So it was finally time to see if the DCEU could bounce back after back to back misfires in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. With fans not sure if they wanted to continue supporting this universe, it seemed like Wonder Woman would have to be the hero to save it. I was optimistic when they announced that Patty Jenkins would be at the helm of this movie, but I was also nervous because of Gal Gadot being an unproven actress. There was definitely a lot of pressure on the first big budget female led superhero movie. Were they able to pull it off? Could they save this ship before it completely sunk?
Yes. Wonder Woman exceeded my expectations in every way imaginable. The secret to its success starts with the Wonder Woman character herself. There were several sides of her that shined through out the film. At the beginning we’re thrown into Themyscira, the home of the Amazons. There we see her grow up and you start to get a sense of what type of person she is. She’s stubborn, naive, and extremely kind. These are characteristics that she continues to show at every stage of the film. My favorite was definitely the portrayal of her naivety. She has this childlike charm to her when first exploring the outside world. She has no idea about simple things that make up society in that era so she has to learn. Watching her stumble her way through it while stressing out a very nervous Steve Trevor was absolutely hilarious. That along with her kindness and her sincerity were really what elevated the film’s screenplay. There is this deep sense of humanity that this movie is drenched in. They show the good and bad side of people. When she’s exposed to the horrors of war she wants to immediately jump on the battlefield and help any way she can. Which brings me to a point that kinda made me sad.
This is the first DCEU film where the main character actually felt heroic. Batman is a murderer and Superman doesn’t really come across as a hero. Wonder Woman actually feels like she is a hero. Her motivation for what she does is so she can help people and bring peace. She carries herself as a symbol of hope while Superman just tells you. She has all of the characteristics I would have loved in a movie version of Superman. She may be naive about guns and at times run in without thinking, but in the face of danger she does what she feels is right.
I also loved the tone of the film. While the other DCEU films are shrouded in darkness and lack any type of hope or optimism, there is an ever present sense of hope in this movie. There were really no tonal conflicts either, despite their attempt at adding some comedy into the film. It never got out of hand like in other films *cough Doctor Strange cough* because they knew when to insert a joke and what character should be the one making it.
Which brings me to the action sequences. It can get pretty tricky to show the power of a goddess, but I think they got it right. There is such a sense of ferocity in every swing and every leap during these sequences that it got me to go “oh shit” plenty of times. This is especially true during a scene that I’ll refer to as the no man’s land fight. Right there before my eyes I watched Diana Prince become Wonder Woman. Her actions were able to lift the morale of the people around her and got me invested in the characters hoping they would get out of the situation okay. It’s a fight that can go toe to toe with the best that comic book movies have to offer. If there was a downside to the action, it would have to be the constant slow motion. In the first act I felt like they overused it, but as the movie progressed the I think they utilized that style a lot better.
With all of these things I loved in this film, I still haven’t addressed the acting. Was Gal Gadot the right choice all along? Yes. Yes she was. I’ve been unsure about whether she could pull this movie off ever since it was announced, but damn did she bring it. With a passionate and absolutely charming performance, Gal Gadot has effectively silenced at least one of her critics. She was a joy to watch in this role as this “fish out of water” exploring our world for the first time. Her physicality was believable, her personality showed in the comedic moments, and she brought sincerity when needed. A lot of credit needs to out to Patty Jenkins for allowing Gadot to really go for it. Who cares about what her perceived weaknesses as an actress were? This was her movie and Jenkins put her center stage whenever it was necessary. There are scenes where it’s just Wonder Woman standing there with whatever emotion she’s feeling, and Gadot nailed those scenes.
Gadot was also fortunate that her co-star Chris Pine would give a show stealing performance as Steve Trevor. Pine effectively brought this down to earth vibe to a movie that was anything but grounded. His more laid back demeanor shined through here especially during any interaction with Gadot. Their chemistry absolutely off the charts here. The comedic timing was on point and their emotional moments were believable. What I loved most about them together are their conversations where Wonder Woman questions certain aspects of humanity. The back and forth feels real and I appreciated that the movie wasn’t afraid to save time for these type of conversations.
A lot of what I didn’t like in Wonder Woman was minor. I mentioned that the slow motion action felt tedious at the beginning of the film, but the scenes in Themyscira as a whole weren’t all that impressive. Yes it was cool to see how their society runs, but things got infinitely more interesting when Steve Trevor entered the film. The villains in the film aren’t really given much as far as development goes. I did like what they eventually did with the main villain though. The CGI was a bit inconsistent too. Some of the effects look great, while others were clearly green screen and looked really goofy.
Overall, Wonder Woman was an absolute triumph and a welcome addition to the comic book movie genre. We now have an actual hero in the DCEU and I couldn’t be more pumped about it. I think they executed the story they wanted to tell, and in the process made a star out of Gal Gadot. Patty Jenkins’ vision for this movie came through and it gives me more hope for other talented directors to step in for these DCEU films (James Wan i’m talking about you). So far the comic book movies in 2017 are 3 for 3. Hopefully, the second half of the year continues the success.
Wonder Woman gets a 91/100