many years of trying to launch a successful film universe, to rival the competition Marvel Studios, DC Extended Universe has officially been “saved” by the most iconic female superhero ever. It took over 75 years, but Diana Prince/Wonder Woman finally graces the silver screen with her own movie.
“Wonder Woman” as a film leaps into the pantheon of crowning achievement from within the superhero genre. Directed by Patti Jenkins, who previously directed the award-winning film “Monster,” rises from an elongated hiatus to create a warm, exciting, powerful film about the story of the Amazonian princess – who goes from fish out of water, to heroine of humankind.
Jenkins showcases her attention to detail and the ability to formulate a story, while handling the weight that accompanies directing a mega blockbuster – especially one that also is affiliated with the stench of a wobbling film universe. Jenkins’ direction orchestrates with so much style, grace, love and beauty that she truly is the real wonder!
And the journey that Jenkins had to endure probably is one of the elements that helped her to create such a fine work of art that mirrors a path like Wonder Woman. The symmetry that united a forgotten director and a rising actress comes across the screen and is what produces a special film.
Gal Gadot, who at first I questioned whether she could handle this undertaking, embodies the essence and character of the title character as if she was born for the role. Like Superman and Captain America, Wonder Woman inspires hope and a belief in oneself to produce change in the world . Gadot not only handles the physical regiment needed for this role, but also showcases the acting acumen and the facial expressions to endear you to believing in Wonder Woman and her mission.
The film, at its core, is the tale of the hero’s journey woven beautifully amongst the turn of the 19th century with World War I as the backdrop. As a period piece, Jenkins blends the cold, bland and grey realities of the era with the more colorful, regal and elegant home island of Wonder Woman, Themyscira.
On the island, we are treated to her stern training and her incredible powers that continually grow throughout the movie. Jenkins doesn’t shy away from revealing just how powerful Wonder Woman is without weakening the men in the movie or revealing them as pandering.
Starting with the man who means the most to the Wonder Woman mythos, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is the soldier/spy who is dedicated to his mission while falling for this alluring Amazonian. Pine is engaging, committed and lighthearted as he grounds the story into the real world. What Jenkins does so well is manufacture the budding love story of Diana and Steve without sacrificing their mission – they grow together during their dedication to saving lives.
Jenkins also made us care about the secondary characters, Connie Nielsen as her mother Hippolyta, the warrior Antiope played by Robin Wright, Lilly Aspell who is special as young Diana, and the cast of soldiers who fight by her side – the latter of whom are so unusual that they require minimal amounts of time and back story so that the focus would remain upon Wonder Woman.
Now even the best films have their flaws and, if you rope me with the Lasso of Truth, I would say that at times the CGI was just ok, and an abundance of slow motion shots could take you out of the film – but it didn’t hinder the powerful action scenes. Also, the storytelling at times is telegraphed with some built-in shortcuts, but it worked because instead of burdening exposition, the film got right to the point – the journey of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman – so it serves its purpose.
In the end, you will not care about any faults in the film, which is the mark of good filmmaking, and allow it to take you into the world of narrative – all the while becoming better for it, because this film is about one of the greatest super characters of all time who can only be described by one word – wondrous!
Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Checkout his reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Batman V. Superman right here on MMT.