After a few strikeouts, DC Comics has hit it out of the park with its latest cinematic endeavor, “Wonder Woman.”
While the titular character had already been introduced in last year’s “Batman V Superman,” this film goes in depth to show how Wonder Woman became who she is. The film starts with the superhero, named Diana (Gal Gadot) growing up on an isolated island of Amazons, where she’s trains to prepare for the possible return of the God of War, Ares.
One day on the island, war comes to her, though, as an American pilot crashes in the surrounding waters. The pilot, named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), informs the Amazons of World War I and his mission to help stop a doomsday weapon that could kill many more people. Diana, believing the war to be the work of Ares, decides to join Steve on his mission and help put a stop to the Great War.
All told, “Wonder Woman” had a lot of ground to cover story-wise, from the lore of their island and ancient gods to the introduction of villains into World War I and the fish-out-of-water lessons that come with a character entering the real world. Fortunately, this flick pulls it off masterfully with a well plotted three-act structure and fantastic pacing.
The first act introduces the lore, shows Wonder Woman’s training and more or less gives the audience all the necessary information that’s important through the rest of the movie to understand what’s at play. It ultimately makes diving into the movie’s second and third acts that much easier.
Additionally, the story isn’t as predictable as other superhero pictures thanks to its genre-mixing. While the flick does include familiar territory from other origin movies, the fact that “Wonder Woman” is very much a gritty war/espionage film allows it to take a different spin on the usual hero’s first outing.
What also helps is the development of Wonder Woman’s understanding of the outside world. It’s very steady and happens from her first introduction all the way until the final conflict, making for a solid character arc that leaves room for both humorous moments and reflection on humanity .
This of course is made possible thanks to a fantastic performance from Gadot. Her whole performance ensures that Diana is both powerful and strong-willed while also being caring and compassionate. Gadot also pulls off the ‘fish-out-of-water’ deal nicely, having wonder and curiosity for the outside world but never over selling it to the point that it feels over-the-top.
Pine, meanwhile, plays his character as a perfect opposite to Gadot’s Diana. Steve has a very straightforward, somewhat cynical view of the world and the way and Pine sells it very well. This of course crosses Diana’s more open sense of wonder for the world around her and ultimately it leads to growth for both characters. Pine also plays the character to be very brave, but not to the point where he overshadows the titular character, but rather in that he just wants a peaceful world again.
It also has to be noted that Gadot and Pine share a tremendous amount of onscreen chemistry, making many of their interactions the best parts of the whole movie.
Credit also has to go to how the film incorporated the supporting cast, which mostly comprised of Steve’s expedition crew that helped on the mission. This included Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and the Chief (Eugene Brave Rock). While the three at first appear a bit cliché, the movie does them justice by including small scenes that show their complexities which give Diana a better world view.
The villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya) were also pretty solid here and how the film brings their actions into the third act really puts their work into perspective.
It also helps that the dialogue for these characters was exceptionally well written. From the comedic moments that provide major laughs to the more emotional ones that give weight to the goings on, it’s all on point.
So, the question is, does “Wonder Woman” have the action to back all of this up to make for a well-rounded, entertaining picture? Hell yes it does. The action in “Wonder Woman” is absolutely phenomenal. One real standout is where the titular character storms a village to take on numerous baddies and uses everything in her arsenal.
In one sequence she’s throwing a shield, the next she’s bouncing bullets off her gauntlets, then pulls out her sword and in another she’s using her legendary lasso of truth. The action is well shot and has perfect segments of slow motion allowing Wonder Woman’s quick combat to be taken in and appreciated. Praise also has to be given to how the filmmakers did Diana’s combat with the lasso.
Not only was the choreography great, but because the film had a dreary, grey, gritty setting to fit its war genre, the glowing gold lasso really stood out. Not only did this make it easier to see Wonder Woman’s combat, it also was in a way metaphorical, as Wonder Woman herself was a sort of light shining into the war-torn area.
It’s difficult to really knock this movie. There are some minor complaints, such as the film having a framing device in bookends that weren’t necessary and a transition into the final conflict that was a little rough. The overall product is just so good, though, that it’s easy to overlook these qualms. This is up there with the best of them, it matches other greats in the superhero realm such as the first “Iron Man” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” 4.9 out of 5.