Film Reviews

Wonder Woman: Is it really so wonderful?

If anyone out there still hasn’t seen Wonder Woman, I have some words of advice: go watch it. Coming from someone who has never seen a DC-related TV-series or film, Wonder Woman is amazing, and rivals plenty of its Marvel counterparts. With a cast based heavily around strong female leads – it is the first female-dominant superhero movie since Elektra (2005) – amazing representation, and plenty of sassy comebacks, it ticks almost every box there is.

Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman is perhaps one of the best reasons to go see it. She is, quite literally, an amazing human – and not just because she’s exceptionally attractive. She served for two years in the Israeli Defence Forces, went through swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training for the role, and was in fact five months pregnant for some of the film’s shooting!

She is a serious badass both on and off screen, and what she brings to the role of Diana is astounding. I’d be surprised if you didn’t feel tears welling up at some point during the film simply from how amazingly she acts out particular scenes.

One thing I liked about the film was that the romance wasn’t forced, and it also contributed something to the plot. Some superhero films incorporate love interest with little purpose other than to just big-up how amazing the superhero is (looking at you, Thor), but in Wonder Woman the romance genuinely had a place in the story – not that it didn’t make the ending any more heart-wrenching though.

Gadot and Pine (Steve Trevor) work incredibly well together, and their portrayal of a friendship blossoming into romance is incredibly believable. They play off one another well, and are responsible for many of the lighter and funny moments throughout the film.

“Films can be just as good without a western-centric cast”

Wonder Woman also deserves mention for its sheer representation through its cast. Many superhero movies have a habit of whitewashing the entire film (though admittedly they are slowly improving), but Wonder Woman, despite being set in early 20th century mid-war Europe, managed to include an amazingly varied cast.

Made up of Israeli, second-generation Moroccan, Native American and Danish actors, Wonder Woman has raised the benchmark, and made it clear that films can be just as good without a western-centric cast.

The filming and cinematography of Wonder Woman also deserves a mention; I was amazed at how brilliantly the film managed to capture the horrors of WWI, despite spending only a few seconds here and there depicting it. There were obviously some artistic liberties taken with the events that transpire in the film, but otherwise it reflects the War in a way that other films can struggle to.

As with every film, however, there were some slightly questionable decisions made, particularly regarding costume. I’m all for showing women as strong and formidable enemies, but when Diana goes storming into no-man’s land wearing what is essentially a leotard and boots, it becomes a little unbelievable.

She also manages to spend most of the movie in 4-inch wedge heels. HOW?! I think most girls will agree that it’s difficult to spend a whole day in heels that high, never mind sprinting through mud and fighting Germans. This is all without mentioning Ares’ armour. He looks like he’s been dragged straight out of Dark Souls and just plonked in WWI Belgium; it’s a tad strange.

Besides some of the design decisions, the only other complaint is about some of the editing decisions made. There are some strange jump-cuts throughout, the most memorable being an odd transition where Diana reaches back for her sword, then remembers she has left it in the chest of her previous victim. The scene changes to the conflict elsewhere, the suddenly jumps back to Diana, shown from the exact same angle, but now with sword. It’s obvious she’s just gone to retrieve it, but it was a slightly baffling transition. It wouldn’t have been hard to add in an extra second showing her retrieval.

“A welcome dose of female-empowerment”

These are all minor details, though, and do not detract from the fact that the film is, in short, stupendous. It’s an action-packed, fast-paced movie that provides everything required for a superhero film, and then some. With a welcome dose of female-empowerment and humour, it rivals the other big superhero movies of recent years. Before watching, I had little to no interest in watching any more DC films, but now I am genuinely excited for Justice League later this year.


Ellen Smithies

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Image Courtesy of Warner Bros and DC Comics.

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