“… DC finally has a solid “win” under their belt.”
Last night I saw Wonder Woman and I actually really liked it (especially compared to other DCEU films). Wonder Woman follows the story of Diana, a princess to the Amazons on an island hidden away from the rest of the world. This all changes when a plane crashes through the island’s barrier (?) and Diana decides to help by saving the pilot’s life; this is when she learns about the war to end all wars (World War 1). Deciding that this war is the work of Ares, the god of war, Diana decides to leave her island and help the world by killing Ares. And thus, Diana becomes Wonder Woman.
Now I by no means hate DC as a property, but it is no surprise that the last few cinematic attempts weren’t the greatest. Suicide Squad was passable to me (only because of my love for dumb action movies), but past that DCEU hadn’t gotten a win in my book. It’s needless to say at this point that I was skeptical of Wonder Woman, especially after her (in my opinion) lackluster introduction in Batman v. Superman. I wasn’t necessarily happy when I heard rumblings that people invited to pre-screenings were saying the movie was “alright”, but those rumblings did enforce my decision to keep my expectations low. And despite all of the good press that Wonder Woman has received over the past week or so my expectations stayed low, if only for the movie’s benefit. Luckily those low expectations payed off because I can honestly say that DC finally has a solid “win” under their belt. This win didn’t come without a fight, however. When Wonder Woman started my initial fears were seemingly coming to life due to the strange plot and ridiculous accents (seriously, were they Russian? French? From the same place as Jodie Foster’s character in Elysium?), but those fears were quickly stomped down by the great action and world-building. The beginning of Wonder Woman doesn’t get bogged down in it’s own shit like a lot of the other DC movies do. It introduces a concept, and then quickly moves on to greener pastures. These greener pastures are the inclusion of WWI pilot Steve Trevor. As soon as Steve Trevor is introduced in the film we get exactly what I’ve been wanting since Man of Steel: a movie with a lighter tone. Much like with films such as Thor, Steve Trevor (and then later on, Diana herself) provides these hilarious fish-out-of-water viewpoints to what the audience is seeing. If something is weird, you can be damn sure that Steve Trevor is calling it out. This creates not only a lot of comedy, but also a sense of connection with the audience. The shit that Steve Trevor is seeing is the same shit that we’re seeing, and we think it is weird so it would be disingenuous to not have him call it out. These moments increase, but get flipped on their head when Diana finally makes it back to the real world. These moments are more aptly compared to a movie like Thor because much like in that film Diana is now the one going around not understanding the human world. Once again this leads to a lot of the comedy in the film, and for the most part it works. I do want to talk about the comedy in Wonder Woman for a second, while we’re on the topic. I really do appreciate the fact that Wonder Woman was made to be more light-hearted that other DC films but for me at least, a lot of the jokes didn’t land. I don’t know if it was because I found them obvious, or because I wasn’t in the mood to laugh but for some reason most of the jokes went by with me just nodding my head in a “yep, that’s a joke” kind of way. Now I am in no way bad-mouthing the humour in Wonder Woman because I didn’t think it was bad, but I feel that it had to be said that I just didn’t find it all that funny.
I want to move on here and discuss the action in Wonder Woman. Now I did say earlier that I really liked the action in the movie, and that wasn’t a lie, but one thing that bothered me was the use of CGI. Now before I get into this I want to point out that the CGI in Wonder Woman was in no way bad, as a matter of fact it was stunning, but the problem I have with it is that it was used in such a way that it was very noticeable. The biggest issue I had with the CGI in Wonder Woman was the fact that whenever Wonder Woman would do literally anything besides walking or running, she turned into this strange CGI rubber-woman which really kept throwing me off. Now I’m well aware that humans can’t lift really heavy shit or jump really high, but was there really no other way than to make the entirety of Wonder Woman CGI? Now a lot of these issues stem from another problem I had with the film: Wonder Woman’s powers. I want to preface this by saying I couldn’t be less familiar with the character of Wonder Woman, but I am familiar with Justice League in general. My issue is: has Wonder Woman always been just a female Superman? I mean she can jump really high (practically fly), she has super-strength, she has super-speed (both in combat and running apparently), what can’t she do? All of these powers (which Wonder Woman may have always had) make the character really hard to capture on screen, which is probably why there was so much CGI in the film. I’m not saying that you should have cut any of these powers, I’m just saying that Superman gets a lot of shit for being able to do everything and now you’re going to essentially have two Superman characters be a part of the Justice League? Before I move onto story elements (with no spoilers) I do want to quickly discuss the score in Wonder Woman, and how much I loved it. Wonder Woman’s score manages to be both classical and modern, and it wasn’t afraid to take inspiration from other films as well. I’m talking specifically about the Sherlock Homes-inspired score during most of the London scenes in the film. One thing I do still oppose is the Wonder Woman “theme”. Ever since its introduction in Batman v. Superman I’ve felt that it is rather hamfisted and over-used. Luckily this film only uses it once (maybe twice), but ever since Batman v. Superman I’ve been sick of it. Anyway despite that I’ll say that the score used in Wonder Woman was just as awesome as the film.
The last thing I want to discuss about Wonder Woman is the story. I will do my best to avoid all spoilers, but if you are being extra cautious I wouldn’t blame you if you skip this part of my review. Wonder Woman “introduces” this character by doing something that I love dearly: a period piece. Much like with the original Captain America, we get to see what it would be like if a superhero was available during one of the World Wars, and it is kick-ass. I absolutely loved how the character of Wonder Woman was equally badass and caring, running into battle just to save a few people. I think the battle scene in the middle of the film (the one used in all of the trailers) is easily the high-point of the film and definitely the high-point in the DCEU right now. Because of this intriguing story, great action, and pretty good comedy the absurd runtime of Wonder Woman just flew by. Unlike Batman v. Superman which felt like a death-sentence, Wonder Woman felt like a vacation. I was completely on board with this movie, and I was ready to give it a great score until the ending came around. Once again, I won’t spoil anything but I will say that the climax of the film totally lost me. Something was being set up that would have made Wonder Woman a fucking brilliant superhero movie, and given her character a lot of complexity, but then it was all scrapped in favour of what we got. And what we got was a generic, “blue light in the sky” (not literally) final battle. Now I was telling the truth when I said this movie flew by, but as soon as this “climax” hit the movie slammed on the brakes. It was something that we have seen thousands of times before, and yet Wonder Woman presented it as if it was original. I’m really upset about this because, like I mentioned earlier, something was being set up that would have set Wonder Woman apart from all of the other generic superhero movies. But instead what we got was a really anti-climactic ending that seems to go on forever.
Ultimately Wonder Woman finally proves that DC has what it takes to make a good movie. Not only was the plot interesting, but the characters were well written, the action was good, and score was amazing. I did have a few problems with the CGI in the film, and the film’s ending, but overall I really liked it.
I give Wonder Woman a B