Review: At one point, we might see Wonder Woman as the real biggest gamble ever in recent superhero film spree. There are myriads of dire reasons that made this DC entry’s stake even bigger than Marvel’s first Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange combined.
First, DCEU has previously been ill-started with several ill-fated attempts. Second, there are doubts about Gal Gadot’s capability to lead as main character. In addition, Patty Jenkins’ reputation as the first female director to helm a superhero film with female protagonist did not seem to give security, albeit she used to direct Charlize Theron to her Oscar win. But, that’s before Wonder Woman saves the day and brings DCEU back to game.
Spearheaded with a preamble which reunites the Wonder Woman a.k.a. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with a revealing group portrait Diana and comrades in World War I from Batman v Superman of, it’s an origin story. It navigates swiftly to the times before our Diana becomes the Diana who stole the spotlight from both Batman and Superman, leaping between a showcase of all-female Amazonian warriors training ground, to the fancy Greek myth, and to the horror of ‘real-world’ war adeptly.
Shortly, a man – Chris Pine’s British spy, Steve Trevor – abruptly arrives to Themyscira, the Amazon world carrying news about the great war in the world of men. It’s only Diana’s first encounter to a real man and she’s eager to save their world from the rising of Amazon’s dormant arch-nemesis, Ares. So, there’s the titular hero in the men’s world – hunting for an evil god, learning about the real horrors of war, juggling bullets with arm bracers, and somersaulting to bring down mischiefs. In storming the real world, Wonder Woman surprisingly delivers one of the most compelling slo-mo action slugfest in recent superhero films. Imagine Man of Steel only more stylish or Batman in BvS only with pace and extra grin from Gal Gadot.
Wonder Woman does not adopt recent superhero tropes – especially those erected by DCEU’s dark, gritty universe – and instead brings back retro-formula combining campiness, grandiosity and electric chemistry which remind us immediately to the 1978 Superman. Talking about that, there are more semblances to the classic story than we’ve imagined – from the non-earthy realm rampage, the hero’s clumsiness and the hero’s bound with the love interest. The result is a fresh take on superhero genre with an earnest protagonist over a been-there-done-that landscape.
It’s also an intriguing decision to set the story in the First World War’s cataclysm. By doing so, Wonder Woman is given chance to observe more about Diana’s discovery of the world’s darkest season. With the same set, Patty Jenkins might fit her vision of empowerment and feminism to take place in a relevant cause to break off bigotry’s thought which might jeopardize the world. As a female helmer, Jenkins knows exactly how to put sensitivity to this kind of story – something which no previous director has ever done to a superhero film.
Gadot proves that doubts over her capability to lead a film is nonsense. She adds high-octane explosions as mere ‘human’, but, she’s even more convincing to kick arses as the titular hero. Surprisingly, Gadot could also bring clumsiness and innocent ridiculousness to Diana, which makes her even a more likable character, in a fashion that reminds you to Christopher Reeve’s persona. She’s even better when confronting the best performer in this film, Chris Pine, who could bring depth to his character and sustain Gadot’s performance over the course of the duration.
Yet, Wonder Woman isn’t without flaws. In fact, there are many flaws to hinder it from its fullest potentials. Overlong duration, which causes troubles with pacing and thrill-distribution, is one thing. Rough CG and the overused of slo-mo also makes the film felt ‘cheap.’ Yet, it’s the tiring, over-the-top third act coupled with inept villains that become the real culprit to stain Wonder Woman from achieving more.
In the end, Wonder Woman is imperfect; but it successfully injects female empowerment tropes and Gal Gadot’s panache to an awe-laden been-there-done-that superhero rampage with hearts and sensitivity like no superhero film has ever ventured. Wonder Woman is truly a gift to mankind.
Wonder Woman (2017)