'Wonder Woman' Review
I have one question about this movie. Where was this kind of effort in the earlier DCEU movies? This was really effective. It provided great story, characters, and acting. In doing all the aforementioned elements, the film may have succeeded in turning what was formerly the horrible DC universe around. So let’s dive in and see how this film managed to give us hope.
Our main hero, Diana a.k.a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), lives on the island of Themyscira, inhabited by the Amazon women. She is told by her mother, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), about their history; how Ares the God of War tried to destroy mankind and how Zeus managed to stop him and forced him to retreat. A weapon was created for the Amazons in case Ares ever returned. One day, World War 1 pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on the island and tells the Amazons about the war. Diana, believing that Ares is back, sets out with Steve to defeat Ares and help save the world.
The story is strong in that it doesn’t spend time setting up for future movies. It just gives us a narrative and characters to follow and as we get invested in their plights. The characters aren’t interacting with others who are to have their own spin-offs, they’re just normal characters. The only time we see Wonder Woman have anything to do with another superhero is through the photo she receives from Bruce Wayne in the opening, which is merely used as a framing device for this story.
The story also succeeds in blending both a dark and brooding atmosphere with a lighthearted one. World War 1 is a great setting to show just how grim things could get for soldiers and every day people both physically and mentally. It also provides the perfect contrast to our main characters who are willing to go all out against the horrible things in the war but are faced with harsh realities in the process.
Elements like her being a fish out of water and sexism are also the movie’s strong points in that they’re played to just the right amount. They don’t drag on throughout the majority of the movie. They’re addressed but not the main focus. Rather the movie takes time to focus on things such as the people she comes across and the bonds she builds with those she meets and fights with.
Gal Gadot is absolutely incredible as Diana/Wonder Woman (actually one of the few things I noticed about this movie is that she’s not even called Wonder Woman at all. Not even as a cheap joke). She represents the best humanity has to offer in a time where humanity was at one of its worst. She doesn’t have a personal struggle that makes her want to save everybody. When she jumped out onto the field in No-Man’s Land (in addition to her actions throughout the rest of the movie) she was doing it because she saw it as the right thing to do. She did it because she wanted to help those in trouble. And yet she still learns things aren’t all black and white and does have to deal with the harsh realties. It’s been an awful long time since we’ve had a superhero who did something like this but honestly it’s welcome to see this.
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is also a solid character. Him and Diana’s chemistry lead to several romantic and funny moments between the two. He doesn’t spend the majority of the film disbelieving Diana’s claims about Ares or how she was born or things like that. If anything he’s more fascinated by it and helps her in all the ways he can. Even in Batman V. Superman despite it being very underwhelming managed to give an idea of how Steve impacted Diana such as the name she takes up in that movie which Steve made up in this one.
Danny Huston as General Ludendorff, Elena Anaya as Isabella Maru/Dr. Poison, and David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares all perform their parts as villains well and each of them is a different type of villain working into Wonder Woman’s journey. Ludendorff plays off as Wonder Woman’s perspective of the war being a black and white conflict. He’s the simple bad guy who Diana thinks that all she has to do is kill him. And for most of the film since we’re convinced of Wonder Woman’s plight we’re convinced defeating this guy is the key to ending the war. Dr. Poison is the representation of Wonder Woman’s perspective on humanity and how things aren’t all black and white. Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares is the ultimate mastermind ultimately pulling the strings on everyone including Diana trying to convince her to join forces with him.
The people Steve recruits for the mission him and Diana go on including Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewan Bremner), and Chief Napi (Eugene Brave Rock) are all good characters with short but unique backstories. Despite them having such small parts their performances give their characters just enough weight for us to enjoy. And as I said before none of them are future superheroes they’re just normal people so it gives us more time to appreciate their characters without having to worry about what’s to come.
The visuals and action scenes in this movie are also amazing. The landscape of Themyscira is beautiful. The action in No Man’s Land in addition to the battles with Ludendorff and Ares are well shot, detailed, and choreographed. The slow motion in the action scenes is somewhat hit-or-miss. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At times it allows us to let a moment in the action sink in while other times it feels out of place.
Despite the slow-motion being somewhat of a mixed bag it fails to take away from the overall great quality of the movie. Wonder Woman brought back what was great about D.C. This movie not only established how DCEU movies ought to be but will no doubt continue to do so in the future.