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Monday
Jun052017

AN AMAZON CALLED WONDER // A FILM REVIEW OF "WONDER WOMAN"

BY MATEO MORENO

WONDER WOMAN is by FAR the best film in the DC Extended Universe. Which on its own isn't saying a lot, given their recent track record. The last truly great (hell, even good) film based on a DC property was 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. Unlike Marvel Studios, Christopher Nolan's films weren't connected to anything else. They were its own universe and once the third film ended, so did that universe. Cut to the following year when Warner Bros released the first film in the "DC Extended Universe," a new series of connected films to directly compete with its rival Marvel. Zak Snyder's Man of Steel was not only launching the new connected Universe, it was relaunching the Superman property. And the response was...not great. Both critics and audiences complained that the tone was off, that Superman was unnecessarily dark (He of all heroes is the opposite of that). The plot was muddy, dialogue was clunky, and felt far too long.

Snyder returned to the directing helm with 2016's Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the critical and audience response was still not good. Audience were jazzed going in, and not so enthused going out. But Warner Bros had an ace in their sleeve: Suicide Squad was next up and it was unlike anything else. It was about the bad guys! The trailers alone had audiences proclaiming "Finally! Here's the movie we've been waiting for." And later that year it was released and again was met with disappointment. The DC Extended Universe was in trouble. Where Marvel Studios took their time to build their franchise, Warner Bros seemed to rush everything into production, and their first three efforts showed. One small glimmer of hope in this cinematic mess was Gal Gadot's surprisingly rousing performance in BVS. She isn't in the film a lot, but when she arrives she energizes the film completely. Could her solo film, the first superhero film focusing on a female hero, be the one we've been waiting for? The trailer came out and again, it looked great. But we've been burned before. Finally, opening day and disappointment was again...hang on wait a sec. It's good? Scratch that, it's great? Critics AND audiences are loving it? Well hot damn. As they say, fourth times the charm.

Patty Jenkins (Monster, The Americans) steers the blockbuster into a crackling good time, with Gal Gadot returning as our Amazonian Princess. The story starts in present day, as Diana/Wonder Woman receives a package from Bruce Wayne. In the package is a picture of Diana as Wonder Woman, standing alongside a group of soldiers. From there we flash back and the film tells us of her Origin, from her childhood in Themyscira, a hidden land comprised of only women, Amazonian Woman. They are fierce fighters, training and preparing for the day that an attack might hit their shores. Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) wants a different life for her daughter. She doesn't want her to be a fighter. Quite the opposite is her Warrior Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), who begins to secretly train her and eventually Diana  becomes the fiercest warrior on the island, eventually even besting Antiope.

One day a WWI fighter plane comes barreling through the sky, somehow breaking through their invisible shield, protecting the island. The passenger is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) an American Spy on the run from German soldiers and from that moment on, everything changes. Diana learns of the war (World War I) and heads to our world with Steve to find Hades, God of War, and stop the endless amount of destruction causing this "great war." Besides her kick ass fighting skills, Diana also has two bulletproof bracelets & shield, a sword called "The Godkiller," and a glowing, golden lasso of truth. Alongside Trevor they head straight into the war, both with slightly different ideas of how to end the bloodshed.

Director Jenkins sets up the entire film masterfully, staging the battles scenes with unique flair. And each one has its own rhythm and style. The Amazonians versus the German army is a thrilling first fight scene, the claustrophobic "No Man's Land" is stunning (and arguably the best sequence in the film) all the way through the final battle, which does tend to lose a bit of originality but is still exciting nonetheless. Gadot is a powerhouse of a star. She shines and brims with excitement and fierce talent. Not only does she look the part but she can, oh what do you call it, oh yeah, she can ACT. Her comic timing is great too, especially in the "fish out of water" sequences when first arriving in London (a true great comic moment is when she tastes Ice Cream for the first time and tells the vendor, "You should be very proud."). Her chemistry with Pine is also electric, and Pine himself is a crackling good time. Besides the two of them the cast is filled with great supporting characters: Diana & Steve's back up army is made up of Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock and each have great small moments, never feeling wasted. Lucy Davis is a suffragist and secretary to Steve and showcases her finely tuned comic talents. The always great David Thewlis is, well great in a supporting role and chewing up delicious scenery are Danny Huston & Elena Anaya as the very vile baddies. WONDER WOMAN is finally the movie DC has been hoping for, and the Wonder Woman movie the world has been patiently waiting for.

 

MATEO'S GRADE:  A
Screenplay by Allan Heinberg Story by Zak Snyder, Allan Heinberg, & Jason Fuchs Based on a character created by William Moulton Marston Directed by Patty Jenkins Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya Now Playing in Theatres Everywhere

WONDER WOMAN OFFICIAL TRAILER

 

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