I’m crawling back into the world of movie reviewing to give yet another opinion on Wonder Woman. Don’t worry though, mine is better than everyone else’s…
I could write an entire review only about my thoughts in the months – even years – leading up to this film’s release. After I saw Suicide Squad I went into a cold, dark place of bad DCEU movies. I’m not going to lie, it was brutal. So I was basically to the point where I was convinced Wonder Woman would be another big disappointment. It is directed by Patty Jenkins who made Monster in 2003. I watched it in preparation for WW’s release and garnered some faith. Long story short, these last two weeks of outstanding reviews began to excite me, which reached its peak as I sat down in seat F8. I can finally and happily say that Wonder Woman is anything but a let-down.
The first third or so of the movie takes place on an island called Themyscira, a land of women created by gods where everyone is good and separated from the evil of the rest of the world. As far as Wonder Woman’s or Princess Diana’s origins goes, its fairly straightforward in terms of exposition but lets you know right away who this character is, which I assume is accurate to the comics. I don’t love the god-like and greek origins as opposed to a more grounded story which I realize is problematic, especially at the end which I will get into later.
Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Connie Nielson were all terrific in the Themyscira scenes. There’s a short fight sequence on the beach which was beyond fantastic and utilized its special effects wonderfully (pun intended). It was because these scenes were so great that I wanted more of them in the beginning and especially in the end to bring a little closure.
Diana meets Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor and soon the two of them ship off to London to fight in World War I, after stealing a “God-killing” sword. There are some iffy lines that are cringe-worth but not too much. Since Diana only knows life in Themyscira she is like a fish out of water in London trying to acclimate to a drastically new culture. There are easy comedic moments in these scenes that hit perfectly. At risk of nitpicking too much, the early WWI aspects seemed a bit too simplified. They functioned the story though and did not waver my enjoyment at all.
This far into the film I was well invested and cared for the main players in it. But to put it into a metaphor, it was driving at 25 mph in first gear. In the first war scene all that changed when I literally had a jaw-dropping moment of amazement. If you’ve seen the film you know exactly the moment I’m alluding to. I almost teared up because of that one scene’s significance and bad ass-ness.
I also want to praise the Wonder Woman theme “Is She With You?” because it has redefined the word, epic. I had to look it up to find out that it’s an electric cello being played in that opening rift. It plays throughout various action scenes and elevates them to an other-worldly experience. If you’ve seen BVS you know that it plays in that movie’s best moment.
For the next two paragraphs I’m going to enter SPOILER territory. If you decide to read on it’s hopefully because you’ve watched the last act of this film where I had an interesting experience. Throughout the film Diana is talking about killing Ares, the god of war, to which everyone kind of shrugs off due to her naivety. I was also one of those people. Obviously she’s not going to find this Ares guy, he’s not real. That is what I was thinking most of the movie. Low and behold, Ares shows up disguised as David Thewlis, an actor who if you’ve seen this season of FX’s Fargo, you know can be an effective and despicable villain. This took me by surprise because I assumed the movie would end with killing Ludendorff and Doctor Poison, both disappointing villains by the way. I was at first put off by Ares showing up but then I realized it was set up and possible within this world, as Wonder Woman/Diana is proof of. Not only that, but they were also brother and sister.
Between the incoherence of the final battle scene and my mind working through the above issues, the third act was a bit messy. The special effects were iffy and I didn’t buy Thewlis as the over-the-top, destroy humanity bad guy. That being said, I discovered something in this film that transcended the superhero genre and my immense enjoyment of it. It did it better than almost every comic book movie I’ve seen, in my opinion, demonstrating substance over style. Wonder Woman’s whole arc as a character was unbelievably well fleshed out. In a moment of lackluster CGI and chaos, she went through a huge transformation of character and evolution. While every other giant action scene allows me to turn off my brain, Wonder Woman had me thinking about a character’s life journey. It’s not a great movie because of cool set pieces or great action, but because Wonder Woman is a damn good character. Probably the best comic book character since Nolan’s Batman.
I walked out of Wonder Woman with a big smile and sigh of relief for finally seeing a good DCEU movie. I am suddenly a lot more excited for Justice League later this year and hope Warner Brothers makes a sequel sooner rather than later. Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has changed my life and made Batman my all time favorite character, but I would much rather see a Wonder Woman trilogy right now and visit Affleck’s Batman later. It was that good.