Wonder Woman (2017)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston
Synopsis: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content)
Release Date: June 2, 2017
The DC canon has had a tough time (to say the least) the last several years trying to compete with Marvel in terms of producing critically successful superhero films. With the exception of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, DC-based comic book films have largely been panned by critics for their mind-numbing action sequences, convoluted plots, and joyless entertainment value. It was only a matter of time before one finally came around that fixed these issues, or at least most of them.
Enter Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman tells the origin story of Diana Prince, a woman born and raised on the island of Themyscira who, after rescuing a pilot (Chris Pine), decides to leave her home to fight the war (World War I) raging in the outside world. And while you may at this point be tired of superhero origin stories (you've had Batman, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Spiderman, Hulk, Superman, etc.) there is a lot to be gleaned from this origin story.
Wonder Woman is a film that goes beyond simply telling an origin story. No, it doesn't reach the heights of Nolan's Batman Begins (2005), but it does share some of the same theology and ideas of his film. In the same way that Batman Begins investigated the corruptness of humanity (in the form of Gotham City), Wonder Woman investigates the sinful nature of humanity, which is something that is all too relevant for our present day where wars are raging in the Middle East and terror attacks in the forms of shootings and suicide bombings are an everyday occurrence. Screenwriter Allan Heinberg even subtly implements Christian themes into the film by having Diana (Gal Gadot) question why she should save such a corrupt human race. The conclusion she eventually comes to is love--that though we don't deserve it, she has compassion on this race and saves it. For this reason, she serves as a Christ-like figure throughout the film, and it works beautifully as a plot device and a metaphor for the Bible's story of salvation.
Besides its commentary on humanity's sinful nature and the subtle Christian themes, Wonder Woman succeeds because of its toned-down action sequences. The action is much more contained and grounded than previous DC entries like Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman (2016) or Suicide Squad (2016). Buildings aren't getting leveled and mass destruction isn't happening. Instead, the action is up close and personal as Diana fights German soldiers. The only time the film starts divulging into the loud, hard-to-follow, CGI-laden action sequences is the final battle, and even that action sequence is broken up into quieter moments to give audiences a chance to breathe.
Wonder Woman also excels due to its performances and chemistry amongst its cast, particularly between Diana and Steve (Chris Pine). Their on-screen chemistry also gives way to several humorous moments that highlight Diana's initial naiveness about the male gender and how fashion and dressing operates. Gal Gadot gives a soulful performance as a strong, powerful, determined, and unwavering heroine that will certainly give confidence to aspiring young women.
The unsung hero of Wonder Woman is Rupert Gregson-Williams, who delivers a beautiful, soaring score to the film that perfectly embodies and channels the character of Wonder Woman. The music will almost certainly give you chills throughout several parts of the film, particularly during the hailed "No Man's Land" action sequence. Rupert's previous credits include Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016), The Crown TV series, and several Adam Sandler vehicle comedies. I would go as far to say that an Oscar nomination could be coming his way for his work on the film.
Wonder Woman succeeds due to its desire to be more than just an origin story--it critiques the current broken world we live in, all the while delivering small-scale yet entertaining action sequences, a bold and inspiring performance from Gal Gadot, and a graceful score from Rupert Gregson-Williams. If DC can follow the example set by Wonder Woman, it should be back on the road to success.