Superhero movies are predominantly led by men, with women backing them up, and helping when needed. Thankfully, director Patty Jenkins has another idea: let a female drive a heroic tale for a change, and perhaps some fun may be had in the process.
Wonder Woman, starring an absolutely perfect Gal Gadot, is the home run DC Comic movie adaptations needed. A no doubt summer movie season launch that should empower women of all ages and entertain movie fans as a whole.
Diana Prince (Gadot) grew up in a place called Themyscira, and became a princess of the Amazons, but her mother (Connie Nielson, picking up the Gladiator armor again) has protected Diana since birth from a powerful god called Ares. Eventually, Diana figures out that she has incredible powers, but needs to find a purpose for them.
That purpose arrives in the form of a crashed American spy called Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, lending a fine helping of action hero swagger to the mix), who informs the warriors of the Amazons that a war is endangering millions of lives back in the states. That is all the reason Diana needs to finally leave her home, and use her powers for good in the war against the evil German army.
What Jenkins, working from a script by Allan Heinberg, does best is incorporate light humor into the action adventure story. When Diana comes to the states with zero knowledge outside of a book about men and humans as a whole operate and live, a few well-formed jokes are triggered and handled with care. The biggest problem with DC Comic stories on film is the overbearing serious tone of the film drowning out all the fun that the original comics brought to the table.
It also helps to have a star like Gadot, an actress who nearly gave up on acting before landing this huge role. The 32 year old gorgeous Israeli actress handles the action scenes like a pro (any true Fast and Furious fan knows this), but she lends a fair touch of gravitas to Diana's flight and doesn't lose her edge when the big battle awaits near the end of the movie. In order for Wonder Woman to hit hard and for Jenkins' idea to completely flourish, Gadot had to bring it, and she does.
After all, Gadot's Prince was one of the best parts about Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice. You left that film wanting more of her, and thinking a stand-alone female superhero film would be quite nice.
Wonder Woman is also a complete piece of work that doesn't become overcrowded or messy throughout its 141 minute running time. She doesn't need a big brother. Why shove so many heroes into one movie when you have such a compelling force like Gadot's Prince. Movies like BVS and Suicide Squad tried to do so much packing that the overall message was lost and the fun was non-existent. Jenkins has no need to let Batman or The Flash help her lady out, and let's be honest: The princess can handle business herself.
It helps to have a supporting cast that can kick it as often as the star, and the pleasures run deep here. Pine shares amazing chemistry with Gadot, and doesn't try to overpower the movie. He plays his role well, and makes you demand a little more of him in the end. Said Taghmaoui has the best line of the movie as Trevor's right hand man Sameer, and Ewen Bremner creates laughs as the haunted sniper, Charlie. Lucy Davis also generates laughs and energy as Trevor's assistant, Etta.
Robin Wright and Elena Anaya create well-rounded characters with less screen time, while Danny Huston plays the usual role of bad guy. David Thewlis has a good time as a character with some mystery to his ledger, but the film always centers around Gadot. Without slowing the movie down or making the room feel stuffed, Jenkins incorporates characters that are interesting and support the star.
There's a moment a little over an hour into the movie that is Wonder Woman's official arrival into the world of legit cinematic hero land. The Americans are pinned down by German artillery, and Prince drops a coat she had been wearing to cover up her costume. She climbs a ladder, walks towards the enemy fearlessly, and takes care of business. It's a moment that symbolizes Gadot and Jenkins' coronation of this DC superhero the cinematic universe; a scene that hopefully kickstarts other solo adventures for other female superheroes, such as Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.
DC Comics beat Marvel to the punch in at least one category: creating a female driven superhero tale. The hype for this movie is legit. The chatter you've heard is warranted, and not overblown. Patty Jenkins has created a fun, entertaining, and refreshing rock star in Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman.
Hear her roar this weekend at the movies!
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