It’s finally here; the much anticipated fourth entry into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the first major superhero movie directed by a woman and the first live action Wonder Woman movie. To say that there is a lot riding on this movie is the understatement of the decade and for many a superhero fan (whether you love or hate the DCEU), this movie was on the “must watch list” of 2017 and the expectations, hype and anticipation have been immense. The praise thus far has been universal with only a handful of not so great reviews. I won’t talk about the Rotten Tomatoes score but let’s just say that a lot of noise was made about it all over the internet (from articles to tweets). It went on and on up until the release and now that I’ve seen it I can say that for the most part it delivers. Now before that statement above gets me into trouble, I’ll talk about what I liked and then delve into what I didn’t like without giving away spoilers.
Wonder Woman tells the tale of Princess Diana of Themyscira played beautifully by Gal Gadot (Fast Five) , a warrior princess who grows up in a matriarchal society who have trained all their lives to defeat an evil that may one day harm the world of man. We are introduced to her as a little girl who is bent on training with the best of them to become a warrior princess just like her mother and the other women on the island. We watch her grow into a capable warrior able to face the best of the amazons as they spar. The pace of the first act is brisk and moves along quickly, introducing Chris Pine’s character into the mix.
What ensues shows the first issue I have with this film. It really is nitpicking on my bit, but the first thing I noticed was the frequent use of slow motion shots even for characters who are simply about to fall over and aren’t about to do anything spectacular. It goes to show that while Patty Jenkins is a wonderful director, shooting action isn’t her forte. That being said however, this first action sequence is entertaining enough and will please many fans, particularly the ladies. Eventually though, Diana realises that in order to help the human world and rid them of this evil they are faced with, she will have to leave the confines of a home she has come to love and thrust herself into a world that she knows absolutely nothing about. This introduces us to the second act which is by far the best part of this movie for me.
To backtrack a little, the introduction of Chris Pine is brilliant. It gives our Diana her first look at a human male and the way they play off each other is brilliant. Chris Pine’s character (Steve Trevor) is a world weary man who has seen the inhumanity of man and is thrust into a world that is like nothing he has ever dreamed of or experienced. Diana is for all her strength and knowledge, is a naive young woman who only sees the world in white and black and thus when she makes comments that to her seem innocent, to us watching and to Steve, the underlying meanings are quite obvious and the way he reacts to these statements throw us into genuine fits of laughter. Their chemistry is fantastic and watching their banter was definitely a highlight for me.
We see what she was like before she became the confident warrior we see in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the fish out of water premise is perfect. She sees a world devoid of the beauty she has been used to and is eager to fight to end the war. We see her confused or at least slightly confounded as she enters a society where women are treated way differently from what she is used to but she refuses to back down, taking every opportunity she can find to speak her mind. While this may not be a feminist movie, I daresay that many ladies will see this scene and the others that follow and realise that they shouldn’t always back down in the face of male opposition but should stand for what they believe in and that it’s not in any way a bad thing. She quickly shows her mettle as a capable woman and one who can defend herself and those around her and as the second act begins to draw to a close, even doubters begin to see that there is something different about her.
The second act is where Patty Jenkins shines. It ups the ante of everything that has come before and it serves as a culmination to show us who Diana really is. She will not back down from a fight, she will not just walk away and let others face danger when she knows she can help. This sequence says so many things and as she climbs out of the trench garbed in her full Wonder Woman attire, you have to marvel at her courage to stand up and fight against the odds where hundreds of others have failed. If I am not mistaken, this is the second major action set-piece of this film and it by far the best. The scene in the trailer where she holds her shield against the barrage of enemy fire is every bit as cool as you think it might be and as she crushes the enemy forces and takes down the enemy soldiers in the neighbouring village, you have to applaud at the sheer speed and flow of the sequence. I could watch it over and over again. Wonder Woman switching from attack to defence mid-fight is amazing to behold and as she dispatches enemy after enemy to the tune of the Wonder Woman soundtrack, I dare you not to feel a sense of elation and wonder (see what I did there?).
After that, the movie never quite reaches that peak again and fizzles out in a less than satisfactory third act that ends with a whimper (for me at least). It gets bogged down by a bit of cheesiness which I personally felt wasn’t necessary and some shoddy CGI that took me out of the moment. The culminating fight sequence left me with my mouth open and not in a good way. The cinema hall where I saw this movie was silent during this sequence and it is the most quiet I have ever seen a hall when viewing a superhero action movie. So there you have it.
There is a lot that works and there are a number of things that do not and I am sure that by the time the Honest Trailer and Everything Wrong With Wonder Woman videos air, things which I didn’t take note of will definitely come to light. If this was not a DCEU movie, odds are it may have been scrutinised more harshly. As it is, it is a solid origin story and I can lay no blame there. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman without a doubt. There may be actresses who could have done a better job but Gal Gadot owns it completely. Wonder Woman is a good movie but not a great one but it hits all the notes it was meant to and I guess that will have to do.
Final Score 7/10