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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Sean Kelly

Review: Wonder Woman

The best known female superhero finally hits the big screen in Wonder Woman. Diana (Gal Gadot) is princess of the island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons. Diana's mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) forbids Diana to train to become a warrior, though she ends up practicing in secret with her Aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). One day, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a First World War pilot, crashes near the island. Trevor tells the Amazons about the great war and a plan by German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) to unleash a deadly gas developed by mad scientist Doctor Isabel Maru, aka Dr Poison (Elena Anaya). Diana believes that the God of War Ares is behind this plan and she accompanies Chris to fulfill her destiny to face him.

It was way back in 1979 when Superman hit the big screen for the first time. A decade later, it was Batman's turn to receive a major film adaptation. Sadly we had to wait nearly three more decades until the trifecta was complete and we finally have a big screen adaptation of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman is arguably the most famous female superhero and has always been one of DC comics' flagship characters. However, her road to the big screen has been a rocky one to say the least. While some fondly remember the 1975-1979 TV series starring Lynda Carter, there were very few attempts over the years to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. In fact, the last attempt at a live action Wonder Woman was a 2011 TV series starring Adrianne Palicki, which never made it past the pilot. Things started to change when Israeli actress Gal Gadot was cast to appear as Wonder Woman in last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with her appearance arguably being one of the highlights of that film. Gadot returns in this stand alone Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), which detail Wonder Woman's origins as a Amazonian princess, who goes on a mission with a squad of fighters during the First World War.

At a running time of 141 minutes, Wonder Woman takes its time telling the story of Diana Prince, which includes a lengthy first act showing her life on Themyscira. When she comes across Steve Trevor, the first man she has ever seen, it results in extreme curiosity and a reserve objectification of sorts. In fact, despite her somewhat revealing battle armor, this Wonder Woman can definitely be considered a feminist hero. There isn't one moment in the film where Diana needs saving by a man and there is even a great scene that has Diana stating that she doesn't even need men for pleasure.

The film extends its diversity with the multi-racial team that Steve puts together for the mission, which includes Arab master of disguise Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), PTSD suffering Scottish sniper Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Native American guide Chief (Eugene Brave Rock). Rounding out the cast of the film is Lucy Davis as Steve's quirky secretary Etta Candy and David Thewlis as Steve's superior Sir Patrick Morgan.

Similar to what was done in Captain America: The First Avenger, Wonder Woman is a film that combines superhero action in the context of a war film. The film's first major action scene, which sees Diana walking solo into the battlefield to fight the German army, comes across as a really empowering moment. While the film does eventually feature the climatic superhero vs supervillain fight with big explosions, it is quite obvious that Wonder Woman is trying very hard to subvert the cliches of the genre, especially when it comes to the depiction of women. I'm also happy that the film reuses Han Zimmer's rocking theme from Batman v Superman, despite this film featuring a different composer.

The question that remains is whether the Wonder Woman film is worth the long wait that it took to reach the big screen. My answer is that Wonder Woman is the feminist superhero film that people have been waiting for and so much more. If only the other DC films were the same.

8 / 10 stars
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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).