Wonder Woman Sets High Bar for Future DC Superhero Films

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Wonder Woman on Blu-ray

Wonder Woman, the Amazing Amazon might not be the first superhero you name when asked to list off some of DC's pantheon of superheroes. But thanks to Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, that's definitely changed. Coming off the heels of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, which had mixed reviews, expectations for WONDER WOMAN had to be shaky.

But Patty Jenkins has delivered what is likely the best DC comics-to-screen film in the company's history -- and I'm including Richard Donner's SUPERMAN and both Tim Burton's and Christopher Nolan's BATMAN and BATMAN BEGINS / THE DARK KNIGHT.

Princess Diana (GADOT) has been raised all her life on the hidden island of Themyscira, populated entirely by the female race of Amazon warriors. She's been told that her mother sculpted her from clay and was given life by Zeus himself. That was the classic origin story, but Diana's about to learn that this is pretty much the Amazon version of the stork and cabbage patch, as her adventure reveals her true origin to her.

When an American spy, Steve Trevor (CHRIS PINE) crashes through the mists that hide Themyscira, Diana bears witness and dives into the waters to rescue him. However, Trevor has been followed by a German warship, and as they seek evidence that he truly went down, they inadvertently encroach on Themyscira. What follows is war, led by Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta (CONNIE NIELSEN) and her sister, Antiope (ROBIN WRIGHT). The Amazons are fierce warriors, but they've never encountered bullets before. Nonetheless, they repel the invaders -- but at a tragic cost.

Believing that Ares is behind this "war to end all wars," Diana follows Trevor back into "Man's World" to find him, free mankind from his influence, and fulfill the destiny of the Amazons.

Gadot's portrayal of Diana is pure perfection. Having led a sheltered existence, it is expected that Diana should be naive to many things in man's world. But that naivete is never portrayed as stupidity. Even when learning her way around foreign social constructs, Diana is always a force to be reckoned with. When Trevor is forbidden to interfere with a German plan to poison thousands, lest his interference threaten the pending armistice with Germany, Trevor and Diana go it alone, with backing by Sir Patrick (DAVID THEWLIS) and accompanied by three capable mercenaries, Sameer (SAID TAGHMAOUI), Charlie (EWEN BREMNER), and The Chief (EUGENE BRAVE ROCK), each of whom is a fully realized character with levels that add to the story.

It's about an hour into the film before you realize you really haven't seen "Wonder Woman" even though you've seen Diana do many things. But when you reach the crossing of No Man's Land -- appropriately named because no man can cross it -- Diana doffs the cloak that's been covering her armor and makes her way through the bullets. It's at this point that you realize this is the turning point of the film, the scene that everything's been building toward and which pays back the price of the ticket ten-fold. Despite all the special fighting effects seen on Themyscira, involving horses and aerialist martial arts, this -- this scene of walking and standing her ground is probably the most powerful scene of the entire film.

Diana believes that Ares has taken the human form of General Ludendorff (DANNY HUSTON), who has been working with Dr. Maru (ELENA ANAYA), aka Dr. Poison. And to be sure, he exhibits traits that lead one to think that perhaps Diana is correct. Then again, perhaps Ares is someone else, or perhaps Ares doesn't exist at all and is just a myth. These are all possibilities Diana is forced to confront as she learns who she truly is, and what is true and what is just a story.

The Blu-ray release of WONDER WOMAN comes with a plethora of wonderful bonus features, not the least of which is a special bonus scene not seen in theatres. This involves mission leader Etta Candy (LUCY DAVIS) meeting with Sameer, Charlie, and The Chief for their next mission. This scene really gives Etta's character a chance to shine -- oh, and it sets the stage for the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE! So you're not going to want to miss it. Beyond that, there are several interview features with Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and the rest of the cast, exploring the story behind the story and the making of certain key scenes.

If you've given up on getting a good superhero film from DC that's truly superheroic, or if you've gotten burned out by the genre in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up WONDER WOMAN. It's the movie you've been waiting for, and probably the one you weren't expecting.

 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0