Wonder Woman Review (2017)
Humorous, heartfelt and necessary, Wonder Woman provides what the DCEU (and the world) desperately needs.
She's here. She's finally here. After 50 years without Wonder Woman gracing the big screen as a standalone character, she finally made it. So how did her first solo outing fare in the tumultuous seas of the DCEU? Pretty damn well.
Wonder Woman is an origin story, bookended by the present day. The entire movie takes place during World War I and prior. We begin with Diana as a child and watch what seems to be a day in the life of a little girl who is princess to the warrior race of Amazons. The director, Patty Jenkins, took special care to populate the island with physically imposing women. She hired athletes as well as actresses with the build and experience to pull it off and it worked quite well. I will say that, while there were far more women of color than I expected, a wide shot of the Amazons during training still felt like "Hollywood". One step at a time, I suppose.
Given the history of the Amazons, which we won't get into (watch the movie!), Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is not too keen on having her daughter train to become the badass we know she is. After some prodding by her best warrior, General Antiope (Robin Wright - she showcases some serious range here. A long way from House of Cards), she acquiesces and Diana begins her training. Fast forward to adulthood and Diana (Gal Gadot) is a capable warrior but not yet our Wonder Woman.
Everything changes when Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) ends up on the island and begins to explain the state of the world. It's WWI, so you know the deal. From here, Diana sets out with Steve in order to save the world from who she believes to be responsible for mankind's corruption. Ares. With the help of Steve’s secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) and their ally Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), they set out to find General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his scientist Doctor Maru (Elena Anaya). They put together a small team to help them, consisting of Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock).
First off I want to congratulate Patty Jenkins on this success. As a director, she's in the unique position of guiding this movie while navigating a business, country and world steeped in patriarchy, male fragility and a whole host of women's issues faced daily due to systemic anti-feminism. She intimated that she turned down the director's gig for Thor: The Dark World because she knew there were problems, and as a woman, that failure would be seen through a different lens than if a man was at the helm. She's right. The thought that a woman can't carry an action movie, direct a great movie or otherwise prove her equality in show business is not exactly new. It's 2017 and women everywhere fight to be acknowledged, much less praised for their work. To Patty, Gal Gadot, Lucy Davis (who is a particular treat as Etta Candy) and all the other women who took part in this film on and off camera, I salute you and wish for your continued success.
Wonder Woman is currently certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at a 93% positive rating on the tomatometer. That's no small feat. It is also a win that the DCEU desperately needs. While their television division is killing it (usually), their movies have been divisive, to say the least. Snyder and company needed this movie to go very well, and it has.
Unshackled by the continuity the present requires, Wonder Woman's WWI setting frees her to truly become who she is meant to be. There is a certain naivete she sheds, little by little, over the course of the entire movie and I have to say it is fabulously executed. Using a broad range of environments and a crescendo of powers and abilities, the action never feels stale. Here I am gushing about how amazing this movie is, but that does not mean it was perfect. The two main villains, for instance were incredibly campy. They almost seemed like caricatures instead of fully fleshed out villains. Also, the final battle sequence, while slick and entertaining, had some very cheesy elements to it that threatened the hard-earned stance of love and peace over violence for violence's sake. What do I mean by that? Well, the vast majority of the movie SHOWS you equality. It shows you what peace can look like and what it would take to achieve. The last sequence shouts it at you, instead. None of these things are enough to sully the movie, but I wouldn't be fair if I didn't share them with you.
For little girls (and boys) everywhere, this movie is a particular success. There's been Superman and Batman. There's been Spider-Man and Iron Man. Now we have Wonder Woman to add to the pantheon of icons that show our kids it's ok to be whatever they see in the mirror. Strength isn't tied to your genitals.
Check out our video review and the official Wonder Woman trailer below!