Let’s all be happy to know that the DC Extended Universe has finally found its first great film! I was pretty disappointed with it’s first three outings; Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. That being said, it became a sigh of relief to know that Wonder Woman was the first film in this universe to capture a beloved character’s origins and give us an absolute blast of a superhero movie. The problem with the first three movies in the DCEU is that they were trying too hard to catch up to Marvel’s success in building a cinematic universe. It made all three films feel too bloated with so many hints at future installments and thus, hard to take in. Fortunately with Wonder Woman, it tells one complete story from beginning to end, with little connection to the upcoming Justice League movie later this year.
Diana’s upbringing from a stubborn little girl who dreams of becoming an Amazonian warrior to the fierce superhero we all know and love today is handled with patience and maturity. Her development as a character never once felt rushed. Gal Gadot humanizes a character that otherwise could have been a boring indestructible character (considering she’s basically a god). Gadot is great in showing Diana’s naive personality of the real human world, which adds much to her character’s depth, as she may be a fierce warrior, but still has much to learn.
Gadot and her other cast members all have great performances. The real standout, however, is Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor. Chris Pine, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated actors in the business right now. His talent shines in this film; he adds a lot of heart to the movie. This is most prevalent in his and Gadot’s chemistry, which never once felt forced. Yes, as a moviegoer, we all know Pine is the love interest, but their romantic subplot is held with maturity and patience. There is a scene in which Steve and Diana share an awkward boat ride and the subject of sex is brought up. It’s a charming, non-offensive, and hilarious scene that is easily one of my favorites in the film.
One major flaw, character wise, is the villain. Without spoiling too much of this character, I will say that he is just completely uninteresting. It’s one of those villains that is evil for the sake of being evil. In one scene, he is disappointed by one his men and just shoots the guy in front of everyone to be evil. Everyone can agree upon that this is one of the most cliche villain tropes ever. A great superhero is truly defined by their villain counterpart. So it’s a shame that such an intriguing hero goes up against such a boring villain.
I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful the cinematography was. Diana’s home island of Themyscira is green, lush, and vibrant, while London feels dark and gritty. Director Patty Jenkins is not shy at giving us long and wide landscape shots to show how much work went into these set pieces. The battlefields that show No Man’s Land are ugly and destroyed, which makes Wonder Woman’s first real action scene standout from the rest as her red costume perfectly contrasts the dark and grey feel of the war.
It does take a little time for the action to get going, as we had two fish out of water character arcs to go through first. These sections of the film could have been slightly shorter as they started to drag after a while. There are a lot of jokes in these scenes that add some much needed humor to the “dark, dark, dark” tone that the DCEU has been trying to implement. It’s a nice change of pace to get some more light-hearted moments. Once the action does get going though, it gets going!
There are about four epic battles that are worth waiting for. The stunt work mixed with the chaotic special effects mesh wonderfully (pun intended) together. Wonder Woman is acrobatic and agile. Some of the action set pieces were reminiscent of Captain America: The First Avenger, which I was completely okay with. She uses all her weapons to full badassery. Even her whip, which could’ve came off as silly, ended up adding to some of my favorite action moments. I could’ve done with less slow-motion shots however. While they do serve their purpose in some aspects, it started to overstay it’s welcome pretty quickly. The Zach Snyder influence is obvious here as he did have a hand in the film as a producer and co-writer.
Another gripe I had with the action was the CGI. While absolutely gorgeous from a technical standpoint at certain times, it’s sad that there are some noticeably bad CGI moments in a 2017 superhero movie. The final battle being the most disappointing example of such. Some of the more heavy hitting blows just looked way too animated. Other than that, the way the action scenes are executed make it a fun movie-going experience.
For DC, this is a breathe fresh air that they must be experiencing. For three lackluster movies starting off, it’s great that Wonder Woman is the one to break that unlucky streak. Wonder Woman is a character that’s been held dear by fans for years, and her first true live action standalone movie seems to be the film they wanted. They also addressed the current situation regarding Feminism in today’s society. There’s no political agenda being pushed forward in the film. They represent Wonder Woman as a hero that anyone strives to be, whether they are male or female. This is a movie that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of gender. While it may have some bad pacing moments from time to time, the movie never gets boring.
For fans of Wonder Woman, or just superhero movies for that matter, I highly recommend watching Wonder Woman in theaters.