Like with Michael Keaton, Heath Ledger and Ben Affleck before, eyebrows were raised (including mine) when it was revealed Gal Gadot would be playing Wonder Woman in her on-screen film debut alongside fellow DC veterans Batman and Superman. Batman and Superman between them have more than five appearances from the 90’s till now. Batman himself eight movies by five different actors. All these while excluding their animated features where Wonder Woman has just one (more on this later).
Gal Gadot is a household name in Hollywood now but like most stories, it wasn’t as easy. Before she was cast as Wonder Woman she had a few roles under her belt and even when she was in the Fast Franchise her role was still little although it helped shoot her into the public eye. It’s amazing; by her own admission she missed out on so many roles and nearly gave up acting. She even passed up on the role of Faora in Man Of Steel. Surprising given that Antje Traue stole the movie with her performance. But some things are meant to be and Gal Gadot was perfect as Diana Prince.
I’m a big fan of Origin stories and in this respect Patty Jenkins worked her magic superbly. We learn about Themyscira, Hippolyta and all the amazons that reside on the Island. Jenkins does a brilliant job of introducing the characters, crafting their personas and giving them just about much to do in little time. The imagery and visuals of Themyscira is everything the trailer promised as is the scene where Gal Gadot dives into the river.
The girl who plays the youngest version of Diana is every bit as cute as she is zealous….maybe too over-zealous. She may think along with Robin Wright’s Anteope that Hippolyta is over-protective. That was one of my gripes with the movie. There was so much promotion for Wright and she got killed off so early in the movie in a clichè manner. Maybe it’s just my admiration for Wright’s work on HOC that’s talking but I felt not just her, but the Amazons could have done more in the movie.
The delivery in this movie was always spot on. Always. Whether it’s Chris Pine’s timely awkward replies to Diana’s disbelief at man’s world to David Thewlis’s monologue to Diana at the climax of the movie. It was perfect. The jokes were good and fun and more importantly lasted for the duration which they were supposed to and also didn’t feel forced.
How good is Chris Pine? When he was cast it was most likely going to be for this movie only given that he doesn’t have Diana’s ageless demigod genes and I didn’t mind because Chris Pine has been one of those guys that do just enough but not great. But now here I am asking Zeus for an impossible return in future DCEU installments.
Gal Gadot was amazing, strong, elegant, charming, there aren’t enough words to describe her. Like her character, she was strong-willed and eager to jump into battle to help the defenseless and at the same time inspiring her compatriots to join her in battle. There are actors in Superhero movies that are better at their alter-ego than at their hero counterparts or vice-versa. Gal handles both of the roles with excellence and a killer execution. There was a scene where she argued with Pine’s Steve Trevor on their different values. That there was raw emotion and exemplary strength that maybe off the top of my head only Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in Civil War last year and Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in Spiderman 2 (another person that blends both his characters perfectly) have shown in comic book movies.
That scene on “No man’s land” was epic but not without its issues. But Batman’s words about Diana being the best fighter in the Justice League looks to be proven right in this sequence. Like you saw in the trailer, the fight is every bit as gripping and technical as you’d come to expect from Wonder Woman. The only problem with it was a general problem I had with the film.
With a budget as big as Wonder Woman’s, you’d expect the CGI to be better looking and believable at least. I shouldn’t be noticing that Wonder Woman isn’t really smashing people through windows or isn’t really leaping over a tall fence. It was bad. Like The Flash TV show bad. But they have a smaller budget so they get a pass.
Another thing were the slow-motion sequences. Christ. It happened at the wrong moments. Then when they were supposed to look cool it had already been used so many times prior so it didn’t really feel as epic as it should have.
I’m a fan of Danny Huston. I liked him in X-Men: Origins (yes that one) and the best American Horror Story season. I was excited to see him and he delivered. It’s a shame he wasn’t the main villain though as that was Ares. Kudos to the marketing team for keeping it a secret. These days studios just can’t resist the urge. Also when the trailer came out earlier this year, you’d think he was definitely Ares when Wonder Woman confronted him in what looked to be the final battle telling him “your wrath on this world is over”. That statement there, is enough to throw any comic book fan or greek mythology enthusiast off.
Onto the big bad. David Thewlis is incredible. Just incredible. Prior to this I had only seen him in FX’s Fargo and he’s killing it there. Probably the only reason I’m still interested in this season. I saw that he was in the Harry Potter movies. Haven’t seen any of the Potter films. Come at me if you will. The manner in which he lurked in the background of the film the whole time only to reveal to Diana at the end whom he really was, was outstanding. Though his true intentions seemed complicated, he was menacing enough to keep me interested either as Sir Patrick Morgan or Ares. He’s such a gifted actor and for the first time in the movie Gal didn’t steal a scene. One flaw I have with Thewlis’ Ares is when in costume, I thought he would look different and maybe have a voice change or an imposing supernatural presence like you know a god of war should have; instead it looked like he was cos-playing Ares.
As for whether it’s the best DCEU movie. It isn’t. Man Of Steel reigns supreme. From Faora to the guilty pleasures of Michael Shannon’s Zod, Snyder’s visuals and action scenes. It was excellent.
Finally I mentioned Wonder Woman’s only other solo outing in 2009. It still remains my best Wonder Woman movie. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Patty Jenkin’s effort. She did a terrific job and it’s telling by it’s $200million plus opening weekend worldwide. Overall the first Wonder Woman film just feels better. Both movies have a great plot, exquisite dialogue and as they are both origins they were mostly free from tie-ins with other DC characters which is mostly the best route to take.
But if I were to rate Wonder Woman (2009) I’d give it a 9/10 and Wonder Woman (2017) a….
Wonder Rating – 7.6/10