Movie Review: Wonder Woman
Rating: 3 and 1/2 Stars
Scorching hot take to open up the review, prepare thy hand in case the stove gets too hot for you.
Wonder Woman is the best superhero film since Ant-Man. (Ant-Man only came out two years ago!? It feels like it’s been 10!)
Now that I’ve lost you, let’s talk about the great, and the ludicrous.
The casting was ALMOST perfect, with a diverse group not just by nationality, but personality as well. The writing team flanked by Zack Snyder and company with a screenplay by Allan Heinberg (who wrote episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Sex and the City), did an admirable job of quickly humanizing every pertinent character in the film.
That ‘almost’ is yelling at you for a reason, because there was one deficiency that is going to haunt this movie. David Thewlis is revealed in a laughable “twist” as Ares. His cover as Sir Patrick is a mostly nonessential character whose only goal is to support the end of the war, going against the ideals we’re taught Ares is for. He is the god of war as we know. But now that’s out of the way, I’m mostly out of bad things to say about Wonder Woman.
Though I will mention this before I laud the worthy praise, Wonder Woman as I mentioned has moments that logical people may turn a brow to. The first and foremost is the reactions to Diana Prince in her earliest fight scenes. No one stops to ask why she can jump higher, run faster, block bullets, all while wielding a sword, shield, and a glowing lasso. Indiana Jones would be having a scientific fit if he was witnessing this.
Despite her being a god among men, I’m perfectly okay that the film decides to only address what it feels was necessary and not harp on semantics. Within the superhero genre, semantics can often get in the way of the enjoyment, and I’d rather accept Diana’s ridiculous antics than be distracted by it.
Speaking of Diana’s ridiculous antics, a Wonder Woman reacts channel on YouTube would be absolutely gold. When Diana arrives into the human world, she acts like a spoiled puppy visiting a new dog park. Gal Gadot does well to make every interaction just a tad unpredictable whether Diana will react positively or with malice. Often the case is malice.
Wonder Woman is a movie about love, and it makes no secret of it. Often action films where love is the savior come off as campy. The issue tends to be that the film didn’t develop a story or characters where their love for one another is impactful. The “love conquers all” is actually refreshing as superhero fatigue has settled into my system. The genre is caught up in redemption, and redemption is the king of blockbuster storylines, but it’s hard to get it to feel authentic when everyone is replicating it.
From viewing the trailers, I had my doubts about Chris Pine’s, Steve Trevor, character. Very quickly I discovered his importance and role within the story. In Diana’s quest to discover how to solve war in humanity, Trevor represented the choice of love. Hate was represented by Ares. Diana learns that humans must decide which side they are provoked by.
Diana begins the film as a small child, played by adorable 8 year old Lilly Aspell. Aspell delivers a near Osment-level performance in her brief stint as Diana before she is shown as a teenager training to be a warrior. Her mother is staunchly against it, simply being a protective mother, but Diana is very brash and independent.
By the time Gal Gadot comes around, Diana is a bad ass warrior with only her short attention span as a fault. Soon enough Steve Trevor crash lands being pursued by some angry Germans leading to Diana joining Trevor to go fight in the great war.
Diana ends up arriving to World War 1 at the tail end, but Trevor has the book on a deadly gas the Germans are planning to use on the Brits. Diana convinces Trevor to take her to no man’s land and straight to where the evil general Ludendorff is staged. Diana is under the impression that Ludendorff is Ares.
Bad-assery commences where Diana charges across no man’s land and into the heart of enemy territory.
Along for the ride are a likable group of misfits: Sameer, Charlie, and The Chief. Sameer wants to be an actor but laments that he is not white (shots fired), Charlie suffers from PTSD, and The Chief needs some money which is something we can all relate to.
While Steve Taylor is the generic white guy hero, who actually might need to be checked for either some superpowers or PED’s, he is tasked with trying to explain the human condition to a god so I’ll cut him some slack.
The film concludes with heart and sacrifice. Despite Ares being a dud, Wonder Woman is a sweet success.
I was very much aware of a past article I wrote about DC villains being the draw whereas with Marvel it’s all about the heroes. Wonder Woman is the outlier in this case. Ares wasn’t much of a villain in Wonder Woman because it wasn’t about him. Ares was the placeholder for the true villain which was hate. Wonder Woman had to overcome her own biases and beliefs that humanity could ultimately defeat hate.
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That being said, Wonder Woman by herself is not an interesting character, much akin to Superman. It’s the villainy they are faced against that bring the most out of them. How a twisted villain can mold the narrative against the DC heroes will be where the Justice League goes right or wrong. Despite the oddness of Eisenberg’s Luthor, I am still holding out for positive potential.
Oh and if you’re curious why I can’t give Wonder Woman the 4-star treatment, you’re damn skippy it was because of the Ares botch. CGI Tom Hardy in there and I’ll think about reconsidering my rating.