Wonder Woman movie review: Interest in DC universe elevates with this entertaining film
To say Wonder Woman is the best DC universe film doesn’t say much considering the incredibly low bar set by Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. On the bright side it’s definitely an improvement over those two films, with Gal Gadot delivering a fun performance as the human ass kicking goddess, and if you’re into explosions there’s plenty of that in the film for your enjoyment.
Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is very much like Captain America: The First Avenger. They share the World War 2 setting, an origin story that transcends from a period setting to modern times, and a charming central character that discovers powers they didn’t know they had. The film plays out like one giant flashback, after Wonder Woman receives an old photo of her’s from Bruce Wayne.
We’re taken to her childhood where she was brought up on a Greek looking paradise island with other female Amazonian warriors where she years to become the best warrior of them all. Things take a turn when a man named Steve (Chris Pine) washes up ashore and she’s taken on an adventure to vanquish an evil overlord.
It’s a fairly predictable plot but director Jenkins infuses just enough action beats to keep things entertaining.
There are plenty of crowd pleasing male bashing women empowerment lines, which are not very incisive but still work given the target audience. Watching Wonder Woman stop a flood of bullets in a battlefield, and then thrash Nazis in buildings is fairly fun escapist stuff. The bad guy – Danny Huston as a Nazi general is interesting, mirroring his terrifying turn from 30 Days of Night.
Ideally the film should have released before BvS - it would have been a much more memorable journey for both the character and the audience. The sense of newness is missing and there is almost no element of surprise, because we’ve seen Gadot blasting things in the previous movie.
That way her powers, even though rendered in pretty VFX, don’t really wow you at any point – it’s more a matter of waiting for her to unleash her powers. The climactic fight between our heroine and the bad guy has some emotional value and makes it seem like the stakes are high, which is a nice change from the soulless action of the previous movies.
On the downside the film suffers from many of the same problems that BvS and SS did – the overuse of CGI, the overwrought action where people are thrown from one end of the screen to the other, the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, the awful character development of the side characters, and the ‘Martha’ style mommy issues.
It sometimes feels like there are two films playing – made by two different people – one a fun adventure with a strong female character and the other a checklist of clichéd things from the DCU.
The best moment in the film is not an action spectacle but one where there is no action – it’s a delicately funny scene on a boat where Wonder Woman and Steve chat awkwardly, the former effortlessly chastising the latter’s human faults. One wishes the studio let director Jenkins delve more into these character driven moments than forcing epic action spectacle as the main selling point.
In any case Justice League now seems more interesting than it did before.