I had the opportunity to watch Wonder Woman 3D on the big IMAX screen in Branson, Missouri. First and foremost, this will be a spoiler-free review. However, I will be airing details judging the film's plot. This is a detailed review of the film's language and overarching themes, as well as a little of what's to come in the DC universe.
There are two very specific takeaway's from my viewing that I believe the internet will focus on heavily in the next few days. I will get these two things out of the way before I dive into a detailed and thorough scrubbing of all the film's parts from cinematography to music and world-feel.
1. Be prepared to deal with the backlash of having such a f***ing awesome character on-screen, representing empowered and kick-ass women of the world. This movie is absolutely balanced in that it gives women the lead where men meddle and equal out in various portions of the film. The writers and Patty Jenkins had a huge feat in making this film feel like the correct representation of strong women, as well as not isolate men from the narrative altogether. This point will be touched on further down this review.
2. This is actually a tremendous spoiler. If you've seen the movie, I'll discuss with you the second topic I believe will drive the internet traffic for the next few months and years leading into and out of the DC film world. Just shoot me an email or comment on the post and I'll enlighten you.
Let's get onto the dissection and review of Wonder Woman, a film surely to solidify Patty Jenkins as one of modern cinema's most competent film directors.
The 3D in the film was excellent, in my opinion. It never felt like a tacked on layer of a film not shot in 3D, which is something early 2000's filmmakers did as a secondary cash grab (Avatar had no business being 3D). The only 3D element in the film that I felt wasn't well crafted was a bit of snow in two shots. I could tell it felt flatter than the scene it was covering, and was not very well rendered considering how great everything else in those shots felt.
The 3D was really crafted to pull characters away from the walls, and to add vector depth to scenes with a lot of angular composition. I thought it was one of those best looking 3D renders of recent memory. I don't like foreground explosion 3D and would prefer for all 3D films to be shot with depth of field in mind. Wonder Woman is definitely a film that's worthy of your extra few dollars to experience in this alternate formatting. If you can catch it on IMAX, even better. But, I will add that WW wasn't shot with IMAX in mind, so there's nothing inherently necessary to see in the larger format like there were in The Force Awakens or The Hateful Eight. I say it's still worth a viewing in IMAX, but not necessary for optimal viewing.
Can we all just take a moment and thank Hollywood for the fancy trend of making scores this year with strings as the lead instrument? Because, we should totally thank Hollywood for that. I'm listening to the soundtrack on Spotify as I type this, and it's just so beautifully composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. While I'm exaggerating a little(a lot) about strings being the lead in this film, it should nonetheless be considered the standout instrument in the soundtrack. The music feels quite nice within the confines of the imagery, and WW's theme is the obvious standout.
I honestly don't recall Batman or Superman's "signature music" from BvS, but I instantly know the righteous sounds that compose WW's theme. There's a particular moment in the film where her theme is heard for the first time, and I got instant chills(actually, like, for real chills). To me, her theme is as evocative of the character as Hans Zimmer's Sherlock Holmes and Tom Holkenborg's Deadpool themes. Her theme
will become iconic in future films, if it is used compositionally intelligent. If you need example of her theme, check out "Wonder Woman's Wrath" on Spotify. That's her sonic representation.
My love, my mistress, cinematography. When someone mistreats you, my heart doth pine for correction. Thankfully, the cinematography, lighting, and composition are phenomenally constructed, flattering the actors and scenery at every opportunity. It is quite clear by the end of the film's prologue that the color and stylization are parallels of Batman v Superman, Man of Steel, and Suicide Squad. The color pallette and ashy/grainy quality are present although not nearly as heavy-handed as the former films presented themselves. Fans can play these films back-to-back and know for certain they belong to the same universe. The amount of soft colors, golds, silvers, and bronzes in the film go a long way in lightening the dreary color tone of the DC Universe. And trust me, I love dreary, muted, film noir, but good Lord Almighty, thank you for helping the gaffers and art directors see the light. HA! Walked my way into that pun by accident.
The lighting in the film is my favorite technique, dark-to-camera. I love this technique so much I use it in every film I direct. It is considered "Hollywood standard" to many, and it works so well to provide a little psychological edge to lighter, daytime scenes.
Ahh, yes. The meat of the operation. Some say acting is the most important role in a film. I use to agree, and my mind ascended into another plane of understanding altogether. I certainly won't argue that you're right, however. I digress. Gal Gadot ascended from the Heavens primed and ready for the role of Diana, Princess of Themyscira. Go on a diatribe about her athletic body not being a vivacious as her comic book counterpart, and I'll call you a boobs man/woman/person who needs to grow up, like, a lot. Gal is the best. She plays Diana's arrogance, beauty, stoicism, rage, and heroism to the endth degree. When I see Gal, I don't see the actor, I see Wonder Woman. I feel Wonder Woman. That's such a wonderful feeling, to know that I'm watching the right kind of actor for such a legendary role. She has several opportunities to showcase her emotional range, which I believe people may not know Gal has considering roles she's taken in her brief past haven't given her a lot of range to work through.
Chris Pine, what a darling. He's the true comedic relief. He has such wonderful timing as an actor. His hesitancy between sentences, and the way in which his character are written work so well with each other. Taking a back-seat-turned-sidecar to Gal Gadot could have been a nightmare role for other actors, and he made the whole process seem effortless. I say that because WW is our focus here, let us not forget, friends. Not very often do we get to see women represented without being rescued by a dude or becoming victim to the horrible film trope of not being capable of making life or death decisions herself. Pine plays an equal role in teaching Diana the character how the new world operates, and Diana teaches Pine's "Steve Trevor" about focused and righteous heroism in the face of adversity. Their relationship is beautifully didactic for both sexes, and all sexes, for the matter.
Though I should speak more about them, and I'm sure I lost my audience for this review somewhere near the top, the supporting cast is un-effing-believable and I'll speak of them as a collective for space. Ewen Bremner, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, ROBIN WRIGHT, CONNIE NEILSSEN, ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME?! DID I CAST THIS FILM???? For real, the supporting cast more than holds their weight, and without diving into any plot points at all, they are all given their fair amount of screen time and plenty to do in the film's two-hour and twenty-one minute runtime.
Patty Jenkins(pictured) is a supremely competent filmmaker. You cannot tell she's not directed a feature film since 2003's "MONSTER". There's no ring rust (pro wrestling speak there for ya) present in the competency and understanding of the characters in their world. The pacing feels succinct, the characters all feel highly diverse in personality. Jenkins truly knew of the film she wanted to create. And, despite reshoots (usually means something has run afoul on set if the crew is called back after a production has ended to add scenes or "reshoot" footage that had already been bagged), there is no reason why Hollywood (Atlanta, now?) shouldn't be throwing scripts her direction from today, forward.
There you have it. The great Michael Frizell said it best today, "This is the movie I wanted". Damnit, what a ride! There are so many things I want to discuss about the greater DC film universe, but to talk about those points would be to air out so much of the film's plot and story, so that's why you didn't find anything regarding the story applied to this review. I loved this film a whole lot. I cried several times. Believe it or not (or, like roll your eyes or something), I cried often because of how the women themselves were treated by the scripting. The women were empowered(yeah, yeah, that word, guy), they made their own decisions good or bad, and they weren't beholden to some savior type within the script. When Diana did her damn thing, Diana did her damn thing because she chose to, and didn't for once allow Steve or other male characters jurisdict or sway her.
While WW herself may have balked at the supposed authority of man, she didn't always make the right decision for the moment with the narrative. She's young and foolish, hell bent on righting the wrongs of the film's world. Sometimes, what Steve was saying was exactly what she should have done in the situation, sometimes not. But, the greatest takeaway from the film is that no one chose for Diana or held her back or belittled her for feeling a certain way. And, when they did, she pushed back! She didn't slump or seek guidance from a counsellor type stock character, she did her damn thing! She took responsibility and control over all of her actions, and thankfully the script was written with that type of balance in mind.
In my further opinion, if you've taken up the mantle of being pissed that Diana was headstrong and "didn't need no man", I suggest you tuck your nuts back between your chicken legs and walk the f*** outta the room. It's time for female-driven characters/films, be they hot, sexy, ugly, fat, stupid, uncharacteristic, etc. to have their shine in tentpole films (another term for "blockbuster film" that's attached to a greater/larger narrative of films). I LOVED Gal as Wonder Woman, and I loved the movie as a whole.
Again, I have no numerical rating. It's worth the 3D, the IMAX viewing, your time, your money, your discomfort watching an unrepentant and bad ass female do some crazy cool sh** on-screen (if you yourself get a little pinch in your tummy by watching awesome women be awesome in movies).