With Suicide Squad being unanimously panned by critics and Batman v Superman filled with flaws, it’s worth asking why DC has been doing it all wrong one movie after another. What’s really the missing ingredient to cook up a cure for DC’s envy to Marvel?
As it turns out, DC has found the cure in Wonder Woman. This time, Zack Snyder stepped aside, bringing along with him his cynical Snyderian signature, and let director Patty Jenkins take over. A move so strategic, it’s giving Marvel a run for its money.
In a way of saying, watching Wonder Woman feels like watching a Marvel movie, and it’s without a doubt the biggest compliment you can pay to the said DC film. Compelling story: check. Great humour: check. Jaw-dropping action sequence: check. To date, it’s the best DC comic adaptation to ever grace our screens!
Going Back to Square One
Director Patty Jenkins has gone back to square one, using the century-old photograph we’ve seen in a previous DC movie as the jumping pad to the story line.
We first meet Diana (Gal Gadot) in a present-day scene at the Louvre, receiving a package from Bruce Wayne. In it is a black and white photograph of her along with Steve and his henchmen. The movie then takes us back in time to Eden-like Themyscira, legendary home to the all-female tribe of Amazons, ruled by the Amazon Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). A young Diana is told by her queen mother about how she was sculpted out of clay and then had the god Zeus breathe life into her.
Little Diana watches in fascination as her mother’s badass sister Antiope (Robin Wright) teaches the island’s young warriors in the art of kicking butt. It’s obvious that she, too, wants to join in but her overprotective mother forbids her. To her mother’s disappointment, Diana secretly trains with Antiope, until she becomes the most powerful in the island, beating Antiope in a friendly match.
All is well in this estrogen-filled paradise until a Nazi fighter jet hurls down from the skies, bearing in it the 20th century American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Diana then launches herself into the deep blue sea just in time to grab a hold of Steve. Diana, who has never seen a man before, curiously examines her newfound friend, eventually asking if he is indeed a typical example of his kind.
However, Steve brought along with him World War I. He tells the Queen about a raging war that will end all wars. Diana believes that Ares (David Thewlis), the god of war and evil son of Zeus, is responsible for such atrocities. For Diana, the only way to stop this war is to kill Ares. With hardened resolve to save the world, Diana goes with Steve to London, where she navigates man’s world with such wide-eyed curiosity and elation. There she meets Steve’s oddball colleagues who will fight fiercely alongside them to thwart General Ludendorff’s (Danny Huston) plan of releasing a deadly weapon capable of mass destruction.
Accentuating Diana’s Feminine Traits
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince of Themyscira is a “piece of art” as Sameer cheerfully says and “as magnificent” as General Ludendorff bitterly puts it. She shines enough to make you fall in love with her Wonder Woman. Physically bold and commanding, Gadot carried the film even in its messiest parts, most notably the bombastic action sequence in the third act.
The Israeli actress was able to hold her own with much passion and badassery (if there’s a word like that), whether she’s putting her wit and charm into play with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor or storming fearlessly towards the enemy lines.
Her naivety is endearing and a source of jest, as often seen in her arrival and short stay in London, whereupon she straightforward called the city hideous and loudly wondered how 20th century British women can possibly fight in those fabric-heavy frocks. She’s even more interested in Steve’s wristwatch than she is in his other “equipment”. But one can’t discount her knowledge of the outside world as she has read volumes about the pleasures of the flesh.
Diana’s secret weapon isn’t her Lasso of Truth or her swordplay using the God Killer. It is, in fact, her passion and empathy towards humans. Her cause to end all wars only shows how her character is someone we should care about, unlike her self-serving counterparts over at Marvel.
Breathtaking Action Sequence
Wonder Woman is a visual spectacle with its epic action sequences, displaying the titular character’s strength, speed, and agility that go perfectly well with her slender frame- a simple distinction from the other bulky superheroes of her league. The No Man’s Land scene is truly a sight to behold and perhaps the greatest sequence I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. Slow-motion is added into the action sequences, but it was put there in a way that we can tolerate, not only because Gal Gadot is an eye-candy, but also because such scenes are augmented by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s musical scores, further elevating the movie a tier higher than its predecessors.
Wonder Woman also has its fair share of flaws. The movie is considerably overlong at 2 hours and 20 minutes. Its CGI isn’t always as flawless as DC would want us to think. But there are other elements in the film that overshadow that aspect when brought together.
The final fight between Diana and Ares seems to be overwrought with CGI and it felt like too much to handle compared to the 90 minutes of fun and breathtaking action scenes that preceded it.
Still, Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is leading the way towards the possibility of better DC films. “Looks like a job for Superman”, they say. In this case, all it took to lift DC out of the ditch turned out to be a woman. Zack Snyder should start taking notes especially that he’ll be back in the director’s chair with the upcoming Justice League.