Movie Review: “Wonder Woman”
Born on a hidden island inhabited by a race of Amazonian women, Diana has grown up as the daughter of the Amazonian queen, and as the only child on the island. Despite her mother's best efforts, she grew up longing for battle and ended up being trained to fight better than any Amazon before her. One day, a plane crashed in the ocean just off of the shore and Diana rushed out to save the pilot. What she discovered was that the pilot was a man, the first man she has ever seen.
This man, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), tells the women of Amazon about the war to end all wars (World War I), which is currently taking place in the world of men. Diana fears the worst. She fears that the god of war, Ares, has made his return and that he is the one responsible for this war. She knows that it is the duty of the Amazonian women to protect mankind from such a war. Going against her mother's wishes, Diana joins Steve Trevor as they journey to the world of men to stop the war. To do so, she must find out if Ares has returned, and must find a way to stop him, while saving as many innocent lives as she can along the way.
The Pros & Cons
Diana Prince (+10pts)
Steve Trevor (+6pts)
Steve's Climactic Moment (-2pts)
The Writing (+8pts)
Diana's Powers (-2pts)
Pro: Diana Prince (+10pts)
Diana Prince got some great character development in this movie. The character was strong, brave, and gave her fair share of commentary on the issues in the world of men. She was faced with the best and worst of what mankind is capable of. This gave her an internal struggle that was captivating to watch, regarding whether or not mankind was worth saving. I liked this element because I thought that, despite the terrible things she saw, I always felt that she had faith that men could still be good. This character was also entertaining to watch because she started out with a one-track mind, but she slowly grew more complex as she saw more of humanity.
Everything I have mentioned about this character was a result of the writing, but if the actress playing Wonder Woman gave a weak performance, none of this would have worked. With casting a model such as Gal Gadot, there were the obvious and understandable concerns that she would not be able to pull it off. I was always willing to give her a shot, and after seeing her brief part in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and then in this film, I was relieved to see that Gal Gadot fit this role really well. Again, the writing of this movie was easily the best of any DC movie thus far (regarding their cinematic universe only), so that played a huge part in why this character worked. That being said, I though Gal Gadot did a great job of capturing Diana's fierce nature, her naive understanding of men, as well as her love for humanity. She also brought out the character's strength, courage, and compassion. Diana being a well-written and well-performed character was the biggest reason why this film worked as well as it did.
Con: Villain (-4pts)
While the development of the protagonist was very strong, the same cannot be said for the villain. I would even go as far as to say that the villain's development was relatively non-existent. This movie made the decision to go for a plot twist in the villain's storyline which made it so that developing the character would give away that twist. I thought the plot twist was a successful one, but the villain's character development was sacrificed as a result.
Ultimately, I understood why some of these story decisions were made. One decision gave a decent plot twist. The other decision was something that has worked very well for Marvel (focusing almost entirely on developing the protagonist and mostly ignoring the development of the antagonist). While I do not think the overall film suffered severely, I cannot ignore the fact that weak development made for a pretty generic villain.
Pro: Steve Trevor (+6pts)
Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) was another strong character. While most other characters had questionable morality, Steve Trevor always had pure intentions. He wanted to stop the war just as Diana did, but he was more realistic than to think Ares was behind it. The two (and their conflicting theories) made for an interesting dynamic, because the two characters were very much alike in almost every other way. It made for an interesting duo because the godly origin of Wonder Woman seemed so bizarre to Steve, to the point where he thought she was just a crazy woman who was raised in a society that had been isolated from the rest of the world for too long.
Their very different cultures provided a decent number of comedic moments that worked well. I also thought that these two actors had good chemistry and were fun to watch on screen together. Diana introduced Steve to aspects of the world that he could never have imagined, and Steve showed Diana the best parts of humanity. These were two characters that had similar ideals and immensely different pasts, which made them complement each other very well.
Con: Steve's Climactic Moment (-2pts)
Okay, for the sake of avoiding spoiler territory, I am going to be extremely vague on this point. With that in mind, there was a decision made in that scene that could have been very easily avoided. There were seemingly countless ways around the issue that Steve was in, and this just felt made the moment feel like a colossal plot hole to me. It just seemed like the filmmakers wanted the story to go in a certain way, had no better way of making it happen, so they just threw in this lazily convenient moment at the end of the movie that very easily could have been avoided by doing literally anything else.
Pro: The Plot & Action (+8pts)
Despite the few plot holes (which made for relatively minor issues), this movie's plot was pretty good, as it covered a lot of Wonder Woman's story. We saw Diana as she grew up, discovered her powers, met Steve, and joined the world of men. The movie progressed pretty smoothly, took Diana to new places, and it was interesting to see Diana growing throughout each chapter of this story. However, I also thought the filmmakers did a pretty decent job of balancing story and action.
The pacing of this movie was pretty good. There was just the right amount of story and dialogue, which kept things interesting, but there was also plenty of action. The filmmakers did a pretty good job of balancing these two things, such that the movie never felt too slow or too reliant on epic action. In setting the movie during World War I, the filmmakers were able to pretty easily tie the action in with the plot. This meant that the action that was happening never felt random, and instead always felt part of the greater story. This film was about Diana and her new relationship with Steve and mankind, but it was also about her physical role in one of the greatest conflicts in human history: World War I.
Con: Diana's Powers (-2pts)
I had trouble narrowing in on problems that I had with this film and this issue is proof of that. It may seem small, but Diana started discovering her abilities once she was an adult, even though she experienced no type of event that gave her these abilities. This implies that she was always capable of doing the things that she was doing (such as extreme strength), yet somehow never knew that before. I honestly have no idea why did she never noticed that she was that strong before the events of this movie. She never got frustrated as a child or mistakenly broke something that she should not have been able to?
Did she never realize that she was no ordinary Amazon? These questions just made that the writers either had trouble answering or did not think through. They hid this issue pretty well, as it was still fun to watch her discovering her powers. However, once I got to thinking about it, this whole aspect of the story started to make little sense.
Grade: A- (91pts)
DC finally figured it out! They figured out the riddle on how to make a great film without Christopher Nolan. It turns out, and this may blow some minds here, that if you want a good movie, you need a well-written story. Who knew?
Anyway, one of this film's strengths was that it had great character development for Diana and Steve Trevor, as I liked both characters and their stories quite a bit. It also had a relatively strong plot (aside from a few minor plot holes here and there). There were also some funny moments, regarding Diana's view of mankind and Steve's view of Diana, and it had entertaining action sprinkled throughout. It had a couple of very minor plot holes and its villain was poorly written, but the film was able to make up for these minor issues.