REVIEW: Wonder Woman
Get the popcorn ready...
We may have moved offices, but that won’t stop XS Manchester delivering on all the goods we have to offer. This week in film is WONDER WOMAN.
REVIEW WONDER WOMAN (Dir. Patty Jenkins, Cert 12A, 141 mins) ̣̣̣̣
Unless you’ve just woken up from a coma or have been living under an actual rock formation for the last few years, you’ll know that the latest instalment in the DC Extended Universe has just been released, and that it was the first female-led superhero film in the last 12 years, and also the first to have been directed by a woman. It is also expected to have the biggest opening weekend for a film directed by a woman… ever. Which is great, all of this. Except, the real victory will be when these things aren’t news. When they happen more than once every 12 years. Everyone involved is giving themselves a pat on the back, as they should, but let’s hope it comes as a slap in the face to all of the inherently misogynistic producers currently in the studio system that people other than whitemales can make good art that puts bums on seats. I’m really glad it has happened, but I’ll be much happier when it isn’t news that an actual living, breathing female is directing a film. It’s 2017, let’s get with the times folks. Okay, rant over. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty…
First things first, this is by and large the best thing to have been produced in the current DCEU by approximately a million miles. This picture makes Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman look like they were directed by a 1st year college student from Hull. This is the one that will dampen the nay-sayers, of DC and of female led superhero films. What director Patty Jenkins has managed to create is a often wonderful, grounded, cynicism-free, hopeful and inspiring film about courage and ethics. That’s it. It sounds as though that should be obvious from one of these films, but in this current climate - it really isn’t. Through the wonderful performance from Gal Gadot we finally have a hero to root for in the DC Universe.
Structured through a framing device of Diana Princa AKA Wonder Woman AKA another hero who’s name won’t be mentioned in the film, recounting her past as she receives an old picture from Bruce Wayne whilst working in the Louvre (coolest alter-ego occupation? Yes), WONDER WOMAN takes us on an origin story that spans from childhood years on a rather hard to pronounce location, through to her descent into Earth, and subsequent trials and tribulations during WWI with her mankind tour guide that is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). I often find it to be uncomfortable when fictional characters are thrust into harrowing real life atrocities (such as Magneto destroying Auschwitz in X-Men:Apocalypse) but somehow this doesn’t have that effect, as everything Diana stands for is the same basic principle as that of western civilisation. She fights for people, for the innocents, for what is right. It doesn’t feel tasteless, it actually ends up becoming incredibly reflective and introspective of the circumstance. Accompanied by a team of rag-tags with supporting cast including Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting), they venture deep into the front-line so that Diana can attempt to end the war with what she thinks will be a single act.
The film still suffers from the usual third-act-lull that comes with tent pole movies, the underdeveloped antagonist seemingly appears from nowhere with muddled intentions, thus creating large-scale pyrotechnic pornography for the audience to bare witness, before finally ending on a more poignant note. But, for a film with such focus on it’s production and the personnel involved, the actual plot content doesn’t go lightly on it’s approach towards feminism either, cleverly using the WWI era Britain as a perfect opposition to everything that Diana was raised upon and stands for, highlighting only further how ridiculous the whole debate of equal rights even is in the first place. This really is one of the better ones from this decade, and one that I’m sure will inspire plenty of young girls to reach higher, to show them that it’s not just for the boys, that they can be strong minded and strong willed. Which is what it’s all about in the end.