Gal Gadot brings a much needed dose of humanity to DC’s Extended Universe in Patty Jenkins’ otherwise uneven Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, an Amazonian princess of an all-female race of warriors, who leaves her people when Chris Pine’s crash-landed spy, Steve Trevor, reveals that the events of WWI are putting the whole world in danger. Under the less conspicuous name of Diana Prince, she travels with Steve to Germany to try and stop the evil Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), a German general hell-bent on creating noxious weapons that could tilt the balance of the war.
On the one hand, Patty Jenkins’ film hasn’t learnt from the mistakes made by the other films in the DC Extended Universe. Like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman before it, Wonder Woman stretches out a relatively straightforward plot for nearly two and a half hours; there is yet another ‘epic’ anodyne CGI showdown, and issues of tone – is it gritty or light-hearted? – still persist.
To make matters worse, the film moves over very little plot with too much haste. It’s as if it’s developed Wonder Woman’s super-speed powers, flitting from plot point to plot point. The action skips from Diana’s homeland to London to the Western Front; the missions change from assembling a ragtag team of soldiers to infiltrating castles and saving villages – all in the blink of an eye.
Poor characters barely have a moment to leave their marks on the film. Ewen Bremner’s sharpshooting Scotsman probably has PTSD, Eugene Brave Rock’s Native American tracker may or may not have helped both sides in the past, but the film isn’t really interested in applying anything more than the broadest of brushstrokes to them.
And yet, for all those frustrating mistakes, Wonder Woman has nailed the most important one. Unlike Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad, Jenkins’ film isn’t about the heroes beating the villains – it’s about the humanity of its eponymous heroine. Gadot’s Diana is so much more nuanced than Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman. She is a warrior, trained to save humanity but confused by its capacity for cruelty; a saviour who wasn’t told it’s impossible to save everyone. She is brave but untested, incredibly smart but naïve, kind but also more than willing to kill.
Gadot brings a wonderful vulnerability to the role, finding the human in the superhuman and imbuing the character with so much heart that we’re happy to overlook the fact that the film’s plot is very similar to that of Captain America: The First Avenger with a little bit more Greek mythology thrown in, or that everything gets lost in the soulless CGI mess of the final act.
Wonder Woman is by far the best entry in DC’s Extended Universe. While that is not exactly high praise given the low bar set by the other films, it gives reason to be cautiously optimistic about the upcoming slate of DCEU movies. If they can do justice to their protagonists as well as Jenkins’ film does, DC’s cinematic universe may finally become one hell of a ride.
Released by Warner Bros http://theskinny.co.uk/film