Wonder Woman SPOILER-FREE Review
While I have been looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman, I have not been pleased with the DC Cinematic Universe thus far. Man of Steel was great, in my opinion, but not everyone liked it. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a disappointment to say the least, and I hated Suicide Squad. Neither film was very well received, either. So, while I thought the trailers for Wonder Woman were great, I was naturally skeptical. The trailers for Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad were great as well, but then the movies were less than desirable. While I didn't really think that would end up happening with Wonder Woman, DC had burned me enough times in the past for me to be wary. But just before the release, all the reviews came out for Wonder Woman, and they were overwhelmingly positive. It stands right now on Rotten Tomatoes at 93%, which is incredible. So that certainly gave me ease that this movie wouldn't go down the same path as Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad. So I went in really excited, and I got a damn good movie! Wonder Woman has a really good story, strong characters, with great performances, and awesome action.
After Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on Themyscira, Diana (Gal Gadot) travels to the world of man in order to help fight against the outbreak of World War I.
Ever since Gal Gadot was first cast to play Wonder Woman, I was skeptical of her. She had only been acting for a couple of years, and I didn't believe she really had what it took to carry a franchise like this. She was good in Batman v. Superman, but she had only a handful of lines and a few minutes of total screen time. But I have to say, I was very pleased with her performance in this movie. It wasn't groundbreaking or anything like that, but she showed a lot of range that I didn't think she was capable of. She hits the emotional and the comedic beats equally well, as well as the action sequences. She captures the physicality of the role excellently, which I believe was her strongest suit. I went in nervous about how she would do, and she surpassed all of my expectations! So I give major props to her. Chris Pine is also fantastic in this movie! He is certainly a better actor than Gadot, but director Patty Jenkins does an excellent job of balancing the two so that Pine never truly outshines Gadot. I'll speak more about Jenkins' direction later. But I think the biggest thing that needed to be pulled off in this film was Gadot and Pine's chemistry, and it was radiant. If that didn't work, then I don't think this movie would have worked as a whole. But it does, and it only elevates the two actors.
The direction in this movie is fantastic. I mentioned this in our latest installment of Nerd Round-Up (which you can read here), but, gender aside, this is an excellently directed movie. There are larger ramifications to it being directed by a woman, and the movie's overall success, but looking at it from a pure filmmaking perspective... the direction was great. Jenkins balances the character moments with the action sequences perfectly. She also does a great job of fleshing out the characters. Where another director might have solely focused on just action, Jenkins strikes a balance in order to give us well-rounded characters, so that the action actually has meaning to it. Let's talk about those action sequences. They're spectacular! I don't think they're the greatest action scenes in a comic book movie ever, but they are certainly above average. Some have complained about the use of slo-mo, but I think it worked really well for this movie. Like I said before, Gadot pulled off the physicality of the role excellently, and I think that element really makes these action scenes shine. I also thought the messages displayed in the movie were really important. While there are certainly feminist ideas, the movie was never the front of an agenda. The film never became a PSA, which I give full credit to Jenkins for. She knew how to tell a good story, and through it talk about gender equality and sexism. It shows how capable of a director she is, that she knew how to walk that fine line. It also does more than just talk about feminism; the movie has strong messages about war and humanity, and I think Wonder Woman handled all of those elements beautifully.
I did have some problems with the villains. The movie kind of fell into the Marvel trap, where it spends so much time developing the hero that it doesn't give a lot of time for the villain. There are three villains in this film, and I don't think any of them were very well developed. The performances were kind of cheesy, and it stuck out compared to the far different tone set by the rest of the movie. It didn't fit, and it didn't feel like it was the same kind of movie. The villains also had the worst dialogue of the movie, which certainly didn't help in taking their characters seriously. The ending of the movie does devolve into a whole kind of Doomsday fight in Batman v. Superman, when I think there was a much more impactful way to end the movie. I won't go into specifics, because this review is spoiler-free, but I think there was a way to end the film without having a giant boss fight, and it would have been much more powerful. However, instead, the ending turns into a giant CGI fest, and while it was entertaining, it's been done so many times before. But those are really my only complaints. I do think maybe ten minutes could have been cut out to shorten it a bit, but other than those minor issues, this is a really solid movie!
Overall, Wonder Woman is a really strong and kickass movie. It's certainly the best DC movie since Man of Steel. Gal Gadot gave a surprisingly good performance, and definitely carried the movie. Chris Pine was also fantastic, but never outshined her thanks to the excellent direction by Patty Jenkins. The story, though a bit formulaic, is really good, and the characters are very well developed. The action sequences are also fantastic, with great utilization of slo-mo. The overall look of the movie is great, from the colors to the cinematography to the production design. They did an excellent job with the movie. I also thought the messages were important, and subtle enough that they weren't hitting you over the head. However, I do think the villains were underdeveloped and a bit cheesy, and the third act turned into a giant CGI fest that I thought was rather unnecessary. They also could have trimmed about ten minutes from the movie to make it a little leaner. But, in the end, Wonder Woman is a great movie, and an important one too, and it will certainly disappoint few.
What do you think? Have you seen Wonder Woman? Did you like the film? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below.
Written by: Nate
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