Movie Review: “Wonder Woman” – Heroic

Written by Matt Butler June 06, 2017

wonder woman

To say that Wonder Woman is the best DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film to date isn’t saying much. To say that it’s the best film centred on a female superhero is also, sadly, not saying much. But to say it’s a satisfying film in its own right, now that’s a wonder to behold.

Born and raised on an island populated solely by Amazonian women, the simple life of Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) – whom this movie calls Wonder Woman despite no one in this movie ever calling her Wonder Woman – is changed forever when a man (Chris Pine) crash lands on the beach. He comes from a world fraught with wrath and mistrust. Our world, in the midst of World War I. Armed with her sword, shield, lasso of truth, and bold naivety, Diana eagerly joins the fight.

“It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”

Wonder Woman does something surprisingly few superhero movies do these days: it makes its hero… heroic! Diana has a clear motivation to put an end to war. Plunging her in the midst of World War I gives her the perfect chance to achieve that goal. She witnesses firsthand the aching of an entire nation. It opens her eyes to a chaotic reality while reaffirming her brazen determination for peace. And when she steps out of that trench, flinging away her long black cloak, revealing her full Amazonian body armour, it’s a satisfying feeling. Because we know why she’s here, what she wants to do, and most of all, we want her to do it. It’s a weird thing to say, but it’s refreshing to see a superhero movie about a superhero that wants to help people.

wonder woman

Still, I’m dodgy on calling Wonder Woman a straight-up superhero movie. It carries all the values of one, yes, but tone wise, it feels more like a war film. That’s hardly a deterrent, but it’s certainly a surprise. At least in this film, the deep dives into joyless moodiness are justified by the time period, unlike Batman V Superman, which is joyless for the sake of joylessness. I’m even willing to forgive the desaturated colour grading since it gives weight to that big hero moment in the trenches.

“I’m both frightened and aroused.”

At times, Wonder Woman gets dragged down by DC’s (or, if we’re really pointing fingers, Zack Snyder’s) signature bloated bleakness. It’s not the kind that depresses me so much as puts me to sleep. An edit here and there would have trimmed the fat and helped carry the narrative momentum. But it’s saved by a heroine imbued with hope, and a director, Patty Jenkins (director/writer of Monster), versed in a naive protagonist.

wonder woman

It bears repeating just how likable Diana is, if only for the reason that her motivations are clear. I don’t think it’s necessarily good acting, I think it’s more clear direction. Jenkins has worked with this type of character before, and she knows how to play to Gadot’s strengths. Jenkins’ strength as a director isn’t in action (which if it isn’t choppy editing, it’s just stylized slow-down-speed-up). Her strength is where it should be, in Diana, who may just be the strongest character in DC’s cinematic roster. Again, not saying much, but it’s a start.

My Rating: 7/10

wonder woman

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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