I told myself that if Wonder Woman was a mess similar to Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, there’s nothing else the DC Extended Universe can do to win over critics. Luckily for Warner Bros., they can exhale and crack a smile. Finally, DC and Warner Bros. have a solid superhero film that exists outside of the Nolan Batman trilogy.
Luckily, this origin tale doesn’t suffer from being too formulaic and bloated. We begin with Diana (Gal Gadot) reminiscing over a photo with her and the rest of our gang of heroes: soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), sniper-turned-pianst Charlie (Ewen Bremner), Native American Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) and silver-tongued Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui).
The film then dives into a flashback that takes up the majority of the film, where we see young Diana (Lilly Aspell) sprint throughout Themyscira, an island full of Amazonians, eager to watch fellow warriors train. Quickly, we’re introduced to Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), who’s chasing after Diana, her child, and General Antiope (Robin Wright), a powerful leader who trains these warriors.
There’s an attention to detail by Jenkins that impressed me. For starters, the Greek accents heard on the island of Themyscira were generally spot-on. I’m half Greek, myself, so I immediately recognized that both Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen did a good job of mimicking the accent. This added to the immersive nature that surrounds Wonder Woman and was a small detail that was much appreciated to this moviegoer.
The film begins to gain momentum once young Diana grows a bit older and into the warrior we’re used to seeing. As her training continues with Antiope, we get our first awe-inspired moment: With no weapon to defend herself against Antiope’s attack (it’s still training, people!), Diana crosses her arms into an “X” and, well, comic book fans know the rest.
Eventually, Chris Pine gets thrown into the fold after crash landing in the waters of Themyscira. He’s met with strong pushback for a) being a man and b) being a spy. Pine was the one actor I had no doubts would nail his role, but it was good to see Jenkins and Allan Heinberg, who penned the screenplay, allow both him and Gadot to get their shine.
Speaking of Gadot and Pine, both have a good on-screen chemistry that could have otherwise destroyed Wonder Woman. Both play to each other’s character well.
Taylor’s bewilderment as a solider who is being told that Ares, the god of war, controls the world war going on between the U.S., Germany and other countries is believable. Diana’s curiosity and willingness to save millions of lives in the name of love is believable. I had to pinch myself during the moments both actors shared in which explosions weren’t needed to carry the scene — their emotions and good back-and-forth did the job.
There was — and still is — this absurd notion that Gadot cannot be a good Wonder Woman because she’s not muscular or intimidating.
Can we please put this to rest? Gadot proved those doubters wrong with her strong, stoic and emotional performance. You don’t need muscles to display grit, empathy and an all-around good performance. Gadot left me smiling and happy to tell people, “You were wrong.”
During action sequences, everything felt natural: the camerawork wasn’t jittery and action was easy to follow. However, the first few action sequences suffer from a bit too much slow-motion. The rest of the film simmers down on the slo-mo front a tad, but I wondered early on if Zack Snyder was at the helm.
However, the CGI and fun effects — Wonder Woman’s lasso is wonderful — shine bright during most of the major setpieces.
With all the good surrounding Wonder Woman, this isn’t the perfect superhero film, and the final battle with Diana’s main adversary detracted from what is otherwise a solid series of events. There’s usually an epic final fight in most superhero films, but this one felt rushed and weightless. This was, also, the only time I wondered, “How much longer until this wraps up?” I felt a lack of connection with what the film was trying to convince us was Diana’s toughest foe. The substance was in Diana’s foe being herself during times of peril and having to unlearn everything she thought she knew.
Some of the supporting cast — Danny Houston as Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Dr. Maru in particular– gave lackluster performances. Houston wasn’t too convincing, and Anaya struggled to get through scenes that had her at the epicenter. Luckily, the film doesn’t spend most of its energy on these two.
Wonder Woman’s negatives aren’t enough to make this a failure, and it feels good to see a successful female DC hero flick that can hold its own. Say what you will, but Wonder Woman is the DC Extended Universe’s golden child at the moment.
Jenkins may have just saved Warner Bros. and their stake in superhero films.
I attended an IMAX 3D press screening thanks to Warner Bros. ❤
“Wonder Woman” is rated PG-13, runs two hours and 21 minutes and releases in North America on June 2, 2017.