Review by Henry Tran

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

I'm going to say this straight away: I love this movie. Given the turbulent history of the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) since the release of Man of Steel in 2013, there was the overwhelming concern that it could not get things going with any of its films. In effect, the DCEU has been flailing in the dark, while "rival" comics giant Marvel keeps churning out hit after hit. Wonder Woman can now at least make the claim of being the first universally beloved DC superhero film since 2008's The Dark Knight.

 


 

Now, Wonder Woman doesn't have the epic crime drama scope that The Dark Knight had, but at least it keeps the central focus on its title character. Plus, it throws in a few tweaks to the standard superhero origin story. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is an Amazonian princess, a demigod product between the union of Greek god Zeus and Amazonian Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), molded out of clay to be the greatest of all Amazonian warriors. The women live on an island paradise called Themyscira that's shielded from the rest of the world so it can be hidden from the villainous Ares, the infamous god of war. All of this sounds ridiculous on paper, but onscreen, there's a gravitas to the whole story of the gods and how the Amazonians are involved that makes it less cheesy than it has any right to be.

 

Like Man of Steel establishing itself by staying on Krypton for its beginning, the sequence in Themyscira takes up the whole first act to ground the movie and let the audience get to know Diana and her relationships with some of the Amazonians. That peaceful world is shattered when an American pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes off the coast, and is rescued by Diana. He tells the Amazonians that he's been fighting World War I against the Germans, and his mission is to stop the evil Ludendorff (Danny Huston) from launching a mustard gas attack on the Western front. All sorts of politics go into this, including a crucial armistice agreement to be negotiated between the British, led by Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), and the Germans. Trevor has to lead a mission to stop Ludendorff from deploying the mustard gas, using a small guerilla force with Diana tagging along to help.

 


 

Things play out that way until it all goes backwards. The usual motions of say, developing a romance between Diana and Steve, are reversed. Diana is the lead character, and Steve supports her most of the time. Once Diana reaches the real world, the "Man's World" as it's called in Themyscira, the film plays light with a fish-out-of-water scenario. Diana is direct, and doesn't understand the ways of the human world. That includes social niceities and the subjugation of women in the early 20th century. The film makes commentary on these subjects without appearing to lecture its audience. Diana is the audience's lens to seeing how ridiculous social morays were in 1918.

 

Once the team reaches the Western front in Belgium, the film really kicks into gear. Diana, who had been told to cover herself up in order to blend in with humans, is eager to stop the war and destroy Ares. There's a spectacular, showcase, centerpiece, multiple cheer-worthy sequence in the trenches of battle where Diana shows off her full Wonder Woman costume/armor and takes the lead across No Man's Land, right in the middle of a barrage of German gunfire. The men are so inspired by this crazy action that they charge right up the line and re-take a Belgian town from the Germans. That sequence was so much better than her reveal in Batman v Superman.

 


 

I will admit that I had my share of doubts when Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman for Batman v Superman. She was the best part of that movie, but now, she has shown that she makes this character, arguably the third most beloved and well-known of superhero characters from DC Comics, her very own. The most ridiculous aspects about the Wonder Woman character, like her Lasso of Truth or her "God killer" sword are integral parts of her character. More than the weapons and shields she carries, her purpose is noble and true. She believes in a cause greater than who or what she is, and the film is, amazingly, not bogged down by exploring any of that. They aren't cheesy slogans that function as plot exposition, but rather a part of her whole belief system. She aches that war can cause so much death and suffering. People forget about the toll that World War I had on the world. Unlike its larger-in-scope successor, there was no definition of success. The enemy was not clear, a topic explored very well in this film. And people simply just died while they were on the battlefield. Civilians were completely displaced from their homes with little to no hope of the war stopping any time soon. The much-discussed armistice would not even guarantee that the world would go to war again.

 

There's weight to death in this superhero film that isn't always present in other films. It's the essence of being a hero, more than just defeating the villain; It is her duty to safeguard the lives of every innocent being on the Earth. Diana knows this better than any superhero that's been onscreen before. Superman and Batman before her were brooding and dark heroes because they always questioned what their ultimate purpose was. Wonder Woman is clear and concise about her desires and goals and how best to achieve all of them.

 


 

That philosophy reflects in the film itself. There are no dead spots; The film doesn't drag or have any extraneous subplots. The framing device and plot structure is similar to Captain America: The First Avenger, but connects to more of the DCEU without calling too much attention to it. Outside of everything else, this is a film worthy of praise and cheer. DC fans have been yearning for this for some time, especially as Marvel continues its long run of success. They've finally found a film that works just as well as, if not better than most of, the MCU.

 


Our Grade:
A
The Good:
  • Flips a number of superhero tropes on their head in the best way possible
  • Gal Gadot gives a solid performance that builds tremendously on her previous appearances
The Bad:
  • It only serves to make the rest of the DCEU films look worse by comparison

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Review by - 6/8/2017 10:40 PM131 views

Your Responses

TigerClaw
TigerClaw
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A+
I saw it last Saturday and thought the movie was really good, I think it sets a new standard for Superhero movies, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was fantastic, like she was born to play the part, I look forward to the Wonder Woman sequel when it gets the green light. Justice League will have a lot to live up to since Wonder Woman knocked it out the park.

Registered Participants can leave their own Concurring/Dissenting Opinion and receive Points and Loot! Why not sign in and add your voice?

Comments

Log in to add your own voice and receive points by leaving good comments other users like!