Wonder Woman (2017)
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
Rated: PG-13 for Sequences of Action and Violence, and Some Suggestive Content
TMM: 4 out of 5 Stars
Strengths: Character, Acting, Humor, Theme
Weaknesses: CG, 3rd Act Problems
Sequestered from the world and time on an island of Amazonians, Diana AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”) has been trained to defend the world from the ancient god of war, Ares’ influence. When an American pilot from World War 1 (Chris Pine, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”) crashes through to the island, she learns that war is ravaging the world. Convinced that Ares is behind the war, Diana sets out to kill him with the only legendary weapon capable of harming him.
This movie is a lot of fun and a breath of fresh air for DC movies. Certainly it is my favorite DC universe film since “The Dark Knight” (2008). The acting in this movie is spot on and the sense of humor is fun, not mean spirited, but the place the film truly shines is in the character of Diana and the theme that plays out through her character.
It sounds trite but the reason “Wonder Woman” is a great movie and “Man of Steel” is not is because Wonder Woman feels like a real person with a real character conflict and real motivations and emotions. Superman doesn’t. Wonder Woman’s journey is the focus of her film. The conflict is never whether she will be strong enough to win (of course she, Batman, and Superman are all able to win). The question is whether she will be the sort of person who will do what she needs to do in order to win.
WONDER WOMAN: MORE THAN SUPER
Diana begins a hopeful believer in humanity’s essential goodness and a despiser of Ares’ violent mind-control-like influence over them. As she fights the Great War, she inspires humanity to rise up and be their better selves but is eventually confronted with the fact that humanity is not the essentially good brotherhood she thought it was and Ares’ influence is far more devious and subtle as well.
The questions at the heart of this film are “Will Diana despair when faced with reality,” and “Is humanity, with all it’s dark impulses, worth saving. This struggle is so much more relatable than watching Superman try to beat up another strongman who is going to enslave humanity.
Diana empathizes with dying soldier’s and comes to the rescue of small villages instead of flying past dying civilians and toppling building by throwing bad guys into them. She sees how evil men can be and is brokenhearted, not angered. She is a hero that wants to end war, not wage it.
⅔ OF A GOOD FILM
Now to the bad. This movie is far from perfect and while labels like “female led” and “female directed” may have blinded many people to its failings, I believe, that in the long run, they will come to see its weak points.
The third act of this film is a real mess. For all its high-mindedness this movie still boils down to who can shoot the bigger CG energy beam at the other guy. And the CG at points in this film are terrible, especially in the early parts of the movie where the Amazonians are training and fighting and at the end when she and Ares are shooting After Effects Tutorials at each other.
At the end of the day this film has me hopeful. It’s the first time in a long time that I am actually considering seeing a DC movie again and definitely looking forward to the sequel. I’m probably more excited for Wonder Woman 2 than I am for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 or the next Avengers movie.
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