Review - 'Wonder Woman'
Everyone take a deep breath, like, really deep. Now, I want you to take your time letting it out as audibly as your vocal chords will allow because we finally have a great film in the DC extended universe. While the movie is still a bit rough around the edges, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman is a refreshing breath of life amidst the funeral dirge that is the DCEU.
Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (Gal Gadot), a woman who has spent her whole life on Themyscira; a hidden island inhabited by fierce warrior women called the Amazons. When a pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) flies through the barrier and crashes into the ocean, Diana rescues him. When Steve tells her there is a "war to end all wars" taking place in the world outside, she immediately takes it upon herself to go out and stop it.
It's sort of insane that it has taken this long to get a great Wonder Woman movie, let alone a female-led superhero movie at all. I also find it very sad and honestly just plain stupid that certain people thought that female-led superhero films wouldn't be a viable investment after Catwoman and Elektra bombed. Really? Nobody had the sense to look a little deeper into those failures and determine that maybe those films weren't successful because they were complete garbage? Nah, it must have not made money because a woman was leading the charge, I mean, remember how unsuccessful Alien, Terminator, T2: Judgement Day, The Hunger Games and so many others were?
Well who's laughing now? Wonder Woman made over $100 million at the box office this past weekend and absolutely crushed expectations. Financial and critical success aside, what did I personally think of the film? Well, I don't think it's perfect, not even amazing really, but it gets the job done and it even made me shed a couple of tears in the process. Before I rave about everything Wonder Woman gets right, let me voice a few of my problems with it.
The main aspect of Wonder Woman that bothered me was its divisive third act. I was expecting something a bit better from the finale of this film, mainly because up until that point the movie had felt very human and believable. While it doesn't lose its heart, it does turn into a bit of a cartoon, and yes, there's a big CG villain that, while cool looking, is poorly conceived and appears virtually out of nowhere. These shoddy and forced moments are fortunately counter-balanced with some of the film's most beautiful and touching scenes that go a long way in salvaging what could have been a pretty poor ending to a great film.
Wonder Woman also sticks eerily close to the template laid out in Captain America: The First Avenger. While it didn't completely mimic that movie, it did come off as unoriginal at times. There were many instances throughout Wonder Woman where I got that sneaking feeling of deja-vu.
Despite these flaws, Wonder Woman fires on all cylinders when it comes to everything else. I love the positive and triumphant spirit that this film has. Wonder Woman could have easily ventured off into dark and gritty territory, especially with World War I as its setting, but it didn't. Patty Jenkins was smart to infuse Diana with a believable naivety and naturally optimistic personality. There's also, God forbid, humor! Which up until this point was something of a four letter word in the DC universe.
Gal Gadot turned out the be the perfect fit for the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. I was initially skeptical of her, having really only seen her in the Fast and the Furious films and Batman V. Superman, but Gadot really surprised me. Her character has many layers and nuances that I didn't expect. Chris Pine is also great as Steve Trevor; he's a very charming character with human flaws and his chemistry with Diana is endearing and believable. Also, Robin Wright is a complete and utter badass as the Amazon warrior Antiope.
I was also impressed with the quality of the action in Wonder Woman. The choreography is spot-on and is filmed in a way where you can see every angle and you get a real sense of the geography of every sequence, especially with the close-quarters combat. The movie does occasionally get bogged down in less-than-stellar CGI, particularly towards the end, but it's not unforgivably bad.
I'm happy to say that we're finally at the turning point, because Wonder Woman is here and she's just about everything I could have wanted. The movie itself might not quite be perfect, but its message is transcendent, its motives are clear and its heart is in precisely the right place. Go, Wonder Woman!