You haven’t seen a super heroine like this. Gal Gadot isn’t just a pretty face, she’s tough and empowering as Wonder Woman. There’s a moment in the film, where Diana/Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor (Chris Pratt) arrive at the Western Front in Belgium. As they walk through the chaos, women and children starving, wounded soldiers strewn about. Diana wants to do something to help. She doesn’t want to just pass by and let these people suffer. Steve and the others keep telling her they have to keep going, that this is just part of war. They’ve been given a mission to stop a German super weapon and they can’t deviate from it. When they get to the trenches at No Man’s Land, it’s too much for her to bear. She climbs up a ladder out of the trench and starts to walk across the devastated land, towards the German soldiers. They open fire on her but she just deflects the bullets with her wrist plates. Steve rallies the soldiers as Diana continues to block incoming heavy machine gun fire with her shield. It was in this moment, I got major chills (goosebumps on my goosebumps). As a father, it’s a moment I want to share with my daughter. To show her female heroes can be just as badass (even more so) than their male counterparts. It’s moments like this, and many others, that really make the film stand out among other comic book movies.
The film starts with Diana at a young age, living on the peaceful, sheltered island of Themyscira. She’s a rebellious and curious child, who catches a glimpse of the Amazons training. Diana wishes to become one of them, but her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), refuses. She explains to Diana the story of Ares, the God of War. He corrupted mankind and killed all the other gods except Zeus. Zeus was able to muster his last ounce of strength to strike Ares down, and create a weapon the Amazons could use to defeat him, should he rise again. Of course, Diana goes behind her mother’s back and trains in secret with her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). The years go by and she becomes a formidable warrior, unmatched among the other Amazons. The peace they’ve had on the island for so long comes to an end when American pilot Steve Trevor crashes in the water near the island, pursued by the Germans. Steve has stolen plans for a terrifying weapon the Germans will use to win the war. Diana is drawn to help Steve defeat them because she believes the God of War, Ares, is behind all of it. In her eyes, if they can stop him, the war will end.
Gal Gadot shines as Wonder Woman. She’s cute, funny, sexy, smart, the list goes on. She’s the full package. Chris Pine is charming as Steve Trevor. The two of them have great chemistry together. Most of the humor in the movie comes from the two trying to understand each others very different worlds. Women aren’t treated the same way here as they are in Themyscira. When they arrive in London, Steve takes her out to buy some more “appropriate” clothes with his secretary Etta (Lucy Davis). When they end up deciding on an outfit, Diana still feels the need to carry around the sword and shield with her, which ends up with her getting stuck in a revolving door. It’s hilarious. The supporting cast are great as well. Charlie (Ewen “Spud” Bremner), The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), and Sameer (Said Taghmaoui) add some diversity to the group in charge of stopping the German super weapon. The villains Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) and Ludendorff (Danny Huston) are ok. They don’t really stand out among everyone else, and are quickly over shadowed by Ares once he makes his entrance.
Props to director Patty Jenkins (Monster), not for just being the first female to direct a superhero film with a female protagonist, but for doing a damn good job. Patty does the character justice. She juggles action and comedy really well. The film doesn’t fall into the same tropes as Marvel movies, where intense moments are met with some dumb jokes. Everything has their place in this, and it meshes perfectly. The fight sequences are very well done. When Wonder Woman crashes through the window of a building, surprising a group of German soldiers, the adrenaline starts pumping. She starts to take them out with a flurry of kicks and sword swings, accompanied by the Wonder Woman theme. Smashing nazi’s out of windows or whipping them with her Lasso of Truth. It’s great stuff. The final battle with Ares is particularly intense, with the two gods clashing together in an earth shattering finale. You really get to see Diana’s true powers here. We can only hope Patty gets signed on as director for the sequel.
If you had any concerns with how this was going to turn out, fear not. Wonder Woman is the first must see movie of 2017. It elevates the DCEU (and comic book movies in general) to the next level, opening the door to a world where female superheroes can thrive. It’s filled to the brim with action, drama & humor I can’t wait to see her return in Justice League this November. – NVJ