Wonder Woman  is a superhero film and the fourth entry in Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe and is helmed by Patty Jenkins (Monster). The screenplay was penned by Allan Heinberg from a story treatment by himself, Zack Snyder & Jason Fuchs. Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Furious 7) stars as Amazonian Princess Diana, better known as Wonder Woman. Alongside her is Chris Pine (Star Trek Beyond) as Steve Trevor, a spy for British Intelligence who stumbles upon Diana’s hidden homeland of Themyscira. The ensemble also features Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner, & Eugene Brave Rock.
Well, it’s about time that they stuck the landing, ‘they’ being the entire creative team behind the DCEU films. Wonder Woman is the breath of fresh air audiences have been waiting for. For those vocal fans of BvS and Suicide Squad, perhaps it’s just another homerun. I won’t pretend this is a perfect film. There are some stylistic similarities to its predecessors that rub me the wrong way, which we’ll get to in a second. Narratively, there are some shortfalls, the most noticeable being that in essence, most of it has been done before. All that being said, the sum of its parts is a worthwhile and empowering experience.
It’s all very technical. Well, at the very least, that is where most of my problems with this movie lie. I defend the earned gravitas of the action sequences. The investment in what is happening lends some credibility to overused slow-motion and quick-cut fight sequences. The score swells melodramatically during emotional beats, where perhaps the film would be better served by little or no music. These issues are nothing new for the DCEU. Nonetheless, Diana is a wonderful protagonist, so powerfully brought to life by Gal Gadot that it is hard not to dive right into these sequences without looking back. Even when the CGI-heavy climax kicks into gear, the humanity that Gadot brings to her character brings it home.
Humanity is a strong element in a film largely about gods. Unfortunately, that can’t really be applied to the film’s antagonists (a sad waste of Danny Huston). The film’s World War I setting is not only an exciting backdrop for the action; it also manages to be the sweet spot of darkness and fun that Zack Snyder has long struggled to find in his own superhero outings. War, cinematically speaking, is an excellent catalyst for character introspective. That proves true here, particularly for Diana and Steve Trevor, the latter being admirably played by Chris Pine. There is some depth to the scenes in this film… depth and balance helped in no small part by a better sense of humor.
In conclusion, Wonder Woman feels refreshingly isolated from its franchise overlords because of its World War I setting, not unlike Captain America: The First Avenger. There are many technical annoyances, as well as a general feeling of been there-done that. It’s not a perfect film, and the ending definitely could’ve used a little less overzealousness. However, Gal Gadot shines in the title role (with almost no blatant sexualizing), while Chris Pine and the rest of the supporting cast lend a surprising amount of weight to the narrative. The villains feel sort of wasted here (oddly enough, this is typically more of a Marvel problem than a DC one). Overall, the film is still exciting and moving, and represents a mature leap forward for female protagonists in blockbuster films.