FINALLY! WE FINALLY GOT AN OUTRIGHT GOOD DCEU MOVIE!
Sorry, I’ve been waiting to say that since right after Man of Steel came out. It “only” took 4 years and 3 previous movies which ranged from kind-of good to an embarassment, but Wonder Woman is the first DCEU movie where my biggest complaints are more nitpicks than actual problems. Why Wonder Woman had to wait over 70 years to get a big-budget live action movie is….a topic I’m going to purposefully avoid for this post and focus on the movie itself.
The plot is that Princess Diana grows up on the magically isolated island of Themiscyra and is raised by the Amazons, a warrior tribe made up of only women, who have been cut off from the world since the Greek gods were destroyed by Ares. One day an American pilot named Steve Trevor crashes on the island and tells the Amazons about how he has been fighting in World War I. Diana leaves with him to hunt Ares and end the suffering of those affected by the war.
Diana herself is an intriguing character and very different than what we’ve seen from superheroes in recent years. She’s a hero who genuinely cares about innocent people and wants to help, showing a compassionate side that isn’t seen very much in superhero movies these days. Contrasting this, but still fitting for her character, is a warrior who doesn’t hesitate to fight or even kill for a cause she believes in.
It’s ironic that I don’t mind when DC’s most compassionate superhero kills her enemies. The combination of Gadot’s acting and the writing for her character make the audience relate to her easily, building up to the scene which I consider the centerpiece of the movie: the No Man’s Land scene. After seeing the trenches in World War I and the suffering people and animals, Diana decides that she needs to do something and delivers the best series of action scenes in any DCEU movie so far, fighting the German troops with her friends.
Let’s talk about her friends. Chris Pine does a good job as Steve Trevor, making me genuinely care what was going to happen to him and having enough depth to be an actual person beyond his role in the film. He and Gadot had great chemistry and I felt there was a real connection between them in their scenes. The other characters in their group include the smuggler Chief, singing/sharpshooting Scotsman Charlie, and secret agent Sameer. Though not as fleshed out as Steve Trevor, all of these characters were given personalities and I wanted to know more about their backstories.
The action scenes are excellent, particularly the No Man’s Land and final battle scenes. Slow-motion is well utilized and you could really see that the heroes were being pushed to their limits. The final battle is a little CGI-heavy like almost all superhero movies these days, but the writing leading up to and during the fight puts enough emotional weight to it to make it fulfill a purpose. Wonder Woman’s theme is the best superhero music I’ve heard since the Superman (1978) theme and I’ve played it on a loop on multiple occasions.
As far as my problems with this picture go, there aren’t many, but as some of them contain spoilers, here’s your warning. The German villains are not set up well enough to make the audience seriously think either of them is Ares in disguise. Also, they speak English for the entire movie, as does every German character. That’s a pet peeve of mine and it constantly distracts me that characters who have no reason to speak their non-native language are speaking English. At least give some indication that they’re speaking their own language or just use subtitles!
Ares, it turns out, is a British politician named Sir Patrick who didn’t cause the war but gave the characters ideas on how to kill each other more efficiently. He’s played by David Thewlis (Lupin from Harry Potter) who is PERFECT as Ares’ disguise, and again the writing for the character is great. As a friend of mine pointed out, Ares would be on the winning side. My problem with him is that he still looked and sounded like an elderly British bureaucrat throughout the rest of the movie. This is helped slightly by giving him a helmet which covers a lot of his face, but we can still see and hear that he hasn’t changed. I kept thinking he’d be asking Diana for her taxes. If he had been given a more intimidating face and voice I would have been completely sold on his depiction, but the writing makes up for my disappointment for the disguise.
There are a a few other events and revelations during the climax that give the viewer something else to think about. The most important is Steve Trevor’s sacrifice to destroy chemical weapons, which felt in line for his character and made the audience feel the emotional impact. He had been an upstanding, relatable person and I was really surprised that he actually died.
The other main plot point is the revelation that Diana is actually the daughter of Zeus, making her Ares’ half-brother and, after his death, the last remaining member of the Greek Pantheon. I’m excited for the storytelling possibilities this opens up and want to see her struggle with this role in the future.
My other problems with the film are minor enough to not even warrant discussion, so needless to say I was thrilled with this movie and want this to be the standard to which future DCEU movies hold themselves.
Rating: 5 ★★★★★