Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ firmly embraces the superhero genre

Marcus Goh
·Contributor
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 141 minutes (~2.25 hours)

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

“Wonder Woman” is a superhero drama that’s the fourth in the DC Extended Universe.

The film shows how the titular Wonder Woman, a princess from an island of female warriors, came to the human world during World War I, and her struggles with humanity.

“Wonder Woman” is directed by Patty Jenkins, with a story and screenplay by Allan Heinberg. Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs are also credited for the story. It stars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman/Diana Prince), Chris Pine (Steve Trevor), Robin Wright (General Antiope), Danny Huston (General Erich Ludendorff), David Thewlis (Sir Patrick Morgan), Connie Nielsen (Queen Hippolyta), Elena Anaya (Doctor Poison/Maru), Lucy Davis (Etta Candy), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer), Ewen Brenner (Charlie), and Eugene Brave Rock (Chief). It is rated PG.

Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

“Wonder Woman” harks back to the 1978 “Superman” movie in terms of story and tone. That sense of freshness and innocence, in a world where superheroes truly relish superheroes, is what makes “Wonder Woman” the best film in the DC Extended Universe thus far.

There’s none of that artificial angst or manufactured brooding which plagued previous DC Extended Universe films, and this entry brings hope that future DC films will finally embrace the superhero genre, rather than trying to bury it under a carpet.

No mention of the name “Wonder Woman”, though.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Highlights

Coming-of-age story

Like the 1978 “Superman” movie, a good portion of the film is dedicated to showing what Wonder Woman was like growing up. It shows us the growth of a young, idealistic woman, and what happens when those ideals meet the crushing cruelty of the real world. Wonder Woman’s struggle is one that we can all identify with, even if we don’t wield bulletproof bracelets or golden lassos. And that’s probably the greatest strength of “Wonder Woman” — a protagonist that we can all relate to and empathise with.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman’s naivety and strength

The Wonder Woman that we see in “Wonder Woman” is a completely different character than the one we see in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Here, we see a naive (but not foolish) woman who is also confident and powerful.

It’s not easy to juggle these competing characteristics, but Gal Gadot does a masterful job of imbuing her formidability with a sense of vulnerability, giving us a well-rounded character we can all get behind.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Firm focus on the plot

Unlike previous DC Extended Universe films, which were basically half-Batman movies or setups for even larger movies, “Wonder Woman” doesn’t waver from its focus on its title character. There’s a framing story which, of course, is meant to lead in to future films. But for the most part, this is all about the story of Wonder Woman, with no other superhero (or mention thereof) to steal the spotlight from her.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Fun moments and characters

Wonder Woman doesn’t brood. Period. She may have moments of doubt or shed tears at her losses, but she quickly gets over it and shows us the Wonder Woman that we’ve all come to anticipate and love.

She doesn’t just relish her role as a superhero, but also the experience of entering the world of humans. None of the characters take themselves too seriously, which allows us to enjoy their performances without feeling like we’re forced to acknowledge their importance.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Letdowns

Some awkward CGI action scenes

Strangely, some fight sequences are clearly created with CGI, which you can tell thanks to the unnatural movements of the characters. While melee battles are always enjoyable to watch, they shouldn’t be there just for the sake of adding some action. These fight scenes can get awkward, and take us out of our immersion into the movie.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

“Wonder Woman” firmly embraces the superhero genre.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this more than once? If you liked the 1978 “Superman” movie, yes.

Score: 4.7/5

“Wonder Woman” opens in cinemas:
– 31 May, 2017 (Singapore)
– 1 June, 2017 (Malaysia)

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) in “Wonder Woman”. (Warner Bros Pictures)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, Crimewatch, and Point of Entry. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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