June 24, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

I am not exactly sure that I am going to have anything new to offer to the discourse on this film other than what has already been said. With that said, I guess I could start in the usual, controversial, fashion and say “Finally! DC has a good film in their new cinematic universe.” Wonder Woman is a legitimate excellent film, worlds ahead of Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad. It is not perfect, but it is a truly entertaining film with good performances, a more focused story, It just works. It appears they weren’t trying to hard to make it large or overly complicated. It all feels organic more than planned. This is a good thing.

Wonder Woman was directed by Patty Jenkins, whose sole other theatrical credit is directing the serial killer biopic Monster, back in 2003. With Wonder Woman, she has shepherded a female empowering superhero onto the big screen and has made it successful without resorting to the typical male gaze of the superhero comic. It was sort of refreshing to have a female led film that did not feel the need to overly sexualize the women and have them indebted to any male character. This is also due to the screenplay, which was written by Allan Heinberg, based on a story he co-wrote with Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs.

The first thing the movie does is ensure the audience that it is, indeed, a part of the existing DC universe. We are brought into the story by a delivery from Bruce Wayne to Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). It is a picture of Wonder Woman with a group of men during World War I with a note suggesting perhaps she will tell her story one day. This triggers the story being told, entirely in flashback.

We see a young Diana on the secret island of the Amazons, Themyscira. She is being raised by her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and trained as a warrior by Antiope (Robin Wright). We learn a little about their society, their connections to the gods, and how they have been charged with defending humanity against the god of war, Ares. Of course, the day this fight could take place may never come, but as these things go the day is closer than you think.

The island is inadvertently discovered by Capt. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy working for the British gathering intelligence on the Germans, specifically on Dr. Maru (Elena Anayu). She is known as Dr. Poison and is developing a devastating poison gas to unleash on soldiers of both sides. She is working with Ludendorff (Danny Huston), the diabolical head of the German forces.

Well, as it goes, Diana becomes convinced the war is the result of Ares influence and is determined to leave the island to confront Ares and stop the war. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Diana learns of the world outside of her island and how the world of man exists in endless shades of grey.

Wonder Woman is a solid film led by the very capable Gal Gadot, she casts a fine, powerful image as Wonder Woman. The story is the usual origin story, but it works quite well. I am reminded a bit of Captain America: The First Avenger. They are both period pieces that allow our hero to be established in more of a bubble outside the larger universe. In any case, Wonder Woman is a film to enjoy, solidly written, well acted, and just a lot of fun.

If there are any complaints, there was a bit too much slow motion and, like with a lot of CG action, there is an annoying weightlessness to it. This is more of a general thing that has affected a lot of recent superhero films, there is this disconnect between the action and real life and it looks off.

All right. I am not really sure what to say about this film. I am a little burned out on the superhero as genre, so I guess I can say I am glad there are still films being made that can hold my interest. Wonder Woman kept me involved, I liked the characters and I was interested in them. It is also good to see a female-centric adaptation take theaters by storm and succeed. Hopefully this will lead to further diversity in the superhero game.

Highly Recommended.

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