First good DC cinematic universe film?! All female screenings?! Uproar over a movie based on children’s comic books?!
Diana “Prince” (Gal Gadot) is Princess of the Amazons on Themyscira. Trained at a young age as a warrior god, Diana becomes transfixed with the concept of vanquishing Ares, the god who defied Zeus and condemned the world of man to war.
When a Great War soldier, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), enters Themyscira through a portal, hurtling out of the sky in a crashing fighter plane, Diana rushes out to save him. The German army in hot pursuit of Trevor, the Amazons must fight them off, and Diana gets her first glimpse at the horrors of war.
From here, she sets out to return Trevor to Britain and end the war by defeating Ares.
Wonder Woman is the first successful film of the DCEU. I’m not the first to say this, and I won’t be the last.
But the film comes with its flaws.
We get with Wonder Woman some satisfying, big-stakes action sequences. They still fall victim to the Zach Snyder-infused slow-mo treatment, but they are satisfying nonetheless.
We also get a story that is genuinely compelling, especially when stacked up against the messy story of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the dicey story of Suicide Squad. There are meaningful character relationships and a period-centered espionage narrative that holds water. Who would have thought a movie could accomplish this?
But Wonder Woman is still fairly sloppy. The narrative begins slow, with a prologue on Themyscira chock full of unnecessary world building and inconsistent, vaguely Eastern European accents. It ends messy, with special effects-laden action sequences comprising an overbearing climax.
Part of what makes the sloppiness of this execution evident is the inconsistent acting. Gal Gadot does a fine job leading the film, but her stately delivery and expressive reaction shots get repetitive. Gadot and Chris Pine, who gives a strong if not too Chris Pine-y performance, have good chemistry as romantic leads, the humor in this attraction effective.
The supporting protagonists, while well acted, are lacking in depth and narrative import. The film is Wonder Woman’s, so why attach a group of five men to her hip?
And the antagonists of the film are woefully mustache-twirling. They are indistinguishable from each other given their maniacal, James Bond-villain level of villainy. Groan-worthy may be an apt description.
The film tiptoes on the line of its feminine empowerment themes. At times, the thematic underpinnings are illustrated eloquently, with a poignant joke or a single telling line. Other times, the film becomes too heavy-handed with it, the message losing its impact in the telegraphed delivery.
Wonder Woman leans on its strengths in order to stir itself into a creamy top layer of the DC cinematic universe. It’s no masterpiece, but its humor and competent narrative keep it from feeling like the haphazard messes that the two previous DC entries have been.
Wonder Woman: B
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)