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Wonder Woman. A Review
As someone who has been underwhelmed by the last few DC cinematic affairs, I knew going into Wonder Woman what exactly was laid on her Amazonian shoulders. On the line is the trust of audiences, trust in a company to not only make entertaining movies but also pay service to characters that we have loved for most of our lives. That trust has waned in the last few years with movies that have absolutely spit in the face of these super heroes or just give us ones that are completely unlikable. While DC has set the bar pretty low, Wonder Woman thankfully does not fall into these same pitfalls that the previous two DC films have. While the studio still has not made a movie that I think has been "incredible" this is a strong step in the right direction.
One of the big things Wonder Woman has going for her is that we have not been shown her origin story 15 times over the last decade. This gives director Patty Jenkins (Monster) and the writers the freedom to show Diana's development and background without boring the piss out of everyone watching. Walking into the theater I thought to myself that for the first time in years that I was actually excited to learn about the basics of a super hero as I don't know a whole lot about Wonder Woman.
The movie opens with Diana in her formative years, but quickly after some background about the Amazonians and a few warnings of Aries's inevitable return, Diana has grown into a woman and at just the right time. A plane crash lands in the protective bubble surrounding her hometown of Themyscira and with it comes a fleet of German soldiers. After saving the pilot of the plane and a real solid battle scene on the Themyscira shores, Diana is introduced to Steve Trevor and the rest humanity outside her home island. She learns of the World War that is going on and decides it is her duty to protect the world and humanity from the influence of Aries the God of War and with Steve heads off into the world.
As I previously mentioned DC has done a terrible job as far as character work so far in this cinematic universe. In Batman vs. Superman, Batman is a murderous megalomaniac with no redeemable qualities other than some cool toys and a great super hero chin and Superman is treated like garbage through the whole movie. Suicide Squad was full of unlikable characters that you were supposed to root for and the one who is actually likable*Spoiler alert* dies at the end. These are not the only problems with those movies but they are some of the bigger ones. Wonder Woman thankfully does not do this.
Diana's mission is noble, she is setting out to save a world that she had no real connection to. Her primary motivation is to protect the innocent from evil and will stop at nothing to make sure she is successfull. She is not here for vengeance or any gain other than winning the fight between good and evil, now that is a character I can get behind. Steve Trevor is not a perfect person and he knows it but he is trying to be better now while he still has the chance and to be honest, no character in either Batman V. Superman or Suicide Squad had that much depth.
While Wonder Woman is a fantastically noble character, she does have some flaws in how her character is written. There will be times when it would be impossible for Diana to understand what is going on, just based on the fact that she has never stepped foot off of her secluded island where they still ride horses into battle and use bow and arrows. There also are moments in the movie where people will tell Diana that something she wants to accomplish are impossible. She then proceeds to not only prove them completely wrong but look bad ass in doing so but there needs to be a time when that strategy won't work.
There is a theme here about men, usually ones with power but not always, will tell women they can't do something, that it would be impossible for a woman to do that. It does not come off as nasty or man-hating, but it is a theme in this movie and is combated perfectly when soldiers tell Wonder Woman she cant run across an active battlefield only for her to do exactly that and win the battle almost single handed. The issue is that this, while strong cinematic language, has to have the other side of it. There is never a time when Wonder Woman's confidence and single focus will get in her way and make her learn to take advice sometimes too. For Diana to grow as a character she needs to fail and learn from her failures, not just will her way to victory.
While we are on the negatives I would like to bring up the editing and continuity of the DC films and more specially during the action sequences. Man of Steel I thought had some great Super Hero action scenes, but since then the level of fight scenes has gone down dramatically in my opinion. There are weird continuity problems in the fight scenes, the editing feels like they never get enough coverage in these scenes but is a constant problem in DC movies. Wonder Woman has some incredible fight scenes with some visceral combat that feels grounded in reality, with enough doses of superhuman power to keep us on our toes but also suffers from the same editing issues.
Speaking of editing someone at Warner Brothers needs to be sent an e-mail about the length of their Super Hero movies. 2 hours and 26 minutes is just too long for the opening movie of a franchise. You need to earn the respect of the viewer to be allowed to tell stories that need a longer time to resolve. Captain America: Civil War earned its long run time because of it's impact to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Winter Soldier being such a well told story. On the topic of story, while interesting to think about historically and with solid characters, Wonder Woman's plot is not off the charts. This is definitely a Wonder Woman movie, meaning there is not much connection to the larger universe.
Is Wonder Woman the savior of the DC extended cinematic universe, no. Is it a good movie, yes and that's really as much as DC could have asked for. In a time when Marvel is so far ahead in this race DC just needs to make up some of the distance. The way to do that is make solid movies and that's what Wonder Woman is. Up until now I don't think i have seen a better movie this year than Logan, a movie that is completely a service/farewell to a character. These super hero movies have come so far and even with the last few DC movies being so utterly disappointing, Wonder Woman gives me faith that we will one day see these characters given the same service as Wolverine was given in Logan.