By Rebecca Daniel, Senior Staff Writer Finally. As the lights went down and Wonder Woman began, I watched in awe. This was really happening. It’s an incredible feeling to watch a female superhero have her own movie. Heck, it’s an incredible feeling to watch a female character have her own action scene! Keep in mind these aren’t boring “I’m just gonna run around and hit something if it comes my way” action scenes. These are slow-motion, Matrix style action sequences. The second I saw them, I wanted to say, “thank you Patty Jenkins for directing this.” And “can we please rewind that?!” There’s no way to describe it. It has to be seen on the big screen.
After Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad it was hard to have faith that the DC cinematic universe could ever be good. One glimmer of hope we had in the mess was Wonder Woman’s small appearance in Batman v. Superman. It turns out that wasn’t a fluke. Although in the past it’s been a gamble to take a chance on female-driven superhero movies (see: Catwoman, Elektra) DC’s gamble paid off big time. With director Patty Jenkins at the helm and Gal Gadot as the Amazon Warrior Princess, Wonder Woman has just saved DC. This is not just a wonderful female-driven superhero movie, but a genuinely great superhero movie.
Part Greek mythology and part historical fiction, Wonder Woman begins on the the island of Themyscira. It’s a secluded all-female island that was created to protect the Amazons from Ares, the god of War. The island is home to Diana, a young princess of the Amazons who was brought to life by Zeus. With the help of her Aunt Antiope, (Robin Wright) Diana trained to become a warrior. As she excels in her training, a pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the island. Diana rescues him (Little Mermaid style) and he tells her of the terrible war happening in the world. Diana leaves Themyscira behind to stop World War I. As she attempts to stop the atrocities of war, she will discover her incredible power and an equally threatening presence.
Gal Gadot shines as the iconic Amazonian Warrior. She nails the impressively physical fight scenes. (Be ready for the “No-Man’s Land” scene mid-way through the movie. It is one of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen.) Beyond the physical elements, Gadot captures so many of Diana’s characteristics. After all, this is Diana’s origin story and we need to know everything that makes her Wonder Woman. As I mentioned, Diana rescues Steve, Little Mermaid style, but the parallels to the beloved Disney movie don’t stop there. When Diana arrives to London, she’s naive to the outside world. It’s a fish out of water dynamic. This makes for several humorous and captivating scenes. Gadot embodies Diana’s feelings of excitement, curiosity, and horror about this different world. As Diana begins to see the effects of the war, she makes it clear she wants to help as many people as possible and be on the right side of justice. In a time when anti-heroes are so common, it’s refreshing to see a character who knows where she stands.
Chris Pine excels as Steve Trevor, bringing humor and wit throughout the film. He plays a military intelligence officer who helps guide Diana through war-torn Europe. Steve is not merely Diana’s side-kick, but a genuinely important part of the story. He and Diana consistently help each other through difficult situations. They have a great story arch that is supported even more by the two lead’s wonderful chemistry.
Joining Diana’s war effort are Steve’s rag-tag friend’s: spy Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), marksman Charlie (Ewan Bremner), and smuggler The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock). The 3 add more characterization to the film, namely different perspectives on the effects of war.
We have to talk about this movie’s aesthetics. Cinematographer, Matthew Jensen framed each shot beautifully and I would like for him to take all of my Instagram photos from now on. The beginning scenes on Themyscira (filmed in Italy) look like a lush paradise. The island is bursting with tropical color. The scenes in Europe provide quite a contrast as they have more grey-scale and dull tones symbolizing the war-torn environment in the area. It’s a very clever juxtaposition as the film transitions from the paradise that Diana grew up in, to the war-torn world.
Rupert Gregson-Williams scored the film with a soundtrack fit for a hero. Each track is fittingly powerful for Wonder Woman featuring many melodic, yet haunting cello melodies. They all lead up to her wonderfully epic theme song. How does one obtain a theme song so epic?
Like most superhero movies these days, the final 20 minutes get a bit too caught up in explosions. This movie would have been a perfect 10 for me if it had stuck to the action sequence style of the first two acts instead of the typical explosion action we’re so used to with summer blockbusters. Despite that, I would classify Wonder Woman as one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. It’s more than just a superhero movie, but a coming-of-age story. If you’re on the fence about seeing this, go. Experience the wonder that is Wonder Woman.
4.5 out of 5 stars