Heading into 2017, the state of the new DC Extended Universe looked dire; some would even say doomed. After the abysmal outcome of both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, which followed the DCEU’s disappointing first film, Man of Steel, many were left wondering if DC was in completely over their head. They had struck out three times with critics on their first three attempts, and even worse, each new film was considerably worse than the last. DC had daringly and disastrously hit the ground running in an effort to challenge Marvel, who themselves had spent ten years carefully crafting their cinematic universe to get to where they are now. Despite great box office success, audiences and critics alike were largely unsatisfied with the state of the DCEU. Many like myself wondered, “Would it still even be possible for DC to turn things around?” Enter Wonder Woman.
Tasked with the daunting and undeserved duty of salvaging the DCEU, Wonder Woman courageously triumphs! Not only does it single-handedly correct course for DC, but it is unmistakably one of the best superhero movies ever made. Director Patty Jenkins has created a truly transcendental film. One that inspires with its empowering and uplifting message; paves the way for women in acting, directing, and storytelling; and has overcome all of the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against it. After watching this movie, I am delighted to be able to boldly say that I have a new all-time favorite superhero movie, and it is Wonder Woman!
Very few movies have ever cracked through my self-constructed “T-800 Terminator” façade as well as Wonder Woman has. As someone who is adept at hiding their emotions, I must admit I struggled to keep my composure over the duration of this deeply moving film. If I’m open and honest about it, I found myself fighting back tears no less than 4 or 5 times. Not because Wonder Woman is some sappy, tragic romance, but because it’s so emotionally powerful and beautiful. The film lives up to its name by being a genuinely wondrous experience to behold. Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman has left an indelible impact on me in a way that perhaps only a handful of movies ever have. I don’t think I can express it any more clearly: I loved this movie!
The story begins with young Princess Diana on the hidden paradise island of Themyscira, home to the warrior women of the Amazon, where no man is allowed. She trains under the command of her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright) despite the apprehension of her own mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Diana trains fervently and steadily grows into the greatest warrior of the Amazons, when one day she witnesses a pilot (Chris Pine) crash into the ocean near the island. What quickly ensues is an unexpected invasion by German naval forces, leading to an epic battle that ultimately propels Diana out of her safe haven of Themyscira and into the battlefields of World War I.
As a history buff, I love the direction of this film and how it daringly puts us on the frontlines of the Great War. Nothing is sugarcoated just because she’s a woman. The movie isn’t afraid to explore humanity’s darkest moments, and there’s certainly a great deal of darkness and death here despite the lack of bloodshed. The film is made all the more compelling because Diana doesn’t seek revenge, and instead is driven by her compassion and desire for good. Her enemy is not the Germans, but Ares, the God of War, who her people believe to be responsible for this war and who she must find and stop to prevent further death and destruction.
The action and fight scenes in the movie are incredible, and carry such an emotional weight. From the assault on the beach of Themyscira, to “No Man’s Land”, and even the final climactic battle, I was left watching in awe, with tears in my eyes. I’ve legitimately never felt such emotion from a single movie. “No Man’s Land” in particular is one of the most brilliant, emotional, and uplifting movie moments I’ve ever seen in a film. I also really love how personal the final battle of the film is, as it’s passionately filled with Diana’s inner-conflict and resolve. You really get a sense of Wonder Woman’s growth and struggle as her character progresses, and it’s expressed so well during these pinnacle moments.
Gal Gadot is magnificent as Wonder Woman. She finds a remarkable balance of strength, beauty, courage, and vulnerability. Gadot got herself into tremendous shape for the role, and she’s thoroughly convincing in battle, and strong in her performance throughout. We sympathize with her character’s struggles and admire her ideals, even when she seems naïve. Gadot’s joined by an enjoyable and diverse supporting cast, led by Chris Pine as Allied pilot Steve Trevor who guides Diana on her journey into the real world. Pine’s both charming and admirable, and he shares great chemistry with Gadot. Robin Wright plays Diana’s aunt and mentor, General Antiope, and she transformed herself into such a fierce warrior that I didn’t even recognize her. Although the film’s villains are a bit one-dimensional, they’re quite memorable and I still like them nonetheless. Lastly, there’s Diana’s assorted war allies and Steve’s comical secretary, all of whom are welcome additions to the lineup.
From a technical standpoint, the film is visually stunning. There are a lot of great shots destined to become iconic. No Man’s Land in particular is a true cinematic work of art. The film features good use of slow motion to help heighten the significance of key moments, and to allow you to better absorb the impressive detail of the action sequences. The special effects are excellent for the most part, especially in scenes involving Wonder Woman, but there is a noticeably significant drop in visual quality at times. The musical score is excellent, and Wonder Woman might just have the coolest and heaviest superhero theme of them all. Seriously, it’s completely bad ass. In all, Wonder Woman is an all-around excellent production, and unlike Batman v Superman, you won’t need a director’s cut to try to appreciate it.
In the end, I can’t believe how much Wonder Woman meant to me. However, what’s more is knowing just how much it will mean to so many other people. This Wonder Woman is such an important figure. She’s not just a role model for women, but for all of us. Her fearlessness and unwavering devotion and moral character make her someone we can all learn from and look up to. Her film is an absolute triumph, and I can’t wait to see it again.
5 Minute Movie Guy