Sunday, June 04, 2017
Wonder Woman (2017 film)
Based on the DC Comics created by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman is the story of a princess who leaves her home island to help a young man she meets on the island to end World War I as she copes with her new surroundings and the chaos of the world. Directed by Patty Jenkins and screenplay by Allan Heinberg from a story by Heinberg, Jason Fuchs, and Zack Snyder, the film is an origin story that explores a woman who wants to help the world and save it from total destruction as the titular character, whose name is Diana Prince, is played by Gal Gadot. Also starring Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Ewan Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lilly Aspell, Emily Carey, Eugene Brave Rock, Said Taghmaoui, and Danny Huston. Wonder Woman is an enthralling and rapturous film from Patty Jenkins.
The film is an origin story about an Amazonian princess who lives in a remote and secret island inhabited by women as a pilot crashes into the land telling her about what is happening in the world as she hopes to end the war and go after a god she believes is responsible for what is happening. It is a film with a simple story but it’s filled with a lot of complexities as it relates to this woman in Diana who has been sheltered in this paradise island raised by her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who isn’t keen about having Diana be an Amazonian warrior like Hippolyta’s sister Antiope (Robin Wright) who would secretly train Diana since she was a child. Then when Diana sees an airplane crash into the sea and rescue the pilot who would turn out to be this American spy in Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). With the lasso of truth, Trevor would reveal why he’s arrived as he would reveal what is going on outside of the island of Themyscira prompting Diana to think that the god of war Ares is involved.
Allan Heinberg’s screenplay isn’t just about this story of Diana becoming this heroine and fighting for what is right but also dealing with the world on a much larger scale as well as what she has to face. The first act largely takes place in Themyscira where it is about Diana and the role she’s playing as well as why her mother isn’t keen on having her fight for the world while her aunt knows that Diana has to protect herself yet neither have really explained why as it relates to Ares whom Antiope believes would return. The second act takes place in London and parts of Europe where Diana is definitely a fish out of water into this new environment she’s in as she believes that this German general in Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is Ares in disguise. It’s not just in the plotting and story structure that Heinberg really succeeds in but it’s also fleshing out the characters as Hippolyta and Antiope are these figures to Diana who provide to sides that Diana has to balance while Trevor is a man who has seen the world as he owns up to the fact that humanity is flawed but know that there is still good there.
At the center of the story is Diana as her character development is crucial to the film as someone who is quite naïve about the outside world as she has no idea why her mother wants to protect her as it relates to Ares. Her encounters with the world is comical at first but also has showcase an air of innocence in Diana which is often rarely seen in films about superheroes or super-heroines. Though she is quite powerful in the way she deal with foes in how she can deflect bullets with her metallic wristbands and do all sorts of things as a warrior. She’s also quite vulnerable when she’s forced to face things she can’t really understand as it relates to the dark aspects of humanity. While Trevor admits that he is flawed and everything else is flawed, it’s a moment that leads to its climax where Diana doesn’t have to just understand what it means to be a heroine but about what needs to be achieved for peace.
Patty Jenkins’ direction is definitely sprawling in terms of the world that is set as well as the stakes into what is happening throughout the story. Shot on various locations in London, the southern coasts of Italy as Themyscira, Paris, and other locations in Europe. Jenkins does create something that do have some of the conventional aspects expected in blockbuster superhero origin films but there’s a gracefulness in the way she introduces Diana as the film begins in modern-day Paris in which Diana receives a special gift from Bruce Wayne/Batman at the Lourve. It would then have Diana reflect on her life from being a child eager to fight like her aunt as well as be kind and courageous like he mother. The scenes set in Themyscira are quite simple where Jenkins knows how to use the wide shots not just to establish the location but also a world that is idyllic. When Trevor arrives, the tone changes where it is quite serious as Jenkins know where to use medium shots and close-ups for some of the drama as well as find the right touches of humor.
The scenes in London are quite comical as it involves some of the commentary from Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) who takes a liking to Diana for her proto-feminist commentary as Jenkins would create something that is naturally funny. It help give the film a break from the action where Jenkins would give the film some air to breathe without being overwhelmed by moments of action and suspense as well as take her time to know some of the characters in the film. The action scenes set in the battlefields are quite spectacular as Jenkins know how to move the camera as well as get a sense of what is happening without deviating too much into the very conventional style of chaotic, speed-cutting cinema that is so common with blockbuster films. The film’s climax as expected is quite grand yet it offers so much more as it does have a universal message about humanity and what can be done to provide peace no matter how complicated things are. Overall, Jenkins crafts a spectacular yet heartfelt film about a woman warrior who makes a difference in a world ravaged by war.
Cinematographer Matthew Jensen does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the naturalistic beauty of the idyllic Themyscira to the usage of more low-key colors for the scenes in London, France, and Germany including some of the exteriors at night. Editor Martin Walsh does brilliant work with the editing as it is very stylized with its usage of slow-motion and jump-cuts while not needing to go into fast-paced chaotic editing styles in order to establish everything that is going on in a scene. Production designer Aline Bonetto, with set decorator Anna Lynch-Robinson and a team of art directors, does fantastic work with the design of the halls and palaces at the Themyscira castle as well as the German base and labs as well as some of the locations in France. Costume designer Lindy Hemming does superb work with the costumes from the way Diana’s heroic costume look as well as the dresses she had to wear in London as it is among one of the film’s funniest sequences.
Hair/makeup designer Christine Blundell does nice work with some of the makeup as it relates to the crazed chemist Doctor Poison as well as the hairstyles that women wore during that period in World War I. Visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer does some terrific work with the design of the visual effects as some of it is for set dressing for a few scenes in Themyscira as well as some of the action sequences including the film’s climax. Sound editor James Mather does amazing work with the sound as it help play into some of the sounds that happen during the action scenes as well as some of the suspense. The film’s music by Rupert Gregson-Williams is wonderful for its bombastic orchestral score that help play into the action as well as serene pieces for the dramatic moments including the early scenes in the film while music supervisor Karen Elliott assemble a soundtrack featuring folk songs of the times as well as a new song by Sia and Labrinth.
The casting by Lora Kennedy, Kristy Carlson, and Lucinda Syson is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Ann Wolfe as a tough Amazonian named Artemis who help trained Diana, Lisa Loven Kongsli as Antiope’s lieutenant Menalippe, Lilly Aspel as the eight-year old Diana, and Emily Carey as the twelve-year old Diana. The trio of Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock are superb in their respective roles as the spy/master of disguise Sameer, the troubled yet resourceful sharpshooter Charlie, and the opportunistic trader Chief who all provide some nice support in helping Diana and Trevor on the battlefield. Elena Anaya is terrific as General Ludendorff’s mad chemist Dr. Isabel Maru aka Doctor Poison as a chemist who experiments with gas in order to create weapons of mass destruction that would help the Germans win the war. Lucy Davis is fantastic as Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy who is the film’s comic relief as someone that helps Diana in looking like a modern woman while providing some very hilarious commentary and moments in the film.
David Thewlis is excellent as Sir Patrick Morgan as a speaker of peace for the Imperial War Cabinet who would fund whatever assignment Trevor and his men needed as well as be fascinated by Diana. Danny Huston is brilliant as General Erich Ludendorff as a mad general that is eager to win the war at any cost as he has a thirst for power and chaos which makes him a likely suspect as Ares to Diana. Connie Nielsen is amazing as Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyte as a woman who is keen on protecting Diana as well as reveal something she doesn’t want Diana to know as someone who is conflicted yet forced to accept that she can’t be there for her daughter all the time. Robin Wright is incredible as General Antiope as Diana’s aunt who sees the potential in her niece to fight for herself as well as someone knows Diana’s secret but is more concerned with preparing her for the truth as well as Ares’ inevitable return.
Chris Pine is marvelous as Steve Trevor as an American spy who is trying to find ways to end the war as he would crash land into the coast of Themyscira where he is a man that does have a somewhat cynical view of the way the world is but also a humility and charm that makes him an engaging figure for Diana to be with whether as an object of love or as a partner. Finally, there’s Gal Gadot in a phenomenal performance as the titular character/Diana Prince as an Amazonian princess who is a gifted warrior that is eager to do good in the world and defeat Ares in order to create peace. Gadot’s performance is definitely the highlight as someone that isn’t afraid to be vulnerable but also tough when she needs to be as well as display that air of innocence as someone who was very sheltered in her home environment as she realizes what it takes to save mankind and the world from the evils of man as well as those in power as it is a true breakout performance for Gadot.
Wonder Woman is a tremendous film from Patty Jenkins that features a magnificent performance from Gal Gadot. Along with a remarkable ensemble cast, a compelling screenplay, dazzling visuals, and a fine balance of action, drama, humor, and suspense. It’s a film that manages to do a lot more of what is expected in the superhero origin story as well as be something that manages to say a lot about humanity and how there’s hope in the darkest of times if someone is willing to fight for it. In the end, Wonder Woman is an outstanding film from Patty Jenkins.
Patty Jenkins Films: (Monster (2003 film)) - (Five-Pearl)
DC Extended Universe: Man of Steel - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Suicide Squad - Justice League - Aquaman - (Shazam!) - (Birds of Prey) - (Wonder Woman 1984)
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