Review: Wonder Woman

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Allan Heinburg, Zack Snyder, Jason Fuchs
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure
Rating: PG-13
I am a Marvel gal, by way of comic books, but I try to catch every comic-turned-movie there is. The one redeeming quality of Batman v Superman, in my opinion? Wonder Woman. I couldn’t wait for her own flick—that golden lasso, those bullet-resistant wrist cuffs. Growing up on the television show made for a tall order.

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: Wonder Woman hails from the Amazon women lineage, and they are warriors, so they train. This film is set during World War I, and subsequently, several war scenes that show not only soldiers fighting, but civilian casualties.
Language/Crude Humor: H*** is used several times, along with a couple of British slang cuss words.
Spiritual Content: As her mother describes creation by the god Zeus, it sounds pretty close to the biblical creation of man. But make no mistake, the Amazons are firm believers of the little “g” gods.
Sexual Content: The new outfit covers a lot more than any of the traditional Wonder Woman clothing, but it still could be considered skimpy for some. Our hero and the man she saved banter about sleeping together, and innuendos fly. There is a bit of kissing.
Drug/Alcohol References: Beer is served in one scene, but not consumed. One character is characterized as an alcoholic.
Positive Content: Diana/Wonder Woman has a naivety and innocence to the world around her. She was raised by women, isolated from mankind, so everything is new, from the depravity of war to learning to dance (“They are just swaying.”). There are so many moments of humanism sprinkled throughout to pull the viewer into the characters’ lives.

Review

I know I’m not the only one excited for Wonder Woman to hit the big screen. Her part in Batman v Superman was one of the highlights of that movie. Audiences wanted more, so Warner Bros. tapped into that vein. Having cut my teeth on Linda Carter’s television show as a kid, I was ready for an updated version of the golden lasso and outfit that didn’t look like it was a recycled from a color blind gymnast. And I wanted to see if newcomer Gal Gadot could pull it off.
From the first shot, the world building and storytelling is thorough. There isn’t a moment when the viewer is trying to fill in a plot hole or wonder when an explanation will come. Little Diana is the only child on the island of Amazon women, where her mother is queen. The fierce little princess wants to fight like everyone else, and trains secretly until her mother finds out and makes Diana train harder. There is something special about her daughter.
When Diana rescues Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from an airplane crash, the only thing she wants to do is to help save the lives of the innocent people and kill Ares, the god of war, who still roams the earth. If she can do that, everything will be right in the world again. But being thrown from a peaceful island to the middle of war isn’t what she thought it’d be. You can’t save everyone.
Gal Gadot had some big boots and a tiny outfit to fill, and she delivered above and beyond. Sure, there were the “glare into the camera” moments, but she gave Wonder Woman a sense of innocence and naiveté that helped add depth to the character. She wasn’t just an Amazon seeking justice—Gal gave us a picture of ferocity, grace, and unintentional silliness. Chris Pine was exceptional in his role as the American spy, Steve Trevor. There was just enough self-assurance to mask the feelings the golden lasso released. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen brought feminism to the Amazon warriors, but an underlying current of worry to make them believable. Steve’s trio of friends, played by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock are perfectly cast misfits with reasons. All in all, the casting director did the viewers a tremendous service.
From the mythical island of Themyscira to the way poisonous gasses twist and destroy, this film boasts some amazing visual effects. The bullet-resistant wrist cuffs and glowing lasso were expected from Wonder Woman, but even her hair gets majestically blown around in some of the battle scenes. The costuming was spot on, down to the WW I uniforms, and the improved Amazon outfits, complete with leather underwear and Roman-like leather skirts. I appreciated the nod to the deafness a couple of characters have after a nearby blast, although later one of them magically remembers what the other said.
Rupert Gregson-Williams composed a catchy, memorable composition. The soundtrack wanders from classical Strauss to WW I songs, each expertly matched with the corresponding scene. The credit track, “To Be Human,” was performed by Sia (ft. Labrinth) and while I dug the instrumental portions and the beginning of the song, the duet didn’t sit well, despite the fact that Florence Welch wrote it.
I went in expecting something, anything, better than the previous Superman and Batman movies and was rewarded with a well-rounded plot and solid acting. There were a couple of ill-timed flashbacks, in my opinion, but Patty Jenkins did right by the audience. There was applause and cheering after the final scene. We waited patiently, like trained monkeys, for the credits to end. Then…nothing. Really DC? You could’ve at least given us a blooper reel.

Positives

+ Wonder Woman's morality is concise, she's always looking for the good + Band of misfit friends who cling together through their shortcomings + Comedy is sprinkled into the dramatic plot + CGI isn't the main engine, the story is

Negatives

- None, unless I'm super picky: - There is a lot of slow-mo shots, although necessary because Wonder Woman is super fast. - A flashback that is contrived, but ultimately necessary

The Bottom Line

Went in with low expectations based on previous DC movies. Believable characters, fantastic world-building, and exceptional storytelling push this film to one of my favorite comic-turned-movie.

 

8.8

Sarah Bennett

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