There is no denying DC Films and Warner Bros. struggles on the big screen in 2016. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice tried too hard to play catch up with The Mouse and Marvel becoming a bloated mess devoid of any fun. Suicide Squad on the other hand tried to be nine different movies at once and was only kept from being another DC disaster due to the performances of Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Sure their films brought in hefty box office numbers, but they were critically panned and left DC fans(This critic included) defending movies they knew deep down inside were far from super. The lone bright spot in Zack Snyder and the MARTHA! boys’ dud was the appearance of Wonder Woman that was 75 years in the making. Gal Gadot stole the show as the iconic Amazon and now she’s back with her own solo film which is different from any other film in this current DCU franchise.
Wonder Woman is the definition of a standalone film within a franchise. There are a few connecting dots from past installments, but these moments are there only to serve this story and not the upcoming slate of films from DC. Wonder Woman is a prequel set before the events of Batman V Superman taking place mostly in the early 20th Century near the end of WWI. Princess Diana is living a simple life on the mystical island of Themyscira which was created by Zeus and full of mighty Amazon Warrior women. This island full of ladies do their best to avoid the outside world at all costs, but unfortunately WWI shows up on their beach when a spy by the name Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane in the waters offshore. When Diana learns of the horrors of what’s happening around the globe, she leaves Themyscira to seek out the evil of this conflict and stop it once and for all.
Wonder Woman is a film that has a great deal going on it during the movie’s 2 hour 21 minute runtime. The prequel begins its story in the Swords and Sandals genre with Diana training in the art of swordplay, hand to hand combat and archery with her tough as nails aunt General Antiope played by Robin Wright Penn. Then the film turns into a very funny period piece with Diana as a fish out of water in 1920s London dealing with men who would prefer she get back in the kitchen where she belongs. Wonder Woman then shifts to a gritty War film with Diana on the front lines seeing the destruction man inflicts on each other. This part of Wonder Woman plays as an interesting morality tale with Diana soon discovering that even the people who are deemed as the “good guys” may still have blood on their hands. Add in the superhero element and you have a movie that could have easily been weighed down by too many themes, but that is not the case with Wonder Woman. Director Patty Jenkins blends all the genres together in an engaging fashion that gives the audience a little bit of everything they love about the movies including action, romance, humor, adventure and a whole lot of heart.
This mixture of settings and situations is held together in superb fashion thanks to the star making performance of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman. Gadot plays the heroine as total innocent (who can still rip you to pieces) dealing with the outside world and their strange customs. She can handle the sword with ease then make you laugh as she tries on clothes that aren’t up to her fighting standards. The greatest accomplishment that Director Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and Chris Pine pull off in terms of past DC Films is that they finally give the audience fully developed characters the viewer actually cares about. Gadot brings brains, beauty and grace to the hero who deals with her own emotions and feelings towards the outside world. Diana may be super, but she also becomes more human over the course of Wonder Woman. Under the guidance of Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot brings the comic book icon to life in epic fashion and finally gives DC Films a project both fans and critics can celebrate.
Overall, I give Wonder Woman 3.5 out of 4 stars.
Check out the Wonder Woman edition of The Takeover with T.M. Powell.
Read all of T.M.’s reviews HERE!