Thursday, 15 June 2017

Film Review No. 25 Wonder Woman (12+)

Strong Points:
Some jaw-dropping action sequences and stunts
Great villain
Use of slow-mo
Side characters were all good...
Great costumes and make up
Interesting music choices, at ends with the time period

Weak Points:
Could be seen as more than slightly similar to Captain America: The First Avenger
Some plot conveniences
...If not developed enough
Can be difficult to invest in characters when the film is a flashback
Love plot line wasn't particularly needed, especially as this is a flashback

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
Going into this film I had high expectations, the public and critical reception were high, the film was being heralded as a platform from which all superheroes should base themselves on in terms of diversity and it is considered a throwback to a time when superhero films didn't have 80 different heroes and villains running about all over the place (don't get me wrong, I love the team up films but sometimes it's nice to have a mostly complete story). And while my expectations weren't blown out of the water, this is still an incredibly enjoyable film.

I'm going to start straight off with the fight scenes. We had three main fights in the film, all slightly different from each other: the beach scene with the Amazonian's versus the Germans landing party, Diana versus the German front lines and Diana versus Ares. All were absolutely thrilling, there are not many other ways to say it. The beach scene showed off some amazing stunts (if you've been training for war for hundreds of years without fighting, wouldn't you like to put in a couple of moves?), the No-Man's Land scene showed off Diana's powers incredibly well and the final fight scene used CGI to its fullest effect. I also never imagined we'd have a fight scene with David Thewlis, let alone with him as a villain (but we'll get to that later). Note: they didn't have a CGI army and giant light in the sky so it can be done DC!

The use of slow-mo in the film really helped us to firstly take in all the action but also appreciate it. We weren't suddenly flying around, flitting from character to character, bodies blowing up all over the place. Instead, we were able to take it all in and appreciate the craftsmanship, something I wish some of the other superhero films did more often. An example would be in Suicide Squad when Deadshot gets on top of the car and fires rounds of bullets into the enemies. Instead of following a couple of bullet's journey's into the enemy and seeing the reaction of the other people as they saw Deadshot do what he does best, we saw a back-angle shot of The Fresh Prince firing fake bullets into
fake enemies. It's just not as engrossing!

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are the stars of the show in Wonder Woman, with Gadot playing the titular character and Pine playing Captain Kirk in World War 1 and both are incredibly suited to the cast. Actually, along with the side characters and antagonists, this film may be the closest to a Marvel casting DC has ever had, in that they all fit their characters nicely. Back to the two stars though, and the easy chemistry between the two. I mean, we had a scene about Diana questioning if Steve Trevor (Chris Pine's character) was *ahem* average for man, but they made it seem a lot less awkward and a lot funnier than it should've been which is an achievement. I wasn't completely sure about the quick 'let's get a love interest in the story' section, only because, this being a flash back to WWI, Steve Trevor's probably dead by now, even if he managed to survive being blown to pieces, but then again Chris Pine's supposedly signed on for multiple films and this is a super hero film.

David Thewlis did incredibly well as Ares, as expected really, especially as I didn't guess he was going to be Ares to start with until it was revealed. The scene where Diana's talking to Ares, walks into the room and he turns out to not be there, but outside (or more precisely, only seen through the windows) was a great piece of film, adding a supernatural element to Wonder Woman I didn't think of (even though this is a superhero film). The other two villains - Ludendorff and Doctor Poison were all right, if a bit stereotypical, although props to the makeup department for Doctor Poison for succeeding in making me feel deeply uncomfortable if I stared at her ceramic mask for too long. The other side characters of Charlie, Sameer, Chief and Etta Candy were all great as well, after progressing from comic relief to well-defined characters of their own (especially Charlie and Sameer), it's just a shame we didn't get to see even more of them

Most films have some sort of plot conveniences to move the story along, things which seem slightly too convenient to be realistic, like being thrown across the room and the item you've been looking for being right there. Some films play with it, like in the case of 22 Jump Street where they turn round from the now abandoned building used in the first film to find a larger gang hideout on the opposite side of the street. Wonder Woman isn't one of these films (it doesn't try to 4th wall break so isn't very suited to pointing out tropes) but it definitely does have some plot conveniences. For example, after Diana kills Ludendorff she just happens to be next door to the factory making the chemical weapons as well as in the presence of The Doctor and Ares pops up to say hello as well. Nice to tie up all the loose ends at the same time, right? As I said, most films have plot conveniences but this film seemed to have some which just stood out a little bit too much.

Wonder Woman has some striking similarities to another WW superhero film by DC's rival company Marvel. I am of course talking about Captain America: The First Avenger and let's just go through the list: WW themed superhero film? Check. One of the main characters sacrificing themselves on a plane to save everyone else from a bomb? Check. The film told via flashback? Check. A team of random, but best at their field outcasts? Check. There was undoubtedly going to be similarities between the films due to the time period set and the origin story style set up, and I'm actually optimistic, as it means that Wonder Woman 2 could be The Winter Soldier in scope. And that excites me.

Conclusion: definitely the best DCEU movie (although that's not difficult) showing that a more streamlined approach to superhero storytelling can work and gives a glimmer of hope to the other solo films coming out from DC in the future.

Rating: 86%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. I wonder what would've happened if Diana had found and saved a German first? How different would the film have been!?

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