Well done DC. It only took you five years and four films, but you finally did it. You got a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes! There has been a lot riding on Wonder Woman. Comic book fans want it to be good to do justice to the character. DCCU fans want it to be good to show those Marvel fans what-for. Women want it to be good to show a growing acceptance in Hollywood, plus a new role-model for young girls to be provided. And everyone else wants it to be good so they don’t waste yet another two-hours. And now it looks like all their wishes have come true. What with 93% on the Tomatoes website.
Wonder Woman is the origin story of the title character. Born on an island of Amazons, all woman and no men, Wonder Woman finally meets a man. A WWI pilot to be exact, who tells her of the great war beyond her calm seas. But Wonder Woman senses this war to be the work of an ancient evil; Ares, the god of war and enemy to the Amazons. She and the pilotgo to London, and after integrating with our culture head to the battle field to face the Germans and stop this ancient evil. And if you want to know more about this film before seeing it, then watch Captain America The First Avenger, because the two are very, very eerily similar.
I’m not going to build this up. What did I think to Wonder Woman? Is it good? Yes! Yes it is. But…it’s not 93% good. The reason for that is mainly due to the film’s similarities to other superhero films. I mentioned the Captain America references, which sadly start to feel more copy and paste towards the end. But really Wonder Woman does nothing that we haven’t already seen done better in other superhero films. Except, of course the woman led role of the film. That was very well done, and she can easily work as a role-model to young girls. But that’s it. Even then, she’s not the best superhero I’ve seen in total. I know, almost all superhero films are very similar so what did I expect? But my counter is that my favourite superhero films are the likes of Dredd, The Dark Knight, Spiderman 2, Guardians of the Galaxy and most recently Logan. These are different to other superhero films to varying degrees. So I don’t think it’s much to ask for Wonder Woman to at least be a little less been-there-done-that.
But, in its own right Wonder Woman is a good and very fun film. It has got easily one of, if the best soundtrack in a superhero film I’ve heard in a long time. I might buy it separately when it comes out, it’s so good. The music complements the film perfectly, whether it be an action scene or a quiet one. Which brings me to the action. There is a lot of CGI involved and not all of it is completely convincing. There is also maybe a little too much slow-motion involved. But it is just so thrilling to watch. It’s quick. It’s visceral. And it’s creatively mind-blowing. The final showdown at the end is a let-down, not to mention over-long, but all other action scenes more than make up for it. Especially one involving a small town. But, the film also knows when to have a quiet moment. And it does them brilliantly too. You get emotion when it’s needed and it does feel pretty genuine.
As for the performances, they’re pretty strong too. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman does feel like she stumbles over the odd line or two, but is otherwise excellent in her role. She looks the part, and sounds the part too. She also knows exactly how to pull off the action scenes too, simultaneously capturing her tough and delicate sides. Along for the ride is Chris Pine, who does a great job as our WWI pilot side character. He’s the straight man to Wonder Woman’s fish out of water, and gives us some good comedy from that. We have a number of familiar faces and all of them do well in their given roles. They bring comedy and humanity to whoever it is they are portraying. This is with the exceptions of the villainous characters; one is like a female Phantom of the Opera and the other is just Danny Huston with a German accent. They’re over-the-top and played for laughs and thrills only, but I enjoyed them and thought they worked well.
There is of course the “girl power” theme that comes with Wonder Woman. This did have me worried. It has happened one too many times when a film feels the need to force this theme down our throats, as opposed to making a good film. Luckily though, that is not an issue at all here. The theme is subtle and well woven into the story and time setting, making excellent use of the WWI setting. Patty Jenkins as the director appears to have been much more concerned with making a good film, and that is exactly how it should be. Although, while the director of the Oscar winning Monster directed this, there doesn’t appear to be much style to it. Jenkins is a very good director, but this film feels more corporate than her others. This is not to say that the directing is bad, far from it this is a well-directed film. It just feels a little held back.
Most other issues I have with the film are mostly just nit-picks. We do still have the stupidity that came with Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman, even if there is far less of it. Some of the comedy doesn’t hit. Some of the side-characters are a bit under-developed. The climactic battle is visually interesting, but too long and not that thrilling. At least compared to what came earlier. I have found that the DCCU has always struggled with its special effects. They are good effects, but they are always lit or shot in a way that make it very apparent that what you are seeing is just an effect. Wonder Woman is no different. Also, taking a page from Marvel’s book, the villain is not very interesting and just pretty weak altogether. That last point is pretty problematic. But the rest, as I said, are just nit-picks really.
Wonder Woman is not a great film. But it is a very good one, and is worth the price of a ticket. It is the DCCU’s first good film, standing head, shoulders and a good bit of the torso above the rest. But as a superhero film in general, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. I don’t think the reception would have been as strong as it has if it were a Marvel film, personally. As soon as you can, get together and go to your nearest cinema for this one. Measure your expectations and Wonder Woman, thankfully, will not disappoint.
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