Wonder Woman is the story of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). On a hidden island of Amazonian warrior goddesses, Diana has trained since a child to be the strongest and fiercest. Should Ares, the vengeful god of war ever reemerge, Diane will be poised to challenge his spite and wrath. Until then, Diana’s people are hidden on Themiscyra in the hopes that they may lead a peaceful existence.
Unexpectedly, a young man named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on Themiscyra, only to be saved by Diana. Steve explains that he is a spy working against the Germans to help cease “the war to end all wars.” Trevor is making his escape with the knowledge that a new chemical weapon has been developed which could shift the tide of the conflict in the enemies’ favor. Steve’s arrival, however, unwittingly also allows his pursuers to discover the Amazonian paradise, forcing the inhabitants to defend themselves. Diana, witnessing firsthand the horrors the world of men is capable of, resolves to join Steve on his quest to bring an end to World War I.
What works in Wonder Woman is the Gal Gadot, her chemistry with Chris Pine, the script, and the choreography. Gadot is simply stunning as Diana Prince. There are have been many Wonder Woman fans clamoring for a worthy story focused on the iconic character, and Gadot’s performance does Diana justice. In Wonder Woman, Gadot’s Prince is kind, selfless, charming, a bit naïve, and above all, fearless in all respects of life. There is an immense tricky balancing act that Gadot pulls off with apparent ease—Wonder Woman must be tough but not overbearing, optimistic without buffoonery, and vulnerable despite immense power and ability. Gadot hits every note flawlessly and easily sets the new gold standard for what it means to a superhero—this one just happens to be female.
Director Patty Jenkins gives Gadot a great many assets to work with in Wonder Woman, all of which make the film immensely enjoyable. To start, Pine’s Steve Trevor serves as the perfect audience surrogate. His reactions to, and interactions with, Gadot are both humorous and honest. It’s easy to believe, and enjoyable to watch, these two souls from different worlds falling in love given what resides at their cores—the drive to do what is good and right despite the world telling them otherwise. Credit for crafting this intricate relationship goes to screenwriter Allan Heinberg who gives nearly every character in Wonder Woman strong material, but by the end of the film, audiences will undoubtedly know and understand who Prince and Trevor are as people.
Special acclaim should be given to the choreography. While there are several excellent fight sequences throughout Wonder Woman, there are two of particular note. First, a battle on the beaches of Themiscyra that literally pits men vs. women. What is stunning about this is cinematographer Matthew Jensen’s use of light—the bright sun shines gloriously off the Amazonian armor, giving the women a wonderful heroic glow. While most epic comic book fights take place in the dark, this sequence is refreshing. The second notable sequence concerns Wonder Woman’s debut in the war of men. While also expertly crafted, this perhaps one of the most important action-laden moments of the film as the audience sees Diana embracing her identity, and literally shedding her demure disguise to cross No Man’s Land without pause or hesitation, fueled by resolve and self-confidence. It is a powerful moment.
While Wonder Woman radiates with charismatic leads, strong dialogue, and thrilling battles, there are some minor issues with the execution, primarily in terms of the villains. Wonder Woman has several antagonists, but for the majority of the film, they are not in direct conflict with the hero. As a result, the third act becomes a little bit muddled, if not underwhelming, when the final inevitable confrontation ensues. Without the development of tension, the battle feels anticlimactic, especially when compared with previous sequences.
Wonder Woman is a powerful, important moment in cinema. It proves that the existence of female-centric movies is something audiences are sorely lacking, and if well constructed, as Jenkins as done here, they provide young women with strong role models. It has been a long time coming, but Wonder Woman is recommended to both life-long fans of the character, as well curious newcomers, as a film that will delight and entertain.
Photos Courtesy of Warner Brothers.