Hope, Heroism shine through in breakthrough superhero flick
Wonder Woman is in fact the best of the new DC Extended Universe, which if you think about it, really wasn’t a difficult achievement if you’ve been following their game.
But here’s the thing, Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins is not just the best of DC’s new bunch, it finds place next to Richard Donner’s Superman (1978) and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man (2008) as one of the best superhero origin movies. Ever.
Now, let’s not get too crazy. Wonder Woman is not without its share of issues. The good news (and kinda the bad news, too, I guess) is the problems his movie has are more in line with things that plague other superhero flicks.) The Zack Snyder influence is still there, although easier to digest thanks to Jenkins’ and Gadot’s passion for the character, and the genuine sense of goodness and hope that exudes from Gadot’s performance.
Wonder Woman takes place over one hundred years ago, during World War I. Diana (Gadot) is the Princess of Themyscira, a land created by the Gods, populated by some of the fiercest warriors on the planet. And they’re all women. Diana grows to be quite the badass herself, unbeknownst to the secrets to her true power and purpose.
Her introduction to that purpose, the world outside of Themyscira, and the looming threat to her and her people comes in the form of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy, whose plane is shot down by Germans. As the average — err — above average man, and the first man Diana has ever laid eyes on, Steve represents the perfect vessel to get to know Diana and he delivers something that has sorely been missing from the DCEU….a real sense of humor.
With her island threatened, Diana can’t just sit by and idly wait for something to happen. Instead she agrees to escort Trevor back to England and ultimately find her way to the battle grounds of WWI, where she plans to take on the God Ares, who is starting a bunch of shit in an attempt to destroy the pathetic humans.
Gal Gadot is the real star here though. Seen recently in a couple of the Fast and Furious movies, as well as the comedy Keeping up with the Joneses last year, she seems to have no problem shouldering the challenge and responsibility of bringing to the big screen the first true female superhero. She is in fact the first real hero, period, in DC’s new crop of flicks, in that her motivation is first and foremost doing the right thing and helping those who can’t help themselves.
As director, Jenkins (Breaking Bad), is able to handle the big stars, the big action sequences, and still manages to give us a story that is based on hope and love that feels fun to watch, without having to resort to cheeky one-liners that fall flat. Gadot and Pine have excellent chemistry and the director allows them to let that chemistry unfold naturally on screen. And it’s colorful to boot, from the beauty of Themyscira to the way Gal and her costume pop from the screen, even during the final climactic battle.
It’s not perfect however. Wonder Woman is way too long, clocking in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes and a good chunk second, into the third act really starts to drag before the action kicks up in the final battle. And this is where it gets a little sloppy. After spending the first half of the movie carving its own path as a female superhero movie it literally betrays itself by conforming to every cliche in the superhero/action movie playbook.
They are forgivable nitpicks, because for the first time, it really seems like DC and Warner Bros. are learning from the mistakes they’ve made on Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. And aside from the book ended scenes at the open and conclusion, there really is zero connection to the previous movies, allowing for a fun and exciting stand alone superhero flick.
Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air both for DC and for audiences who are starting to get that dreaded superhero fatigue. Thanks to the charisma of Gal Gadot, the comic timing from Pine, and the finessing of director Jenkins, we finally, after all these years have the Wonder Woman movie we deserve.
PS….No need to stay after the credits.