★★★ out of ★★★★
Wonder Woman is an important movie. For Warner Bros. and DC, it’s their best superhero film since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The critical response and expected box office figures won’t get them close to Disney and Marvel’s success, but it gets the ball rolling.
It’s also an important movie for women in Hollywood. Yeah, yeah I know, “Yay here’s a man to explain to us why this movie is important! How would we possibly figure that out ourselves?” Hear me out. The director, Patty Jenkins, is only the second female to receive a budget over 100 million. The last time a studio trusted a female with that kind of figure was in 2002 (Kathryn Bigelow K-19: The Widowmaker). My hope is that, on the heels of Wonder Woman’s success, studios will start to be more inclusive with big budgets.
And then there are the little girls who prefer to look up to a female superhero instead of a male. While there are a ton of butt-kicking ladies to admire in film, there aren’t many in the comic book genre. And even less with starring lead roles. And of those films, like Super Girl, Tank Girl, Catwoman or Elektra, they’re generally all pretty awful. This is the first critical and financial success for a movie that has a female director and a female superhero lead. That’s pretty big.
The film itself works because it’s a fish-out-of-water period piece set during World War I. Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), is a superhuman from an island comprised of only women. Her island ends up invaded by Germans and one American spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). From Trevor she learns that there is evil taking over the world and that it must be stopped. Diana’s philosophy is that peace and love are the only ways to live.
She goes on an adventure through Britain and eventually ends up on the front lines of the war, trying to stop the evil-doers. The lighter moments are when she tries to understand how normal, everyday humans live, dress and communicate. She tries walking the streets in her Wonder Woman garb (pretty normal attire on her island) to the shock of everyone around her. Her demeanor and ready-to-go attitude are funny and sweet at the same time. But when she finally makes it to the front lines, she kicks all sorts of butt.
The antagonists in Wonder Woman leave something to be desired. The only somewhat interesting character is Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya). She’s a German chemist bent on using gasses for killing. But like the other villains, her character lacks depth. She wears a mask covering up a nasty face wound, but it’s never explained how she got it. She wants to destroy the world, but her motive is unknown.
The movie sort of explains that there’s a supernatural force that takes over humans and causes them to destroy things, but ultimately the movie contradicts this notion, as we see some humans doing good and others doing bad. It’s messy, contrived and lazy.
Other than that, it’s truly an enjoyable popcorn flick. Don’t go into the movie expecting it to shatter all of your expectations on what a superhero movie can be. As a story, it follows a simple formula that works and sets the precedent for future DC movies.
Good: Highly entertaining with some solid performances out of leads Gadot and Pine.
The Bad: There were some moments that made me think, “Why is this person putting himself at risk if Wonder Woman could easily do it and survive?” Those thoughts shouldn’t be going through my head on more than one occasion.
Final Word: For some, Wonder Woman may just another summer super hero film. But as I left the theater and I saw not just kids but adults in Wonder Woman garb, it felt like this movie truly meant something to people.
Starring Gal Godot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen. Directed by Patty Jenkins.
Running Time: 2 hours 21 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content