“You have been my greatest love. Be careful, Diana. They do not deserve you.”
I didn’t like ‘Batman Vs Superman‘ and I didn’t like ‘Suicide Squad‘. Both films were overstuffed and overinflated showcases of style over substance at their very worst. Both films want to be dark and brooding (perhaps to distinguish themselves from Marvel’s bright bubble) but instead became murky and mediocre movies where little joy was to be had. Although Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman was one of my highlights of the former, I couldn’t quite work up too much hope for her solo outing. Thankfully, I was wrong. Third time clearly is a charm.
‘Wonder Woman’ is everything that the two DC outings from last year were not. The film breezes through it’s running time with a well-judged balance between humour and seriousness: light and shade. There’s something wonderfully old-school about the whole affair, a knowing nod to the 1970s Superman movies and the Lynda Carter-fronted Wonder Woman tv series. Whereas the current version of Bats & Sups seem to focus on frowning and brooding – Gadot and Pine (as comrade/love interest Steve Trevor) manage to have fun along the way. With a carefully chosen raised eyebrow or smirk we learn far more about Diana & Trevor than any character in the two previous films which simply wanted to enforce the characters seriousness.
Good cinema is all about showing not telling. Show how they feel in a situation, don’t just tell us. Show us they are conflicted instead of filling the script with explicit references to the fact. Show us they care about their respective mothers instead of telling us they share a name… Gadot manages to bring joy to the franchise, even though this outing places her in some of the darkest times in history – WW1. Her disbelief about the world around her, along with her obvious earnest care for it is well shown by Gadot. We really grow to care for her as a character, which is well added by her ragtag motley crew.
What is truly empowering about this film is the fact we identify with Diana. The camera’s gaze is directed not at extenuating her curves or perversely exaggerating her beauty. When she fights we she her fight, when she reacts to something we see her react – the camera never divides her up into disconnected body parts. How she and her fellow Amazonians are showcased – as warriors, not just pretty women in revealing costumes -is fresh and fierce. Just like the most of the film (I wasn’t so keen on its closing chapter).
‘Wonder Woman’ is a proper blockbuster. It’s escapism with something to say. It’s light and breezy but with a beating heart. It’s engaging, fun and meaningful. Keep it up DC!
‘Wonder Woman’ opened in UK cinemas on June 2nd.
Year: 2017 Runtime: 141 minutes Dir: Patty Jenkins