by Mike Smith
The year: 2017. The superhero film genre has dominated Hollywood for the last 10 years but you haven’t hit a homerun since The Dark Knight. All of your recent offerings have been the subjects of rather polarizing……discussions…and some old man already gave the other guys a HUGE head start for the year. You need a hero, and fast!
Enter Gal Gadot; the savior the DCEU needed.
First, let’s get this out of the way; yes, it’s another origin story. Yes it’s another WWI/WWII era film in what seems like an endless stream of said films (Dunkirk, anyone?). Here, however, it is done to the point where you’re actually interested in seeing how that world would deal with an injection of some good ol’ estrogen from the embodiment of feminism herself.
The movie opens to a call-back from BvS where Bruce Wayne sends Diana the original photograph of she and her DC version of the “Howling Commandos” (I’ve never read WW before so if this is an old origin story and her team has a name please don’t kill me) which leads to the retelling of her time as a child and her first mission with the team during WWI. She was a rambunctious youth, always trying to sneak away from her mother to train with the other Amazons of Themyscira, but her mother Hippolyta wouldn’t allow it. Eventually she gets her way (obviously) and is trained to become the strongest warrior the island had ever seen. After saving a drowning Cpt. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who crash landed on the island days earlier and learning about, “THE war,” taking place in Europe, AND knowing it is the duty of the Amazons to protect man from themselves and to stop war from spreading over the world, Diana steels herself and leaves the island with him to put an end to it once and for all.
To be honest, I was not expecting much at all from this movie. Hell, I told myself that after the other stinkers DC has dropped on us, backed by the look of the Justice League trailer (Aquabro doesn’t do it for me), if Wonder Woman didn’t knock it out of the park then I was going to send the DCEU the way of Michael Bay’s Transformers and swear all of the rest of the films off entirely.
I am happy to say that I will be doing no such thing.
This film had it all! Action, drama, romance, comedy, more action; everything hit that sweet spot just right! I was originally against DC trying so hard to mirror the Marvel movies’ formula by adding in more levity and comedy into their films, which ended up setting Suicide Squad back a bit last year, but I must say they really pulled it off perfectly here. Chris Pine shined when bringing the funny as Trevor, and his chemistry with Gadot throughout their time on screen together was great! Even the times where he slid into the starring role and took the spotlight from Gal temporarily were seamless and didn’t take away from her story at all. The action scenes were fierce, the use and look of WW’s powers was amazing yet grounded enough to fit the world, and the effects weren’t at all heavy handed. As for the soundtrack, if you’ve heard the film’s main theme by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL (who hasn’t by now?!) then you’ll be happy to know the rest of the score is of similar caliber. Prepare to have your eardrums thoroughly smashed as you bang your head to the amazing beats, or whatever it is you do when you like the music. Sway?
While I ABSOLUTELY loved this movie, it wasn’t quite perfect. There were times were I felt that Gadot had a few issues emoting. Trying to pretend that everything is new to you (as the entire world is to Diana) would be understandably difficult, and you could see at times she couldn’t quite get it right. Not a big deal, but it pulled me out of the movie enough to notice. I would have also liked some further character development with the members of her team as some things in their pasts seem to be brought up but never mentioned again. For example, their sniper Charlie “sees ghosts” and ends up not being able to shoot anymore when they needed him to cover them during the mission. It took a bit too much deduction on my part to put together something they made seem like a big deal. There are other things that we just have to take at face value as well with regard to General Ludendorff (which I won’t spoil) but I’d like to have been filled in on that too. Lastly I felt like the pacing was a bit TOO fast in the beginning (Act I) and maybe a bit too drawn out through Act II in which I caught myself asking a few times, “we’re still here?”
As an aside, a viewer might find themselves thinking about how much this movie felt like Captain America’s The First Avenger (hence my Howling Commandos reference earlier). No one is saying that this movie is a carbon copy or replica of Cap’s romp, mind you, far from it. One may simply see a superhero movie, set in wartime, with an ace squad of rabble-rousers, on a suicide mission behind enemy lines and feel inclined to say, “woah… Déjà vu,” summoning their inner Keanu Reeves. You can put those fears to bed, however, as that is where the similarities end. WW is 100% its own movie and a damned good one at that.
All in all I’ll say that not only am I, the eternal nitpicker, happy with this movie, but I’m going to see it again this weekend! I’m so happy that DC finally hit the nail on the head that I want to make sure that they know to make more films just like this one. If you have time this is a must see and that’s not a designation that I give lightly. If you DON’T have time, MAKE time and go see it pronto. No excuses.