Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins and is the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe. Gal Gadot stars as the titular superhero, and Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, and David Thewlis also star.
If you've been to the movies at least, I'd say, at least three times within the past decade, then I am positive you would spot some clue about the in thing within Hollywood and the world of cinema today: creating a cinematic universe that features various cross-overs between different, somewhat related characters in hopes of drawing massive box office returns. Marvel got it started, and the MCU is still the top dog of the cinema-verse today. DC's extended superhero universe has been falling behind after the lukewarm-at-best reception(s) of their first three installments in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. It's a good thing that those films made healthy enough box office draws, or else the ship would have sunk before it got out of port. DC put themselves into quite the quagmire coming one additional slip-up away from having the DC Extended Universe plummet into a complete mockery. I'm not even sure if the Justice League could have pulled the DCEU out of the unforgiving cinematic cesspool that the likes of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich have been swimming in their entire careers. This is where I can finally start discussing Wonder Woman, whose critical and commercial outcomes would certainly either make or break the future of the DCEU. Breathe easy, DC fans; Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins have come to the rescue.
This is the first ever live-action film to center on Wonder Woman, who has only known a made-for-TV 1974 film and a direct-to-DVD 2009 animated feature. We now finally have a Wonder Woman that people now and in several years can point to and say, "That's the Wonder Woman film to see." I am not sure how to feel about the fact that it has taken until the year 2017 for someone to finally gift Wonder Woman with the cinematic glory that the likes of Batman and Superman have been blessed with for however many decades now. It is very much possible that no one wanted to try and run the risk of turning Wonder Woman into a failed superhero movie experiment at the cost of getting slammed by hardcore feminists or getting mocked by misogynistic haters who might say something like, "girls can't be superheroes." In this cinematic day and age where superheroes are the dominant force of each year's highest grossing releases, a Wonder Woman movie just had to happen. And so far, Wonder Woman may very much be the top pick for best superhero film of 2017.
The plot follows Diana Prince, born on the island of Themyscira and home to the race of warrior women known as the Amazons. Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), tells Diana the story of how the Amazons were created to protect mankind from the evil-doings of the god Ares. Ares had slain all of the other gods, until he was defeated by Zeus. Zeus had left behind a weapon known as the "Godkiller" that is capable of killing Ares, should he ever return. Diana believes the "Godkiller" to be a ceremonial sword that is located on the island. Diana grows up to become a fierce Amazon warrior, despite objections from her mother to never be trained. One day, a plane crash lands off the coast of the island, and Diana swims out to rescue the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The island is then attacked by German soldiers who were following Steve. The Amazons are able to defeat the soldiers, and learn that Steve is a spy for the British government. Steve informs the Amazons that World War I is currently being fought, and that many innocent lives will continue to be lost. Diana believes that Ares is responsible for the war, so she takes the ceremonial sword and travels with Steve back into the "man's world" to fight.
Wonder Woman excels in areas such as story and characterization that have been shortcomings for the DCEU so far. For one, Wonder Woman is fresh; there's nothing to point fingers at and accuse of being cliched or repetitive. There are only so many times that one can watch Bruce Wayne's parents get killed or watch Krypton get blown to bits before rolling their eyes and muttering, "been there done that." Now let me ask, who has ever said, "I'm tired of watching Diana Prince grow up and become an Amazon warrior?" This is the first time that the cinematic masses can get a clear and straightforward depiction of Wonder Woman's backstory and fighting style. Her story is one that has been written down in the comics for decades, and yet feels surprisingly raw. It's a matter of no one taking the time and effort until now to turn Wonder Woman into an engaging and memorable superhero experience that appeals to audiences far and wide.
Anyway, there's not only a reasonably thick plot and multi-dimensional characters; the movie also stays away from that early 2000s superhero movie thing in which everything must be as dark and brooding as possible. This has been a minor fault of each of the previous DCEU installments, but it's not like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad didn't attempt to have humorous moments. Wonder Woman does bring a humorous edge, and enough of one so as to keep itself from being overly serious. The humor also knows how and when to effectively land without being completely irreverent.
- Gal Gadot. I am not kidding when I say that there may not have been a better casting choice for Wonder Woman than Gadot. She has the physical build and has enough of an action reputation behind her as Gisele Yashar in Fast & Furious so as to make her into a convincing action star. There's really not much to say. You just watch Gadot on screen and can easily tell yourself how good of a fit that she is for Wonder Woman.
- The movie gets a lot out of how naive and curious that Wonder Woman is in the "man's world." She has no idea of the "man's world" customs and sense of fashion, and Steve has to make up awkward stories of where Diana comes from and how he met her. Diana tries on over 200 outfits while in London, asking, "How in the world can you fight in this outfit?" She also asks Steve some strange questions about marriage and other things. There is a lot of humor evoked from Diana's naivety, and it all makes sense because Diana grew up in a world without things like guns and hats.
- The final fight scene is inconsistent with how the movie handles all of its prior action scenes. All of the action beforehand involves Diana combating German soldiers using her sword, shield, lasso, and superhuman jumps. The final fight brings in heavy duty CGI with lots of flying debris and Michael Bay-esque explosions. It's all overblown and looks too much like Superman's destructive fight scenes from Man of Steel. I hoped that I would see Wonder Woman in a well-coordinated sword fight or in a hard-hitting fist fight. A combination of both would've worked well too.
It does my heart good to know that Wonder Woman turned out to be the big success that I hoped it would be, as well as revitalizing the DCEU. It's a superhero movie with ideas of female empowerment, buoyed by Gal Gadot's fierce and compelling performance. The story, humor, and action are all well-rounded and deliver in wonderful fashion (with the exception of the end fight). One of 2017's biggest smash hits, and a superhero film to remember for years to come.
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