Hopeful, empowering, and enormously entertaining, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman is the feature film this iconic female superhero deserves. The PG-13 action film is the best DC Comics-inspired movie since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, and one of the few comic book-based films to get the tone just right. There’s nothing dour about this epic superhero tale that lays out the origin of Princess Diana of Themyscira, also known as Diana Prince.
Wonder Woman begins by introducing audiences to a rebellious young Diana (Lilly Aspell) who sneaks into fight training with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright), a fierce warrior charged with training the Amazonian women who live on the hidden, idyllic island of Themyscira. Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), is against these early training sessions, but ultimately gives in as there’s no denying Diana’s destiny.
The adult Diana (Gal Gadot) is fully committed to the training, excelling at sword fighting, and embracing her destiny to take on the Greek God of War, Ares. The action kicks into high gear after Allied spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into the ocean off the coast of Themyscira. Diana rescues Steve, learns about the great war raging, and assumes Ares is at the root of the suffering and deaths.
Diana ventures off the island for the first time, accompanying Steve to Europe and then to the front lines where she witnesses the horrors of war firsthand. Unwilling to turn her back on those in need, Diana rushes into battle against overwhelming German forces. Embraced by the people after freeing a town, Diana’s understanding of the forces she’s up against begins to clarify. While Steve conducts his own operation to stop German General Erich Ludendorff (played with exquisite evilness by Danny Huston) from unleashing a chemical weapon on innocent civilians and Allied forces, Diana concentrates her attention on locating and stopping Ares and thus putting an end to World War I.
Director Patty Jenkins’ passion for this project is evident in every frame, and Wonder Woman is a perfect example of what it looks like when material and filmmaker are an exact match. The action scenes are stunning and fresh, with director Jenkins earning high marks for originality and for proving women are just as capable as men when it comes to staging kick-ass fight sequences.
The CG’s smoothly blended in, but it’s the sheer physicality of Gal Gadot in the lead (as well as the work of her stunt double) that elevates the spectacular sequences. Gadot has said training for this role was more difficult than her training in the Israeli army, and the extensive practice sessions paid off in the film’s heart-pounding fight scenes. Gal Gadot initially seemed an unlikely choice to portray the Amazon Princess, however any lingering doubts are cast aside after watching her transform into the titular character in Wonder Woman’s big solo film.
Director Jenkins selected a stellar supporting cast to share the screen with Gal Gadot, led by Chris Pine playing the first man Diana’s ever encountered. Pine and Gadot have amazing chemistry and alternate playing straight man in between badass fight scenes and quieter moments of character development. Pine and Gadot play well off each other, with Pine’s Steve Trevor attempting to teach this badass Amazon princess how to handle life in the real world. They’re joined in their quest to take down General Ludendorff by a ragtag crew made up of con artist Sameer (Said Taghmaoui); Charlie (Ewen Bremner), a sharpshooter suffering from PTSD; and Eugene Brave Rock as Chief, a Native American scout who’s the first to embrace Diana’s mystical beliefs. Fargo’s David Thewlis has a pivotal role as the enigmatic Sir Patrick, with Thewlis playing a character quite different from anything he’s done over his 30+ year career.
A healthy dose of humor, fantastic action sequences, snappy writing, and a lot of heart combine to create a Wonder Woman movie audiences of all ages and both sexes can get into and be entertained watching. More importantly for the under-served audience of girls and young women, Wonder Woman is a comic book-inspired movie worthy of embracing for its important messages of love, honor, and female empowerment.
Directed By: Patty Jenkins
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content
Running Time: 141 minutes
Release Date: June 2, 2017