Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman - Finally the DCEU Gets One Right

Wonder Woman (2017) Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya Directed by Patty Jenkins. Screenplay by Allan Heinberg. Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston, Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle. Color. Run Time: 141 USA Action, Fantasy

After three rather clunky films to open the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros. finally gets one right. The new Wonder Woman is easily the best film so far, as DC tries desparately to play catch up to the more successful MCU.

A lot of credit for the success of the film has to do with the direction, the highly touted first time a woman, Patty Jenkins, has directed a Super Hero film, but it is also to do as well with the story. Unlike the previous outings this one has real humor and for the first time a believable romance, between Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). (I know Superman has Lois Lane, but there is zip on-screen chemistry between Henry Cavill and Amy Adams).

Chris Pine as Steve Trevor and Gal Gadot (Diane Prince) seem to have some real onscreen chemistry.

Gal Gadot, a former Miss Israel, her home country, was easily the best thing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) in her brief appearance and is more than capable of carrying this movie and hopefully a series of films to follow. Statuesque Gadot is both pretty and strong, prerequisites for an Amazonian hero.

Chris Pine, perhaps best known for his turns as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboots, shows that he, too, can act. He's not quite the self-assured Kirk character, but he does have a good screen presence and makes a good partner for Gadot's Wonder Woman. There are other well-known actors in supporting roles, like Robin Wright as General Antiope, Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff and David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan, all of whom are good as well. The only main player without any real presence is Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru and I don't know if that's on purpose or not.

Wonder Woman is an Amazonian with real skills as a fighter.

Like most first films in a series and their ubiquitous reboots, this is an origin story; and like most origin stories it makes changes from what you might know about the character. While the Amazon part of her story seems to ring true, her original appearance was during World War II in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941. Like all super heroes of the day, she originally fought Nazis. In this film, she is first introduced to our world during World War I. Not sure why they couldn't have written a story that took place during WWII, but the story they have works best in the lesser known of the World Wars. It also leaves 100 years of a gap should they ever want to go back and fill it, but something tells me they won't. And if the war action scenes remind you a little bit of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) , set in WWII, you're not alone.

Patty Jenkins is arguably a real good director, leaving out her gender, but she hasn't directed a feature since Monster (2003), another film with a strong female lead. While you can't direct chemistry, I do think the romance side of the story plays as well as it does because of her choices as a director. At the same time, the action sequences also work very well. Jenkins is already on board for the inevitable sequel, so that gives me hope.

While I went into the film with little expectations, having already been burned three times by the DCEU, I came away really liking the film and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in super hero films. And if you're like me, wary of the DCEU, help has finally arrived.

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