Despite having the more recognizable and universally familiar characters in comic book lore the DC cinematic universe has had a less than stellar debut. Beginning with “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” while commercially their films do well, critics have widely panned each new installment in the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU). While “Wonder Woman” hopes to buck the trend at least critically, the studios’ lack of investment in marketing this film have led many to believe that more could have been done to sell this movie. Based on the previews, Wonder Woman plans to give movie goers many of the thrills they look forward to in summer movies. The familiar DC property should be enough to give the DCCU the much needed boost it is looking for before “Justice League” premieres later this year.
A few words about Wonder Woman:
- Great action – Since this movie begins with the earliest of origins for little Diana Prince, viewers get to see glimpses of the Amazons both training and in battle. Early on this is done using both well choreographed fight sequences as well as good use of slow motion during busy action scenes. There are several scenes early on when the Amazons are fighting that are breathtaking to watch. However when the solo scenes of Wonder Woman in action are shown, they are clearly the main course and it is not disappointing. Not only are the scenes crafted to show that she is a capable fighter but many times they allow Wonder Woman to truly be the hero that viewers would like her to be.
- Above average treatment of women characters. – There are a few tropes here that some feminists may cringe at. (as a man there were a couple of scenes/lines that left me wondering if there could have been better execution.) However for the most part women are treated as warriors and strong and not as sex symbols which is refreshing to see. While many of the warriors are “Scantily clad” in the film, it is taken with great care to note that they are dressed to fight, rather than to stand and be seen. There are few times where Wonder Woman is allowed to be the savior of the men in the film, and the men are happy to have her to do the saving. Chris Pine’s character who is shown being defensive of Wonder Woman for the majority of the movie, actually pushes her forward to do the fighting when he realizes she is far more effective at dispatching enemies than he or his crew is.
- Good acting from Gal Gadot (and Chris Pine) – The most I’ve seen Gal Gadot in before this film was the “Fast and the Furious” franchise where she is basically used as functional eye candy. (this is to say a beautiful woman who can also do some stuff, but is clearly being used more for her beauty than for her capability) Her first turn as Wonder Woman in BVS: Dawn of Justice did not require much acting from her besides action scenes and a few exchanges with Bruce Wayne. In Wonder Woman, Gadot is doing much of the emotional heavy lifting of this film. While much of her character is shown through dialogue exchanges, in some scenes she is required to convey her feelings through a look or a sound and she executes both very well. Gal Gadot brings great presence to this character and at times just being on screen swallows up the people around her which is not a bad thing for this movie. Her gravitas along with the professional levity of Chris Pine, who is basically playing an offshoot of his character from Star Trek work very well together. Gal Gadot playing the straight man and Chris Pine peppering the jokes allows for a very satisfying combination.
- Solid plot – This plot was not overly complicated. It was easy to follow and made sense as far as the overarching themes it was attempting to convey. That being said, at times the dialogue was a little corny to say the least, however this didn’t hurt the film. Along with a little corny dialogue there are a few plot holes as well, however these will only bother the most hardened of comic book fans and some of us more neurotic critics.
- Little rough in terms of character development. – If there were any real complaints about this movie it would lie in the character development. There were a couple of times where I questioned the motivations of the characters on screen and had no real answer as to why they were doing what they were doing. This isn’t necessarily a game changer, but a few times there were characters introduced who seemed to be on screen to do “a thing” then just leave, which doesn’t allow the viewer to really connect with them. For the largest characters in the movie, this isn’t necessarily the case but even with Chris Pine’s character he largely seemed to show up and begin completing tasks rather than give us any backstory to make us connect with him. This again, will only bother some of us more neurotic critics.
This was a good movie. It was a good superhero movie. It was a good DC movie. It is a good entry against the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has been pummeling DC for years now. This bodes well for the future of the DC cinematic universe. With all that being said it was also very refreshing to see a woman kicking butt more than the men were, and in many cases kicking the butts of men all over the screen. This is a good movie that allows women to shine and show that being the hero as a woman means that you can do the same things men do without having to be a “sex pot” (unless you want to be). I left this movie feeling pretty good, entertained, and ready to see more of Wonder Woman. I will most certainly be adding her comics to my collection and plan to see this movie at least one more time with my mother and sister. Bring your kids, especially your daughters (but your sons will appreciate it as well), bring your spouses, and even your pets if that is possible. 4 of 5 stars.