Thursday, 1 June 2017

Wonder Woman (2017)

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Amazon Prime

Director: Patty Jenkins
Running Time: 141 Minutes
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock

There's one moment in this film which many have already talked about, and many will discuss, and for good reason. Our heroine has one thing on her mind, saving the innocents of a nearby village the war has unfortunately touched, so walks out of the trenches and into the dangerous warzone, deflecting bullets which come her way. After accumulating to the world outside her home, being told what she should and should not do, this sight of our heroine enacting what she believes to be the right course of action is wonderfully portrayed.  A powerful moment that's sure to rouse and inspire audiences, showing to do what one believes is right, no matter what others may tell you. It's a moment that will surely go down as iconic, encapsulating all which the film gets right.

In the early 20th century, Amazon princess Diana (Gal Gadot) lives a blissful life on Themyscira, an island populated only by women. US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) washes ashore one day, the first man Diana has ever met, and tells the residents about the ongoing events of World War I. Believing it to be the work of Ares, God of War, Diana leaves her home for London, looking to bring an end to the war.

14 years after her directorial debut, with 2003's outstanding Monster, it's wonderful to see Patty Jenkins making another film, and feels like a wonderful choice to take the reins. She utilises a wonderful array of bright colours for the scenes on Themyscira, a great contrast to when she first arrives in the darkened looking London, as the outside world doesn't live up to what she expected. The action scenes are worth mentioning, as they make for an exciting watch. The slow motion never threatens to get on ones nerves, while Diana's arsenal are all well integrated.

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In bringing to the screen the last member of DC's Trinity, it would take an actor of terrific quality to perfectly encapsulate why Diana Prince has remained so popular since her 1941 debut. Luckily, after a scene stealing appearance in last year's Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot is more than up to the task. She perfectly gets across the optimism and noble nature of Diana, as she leaves the idyllic island of Themyscira, and navigates through a world not as clear cut and virtuous as she wishes it to be. Gadot perfectly sells every moment, and delivers a take on the character which deserves to be remembered as fondly as other casting decisions of the genre.

Acting opposite Gadot, Chris Pine delivers the same affable charm which made his Captain Kirk such a joy. The two share such faultless chemistry, as her perseverance and hopefulness inspires his character more and more. The pairing makes for one of the better developed and emotionally engaging romances seen in a superhero film. Rounding out their team are Ewen Bremner, as a sharpshooter dealing with PTSD, Saïd Taghmaoui as a smooth talking secret agent, and Eugene Brave Rock, a smuggler willing to help out his friends. This trio each have a decent amount of characterization, allowing audiences to get to know them, and care for their fates.

After the comedy vacuum that's been the DCEU so far, it's a relief to say there's genuinely funny moments within this film. Gadot's fish out of water shtick plays like a more innocent, less brash version of what Chris Hemsworth hilariously achieved in 2011's Thor, with just as funny an outcome. The best example is one scene, where Diana gets her first taste of ice cream. It's a small moment, but her line delivery is pitch perfect, making this Amazonian Princess eating an iced treat such a joyous moment. A special mention is deserved to Lucy Davis, whose character of Etta Candy lights up the screen whenever she makes an appearance.

On the antagonistic side of things, Danny Huston is clearly relishing his role, enjoying the opportunity to play the iron-fisted general of the German army. Elena Anaya gives a layered performance as Doctor Poison, a chemist who specialises in concocting gaseous poisons. The villains work pretty well in regards to Diana's story, helping her to see the dark reality about humanity, how easy it is to fall victim to ones darker instincts, and how one should aspire to overcome these. It's here where the films true strength lies, in delivering something inspiring and hopeful within such a bleak landscape. It's these elements which make up the heart and soul of this film, and tell us exactly what we need to be told in this day and age.

Granted, there are some individual problems with the finale. One character gets a bit too eager with delivering monologues, while some scenes resemble a video game a bit too much, and a few loose ends could've been tied up a bit better. But in all honesty, when the rest of the film has been delivered so incredibly, and remains an utter joy to be in the company of, these feel like the slightest of nitpicks. 

It may have taken over 75 years for the character to get a feature length film, but rest assured, Wonder Woman is more than worth the wait. A clearly defined and spirited vision that's wonderfully brought to life, Patty Jenkins' film is many things. A beacon of hope that's ready to inspire, a charming romance between charismatic leads, and they all add up to a film worthy of the eponymous hero.

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