The most anticipated film for me this year has been Wonder Woman and my anticipation was met with giddy excitement when I saw it recently. The film was fabulous consisting of more than just the action CGI feasts, like those of the Marvel Universe, although at least those provide entertainment, unlike the dark mess of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which I desperately wanted to love.
This film has pathos, acting and a storyline to boot. Most impressive is Gal Gadot as the heroine Wonder Women. With just a few films under her belt, notably a role in a few of the Fast and Furious films, Gadot balances a genuine vulnerability in her Diana against the power (spoiler alert) she yields as a god forged to defeat Ares.
As an origin story we are introduced to Diana as a child on the beautiful world of Themyscira, forged by Zeus as his final act after the heavenly battle that saw God of War Ares turn against Mount Olympus and kill all the other Greek Gods. The mystical Themyscira is protected by an all-woman Amazon troop and is intended as Earth’s last defence against Ares’ possible return.
Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen from Gladiator) rules over the immortal Amazons who are all battle ready warriors. However Hippolyta will not allow her daughter Diana (played by Lilly Aspell, Emily Care and then Gadot as the adult Diana) to train as a warrior. Hippolyta’s sister Antiope (Robin Wright, House of Cards) trains the princess in secret. After American spy Steve Taylor (played by the always handsome Chris Pine of Star Trek fame) accidentally leads German’s to this haven disaster ensues. Diana believes she must leave with Taylor to seek out and destroy Ares once and for all. So off the two go, Diana leaving her magical homeland in search of bringing peace to all.
Gadot is brilliant as the out of place warrior in 1918’s London, naive to it’s politics and fashion. My favourite scene in this film comes when Diana, Taylor and his band of misfit soldiers find themselves on the Western Front lines. It’s here that Diana is confronted with the stark, cruel realities of war. Gadot’s portrayal as Diana is at its best here. The genuine pathos seeps through and you, the viewer, can feel her emotion bellowing from within and grabbing hold of her, and consequently you. Diana realises that humanity is its own worst enemy in war. The scene builds to the first introduction of Wonder Woman as she emerges from the Western Front trenches to take back the enemy line.
Directed by Patty Jenkins the film reaches its epic climax with Diana learning who she really is and what her ultimate purpose is in life. Jenkins has built a strong plausible chemistry by this stage between Taylor and Diana. The chemistry allows for the ending to be real rather than typical melodrama that these films can sometimes get bogged down in. Yes it’s a make love, not war message but in the hands of Jenkins it totally works. This even balance of sentimentality and wit has pleased Wonder Woman audiences across the Globe. Box office figures at last count were well past $500M worldwide ($244M U.S.). With the Justice League film set for release later this year, let’s hope Warner Bros. have got it together in their quest to bring our favourite DC super heroes and heroines to life.