Wonder Woman (2017)
Director – Patty Jenkins
Writer – Allen Heinberg
Starring – Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
Rating – PG-13
Genre – Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Metascore – 76/100
Rotten Tomatoes – 93%
Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a fun, character driven, and thematically rich film from DC, just in time to shake us all from our Batman v. Superman apathy and prepare us for Justice League. Wonder Woman is no feature length trailer for its sequel, but stands as a successful standalone film that has fascinating things to say about humanity.
Wonder Woman is an origin story for Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who is raised on the Amazonian populated island of Themyscira, before accompanying Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to World War I ravaged Europe on a “sacred mission” to save the world.
This film shines brightest through the facets of its genuine characters. Wonder Woman is saved from being an over the top superhero blockbuster by these characters. Each one has a unique story that realistically informs their choices and desires. Wonder Woman manages to introduce a fairly large number of supporting characters, while still giving each one depth so that I actually cared about each of them. At its core, Wonder Woman is a “fish out of water” story, which has been done and overdone. However, Wonder Woman manages to tell this sort of story in a fresh way, finding the right amount of humor, as well as saying substantive things about humanity.
Wonder Woman succeeds largely in part thanks to its two leads, Gadot and Pine. Despite being a relatively unknown actor, save for Batman v. Superman and a couple of Fast & Furious films, Gal Gadot absolutely shines here. Her performance is emotive, genuine, and honestly, she makes a kick-ass Wonder Woman! Pine’s performance is equally genuine, as he presents a multi-faceted character in relatable way, allowing the audience to truly empathize with him.
As much as I love extended universes, superhero team-ups, and huge stories, it’s easy to grow tired of watching movies with the feeling that their existence is only to set up for its sequel. Wonder Woman does a fantastic job of rejecting this, and is presented as a complete film. Yes, it is an origin story for Wonder Woman, and does impact how we will see her character in the future, but it accomplishes this as a secondary goal, and leaves its story at the forefront.
Wonder Woman’s faults come in the final act, in which the final fight scene devolves into messy, CGI-laden excess. Ironically, the final scenes of the film are dense with character development, as well as important and worthwhile thematic elements, yet all of that is couched in super-strength, explosions, and yelling. Also, I was a little disappointed with the “only love will save the world” message that came through in the end, which felt cliché and heavy-handed.
Despite these minor flaws, Wonder Woman is a complete success. A rare occurrence in this world of punch-heavy superhero movies that mostly act as feature-length trailers for their sequels, Wonder Woman is a film that stands on its own as a compelling story driven by interesting and fleshed out characters.
Author: Josh Johnson