Film review by Jason Day of Wonder Woman, based on the DC comic about an Amazonian Princess who helps the WWI effort. Starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.
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Diana (Gal Gadot) is a Princess in her native land, a mythical island hidden from the view of man by the Greek God Zeus and populated only by fearless, warrior women. Diana leaves to help mankind when a pilot (Chris Pine) crash-lands and tells her about a ‘war to end all wars’ raging in the world outside. Despite the misgivings of her mother Hippolyte (Connie Nielsen), Diana and Steve set off to find a crazed General (Danny Huston) whom Diana believes is the incarnation of the God Ares. She can only succeed in her mission if she destroys him.
Review, by Jason Day
Sometimes, it takes a woman to get sh*t done.
Not quite the tagline used to promote this latest comic-on-the-big-screen endeavour, but it fits nonetheless.
Given the uncertain political situation over the world, it is no surprise that cinema screens have been full of superheroes who are out to aid mankind’s quest for an increasingly mythical peace.
These movies generate revenues at the box office, so to satiate audience’s hunger for such fare DC Entertainment (or, on the other side, Marvel) have been emptying their bottomless barrels of comic characters.
But have the boys done anything other than posture, flash their toothpaste smiles and enjoy a good skirmish, just for shits and giggles? Despite countless Captain America’s, Iron Men and Supermen the world is still in turmoil. Could the answer to a less protracted end to world conflict and hunger lie in a less male body?
Step up Diana, Princess of Themyscira or the tank-tossing Wonder Woman if you use her more recognisable sobriquet. She is personified her by the strapping and thoroughly strong and resourceful Israeli actress and model Gai Gadot.
Gadot’s brisk, confident, no nonsense turn (imagine a more physical Mary Poppins and less songs) isn’t her first outing as Wonder Woman, she put in a supporting turn for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Hopefully she is now comfortable in the role that will more than likely prove to be her most famous, especially as she has two further stints as Diana in two forthcoming Justice League movies.
With the lack of male characters on Diana’s paradise home (only possible without their presence) and Chris Pine’s sudden emergence on their shores when his stricken aircraft penetrates the hymen-like forcefield around their island, you would think the writer would have plumped for some glib, teenage sexual interplay between their characters.
That Heinberg chooses to not dwell on Diana’s burgeoning sexual interest in him is to his and the film’s credit.
There is impishly saucy dialogue when she sees him naked, the first time she has ever glimpse a man’s body or, for that matter, a watch, which he has left on a rock nearby. Casually swooping her eyes up and down him, but paying no particular interest in his genitalia, they talk, she about the watch, he about his ‘above average’ endowments:
Pine: “It keeps me ticking”
Diana: “You let a little thing like that tell you what to do?”
Gadot’s skilled playing as her character traverses such an abrupt growing up shows that Wonder Woman is an innocent and not stupid. She is more traditionally ‘manly’ than Pine, whose character fumbles and stammers when talking to such a matter of fact person.
Although the film belongs to Gadot, there are some interesting support characters. The least said about Lucy Davis’ very annoying English Suffra-Secretary, but there is better fun with Danny Huston’s junkie German Officer and Elena Anaya as a Turkish scientist whose obsession with creating the perfect chemical gas has decomposed her own face. It also provide us with a link to ISIS, as she and her German compatriots are all hell bent on destroying civilisation, whatever the cost.
It goes without saying that the action sequences are stunning and exciting, though no more so than in any other comic based spectacular.
Where this film wins is by eschewing the male bravado, muscle flexing one-liner approach that bore this reviewer and replace it with something different. Something inquisitive, something that isn’t led by what’s between its legs. Diana might be naive when she says “Only love can truly save the world” but she’s on the right tracks.
It’s a tall order, but Wonder Woman has at least made a start. And if anyone can show humanity on film the way, its her.
Cast & credits
Director: Patty Jenkins. 141mins. Atlas Entertainment/Cruel & Unusual Films/DC Entertainment/Dune Entertainment/10 Cent Films/Wanda Pictures/Warner Bros. (12a)
Producers: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle.
Writer: Allan Heinberg.
Camera: Matthew Jensen.
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams.
Sets: Aline Bonetto.
Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright.