Wonder Woman is finally here with her own feature DC Universe Film, and it is better than anybody had any right to hope for (Major props to female director Patty Jenkins!). Last summer Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad both did well on earnings, but poor on actually being good films. They were dark and had tone issues. Their comedy often missed the mark, and all emotion felt forced (Insert Martha joke here). Luckily Wonder Woman fixes all of these problems. A strong, colorful film with fantastic acting and a strong female lead, Wonder Woman is seriously the best DC Universe film we have seen, and the best Warner Brothers comic film since The Dark Knight.
Wonder Woman stars Gal Godot as Wonder Woman and follows her first foray into becoming a super hero. She grows up on the Amazonian homeland, an island paradise hidden in time and only inhabited by women. However, it cannot stay hidden forever and eventually a British spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane near the island. When Wonder Woman saves him it sets off a chain of events that pulls her into World War I, where she must help him to get stolen secrets back to the British commanders. The major antagonist in the film is a chemist named Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) who is working on newer, deadlier chemical weapons for the Germans in order to turn the tide of the war. Eventually we see Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor head to the front lines in order to help stop Dr. Maru and end WWI.
What I loved about the film
The film has many things going for it, including brilliant casting, great period and set pieces, and entertaining fight sequences.
Gal Godot is wonderfully cast as Wonder Woman. First off, she is gorgeous and strong, so she fits the Amazonian image- but more than that she is simply filled with hope and almost naive optimism. It is wonderfully refreshing. Watching her react to the sight of snow or the taste of ice cream for the first time are some of the most enjoyable parts of the film. Chris Pine is another great casting choice. Together they have great chemistry, and their scenes are effortlessly endearing. Pine is a charming and humorous presence throughout the film, and brings almost as much heart to it as Godot does. I would also be remiss if I did not mention Robin Wright, who plays Antiope, the Amazonian general and aunt of Wonder Woman. It has been wonderfully surprising to see the resurgence of Princess Buttercup (Princess Bride) decades later as the intelligent and cutthroat Claire Underwood in House Of Cards. This film offered another amazing twist in her career, watching her become a fierce warrior with kick ass moves. One of my favorite parts in the film was watching her in battle. More please.
That, of course, brings me to the next part that worked really well- the battle scenes. There are three major fights throughout the film and each of them is entertaining and enthralling to watch. The movie makes sure that each battle stands apart on its own and is distinct from the other two. The first battle is flashy and a spectacle of amazonian style. Lots of bright color and impressive women pulling off really cool moves. Their fighting style is very reminiscent of Captain America’s style, but even more high energy. The final battle is your average end of comic book show down, but done better than any of the other DCU final battles in my opinion. The second though was by far my favorite and it was Wonder Woman’s shining moment in the film. In the second battle we see her charge through no mans land at the front lines of the war, an area that soldiers have been unable to break through for an entire year. I loved everything about this scene. When everybody around Wonder Woman was saying “No you can’t do this.” Wonder Woman said “Yes I can.” It is naive optimism in the best way and a glorious moment. She charges in and kicks everybody’s ass, complete with the fantastic Wonder Woman theme music blaring as she takes out German soldier after German soldier, and it is the best thing ever.
All in all, though, it is just a really good film tonally. It is the first DC film where the entire theater laughed out loud numerous times and it didn’t feel like the film was trying too hard (I’m looking at you Suicide Squad). The period setting is also rich and filled with good moments for her to riff off of as a strong woman who does not care about the sexism of the 20th century. A great moment in the film sees her enter a room filled with men, a place where she clearly doesn’t belong. They all fall quiet in shock at her presence and she just does not care. She’s there to get things done, and I loved it. The film is filled moments like these. Overall it really just has a lot of heart, and has a lot to say about women empowerment without being preachy. Throughout the film Wonder Woman wants to see the best in the world and people, and that is a stirring message these days.
What doesn’t work
The movie is fantastically acted and directed, but it isn’t perfect. Some have commented on how formulaic it is in the Marvel style. I would say that isn’t exactly a bad thing, since the formula works, but others might call this movie ‘safe’. It also drags a bit in the last half hour. It is a long movie. My biggest complaint, by far, though is that her final message about LOVE is absolutely groan inducing (As in somebody in the theater groaned and numerous people burst into laughter) and some of the dialogue is really cheesy. There was also a character that drew more laughter due to his appearance, and I don’t think the director intended for us to find it funny.
The complaints against the film though are minor, especially in comparison to the rest of the DC Universe so far. Speaking of which, while this movie was fantastic I’m still not sure I have any faith in the DC Universe. Everything about this film was great because it was a period piece super hero film that stood on its own. The weakest parts of the film were the opening and end scenes that tried to tie it back into the larger Universe. Personally, I would prefer more Wonder Woman films and less DCU. Still, at least this movie does show that Warner is starting to move their comic films in the right direction. They found their footing with Wonder Woman, now lets see if they can keep it.