Honestly, this DC comics movie is just too competently edited, it has way too much character depth and development, and the music cues are actually implemented correctly. Plus, it has colours and you can see what’s going on!
I am being facetious: Wonder Woman was great!
Diana is a princess of the Amazon warriors living on the idyllic paradise of Themyscira, which is sheltered from the real world by a magical barrier created by Zeus. But Diana’s sheltered perceptions are about to change when a man crashes his plane through the barrier having escaped the chaos of World War One. With the Amazons designed to defend the world, Diana feels honor bound to face the carnage.
It has been a rough road for DC and their fledgling Expanded Universe. Under the guidance of Warner Brothers Studios and director Zack Snyder each of their films have been fundamentally flawed. Enjoyable at times, but by no means “well made” movies. A little startling is the fact that Wonder Woman isn’t made by Snyder, and seemingly hasn’t been butchered by studio executives, but instead has been directed by Patty Jenkins, whose debut film Monster collected an Academy Award for Leading Actress.
More startling, is that Wonder Woman is a film. As in a film with a coherent plot and editing that makes sense, and characters deeper than one line of dialogue who go through challenges and personal doubts. A film, that could actually move an audience emotionally.
Gal Gadot reprises her role as Diana from last year’s Batman Vs Superman, perhaps the one shining thing in that film (albeit unnecessary) and she doesn’t disappoint here. While the sheltered Amazonian beginnings might give predictable portents for her and could have weakened her character, the film balances her development almost perfectly. Chris Pine (Star Trek) accompanies her as an American spy, Steven Trevor, a man of action but more importantly a cynical man brought up in a time of chaos and politics.
Incredibly, these two are the heart of the film, more so than any action set piece. Diana’s ignorance but extraordinary convictions and strength, tussling with Steve’s need for something more tangible and real to fight. They both have a lot to learn from each other, and gratefully their chemistry is compelling and drives the story along. They are given equal footing.
The setting, The Great War, is a fine choice to oppose Diana’s youthful optimism and headstrong beliefs that men are inherently good. We see her being worn down by the senseless travesties around her, and her rallying against it all with furious strength; culminating at an incredible sequence upon No Man’s Land at the trenches.
But do not fear, those burned by DC’s previous grim-dark storytelling. Wonder Woman does have moments of levity dusted throughout, in an almost Thor-esque manner when Diana arrives in 1910s London, she wonderfully balances awkwardness at misunderstanding human society of the time but also dressing down the pigheaded individuals she encounters.
But more than simply injecting fun into the mix, there’s a similarity to 1978’s Superman, our hero is a positive force of action, none of this grim and brooding mentality that has plagued the DC films recently. Probably one of the most respectable aspects of the film, and one of the things that elevates it above even Marvel’s recent cascade of movies.
There are some little issues, but the good outweighs them. Some of the effects are dodgy looking; some composite shots are clearly green-screen and will look dated within months, while DC remains a bit hampered by the need to fully-CG actors to allow them to fly through walls and punch tanks around the place. Does it do anything new as a superhero film, not exactly; if you are bored of the genre, Wonder Woman won’t change your mind.
But this is the classic origin story formula that audiences have been dying to see from DC ever since Man of Steel emerged. A solid, balanced, exciting and surprisingly human story that adds heart and emotional purpose to the characters and the chaos around them.
A very, very strong 4/5