Film Review – Wonder Woman
My first glimpse of Wonder Woman was walking into Hall H at San Diego Comic Con to the debut of the first trailer. At that point, I would have paid to see it just based on that trailer, but nonetheless, I would have to wait almost a year to see the finished product. However, great trailers and great films don’t always match up as we all know too well. Suicide Squad would be the best example of this in 2016. Yes, all the Wonder Woman trailers are great, but would the marketing material match up with what we see in a theatre?
Wonder Woman is an origin story of sorts. It shows Diana (Gal Gadot) growing up on Themyscira, daughter of the Amazon queen, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). She is trained hard by her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), even though her mother has shielded her from having to fight in any battles. The bubble is burst (literally and figuratively) when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands his plane in the sea outside of Themyscira. He is the first man that Diana has laid eyes on, and he brings war with him. The outside world is in the middle of WWI, and, of hearing of this, Diana feels it is her duty to defeat this war created by the Greek god Ares. It is only when she arrives in London that she sees the world is much different from her own. Relying on a small group of Trevor’s friends to get her to the front, Diana is placed in direct battle with this war and those who created and continue it.
Gal Gadot was not an obvious choice to play Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, but she proved to be the shining light in the dull Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She demonstrated herself worthy of the iconic and beloved character. Stepping into the full spotlight of a film devoted to her, Gadot rises to the occasion and makes the character her own. She is charming, beautiful, strong, determined, but completely ignorant of the world outside her own. It is from this naivety that much of the humor in Wonder Woman comes from, both in her observations and contact with the modern world. Unfortunately, most of comedic highlights from it have already been shown in the trailers. Paramount above all else is that Gadot is seen as Wonder Woman. She is believable as this unstoppable woman with newly discovered superpowers. She is basically all that is good in the world, unspoiled, yet she is fighting with a vengeance against the madness and evil in the world. It is an interesting dichotomy as she does not hesitate to kill those who may harm others or are to her innately evil. She is not Batman or Superman, and that is a good thing.
The Themyscira origin part of the film is the most enjoyable act of the film. It lasts about 45 minutes before she embarks with Steve to London. I wish that part was a bit longer, but that would have resulted in a three-hour film. Two different battle sequences are so good that I had chills. Her “reveal” on No Man’s Land is so well-shot and emotion-evoking because here is this woman doing what no man would do for over a year. She is fearless. This sequence alone is worthy of seeing Wonder Woman again. The second sequence is Diana taking back a village from the Germans and further demonstrates her superpowers. This shows her sword (“The God Killer”), shield, and Lasso of Truth in full action. That lasso is probably one of the best elements of the story along with all the characters she meets along the way.
The story, at times, can feel disjointed and not flow as well as it could. The film is preoccupied with showing off Wonder Woman’s strength and superpowers, and feels rushed to the next battle. Her powers are taken to an extreme, throwing caution to the wind and displaying them in very obvious, exaggerated CGI. If it had been dialed back a few notches, these scenes would not have come off as fake as they did. It’s almost like someone was playing a video game and learned how to use the Game Genie to exaggerate every fight move.
Go ahead and file Wonder Woman in the win column for DC Comics. Where others have failed completely or just did not live up to the hype, Wonder Woman impresses. I could not be more thrilled that a major film about a female superhero directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, is all that it promised to be and more. It’s not perfect, but it is leaps and bounds better than its DC Comic recent predecessors. I can only imagine that a second film is waiting in the wings and all of the parties that made this a success will be back. One can hope that Justice League might be good, but we don’t want to push our luck. At least the masses will come out to see this Wonder Woman in her third outing.
P.S. There is no post-credits scene.