Jun 5, 2017

[Movies] Wonder Woman (2017) Review

After her brief appearance in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman as a character started to generate a lot of buzz about what her solo movie would be like. Admittedly she was one of the better parts of the depressing movie and in many ways she has acted as a bit of hope for these DC movies.

Wonder Woman finally hit theaters and simply put, it was a great movie. Despite so many people expecting (or maybe hoping?) that the movie will be terrible, initial buzz has been pretty positive with some going as far as saying that it may be one of the best superhero movies, period.

There's  a lot going for this movie in terms of the support it has received from production to release, but even I had my doubts and fears. So I'm more than happy that the end result was a great experience that was a lot of fun and seemed to carry enough of the core Wonder Woman character at its heart to make the movie feel relevant to a wider audience casual fans and die hard comic book readers.

Synopsis: Wonder Woman is a 2017 superhero movie directed by Patty Jenkins. The screenplay was written by Allan Heinberg as inspired by the DC Comics character of the same name.

The story is all one big flashback framed by a scene in the present with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) receiving a copy of an older photo of her and a few other soldiers during World War I. Thus we go back even further to her childhood on the hidden island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Diana is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), who is very protective of her to the point of forbidding that she get trained in the warrior arts. But Antiope (Robin Wright), the queen's sister and general of the Amazons believes otherwise and begins to train Diana in secret.

As it was in the comics, everything changes when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy assigned to British Intelligence, breaches the mystical barrier that keeps the island secret. His plane crash lands in the waters around the island and Diana manages to rescue him. This breach of the island's security sets the Amazons on high alert but of ultimately this just represents how they cannot stay out of the affairs of men for long. And once they learn of World War that is raging across Europe, Diana begs her mother that the Amazons get involved somehow. She feels especially strong about this as it is said in their lore that the Amazons were created to inspire men and challenge the machinations of Ares, the God of War all over the world. And Diana believes that a war of this scale can only be attributed to Ares.

What I Liked: I wasn't sure how Gal Gadot would be as Wonder Woman since I wanted somehow how was maybe stockier or somehow more muscular. But physical traits are shallow measures and it all boils down to how she acts as the character, and in this regard Gadot is pretty much perfect. She carries herself as Diana, a young woman with a purity of vision and drive in her head and a strong motivation to do the right thing. And yet she is also Wonder Woman, a gift from the gods to be something far more than any normal person with the power to face the greatest dangers of even the modern world.

The whole World War I arc has a pretty solid story that is full of your typical pulp era Nazi science conspiracies and a lot of great action. There are some loftier ideas that the movie wants you to consider but in the end Wonder Woman is a character who acts on the ground and in the trenches. Not all of her moves make the best military sense in terms of the greater scheme of the war, but she does manage to change lives more directly by being there on the front lines with other brave individuals giving their lives for the future of humanity.

What Could Have Been Better: The weakest part of the movie remains to be the ending, which brings new aspects to the Wonder Woman story that were needed to drive her movie plot forward. You have a surprise villain reveal which is the sort of surprise with little foreshadowing and doesn't really make sense character-wise but then it's just there for shock value. So the movie still has these odd narrative corners it writes itself into that is easily forgotten given the bigger set pieces.

And so the big ending may give Chris Pine a nice resolution to his story, it leaves Wonder Woman with a Matrix-style cheese fest at the end which we could have done without. While I do appreciate the events in the final do lead to her not relying solely on her sword and her shield, the power set that we are left with instead is a little odd since it's so outside the typical comic book focus of the character but water. Cue Jesus pose.

TL;DR: Wonder Woman is still a great, fun movie and perhaps one of if not the best superhero movie that DC has released. I don't think it needed the modern day framing device as its World War I story was solid on its own, but the fun needs to be balanced with connecting with the other DC movies to come. Thus it gets a solid 5 kickass moments of Wonder Woman being an awesome one-woman army out of a possible 5.

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