Dan M., here….
Let’s cut to the chase, Wonder Woman is great and one of the best modern superhero origin movies ever made. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the original Superman, Batman Begins, Iron Man, etc. It is a nearly flawless introduction to a truly interesting character who cannot only carry her own film but will hopefully help carry future DC films the way Iron Man does with Marvel ones.
We are introduced to Diana as a young princess and only child in Themyscira. Zeus created Themyscira as a hidden paradise on Earth to protect the Amazons from being discovered by man, who had been corrupted by the God of War, Ares. These scenes aren’t your typical flashbacks but exist as a wholly independent portion of the movie. I think we spend the first 30 minutes in Themyscira learning about the Amazons and their purpose. The time taken in these scenes allow the audience to watch Diana grow and understand her motivations for decisions that take place later. Most films would rush this part of the movie but the time spent in this place with these characters shaped the rest of the film, nothing was wasted.
Eventually, Diana begins to notice *some* of her powers during her training by the General of the Amazons played by Robin Wright who just kills it in this movie. Every scene she is in is elevated by her presence. Shortly thereafter, a plane crashes and Diana rescues the pilot who turns out to be Cpt. Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine. This is the first man Diana has ever seen and her curiosity about the horrors going on outside their protected part of the island makes sense because we have watched her grow for so long in Themyscria. There are some great performances in this movie and I will discuss Gal Gadot in a moment but I want to take a few seconds to bow at the altar of Chris Pine. He was delightful in this role. It was well written, it was tough, it was funny, and it was believable emotionally. He was the hero’s sidekick but not having him around would’ve diminished the movie. There hasn’t been this perfect of a sidekick role that was essential to every aspect of the story since Hayley Atwell in Captain America.
Once Steve gets to the island the Germans attack Themyscira the movie gets rolling fast. There is a bomb that contains poison which could alter the war and must be stopped. Diana believes that only Ares could be behind such a weapon and leaves her island behind forever to defeat Ares and save man. There is a stop over in London where the EARNED jokes come hard and fast. Diana is out of her element, much like Thor when he loses his powers on Earth, only Diana is a much more realized character and a facial expression alone had the audience laughing at the absurdity of the sexism back in 1917.
Nothing in this movie would have been possible without Gal Gadot. She is effortless. There wasn’t a moment of joy, rage, fear, emotion, or loss that I didn’t buy in to 100%. Even during the “Standard Origin Story Beats” portion of the film she brought everything up a notch. This might be the best super hero casting since Robert Downey Jr. in regards to the actor just embodying every aspect of the character at all times. I can’t wait to see her in future DC movies.
Once we move the story to the front lines of WWI, the film speeds up even faster as we race towards an inevitable battle with Ares. There is a sequence that is so heroic and badass that I wish I could’ve rewound the film multiple times during my screening. When Diana exits the trenches and takes on the Germans in ‘No Man’s Land’ then liberates a town by *nearly* single-handedly taking out soldiers and a light tank? Chills. It was awesome. Her powers on full display was breathtaking. I loved it.
There were two minor complaints I had with the movie. Very minor but I want to talk about them. The first is petty as hell but the electric grunge EDM Wonder Woman theme that was in BvS and in the trailers is awful and should never be played again. When a beautiful score during a heroic battle gets cut off so some dummy can pop molly and rage on whatever iMac program made that racket theme, it takes me out of the moment. It didn’t fit the movie and doesn’t fit the character. I know it is petty but this is a wonderful film with a great character and the theme seems like a prank. The second complaint is the end battle. I know Marvel has a villain problem but is DC going to have the same ending to every movie? A dark set (at night, underground, or storming) as our hero punches a decent CGI villain while either lightening or fire rage around them? If so that is fine but Diana’s heroics of the trenches and town were far more satisfying than the cliche final battle. It didn’t ruin the movie but the film rose above those trappings for so long in the runtime only to have the typical climax of any other superhero movie ever.
Wonder Woman is a great movie. It is an absolute delight to watch and clocking in a nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes didn’t feel long at all. The summer is young but this is clearly the best movie of the season by a mile. Gal Gadot is the star of the summer and I enjoy seeing this movie succeed. I’m not some social justice warrior but girls deserve heroes just as cool as the boys. When I grew up it was Ninja Turtles, Batman, Superman, Bond, Darth Vader, etc. Great heroic female characters who stood on their own were sparse. Today we have Rey, Wonder Woman, Scarlett Witch, Black Widow, and soon Captain Marvel and Meera. That is awesome. Those characters are just as bad ass as their male counterparts and with Wonder Woman they can now have movies that are superior to their male hero counterparts.
Go see Wonder Woman. You won’t be disappointed. I have been highly critical of the DC Film Universe so far but after Wonder Woman I am truly hopeful and optimistic that this will be a film universe that I will look forward to and enjoy for years. Every Universe needs something to rotate around and I hope they put Wonder Woman at the center of this Universe going forward.