Movie review – Wonder Woman
IMAGE COURTESY MARVEL STUDIOS
Rated: G (PG-13)
Parental Guidance: Moderate to heavy graphic violence, disturbing images, not recommended for young children
Playing at: Cineplex Kirkland, Mega-Plex Spheretech 14, Des sources 10, Cineplex Odeon Carrefour Dorion (in French), Cinema 7 Valleyfield (in French); all listings subject to change.
Wonder Woman is arguably the most expected movie of the summer. The film spent a considerable amount of time in development hell with fans left wanting.
Early in pre-production, fan furor erupted following the casting of former model Gal Gadot as the titular character. In a nutshell, diehard Wonder Woman comic book fans felt that Gadot lacked the muscles to play a convincing WW. However, filmgoers were given a sneak preview of Gadot’s WW in 2016’s Batman v Superman where she proved she had the chops to play a WW as impressive as her comic book counterpart. She also pretty much saved Batman v Superman from total mediocrity.
While most filmmakers attempt to reinvent or bring something new to the superhero genre, director Patty Jenkins decided to walk Wonder Woman down a very well-trodden superhero path. Wonder Woman lacks the Avengers’ hyped-up CGI fights; Guardians of the Galaxy’s irreverent humour; Deadpool’s extreme violence, rated-R language, and fourth-wall breaking humour; and Logan’s grit. Wonder Woman is a throwback to much earlier superhero movie times. It’s like watching the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve. And that’s a good thing.
The World War II setting does contribute significantly to giving the movie a feeling of ‘old world’ nostalgia, but Jenkins clearly wanted to steer clear of anything that has made superhero movies popular of late. The movie is over two hours long, and Jenkins takes her sweet time establishing the setting. Regrettably, here once again, viewers have to sit through another origin story, which many feel has become the plague of superhero movies. As far as Wonder Woman is concerned, not many filmgoers will have read the comics, so an origin is not such a bad idea, even though a significant amount of screen time is devoted to telling WW’s backstory.
On the plus side, we get one of Connie Nielsen’s best performances since Gladiator in her role as Queen Hippolyta, and solid acting by an almost unrecognizable Robin Wright (of Princess Bride fame) as Antiope, a fellow Amazon who trains Wonder Woman, a role that is a total departure from Wright’s usual career forays.
The rest of the supporting cast also shines. The Three Stooges-like portrayals by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock as Wonder Woman’s war buddies are particularly endearing and relatable and they help carry the story forward in some of the movie’s moments that drag on.
It is refreshing to see a superhero movie where the camera does not dwell on the feminine assets of the titular character. After one too many close-ups of Scarlett Johansson’s behind in the Avengers movies, it’s funny to see Jenkins inflict the same pain on Chris Pine, a male character, for a change. Despite the slew of superhero movies that have been coming out over the past few years, few – if any – have shown strong leading female role models. Having a woman direct a superhero movie made a mark, not only on Wonder Woman, but hopefully on the genre as a whole.
So, Wonder Woman may not innovate in the same way that Deadpool and Logan have, but it contributes to the genre much more significantly by featuring a strong, relatable lead female character and role model.
We will next see Gadot’s Wonder Woman in Justice League later on this year, and I for one cannot wait.