If you are someone who’d been awaiting that one DCEU film which was going to undo all the shambles we’d seen from Warner Bros. post Nolan’s Batman trilogy, look no further. This Gal Gadot standalone film delivers the goods, and in style. The central characters are well fleshed-out and their motives distinct (except, as usual, the anti-climactic villain!); there are a couple of amazingly executed set-pieces, the message on the (futile) essence of war delivered loud and clear; ultimately, the film is what one would call a game-changer for the DCEU.
As a viewer who constantly keeps track of the MCU and DCEU, shades of ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ were felt throughout. The story starts off at Themyscira, the home of the Amazon warriors, the landscape of which is pure eye-candy. Laden with lush green pastures and serene beaches, the kingdom is indeed a thing of beauty. Diana’s origin story is partially established, she learns of the battle of the Gods and acquires martial skills as she makes steady progress in becoming a young warrior-princess herself.
The going gets dark once Pine’s character (Capt. Steve Trevor) inevitably enters the scene. Determined to stop Ares (the God of War) who has presumably taken the form of German general Ludendorff, Diana agrees to assist Steve in his pursuit to end the war of all wars (WW I). The conversational exchanges between Diana and Steve are laced with enough humor and flamboyance for even the average viewer to let out a chuckle or two, lightening the tone to an extent all the while trying to remain consistent with the darker, more relevant theme of the film.
Predominantly a writer for television, scenarist Allan Heinberg does a marvellous job tying in the two universes with ease. Diana’s coming-of-age (from a warrior princess to a Goddess in its truest sense!) is presented in an engaging yet insightful manner (based on a story by Snyder and Fuchs). Patty Jenkins (who helmed Charlize Theron’s ‘Monster’) interestingly had to be the redeemer of the DCEU after BvS and Suicide Squad hit rock-bottom in terms of feedback, and she achieves what even the likes of Zack Snyder and David Ayer could not. She treats the material in hand with all earnestness, imparting the right amount of panache and cheer, as and when required (Snyder’s stylistic touches are felt throughout, but added in right measure!).
And Gadot..the word is WOW. She’s got ravishing looks, the physique of a warrior and brings to the forefront, the kind of innocent charm and confidence a superhero(ine) of her other-worldly universe is expected to exude. Her performance is indeed the film’s strong-point. Pine does a neat job playing the role of her human-foil. The antagonist character though, is slightly underwritten (there’s a twist that doesn’t quite hit the mark!). The opening set-piece at the beach in Themyscira and the one that takes place at No-Man’s-Land are exquisitely crafted. (P.S – I got goosebumps every time Hans Zimmer/Junkie XL’s WW theme started playing during set-pieces!). Rupert-Gregson Williams’ (Hacksaw Ridge, The Legend of Tarzan) compositions hold well for the constantly evolving Diana. Cinematographer Mathew Jensen (F4, Chronicle) smartly captures the enticing vistas of Amalfi Coast, Italy for the initial portions and employs appropriate color tones to denote the change-in-universe (a good portion of the film is shot in limited light!). Costume and Art departments have done remarkable work. Last but not the least, the visual effects (save for the climax sequence!) are splendid.
They say a film that doesn’t spoon-feed is more likely one that is bound to stay with the viewer for longer stretches. Wonder Woman, for sure, has set a benchmark for films in the DCEU and I sincerely wish ‘Justice League’ turns out to be a worthy follow-up. Kudos to Jenkins, Gadot and crew for hitting a home-run!
Watch the trailer here: