Thursday, 1 June 2017

Film Review: "Wonder Woman" (2017).

"Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder."
These attributes all perfectly describe Wonder Woman. This superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe, as well as being the first live action theatrical film based on the character, following her first live action theatrical appearance in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Allan Heinberg. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny.

Development for the film was on-going since 1996, when Ivan Reitman was hired to write and direct. In 2001, Todd Alcott was hired to pen a script for Joel Silver. In 2003, Laeta Kalogridis replaced Alcott and was hired for rewrites. In 2005, Joss Whedon was hired to not only write but also direct the film, but in 2007, he left due to creative differences. In 2014, Kathryn Bigelow, Catherine Hardwicke, Mimi Leder, Karyn Kusama, Julie Taymor, Tricia Brock and Nicolas Winding Refn were considered to direct the film before Michelle MacLaren was given the job. However, in 2015, MacLaren dropped out of the project due to creative differences. In 2015, Patty Jenkins replaced MacLaren. Ironically, in 2005, Jenkins was originally in talks with WB to replace Whedon as director, but due to her unexpected pregnancy, she had to step down. Jenkins claimed that Wonder Woman is the film she's been wanting to do her whole life and that she was fortunate to come back to it. This made Jenkins the first female director to helm a female led superhero film. Angelina Jolie, BeyoncĂ© Knowles, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Charisma Carpenter, Christina Hendricks, Eliza Dushku, Elodie Yung, Eva Green, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Kristen Stewart, Lucy Lawless, Megan Fox, Mischa Barton, Morena Baccarin, Nadia Bjorlin, Olga Kurylenko, Priyanka Chopra, Rachel Bilson, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Michelle Gellar and wrestler Chyna were all considered to play the role of Wonder Woman throughout the years before Gal Gadot landed the coveted role. The film takes inspiration from the New 52 portrayal and origin of Wonder Woman, where is she depicted as a demigoddess, the daughter of Zeus. The filmmakers also cited Superman (1978), Batman Begins (2005), the Indiana Jones series, Casablanca (1942) and The Little Mermaid (1989) as influences. Principal photography began in November 2015, before filming wrapped in May 2016 (the same month Wonder Woman creator, William Moulton Marston was born), under the working title Nightingale. Filming took place throughout the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. For the look of the film, Jenkins and cinematographer Matt Jensen revealed that they were inspired by painter John Singer Sargent. Additional filming also took place in November 2016 while Gadot was five months pregnant. A green cloth was placed over her stomach to edit out her pregnancy during post-production.

The film stars Gal Gadot as the titular character with Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya in supporting roles. The cast all gave spectacular and powerful performances, especially that of Gadot. Gadot has, without a shred of doubt, single-handedly laid to rest my concerns whether or not she can carry her own franchise. The answer is a resounding YES. Gadot has just the right touch of strength and femininity. She really is Wonder Woman. Gadot is perfectly cast in the role. Any poor choice would have ruined the film. Gadot makes the character her own, while also reminding us of why we love the character. She's definitely pulled off an amazing performance as the first cinematic incarnation of the titular Amazon. I can not wait for her future films. Bravo Ms. Gadot! She and Pine had great on-screen chemistry where their personalities and ideologies suited for each other's characters, and is what made their dynamics interesting. However, despite the amazing performances, there were characters that were not completely without flaws. This regards the villains played by Huston, Anaya and Thewlis, who all suffered the same razor-thin characterisation found in Marvel films, despite the three actors giving their best.

Wonder Woman brilliantly blends humour and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Gadot to craft a loving cinematic tribute to an American pop culture feminist icon. I was more than delighted to see the titular Amazon on the big screen. I got chills. The film is a pure delight, a wondrous combination of all the old-fashioned things we never really get tired of: adventure and romance, heroes and villains, earthshaking special effects and wit. Fantastical and gritty, but also exciting and fun, this is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes. Director Jenkins and Screenwriter Heinberg's work in creating understanding into who Wonder Woman is and what motivates her must be applauded. They have accomplished something that the original TV series had somewhat lacked. It's the gritty, Greek-God mythology quality of the film that makes this comic-book fantasy soar. By keeping the spectacular possibilities open throughout the entire film, from the opening scene, and the subsequent growth to womanhood of the titular Amazon princess in the middle of war-torn Europe, the film allows Diana's naivetĂ© and knowingness to coexist. There's no doubt that, at times, it's a flawed movie, but it is still nonetheless one of the most wonderfully entertaining movies made in recent years. It's exactly what comic book fans hoped it would be. It is arguably one of the most solid 'origin' and emotion-churning superhero stories on the big screen. In the end, it is absolutely, without a single thought of hesitation, one of the best films of the year, and one of the best superhero films of all time.

Simon says Wonder Woman receives:

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