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Movie Review: Wonder Woman

The battle for truth and justice begins with Wonder Woman. Image used from vox.com

When it comes to film and television, comic book properties have for the most part, been a man’s game.  Even in these so called “progressive times”,  male superheroes take the center stage. But this year things may hopefully change with Wonder Woman the first comic based film to feature a female superhero in twelve years. Will this movie start a trend for more diversity in both comic book based films and films in general or will it simply be uninteresting white noise in a saturated market?

 

When it comes to the DC films Wonder Woman is leaps and bounds ahead of it’s three predecessors. The story follows an Amazon named Diana who, after learning from a pilot and spy Steve Trevor that the first world war is raging in the outside world, feels it his her duty to join the fight and end the violence. What follows is something far more complex and engaging then DC has offered before. The story does a fine job of setting up Diana as well as the history of her people and how the story will pan out. It takes it’s time in the beginning but also manages to keep a smooth pace, no rushing and no dragging as we get whatever exposition and information we need. Once Diana reaches England the story briefly becomes a fish out of water story but one that feels fresh and humorous without delving into the usual obnoxious stereotypes and pitfalls. The name of the game is pacing and it’s one Wonder Woman plays well, fleshing out the remaining world and characters allowing us to get to know and appreciate it all. During this time Wonder Woman gives some clever, subtle winks about the film industry as seen through the male character constantly drooling over Diana. It’s a swipe at the male gaze and how childish and ridiculous it is, however instead of simply standing there and doing nothing Diana smacks down whatever man is demeaning her and even at one point turns the tables on the gaze which is something I must applaud immensely. Once the war aspect of the film starts things begin to falter a bit. The film tries it’s best to convey the horrors of World War I but can’t seem to fully get it down. In fact the film seems to believe World War I is the same as World War II as it leaves out the morally gray aspects of it. Instead of being a war waged by people who simply hated one another, one so vicious that entire generations of people were wiped in mere seconds it instead paints the German army as Nazis and does everything in it’s power to make them as reprehensible as possible. In fact this leads to the film’s biggest problem: Ares. Early in the film it’s explained that Ares causes men to do evil things, corrupting them into fighting and thus it’s Diana’s job to defeat him. This is ridiculous for multiple reasons. For starters anyone with even the simplest knowledge of Greek mythology would call nonsense on this explanation and secondly Ares being the cause of WWI takes away a lot from this film. It makes the reason for setting the film in WWI null in void it makes so many  speeches about how man is flawed but deserves to be saved pointless and what does that make of following wars? How do the likes of Lex Luthor, The Joker and Amanda Waller exist after the events of this film? It tries desperately to have it’s cake and eat it as well but it just can’t. it had a solid opportunity with it’s setting but it refused to take it and it truly does drag down what is otherwise an interesting, engaging and entertaining story.

 

The characters for Wonder Woman are mostly very interesting

 

Diana is a great character for many reasons. Firstly she’s actually fully developed as we see her grow up and how she becomes who she is. She also has more emotion and layers then some other DC heroes and is constantly developing and growing character rather then a two dimensional template that doesn’t change. She’s compassionate, she’s brave, she’s an excellent role model of girls and young woman and it’s excellent to finally have a character like her standing in the spotlight. It’s just a shame the accursed Ares thing ruins some potentially great moments for her.

 

Steve Trevor is a pretty good character. He’s very humorous and charming and works very well off of Diana. He too grows very well as a character throughout the film and does things that genuinely shocked me. Unfortunately there’s a forced romance between him in Diana that, while not terrible, doesn’t work that well.

 

Steve’s three companions Sameer, Charlie and “The Chief” are all really cool and interesting characters. Each has their own unique characteristics as well as their own little conflicts. Sameer mentions that he wants to be an actor but isn’t the right color once again taking a jab at the industry, Charlie suffers from PTSD and The Chief feels that only in war where he profits off of smuggling does he feel free rather then being in America. They are absolutely great characters and oftentimes I felt they were far more engaging then our two leads.

 

Etta Candy, Steve’s secretary, doesn’t do much in terms of story but simply exists for needed comic relief. She is very delightful and funny in her short time and was a much needed character even for such a short amount of time.

 

Our villains Ludendorff and Dr. Maru are absolutely terrible villains. The two are just so boring, neither does anything outstanding. In fact they often do ridiculous things like how Ludendorff gets super powers by inhaling drugs or one scene where the two briefly turn into cartoon characters. They’re just dreadful villains, completely uninteresting save for some ridiculous scenes.

 

Acting for Wonder Woman is well done by most of the cast

 

Gal Gadot does a marvelous job as Diana. She fits the role perfectly and exudes strength and compassion in every single scene she’s in. She’s incredibly believable in the role, every her character sees something new she acts as if she herself is seeing it for the first time. She does well in her action scenes even with help from wires and effects she does splendidly.

 

Chris Pine does a fine job as Steve Trevor. He hits his humor marks perfectly and he has great chemistry with Gadot. Even his dramatic moments are splendid.

 

Said Tagmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock do incredibly well in their respective roles. Each has their own moments to shine and in each moment the three manage to steal the whole show as briefly as it is. I would have loved to have seen more of them and their characters they’re that amazing.

 

Danny Huston and Elena Anaya do their best but cannot make their villains work. Huston tries to be intimidating and does well with his accent but his villain is still ridiculous and bland and Anaya tries doing for both subtle and over the top but even that isn’t enough. Sometimes two good actors can’t give a good performance if they have nothing to work with.

 

The action for Wonder Woman is flawed

 

From what I can make out there is good fight choreography and there is good action in this movie. There’s plenty of it with some really interesting settings and scenes and oftentimes it could be entertaining. However, director Patty Jenkins has never directed anything action oriented and it’s clear she hasn’t a clue about what she’s doing. The editing is choppy far too often so sometimes the action is difficult to make out and the final battle itself is rather dully made. However, I don’t blame Jenkins not one little bit. The problem is with the industry. After this film I racked my brain for quite sometime thinking about another female director who had the experience to make this film and in all that time I could only come up with one. Women don’t have the same opportunities as men in both the action genre in in directing in general so it’s not Jenkins fault that she doesn’t know what to do. In fact this is still a good thing as she now has gotten experience from it and can improve in the near future.

 

Lastly the effects for Wonder Woman are OK. There are times when it looks good mainly in it’s sets and locations which are beautiful to begin with but become cold and hard giving the illusion of a war torn Europe. But the CG itself is mixed. Often it does look pretty good and a little convincing but too often the rending just isn’t perfect this is a problem especially in the final battle and the obvious CG characters took me completely out of the fight. Even so the costumes and the sets were still very, very well made.

 

Final Thoughts: Wonder Woman is not a perfect film. It’s story is tripped up by ridiculous idea that drags it’s more serious moments down, the villains are bad and the action isn’t as well made as it should be. Still for every bad quality the film has two good ones. The story is still engaging and entertaining more so then it’s predecessors, the heroes are great as is some of the acting and overall it is still an entertaining  film one that’s even inspiring at times. It might not be great but it’s still a good film and a step in the right direction for both DC and the industry should they choose to take it. I hope they will.

 

Verdict: 3.5/5

 

 

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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