George Clark’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wonder Woman is a decent film, it's good, but it's certainly far from the masterpiece some think it is. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Lucy Davis and David Thewlis, the story follows Diana, princess of the Amazons, as she ventures off her island paradise in search of a looming threat that was foretold in mythology.
I've never been a lover of Wonder Woman, I can certainly understand why many people do but for me, it's always been a film that's somewhat underwhelmed me. The first and second act do a great job at introducing us to the world and characters but it's the third act that many, including myself, despise. The fact that Wonder Woman means a lot to people comes down to its female empowerment and general historic “achievement” it was at the time. The DCEU hit the nail on the head and produced the first female led superhero blockbuster which forced Marvel to follow suit with Captain Marvel and the upcoming Black Widow and was the first major studio superhero film directed by a woman. There's no doubt this means a lot to many people, it was a long time coming, and for that it does deserve as much respect as the first and second act ensures. However, making Aries the main villain in the third act was a choice, I believe, would have been best left to the second film. It isn't that he's necessarily a weak villain, but the Greek mythology that intrigued me so much within, could have done with more time to develop and thus would have worked at drawing me further into the mythology behind it.
Setting the film during the first World War allows it to feel rather distant from the other DCEU entries. Up till this point in time, the DCEU was in shambles. Having just came off the disastrous Batman VS Superman, the franchise was in disarray and needed saving and for many people, that came in the form of the first Wonder Woman. Like her fellow star-spangled superhuman Captain America, Wonder Woman has always been closely associated with World War II, having her comic debut in 1941. So, when it was first announced that the first Wonder Woman would be set during World War I, I was rather sceptical having read only a few of the earlier original comics, unsure where they'd take the story. Yet, it worked an absolute treat for the film. World War I has largely gone unromanticised in mainstream media with the focus instead shifting to the Nazi controlled World War II, this means this period in time feels fresh, it isn't overplayed or stale, no, instead it's intriguing and worked at crafting a world you want to see more of.
“They came to the conclusion that men are essential for procreation, but when it comes to pleasure... unnecessary.”- Diana
Gal Gadot gives arguably one of the best performances in the DCEU as Diana Prince, yes she can be wooden at times but she portrays the figure brilliantly. She inhabits the character incredibly well, allowing scenes like the outstanding No Man's Land one to not only feel profound, but also to look absolutely fantastic upon every rewatch. Jenkins knows that fans aren't here to see over convoluted storylines or plot tangents, she knows that the reason many fans are here is to watch Wonder Woman. She throws in various scenes that humanises her despite her "god" like status, she shows mercy to her opponents and is intrigued by the world outside of her island to the point these moments make us root for her more. Like I previously mentioned, despite not liking the third act, I admire how simple it is. It wasn't the city destroying spectacle that Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Batman VS Superman was, no instead it focused in on a wider space and let both Diana and Aries conclude the film on a more personal battle, that whilst pitting two immortal beings against each other, still managed to feel somewhat plausible for the wider story.
Going into Wonder Woman for the first time in what felt like an eternity, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it compared to what I once thought. The first two acts are genuinely great and despite falling off in the third, still allows for good experience with the entire film. The cast, Gal Gadot and Chris Pine especially, are fantastic with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor being two of the best characters in the DCEU that are helped along by two fantastic performances from Gadot and Pine, and at the end of the day, Patty Jenkins’ direction was great, despite the studio’s interference with the final act. Wonder Woman may not be as endlessly rewatchable as many other superhero movies, but it certainly is better than I remember and one of the best DCEU entries we’ve gotten so far. Bring on WW84!
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