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Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman (2017) movie poster Wonder Woman

Theatrical Release: June 2, 2017 / Running Time: 141 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Patty Jenkins / Writers: Allan Heinberg (story & screenplay); Zack Snyder (story); Jason Fuchs (story); William Moulton Marston (Wonder Woman creator)

Cast: Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Chris Pine (Steve Trevor), Connie Nielsen (Queen Hippolyta), Robin Wright (General Antiope), Danny Huston (General Erich Ludendorff), David Thewlis (Sir Patrick), Said Taghmaou (Sameer), Ewen Bremner (Charlie), Eugene Brave Rock (The Chief), Lucy Davis (Etta Candy), Elena Anaya (Dr. Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison), Lilly Aspell (Young Diana)


The DC Extended Universe has consistently lagged behind the Marvel one it is modeled after. Justice League is only coming after the novelty of The Avengers has begun to wear off.
Suicide Squad somehow felt like a complete knockoff of Guardians of the Galaxy. Batman v Superman was already just a punchline by the time Captain America: Civil War opened seven weeks later. But, DC actually beats Marvel to the punch on a major issue plaguing Hollywood today with Wonder Woman, the first movie in this modern boom led by a female superhero.

The female superhero movie is not without precedent. In 1984, Supergirl was a laughingstock while the pioneering DC Superman franchise it spun off was on its last legs. Twenty years later, recent Academy Award winner Halle Berry could not save Catwoman from similar critical and commercial embarrassment. Elektra, the 2005 Daredevil spin-off starring Jennifer Garner, did not fare much better. Wonder Woman, however, will not add to that tradition. It is the first critically well-received live-action DC movie since Christopher Nolan ended his Dark Knight Trilogy.

That old black and white photo of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and friends that featured prominently in Batman v Superman again functions as something of our entry point here. In the modern day, our heroine graciously accepts that gift from Batman (who is not seen this time out). We then journey to Themyscira, an island inhabited purely by Amazon warrior women. Diana, the daughter of the queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and the god Zeus, discovers her remarkable powers while she is being trained in by her aunt General Antiope (a surprisingly buff Robin Wright).

Gal Gadot plays the titular heroine of "Wonder Woman."

Into this world of women crashes American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), which tells us it's the 1910s and World War I is raging on. After saving the fell pilot, Diana and her fellow Amazons get into battle with Germans. Believing what Steve tells her about the global conflict, Diana takes it upon herself to join him and head to the Western Front. She believes finding and killing the god Ares will put a swift end to costly war that Steve and others have been trying to end with the tools and tactics of mere mortals.

Steve gets Diana acclimated to London fashion and human culture. She in turn saves his life again. The two attractive strangers team up with the other three people from that photo. They're all men, which seems period accurate, but do at least inject some further diversity in the proceedings: one is Middle Eastern (Saïd Taghmaoui), another is an American Indian (Eugene Brave Rock), and the third is a Scot (Ewen Bremner). (It's probably worth mentioning that Gadot herself is Israeli.)

Diana, who is given the surname Prince to blend in (her titular handle is unsurprisingly never uttered), and Steve lead the efforts to close in on the German general (Danny Huston) they think is their key target and the lethal gas he and his mad scientist (Elena Anaya) have been brewing.

Fittingly, Wonder Woman is directed by a woman: Patty Jenkins, who makes this her long-awaited follow-up to her debut, the Oscar-winning 2003 serial killer drama Monster. Jenkins unquestionably shoots down the notion that it takes a man or Kathryn Bigelow to make a good action movie. There's nothing in the movie that makes you notice a woman made it, but you are aware that it is the work of someone with talent and tact beyond what we've gotten from Zack Snyder, who helmed two of the first three DCEU movies. Snyder is a producer and he takes story credit as well, but the excess of noisy action that has marked and marred his work is certainly not missed here.

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) poses with her multicultural allies (Said Taghmaou, Chris Pine, Eugene Brave Rock, and Ewen Bremner).

Wonder Woman is its own thing. In addition to a female lead, it embraces a period setting older than seemingly any other superhero movie has employed. With almost everyone alive then having passed,
World War I doesn't have the glamour, nostalgia, and patriotic goodwill we assign to World War II. It also doesn't have Nazis as obvious enemies. But, although it is set extensively against the Great War, Wonder Woman avoids being just a war movie. It also avoids being just another origin story.

Pine's character is very much a co-lead. Some cynics and critical genderists may question that design and the fact that Pine's character gets most of the film's laughs. But such complaints are nitpicking when strong female characters are so rarely in the foreground of contemporary cinema.

Wonder Woman avoids overpowering us with action. Though it runs 2 hours and 21 minutes with a long end credits scroll (that has absolutely nothing to see at the end), the film holds your interest and attention. Its brushes with camp are brief and mild. It tastefully spares teasing future movies in the DC Universe, even with Justice League just five months away. It's decidedly a smaller film than Batman v Superman and that's a good thing.

Jenkins proves capable at staging action, even though she never has before. Believable whether wielding the God Killer sword or her golden Lasso of Truth, Gadot proves able to carry a movie, which didn't seem much in doubt after her warmly-received scenes in Batman v Superman. Pine finally joins his fellow hunky Chrises in the superhero game and gives the film its strongest performance. Veterans like David Thewlis and Wright provide the needed notes in supporting roles. And Rupert Gregson-Williams expands upon the heroine's quickly recognizable guitar theme introduced by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL in her previous appearance without letting it become tiresome.

Marvel is already in pre-production on its own female superhero movie; Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson is due in theaters March 2019. In the meantime, many eyes will be focused on the box office numbers of Wonder Woman as validation that big tentpole movies and really just live-action movies in general do not have to be the sole domain of men on either side of the camera. It's pretty preposterous that with the sheer volume of superhero movies that have come out this century, only two really bad ones have centered on a solo female hero. If superhero movies intend to remain relevant and stay even remotely fresh, then it's high time to stop limiting the women to supporting roles.

Related Reviews:
In Theaters: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword • Fate of the Furious
DC Universe: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice • Suicide Squad • Man of Steel
Recent Superhero Movies: Logan • Doctor Strange • Ant-Man • The Lego Batman Movie
Gal Gadot: Keeping Up with the Joneses • Fast & Furious 6 • Triple 9 • Criminal
Chris Pine: Hell or High Water • The Finest Hours • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

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Reviewed June 2, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2017 Warner Bros. Pictures, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, Tencent Pictures, Wanda Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, and Cruel and Unusual Productions.
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