So who assumed, when they heard that Wonder Woman was the next of the DC super hero flicks, that it would be just as bad as the other recent efforts? Yeah, me too. I mean, it couldn’t be as bad as Suicide Squad right? Plus, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was a bright spot in an otherwise average Batman vs. Superman. Plus, her ‘entrance music’ is incredible! I tried to convince myself it would be alright, but then I gave up. So what a joy it was to find out that with Wonder Woman, DC finally found itself a truly great superhero movie, at the hands of director Patty Jenkins.
The film get’s off to a slow start. As with most superhero movies these days, we get a healthy dose of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince’s origin story. We meet her as a young girl and watch her grow under the watchful eye of her over protective mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and the great warrior Antiope (Robin Wright). This part of the film is sufficient, and fairly entertaining, but a little clunky, cliched and at times poorly acted. However, it’s also home to an incredible beach front action scene, filled with woman power and a great contrast between ancient and modern warfare. It also includes the introduction of Chris Pine’s character Steve Trevor, who brings a fantastic charm and humor to the proceedings.
Where the film really takes hold and thrives is when we land in London and Diana Price begins to exist within the unfamiliar modern world. It provides a natural, organic humor that the other DC films lacked (also aided by Pine’s natural abilities), and Gal Gadot does a wonderful job of playing it serious while the characters around her deal with the consequences. It’s a lightness that is so organic, it doesn’t affect the overall weight of what’s at stake during the film and that is a balance that is often hard to come by.
Of course, in order for a superhero movie to thrive, it has to butter its bread with it’s action sequences. Wonder Woman brings plenty, and they are plenty good. There’s a great balance of big scale battle scenes, close up hand to hand fights filled with creative new takes and the high CGI ‘super’ fights (which although never quite living up to their promise in these types of films, are among the best in Wonder Woman). Some of the highlights, other than the previously mentioned beach battle, are a great sequence where our hero clears a room of multiple enemies with incredible grace and power, and another dirtier scrap, a classic World War 1 trench battle with a super powered twist. They’re all well executed and fun to behold.
The real theme of the film though, is the contrast between the reality of a superhero and the reality of the real world. It’s what keeps coming to play, and developing into a greater factor, scene after scene. We see Diana come to terms with the fact that sometimes you can’t save everyone, and sometimes you have to pass on a smaller battle to focus on a bigger one. The realities of human warfare are hard to digest for an ancient superhero, a rather naive one, and we watch Diana struggle with these things as her more earthly companion Steve Trevor helps her navigate. Of course, there are also the times when she puts her Amazonian veto on all that jazz, and saves everybody anyway. She’s Wonder Woman, after all.
The film also does a nice job touching on more philosophical topics like war itself and the nature of humanity and morals. I’m not going to claim it’s Ingmar Bergman caliber philosophical film making here, but it’s nice to a see a super hero movie sprinkle in some legitimate topics in a way that blends well with the action, humor and fun of the film. This was the issue with Batman vs. Superman, which tried to do the same, but as a result just sucked the fun and spirit out of the proceedings.
While the film had a few down moments, and got off to a somewhat clunky start, it’s great to see DC finally nail one. Gal Gadot is the new face of the DC Superhero universe, until someone manages to knock her off the mantle. She gets some incredible support for Chris Pine, and let’s hope that this is a springboard for future DC movies. Here’s to more Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie coming out in November, 2017.
Movie Melt Score: 8.5