Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (2017)

As DC tries to combat the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, they have begun by building towards the Justice League film. In the meantime, we are treated to their standalone backstories. Wonder Woman is the latest film to get the treatment with Gal Gadot returning as the legendary Amazonian.

What I have recently disliked about the comic book movies is that they all seem to be using the same framework. (mainly the Marvel Cinematic Universe) But what is more enjoyable about the DC Cinematic Universe is the darker and grittier undertones they have taken, which was present in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman even though the latter wasn’t as enjoyable.

Wonder Woman is continuing this trend, but referencing the picture that was seen in Batman vs Superman with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) herself stood with four men during World War One. Before Wonder Woman leaps into how Diana found herself there, they divulge in the backstory and the mysterious land of Themyscira, home of the Amazons.

What was great about Patty Jenkins’ interpretation of this story was that there was enough in the narrative to allow for the audience to interpret things themselves, something that has been missing in my recent cinema outings. And there was some gorgeous graphics in the opening sequence as Queen Hippolyta (Connie Neilsen) reveals the origin of the Amazon race and of the battle between Zeus and Ares.

Zeus cast out Ares, and hid the Amazons from the world until Ares rises again. The rest of the Amazons and Diana train on the beautifully landscaped island of Themyscira away from the worlds view. That is all until Steve Travers (Chris Pine) crash lands on their private island.

And this is where the film really picks up the pace as Gal Gadot and Chris Pine come into their own as characters. Gal Gadot becomes the focal point of her scenes as Diana believes that the atrocities of war are at the hand of Ares, the God of war. Although he has found a new form in the body of General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) as his sidekick Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) concocts a poisonous gas capable of killing everyone. Diana forces Travers hand in taking her to front line to help the war effort and she just looks fantastic whilst doing it.

It has to be said though that she isn’t objectified in anyway, she rather manifests Wonder Woman as a character in such a way that she is incredibly strong and rather independent, especially as she continually defies her mother and Steve. With Batman v Superman the film felt long, Wonder Woman on the other hand doesn’t. This could down to the enjoyment of the characters and the narrative actually being enjoyable instead of the usual cut and paste method Marvel and DC films are currently using.

As I mentioned, the DC Universe films like to be grittier and Wonder Woman has majority of the film centred around World War One. Patty Jenkins effectively manages to instil the atrocities of war and it really works from the dirt of the Belgian trenches to the empty celebrations of a victory for one evening.

My only grief is the overbearing music that is used. The musical cues aren’t established very well, as it clearly tries to evoke emotions at the correct times and at times this took me out of the picture and made the enjoyment considerably less-so.

Gal Gadot is truly a wonder as the titular character as the film progresses into it’s climax. The final third of the film looks as though it is going to enter the realms of similarity as with previous comic book films, it still tiptoes on those, but doesn’t dive head first into it. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot is electric, especially as Jenkins’ captures Steve Travers occasionally glancing at Diana with astonishment at her beauty, but not in that objectifying way that I mentioned earlier.

Just as I thought I was losing patience with comic book adaptations, Wonder Woman comes along and manages to give some life into a merciless machine. I realised after coming out of the cinema that Wonder Woman tried something new, it left the comedy (that has become a staple point for comic book films now) to a minimum and perfectly integrated it into the film. This worked and garnered appropriate laughs when needed, but on a whole, Wonder Woman was an enjoyable and terrific watch and this has to be down to the enjoyable narrative and brilliant characters that can be connected with.

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Batman v Superman: The Dawn Of Justice (2016)

The long awaited sequel to Man of Steel and the re-imagining of Batman has finally landed on our screens and it’s all thanks to Zack Synder. After being disappointed with Man of Steel, but excited for Affleck’s Batman I braved a screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice among the dire reviews the film has been receiving.

Due to the reimagining of Batman, the origin has to take place, but this time it settles for a quick snapshot of scenes of how Bruce Wayne became an orphan. However, the basis of Dawn of Justice takes place 18 months after the battle in Metropolis between General Zod and Superman. Superman becomes a controversial figure during this battle as his warpath ruins people lives. (namely those working for Wayne Finanical) 

Thus out of the wreckage is born the rivalry and hatred emanating from Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck). My biggest fear for this film, after hearing the introduction of Wonder Woman and Aquaman was it to become a big glut of superheroes each competing for screen time, much like Avengers Assemble. 

It’s safe to say, this did not happen, as the bulk of the story relies on this rivalry (and I mean rivalry in a very loose term) as Synder only teases Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman story enough for the mystery to remain unsolved regarding her true nature. This all comes about as Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) pits Batman and Superman against each other leading into the big hurrah. I won’t say much more due to potential spoilers in the story.

The story and how it unfolds was completely different to what I was initially anticipating. I struggled to think how Lex and Diana (Wonder Woman) would fit into the story as the two men waged war on each other, but the story flowed nicely teasing and introducing their characters at apt times and even packed out the action sequences to good effect.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Understandably this film is not perfect by any means. For me, there seemed to be a lot of ‘filler’ like Bruce Wayne training whilst cutting the kryptonite. The film is a whopping 151 minutes, and when it boils down to the last 15 minutes or so, it begins to wear thin as they set up for the upcoming Justice League film.

One big triumph for me is the fact they haven’t relied on the slapstick and comedic flair that has become a natural part of Marvel films. DC on the other hand relied on the action-packed sequences and creating these strong, intriguing characters and not to mention taking a serious approach to these characters. Affleck’s rough-around-the-edges Batman was fantastic and seemed to show a relentlessness toward villians. (Bale’s Batman specified no killing) Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was strange. I am by no means an avid comic book fan, but Eisenberg’s Lex seemed over the top and far too easily agitated. I expected a smooth, slick and composed Lex Luthor, not one showing sporadic thoughts and continually venting nonsense throughout his scenes.

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Synder has a talent of creating these vast worlds and the cities of Metropolis and Gotham are as dizzying and immersive as expected, the true triumph however is the ‘dream’ sequence and Superman’s montage of saving people, as these are some absolutely gorgeous scenes. This coupled with Hans Zimmer soundtrack is always bound to add to the enjoyment factor, but there was something else about Zimmer’s soundtrack, creating intoxicating beats, including one track that wouldn’t go amiss in Mad Max: Fury Road. 

As I said, this film is by no means perfect, but it’s still really enjoyable. A creative reimagining of the Batman franchise, with Zack Synder heading the charge and the creation of worlds is a joy to watch unfold. For mainly plot reasons and spoilers, I don’t want to divulge in the story, but apart from a few standalone points, the story is enjoyable and carries itself over the rather daunting 151 minutes. Unlike the Marvel films, this is the beginning of a serious approach to the superhero universe, rather than the lighthearted undertaken by Marvel.

I left the cinema feeling rather positive, but a little confused with a few of the plot points including the dream sequence, Lex’s peculiar behaviour and why they included the Rocky-esque montages. Background knowledge seemed to have played a part when visiting this film, but doesn’t hang too heavy over the films head, but may help with a few of the more finer plot points. That being said, with the strong characters, immersive landscapes and gorgeous Zimmer soundtrack, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

Affleck’s Batman was everything I wanted it to be and was possibly my favourite thing about this film.