Wonder Woman (2017) Movie Review

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It’s actually quite baffling that we haven’t gotten a live action Wonder Woman movie on the big screen yet with her being such an iconic character. As a DC comics fan, I have always wanted her on the big screen. This movie doesn’t come a moment too soon. Warner Brothers and DC have been struggling with their cinematic universe. Last year, the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad let me down as both a fan and a filmgoer. I really liked Man Of Steel, but it still remains a divisive film. This, along with the behind the scenes we’ve seen surrounding a lot of the future DC movies, left me extremely cautious and nervous for Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman is awesome. I came out of the theater with a big smile on my face, my chest full of relief, and hopeful for the future of these movies. Wonder Woman functions more than a good entry to a series, Wonder Woman is a great film. This movie is a lot of fun, it’s inspiring, it’s full of great characters, and it’s a well-written story. Director Patty Jenkins has made a superhero film that’s not far behind the heavyweights of the sub-genre and should be celebrated.
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Director Patty Jenkins hasn’t directed a film since her Oscar Winning film #Monster in 2003. Why she hasn’t directed a film since then, I don’t know. But as a film to return with, this is returning with a bang. Jenkins has a made a film that feels cohesively apart of the same universe that #ZackSnyder first set up with Man of Steel yet stylistically distinct as well. Jenkins has spoken highly of #RichardDonner’s original #Superman as the inspiration she took into making this movie. While this movie feels very modern, you can see the influence that movie has over this. Wonder Woman is darker than Superman: The Movie, perhaps more complex from characterizations. But the joy and inspirational feel this movie has are dripping (which all feels very much like Dick Donner).
Patty Jenkins also brings her own style to brand the action of Wonder Woman. The large-scale set pieces have moments of sheer joy, beauty, fun, and sadness. This movie stages its action set pieces with distinctive beats and points in each moment of the action. Rarely does this movie just include visual noise and inane action (like some of the worst action scenes in Transformers). Even after seeing the movie once, I can recall specific and clear beats within the large slow motion filled action scenes.
Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad suffered from a lack of structure and cohesive scripts. These films felt all over the place and didn’t know how to aim focus. With Wonder Woman set so far in the past, it doesn’t really have to worry about setting up for the next DCEU film or have a Justice League tie into the plot. This movie got to focus solely on the character of Wonder Woman and her journey without having the baggage of setting up for other installments. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with “set up”, but when it’s done poorly it feels like a weight.
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Wonder Woman doesn’t have any of that weight on it. The story consists of a simple journey: a true origin story of a hero learning how to become a hero. Diana Prince has a core set of sincere principles. The fish out of water story (where Diana comes to merry old England) is played for laughs and social satire and works well in the movie. The feminist edge to the character is perfectly placed and balanced (and very much so a welcomed part of this experience) and doesn’t overplay the themes or story at hand.
The move to place this movie in the first World War will bring obvious comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger But while that movie captures the era in a pulpier sort of fashion, I think Wonder Woman is more of a grounded and historical look at the era. This movie feels more like a representation of the era (that’s not a knock towards First Avenger either, just two different approaches).
Gal Gadot reprises her role as Wonder Woman from Batman V Superman, a casting that I was nervous about but not against. I was nervous about it because of her limited acting experience. I think Gadot will prove all the doubters wrong here because she is simply inhabiting the character of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince…perfectly! She is simply and utterly likable in this role. She has a real sense of charm and earnestness that perfectly exemplifies the character. She powerfully commands the screen as the fierce warrior but can also be sweet and tender. Never once did I think of Gadot playing Wonder Woman, all I saw was Wonder Woman. I’ve seen many compare her to the likes of how Christopher Reeve inhabited the role of Superman back in 1978, and I think it’s a fair and justly comparison. You can see a bit of Reeve in Gadot’s performance. I have a feeling that she is going to be the benchmark years down the road when others have to start to take up the role of the character.
She has wonderful chemistry with the film’s other standout star Chris Pine. Pine continues to showcase why he is a really good actor as Steve Trevor. The romance that blooms between the two feels natural and honestly quite beautiful. The comedic edge both have (and with each other) is delightful. There is a wonderful scene in the movie where the action slows down, the story slows down, and the two just dance with each other. It’s one of the best scenes in the movie.
Is the movie perfect? Not quite. Most of the flaws are technical. Most of the slow-motion action scenes are excellent. However, it does get overused a bit and does feature some moments where the effects were not as polished. This includes the third act finale where there are a lot of explosions, fire, and more Zack Snyder styled action. I think for the most part it works and has moments of great excitement (and a few moments more of emotion). However, it is very noticeable and sometimes a little distracting, but I think the characters and the story more than make up for it. The villains are also very weak because they aren’t given a whole lot to do. I don’t think they are as bad as some make them out to be but they are weak none the less.
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This reminds me a bit of when I came out of Deadpool. Both movies have such joy and fun to them that made me want to turn around and see it again right after. Not every superhero film needs to have this (as earlier this year’s Logan proved), but this quality is part of why I loved the movie so much. This is a film that the more I think about the more I like. Perhaps my score for this movie will change eventually, but I know one thing is for sure: I’ll be revisiting this movie. It even made me want to watch parts of Batman V Superman again to see her character in greater context. Wonder Woman is a great and welcomed film. Go check it out for yourself.

Final Score

8.5/10

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