I knew it would happen eventually. I would walk out of a DC movie without feeling the wrinkles on my face forming their own new creases as I tried to think about how it could have been salvaged. Since the travesty of Green Lantern though, this is the best thing Warner Brothers have been able to produce, and I feel like it really should not have taken this long. I was so worried that the character had been forced into Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice without care and would be dead on arrival, but she was one of the better parts there and I’m glad to say that upswing continued. Now taking the spotlight, Wonder Woman has made a lot of waves at the box office and could rise to be the company’s crown jewel of a hero for this generation.
This is a pretty good movie, but not a great one. Thankfully, it is something many were asking for, and compared to its predecessors, Wonder Woman really was a god.
The movie opens up with a scene that put me in a bad place, making me remember Batman V Superman, as the focus on that picture of her from World War I sets up our framework pieces. The bulk of the story takes place in the past and many elements of the plot mirror the first Captain America film, and that ending sure as hell does. The sections with Diana as a girl and on Themyscira are wonderfully done and certainly my favorite part of the experience. I would have enjoyed a feature length movie just based off those stories, but the plot dictates that we must leave the colorful island and enter that drab world of industry and war, even though it still manages somehow to look brighter than BVS. The depiction of war here, forcing audiences to see a slightly more realistic glance at the consequences of violence, was handled well. Seeing the Amazonian warrior out of her element and experiencing firsthand what Zeus created with man, made me feel a bit more for the character.
Wonder Woman can sometimes have a weaker version of the Superman syndrome. She’s so strong and hard to hurt physically, that she might seem too indestructible to worry about. In this movie though, we see her fear early on and watch our hero get knocked around a good bit later, almost outmatched, and certainly unable to save everyone. Many good writers have given Diana character and interesting points, but here there is limited time to do that, so most of it is through her interactions with Steve Trevor and her views on humanity. Both of those elements work well, but it is those first parts with her mother that hit right. This works out well and the movie takes the best approach to showing human nature on multiple levels. This continues even in the back-and-forth with the big bad, Ares. The ending is the weakest part, a bit too reliant on CGI silliness—though I did love his armor and weapons—and this video game boss fight is solved by her ability to show compassion. Why the hell did she have to say love? What saves the ending is that each character felt like they had a purpose and there was no real McGuffin to find or stop, as everything had a reliable motivation. Was anyone else shocked there wasn’t an end credits scene?
I know some people complained about the acting, but I thought everyone did quite well in their roles and Chris Pine felt less bored to be there than I thought he would. I know Gal Gadot isn’t a great actress, but she’s totally embracing the character and her accent and awkwardness with certain lines just helps to make Diana feel more exotic and mythological. The cheesy poses that she kept striking went along with this and were reminding me of watching the 70s television show with my sister, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I think the biggest problem for me in the movie was the action scenes. They’re fun, don’t misunderstand me. The issue is with how they are shot and overdoing it all. It’s that odd slow motion and speeding up, which is called speed-ramping. Anyone familiar with Zack Snyder’s work will recognize it, though it has been tweaked some it would seem. The choreography was fine on its own and didn’t really need this extra flare—thank god there was no excessive lens flare at least. This isn’t a big problem and probably won’t bother a lot of people, but I do think it’ll stick out more upon repeat viewings. My other issues are few and quite small, so there is no worry about them taking away from the overall experience, which I still rate high.
Let’s not get too hasty on celebrating this victory though, as this could be a one-time thing for the near future. DC still has Justice League coming out with its shaky production history and they greenlit Suicide Squad 2 for some reason, but we can all still root for Aquaman. Wonder Woman does give me some hope though. Without a new Batman movie to critique yet, she may be the hero Warner Brothers needs, and the one we deserve.
I do wonder how long I will remember this one. I think it’ll wind up on my shelf, and I would like to watch it again for sure, but it might get lost in the sea of superhero titles. For many others though Wonder Woman will linger in their minds much longer. Some are holding the character up as a feminist figure, and I’m not the writer here to discuss whether this is the hero women need, especially when there are so many viable options in the real world, but it sure is cool to see little girls interested in comic book movies, and there is nothing wrong with having an icon. Moreover, I’m glad to finally see a female-led and directed story for the genre. I’m glad there is a newer DC movie I can talk up and recommend for people, and I think it’s time to pick up a few Wonder Woman comics again.