Review: Golden Gal makes Wonder Woman shine
by The Dark Knight

It has taken 76 years for Wonder Woman to light up cinema screens with her own live action film, but I can happily say the wait has been worth it. And I can also happily say that fans of Zack Snyder’s contributions to the DC cinematic universe should not be worried about a drastic tonal change going forward.

Wonder Woman follows what I call the three C rule – something which I think made Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so great. These three pillars of strength are Continuity, Consequences and Compassion, and in my opinion, it’s setting DC apart from the competition.

In Dawn of Justice, we are first introduced to Diana Prince, and specifically, a World War I era photo of her posing with a bunch of other soldiers. This photo appears again in Wonder Woman while she is emailing another well-known character in the present day, and it serves as the story’s starting point. It’s a small touch but I really think it adds a great deal of depth and flow to what is a young cinematic universe. Every photo has a story, and it’s all told here.

Once Diana’s backstory begins, we are introduced to Themyscira, a paradise inhabited solely by women. And much like Krypton in Man of Steel, this location is fully realized as a living and breathing environment. It’s simply a gorgeous paradise that takes your breath away. It also serves as a stark contrast to the muddy and bloody battlefields we later see in the film. The DC universe is rich with mythology and they didn’t waste an opportunity to explore it here.

Like Superman and Batman, we see the title character as a youngster, however this time a lot more focus is given to this period of the hero’s life. I think this was a wise choice to really push home the fact fighting and bravery has been in Diana’s blood since day one - it just took a lot of training to hone her abilities. This is what she wants to do and she does it. And of course, once we transition to adult Diana, Israeli actress Gal Gadot has a naivety that radiates pure goodness, and its hard not to fall in love with it. She wants to save everybody and she will get upset if she cannot. She retains the kindness of her childhood into adulthood, which makes those childhood sequences so important.

This fish out of water routine provides Diana with a sense of loveable charm, and honestly, I get the impression Gadot was simply channeling her own fun and warm hearted self. While Lynda Carter may hold nostalgic power for other fans, Gadot has effortlessly assumed the tiara crown for the next generation. Upon being cast in the role, Gadot was criticized for her perceived lack of acting ability, but she proves the critics wrong time and time again in Wonder Woman which is really satisfying to see. Credit must go to Zack Snyder for casting her in the first place.

One of the surprise packets of Wonder Woman is Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. I hadn’t seen a film starring him before this, and throughout the film, much like Gadot, he continually won me over. The team dynamic and the camaraderie these characters share is something that makes this film compelling to watch. 

For a film with a female focus, it’s so refreshing that gender politics aren’t a major talking point. At the core this is an adventure film. Diana’s bravery and desire to do good speaks for itself. She’s a beautiful, strong and independent woman who wears her skin-revealing outfit without shame. This isn’t a Ghostbusters (2016) situation in the slightest, and for that I give Warner Bros a standing ovation.  They’ve simply translated the time period in which the film is set and mixed it with the themes of the comics that have always been present. The filmmakers aren’t judging Diana’s worth on the fact she’s a woman, but rather on her merits as a person. As things should be.

Wonder Woman continues the DC trend of offering impressive action sequences. The viewer is often reminded we are dealing with a powerful warrior who can lift tanks with her bare hands and leap incredible distances with ease. And much like Bruce Wayne witnessing the destructive Superman/Zod fight in Dawn of Justice, actions have consequences. Diana saves a village and bonds with the characters only for them to be to gassed death later on. Characters make noble sacrifices that last, and while Diana carries this pain, she still manages to fight on.

For all the talk of a lighter tone, DC has not taken backward steps in terms of violence or emotion. I walked out of Wonder Woman feeling much like I did upon first seeing Dawn of Justice, which I didn’t expect. From Zack Snyder’s version of the Wayne murders to Superman making the ultimate sacrifice against Doomsday, these DCEU films hit me right in the feels – something I find remarkable given I wouldn’t call myself an emotional person. I feel they deserve major respect for pulling off this emotional grounding because it elevates their films into something special. You leave the cinema a different person, even if that feeling is only temporary. That’s power.

In terms of music, Wonder Woman’s main hero motif makes brief appearances throughout the soundtrack, and it never fails to raise my enthusiasm levels. In a short space of time, a memorable theme has been created. It’s fun, full of energy and has a strong foundation – meaning this rocking tune is perfect for the character. I’m a big fan. The rest of the score, while not as noteworthy as the exciting main theme, seems appropriately grand and expressive when placed against the visuals. It does enough for me to say the DCEU continues its trend for above satisfactory soundtracks, as Steve Trevor would put it.

Is this the best DCEU film so far? Not for me. I outright reject the notion Wonder Woman is the first decent entry in the new canon. I’m still giving the nod to Zack Snyder’s first two movies, especially the extended edition of Batman v Superman, which I consider to be one of the underrated modern epics. But the fact Wonder Woman retains the core spirit of Snyder’s films (along with slow motion sequences) means I consider it a very worthy addition to the cinematic universe. Be sure to see this one out on the big screen.

An impressive first film for the character
anchored by an endearing performance by Gadot.


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