[THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS OF MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS REVIEW]
“Wonder Woman” is the fourth movie in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and it stars Gal Gadot as Princess Diana of Themyscira. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins and also features Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, and Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.
The best part of walking away from this movie was the sense of wonder (ha) that I felt as a DC fan and someone who wants to see Hollywood reflect diversity. Almost everything about this movie worked so well for me, and I’m incredibly happy to announce that “Wonder Woman” is the first great DC movie I’ve seen since I was in high school. I love the MCU and what they’ve been doing, and my only wish was that my DC characters would get the same treatment. In this movie, they accomplished this thanks to great direction, character moments, acting, and well shot sequences.
If you didn’t already know, this movie takes place in World War I, similar to “Captain America: The First Avenger” taking place in WW2. Diana receives a photo from Bruce (the same one he discovered in “Batman v Superman”…the one found on…*long sigh*…Lex Luthor’s drive…ugh, that movie) and the entire movie becomes a flashback that Diana is having about her first time experiencing our world. I actually liked this little detail because it helps the DCEU do some universe-building to see the Wayne Enterprises logo and a friendship between Bruce and Diana. Unfortunately, we do get somewhat of a slow start, but it was a slow start that felt necessary as the story progressed. Anyway, on to the rest of the movie!
There are three major action sequences in this movie, and 2 of them made my jaw drop. The first is on Themyscira itself, where Steve Trevor lands on the beach and brings a bunch of angry Germans with him. Not only does every shot of Paradise Island look amazing…but this fight on the beach was fantastic and emotions ran high between the characters. The third sequence, I’ll admit, got a little too CGI heavy and reminiscent of the Doomsday fight in “BvS”. The only reason I was invested in it was because I cared about the characters (more on that later). However…the second big action sequence in this movie…I was speechless. This takes place in the trenches and Diana decides it’d be a great idea to charge in by herself on to No Man’s Land. Every single shot and all the action in this scene…I still don’t know how to put it into words. This is on par with the Airport scene in “Civil War” or the warehouse scene in “BvS”. Not only was the action amazing, but you saw the character’s personality shine through her fighting methods. This is the first major fight Diana has been in, and you really get to see that through her confidence, bravery, and use of every weapon in her arsenal. Even the way she looks at the German soldiers right before pummeling them makes me think “yep, that’s Wonder Woman”, which brings me to my next point.
Because I’m 22 and was a kid when the DC animated universe was big, my bar for the DCEU has always been to compare it to that. Because of this, Affleck WAS Batman to me…everything he said and did just screamed “Batman: The Animated Series” or “Justice League” to me. This is the exact way I feel about Gadot as Wonder Woman…as in she IS Wonder Woman. The combo of Jenkins’ direction and the casting of Gadot was fantastic, as she really portrays the innocence, curiosity, and grace that Diana would have when first coming to the world of men. Pair that with Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor and you have sparks flying off of the screen. What made the movie for me were these little moments we had with the two, both being fish out of water in each other’s worlds. These moments where he teaches her how to dance, where Steve gets hit with the lasso of truth, where Diana tries ice cream for the first time (straight from the New 52, I love it) are just so refreshing. I’m glad to see more and more superhero movies doing this, because we watch these movies for the characters, and we need to see these little moments that humanize such heroic characters like Wonder Woman.
Aside from the actors capturing the feelings of these characters in each scenario, Diana (and in turn, the audience) gets a realistic view of how horrible World War I was. If you’re not a history nerd, World War I was especially gruesome because its when warfare started to “modernize” and use chemical weaponry and weapons that could simply kill a huge amount of people in one sitting. Diana gets to see things like this and the horror on everyone’s faces, and the fact that so much blind hate can exist among men. I’m actually glad they used WWI because we don’t see much of it in film these days and people forget just how insane it was.
Despite my praise for this movie, I think it did falter a little in the third act. Think of a majestic swan that takes off slowly, flies gracefully for a long time, but then trips just a little bit on the landing before sticking it….that’s the best way I can describe it without spoiling anything. Despite this, I’ve mentioned before that the messy third act didn’t ruin the fact that I was already so immersed, because we still get amazing character moments. Alas, like many comic book movies nowadays, the villain wasn’t really anything special and seemed a little disposable. It was cool to see some things that I never thought I’d see as a comic fan on the big screen, but I still felt a little bummed about the lack of impact this villain is going to have in the overall DCEU. Additionally, the writing sometimes goes for low hanging fruit when it comes to some of the humor and lines, although not as much as previous titles in the DCEU (what is this, some kind of…stab at “Suicide Squad”?). Regardless, the movie ends well and I was overjoyed to see that critics and audiences both loved it.
Not to sound too optimistic, but “Wonder Woman” will light a fire in Hollywood and I hope it becomes clear that audiences want more blockbuster movies to be like this, be it because of the female lead, the character moments, or whatever else charmed you during this film. Gadot brings justice (ha) to a beloved DC character and regardless of if you’re a DC fanboy/girl or just love fun movies, I highly recommend seeing this movie in theaters.
Wonder Woman gets an 8.5/10