Yep. It’s good.
I don’t think there’s much value in starting this review by criticizing the DC Extended Universe much more than it already has been. I could start by complaining about how dull, poorly directed, and life-draining Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, or Suicide Squad are, or how my expectations are rock-bottom, but I won’t. Instead I’ll get right to it: Wonder Woman is good. In fact, it’s often fantastic. It’s a landmark superhero film and a beacon for hope for the DCEU.
On the isolated island of Themyscira, the young Amazon princess Diana dreams of becoming a warrior and fighting in great battles. As a woman, Diana’s dream soon becomes a reality when Allied pilot Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, and warns of a Great War that has consumed the world. Compelled by Trevor, Diana choses to leave her island paradise and fight a threat more connected to Diana’s heritage then she realizes.
Wonder Woman has a fairly basic superhero origin plot with familiar story beats, but what elevates the film into greatness is the performances from the lead actors. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is absolutely astounding. She is so earnest and sincere in each line delivery, and captivity in action sequences; whether that be leaping off shields or striking Germans with the lasso of truth. Equally incredible is Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. The man oozes charm and offers actual comic relief that had me actually laughing. Together, Gadot and Pine have inimitable chemistry, and every scene where they’re together are the best in the movie. Standouts include Trevor and Diana sailing to London, and fish out of water shenanigans when Diana reaches England.
The chemistry between Gadot and Pine can undoubtedly be credited to the direction from Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman is slick, visceral, and just all-around well-directed. Jenkins is an incredible filmmaker, and her command of each scene, action or not, is felt throughout the film.It should be noted that lots of slow-mo is used in action scenes, but it’s not distracting or Snyder-esque. The slow-mo accentuates already smooth action and is more often than not cool.
Just like the direction, the film’s screenplay, tone, and theming is clear, concise, and actually moving. Diana’s ambitions and calling to protect the innocent is stirring and well executed. When Diana storms the no man’s land between trench lines, it’s emotional and spectacular action. Moreover, the film addresses complex subject matter, specifically the ambiguity of war, with maturity and intelligence unseen in superhero films since The Dark Knight. The nuance in storytelling and theming in Wonder Woman is leagues above what is found in Man of Steel or BvS.
Wonder Woman falters occasionally, just in a few areas. It’s close to two-and-a-half-hour runtime contributes to a stuffed second act, which morphs into a CGI-heavy climax. Also the main villains General Ludendorff and Dr. Poison don’t have much else to do besides be B-tier MCU villains, which is still a step up from Lex “Jolly Rancher” Luthor, the Enchantress, naked Zod corpse, or Doomsday.
There’s a really quick scene in the film where Trevor and Diana are in a hurry to catch a train in England, but Diana stops and tries ice cream for the first time. After her first bite, Diana graciously decrees, “It’s wonderful. You should be very proud.” This small, tiny moment (actually adapted from the comics), is better than all of the other DCEU films combined. Although just a few seconds, it’s such an enduring and human moment. But I don’t want to belabor that point. Wonder Woman is indeed a wonderful film by its own merit. It’s triumphant, and absolutely deserves your attention.