A cinematic universe in crisis. Fighting heroes who both have moms named Martha and a team of villains couldn’t save it. It’s Wonder Woman’s turn. Helmed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman is the first live-action film iteration of the legendary comic book heroine. Does repeat the same DC mistakes of the past? Grab your lasso of truth, put on your tiara, and get your twirl on because we’re gonna find out! This review will be spoiler free.
The story centers on Diana (Gal Gadot), Princess of the Amazons, living peacefully on the island of Themyscira. Her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is determined to protect her from the outside world and the threats of Ares, god of war. But when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crashes into their world, talking about World War 1, Diana enters the world of Man. Along the way, she discovers herself and her abilities. This movie was amazing, a very strong origin story to an iconic character.
Easily the best part of the film was Gal Gadot’s performance as Diana. Gadot was introduced a year ago in Batman v Superman. Audiences liked her, despite her limited role. Now that she has her own film, Gadot shines. She carries herself regally and you believe she’s descended from royalty. She also is a very layered character, balancing warm innocence and kindness with raw strength and fighting. Diana is well rounded and compelling, a rare combination in female action movies. I loved her so much and I can’t wait to see little girls dressing up as Wonder Woman. The other characters were strong, especially Steve Trevor. If I had to compare him to someone, I would say he is most like Peggy Carter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He provided a lot of the levity and had excellent chemistry with Diana. It made their romance feel earned, unlike many other film romances.
This film doesn’t even feel like a part of the DC brand. It’s not a Marvel brand either. It doesn’t have the darkness of the DC brand, both the grittiness and the feeling of having your computer brightness on super low. It also isn’t Marvel’s pep and snappy humor. Rather, Wonder Woman takes these two extremes and forges its own path. It is grounded in the tradition of DC with its depiction of World War 1 and gives weight to Diana’s journey. Yet, this film has a lightness about it that is associated with Marvel. The humor was very sweet and felt seamlessly added into the film.
This film isn’t perfect, I have a few nitpicks. The film takes a lot of time to develop, but we need it develop Diana and get a sense of her before she leaves Themyscira so her journey has more impact. I didn’t find myself fully pulled in until the epic action scene on the battlefront. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s not that the first half wasn’t engaging, it was just slower. Another nitpick was the use of slow-mo. I’m sure the movie would have been a good 10 minutes shorter if there was no slow-mo. While I like a good use of slow-mo as much as the next person, it was overdone. It would use the same thing with the same fighting move. Using a specialized technique more than once loses its salience over time. I mean, imagine if that iconic dolly zoom in Jaws was used every time Sheriff Brody saw the shark. It would become cheap. But really, this movie was so good, I am totally willing to overlook these nitpicks. They were just things I noticed while watching.
Wonder Woman is a, dare I say, WONDERful movie that is exciting and empowering. While it’s not a perfect movie, it is such an enjoyable ride. I have now found one of my new favorite superheroes, thanks to Gal Gadot’s interpretation of this icon. She may be an Amazonian goddess, but she is so human and grounded she is easy to connect to. I give Wonder Woman an A-. Please go see the film in theaters and support it! Show studios that female starring and directed films do well in the box office.
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