Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis
Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Plot: An origin movie that sets up where Wonder Woman came from. We see Diana (Gadot) grow from a child into a warrior, with the help of her aunt (Wright), and learn more about the Amazonians and where they came from, and what their purpose is. When a soldier, Steve Trevor, (Pine) washes ashore, Diana learns of “the war to end all wars” and becomes convinced that Ares is behind it, and she returns to London with Trevor to stop Ares and restore humanity.
What Works: This is a much better film than the other DCEU films (counting Man Of Steel forward) so far. It’s an almost flawless film. Patty Jenkins has done some incredible work, restoring color to a world that was constantly in some bizarre dark blue hue, and bringing a little happiness and light heartedness into a series that was sorely lacking, and was honestly too dark for its own good. There’s a lot of really good character development with Diana, and humor, and softer moments between her and Trevor. The movie blossoms slowly, yet connected by these non-action moments. As far as an origin movie, this is easily one of the best. It’s the first film I’ve seen from the DC team since Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy that actually stands up to Marvel and proves that DC has the potential to compete on the same level. Gal Gadot is pretty amazing as Wonder Woman, and she’s fully invested in this character. She feels like she IS Wonder Woman, not just that she’s acting the part, but there’s something about Gadot’s commitment that made me believe that she thought she just might be Wonder Woman. Pine is a great foil for her, used mostly as a plot device, but still a very well rounded and well acted plot device. He basically exists to flesh out her character and to get her from point A to point B, but Pine does a great job in doing just that. There are some really well done action set pieces here, the first big battle on the island, and another war action sequence in the middle that were really cool and well shot. I really enjoyed the majority of this film.
What Doesn’t Work: This film does have some pacing issues, because it is investing so much in character development that it actually starts to slow the film down too much. There’s a bit more balancing that could have been done, and honestly about 5 minutes that needed to be trimmed from the film. One less charactery scene could have made all the difference with pacing, and since the side characters are barely fleshed out as it is, we could have done with a little less on their end. I really didn’t care about anyone other than Diana and Trevor, even if the film made an attempt to push another character on me. My biggest problem with the film is in the third act, where it felt like Zach Snyder came in and took a giant shit on Patty Jenkins. It’s like he ripped the camera from her hands and shot the final action sequence, because it looked exactly like Batman Vs Superman, even though nothing else in the film did. It was so out of place with its jarring shittiness that I was taken out of the film. It’s clear that Snyder had his influence on this film, when it didn’t need it. His influence kept this film from being great, and those 10 minutes are borderline unwatchable. I hope eventually DC hands control of their DCEU to Jenkins, because Snyder’s vision just is not working anymore.
Final Word: I can’t thank Patty Jenkins enough for giving us a pretty terrific Wonder Woman film. It has been a long time coming, and this film was everything it needed to be (with the exception of 10 minutes). I think the scenes that Jenkins had full control over were excellent, and those where someone tried to push their influence brought the film down. Gal Gadot is instantly iconic as Wonder Woman, in the same way Hugh Jackman became Wolverine. I can’t imagine anyone else ever doing Wonder Woman after her, nor would I want to. If you were scared that Wonder Woman was just going to be more of the same DC crap, rest assured, it is not. This is a course correction if I’ve ever seen one, and I hope the DC universe stays on this path. Judging from the trailers I’ve seen for Justice League though, we may not be on this path for very long.
Final Grade: A-