Wonder Woman shares many similarities with Richard Donner’s Superman. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of what Donner put on-screen back in 1978. Donner’s Superman is the defining characterization of the superhero. Fast forward to 2017 and Wonder Woman hits all the right notes to give a spiritual successor to Donner’s achievement. Though it’s not perfect, it’s an excellent film that strays away from setting up new stories and continuing other stories from past films. It’s a golden age comic adaptation: one that nails the story and message.
Structurally, Wonder Woman is an oddball. It’s about 20 minutes too long and lingers for a while between the second and third acts. Everything between that time is good content. A solid back story of her homeland and the movie relies on showing the character of the heroine through her choices. Luckily, Gal Gadot knocks it out of the park. Her emotional journey through the film is a highly satisfying one that has so much heart to it. This wouldn’t be complete without Chris Pine as Steve Trevor,
Gadot and Pine shine at an individual level and with their chemistry together. It’s a high point of the movie when these two interact; Diana is headstrong, fearless, but not always level-headed. Trevor has plenty of charm to him but enough of a backbone to stray from cliché. Gadot, in particular, has some fantastic scenes and her analysis of what happens through the movie just makes it that much more interesting and novel. Thankfully, the best part of Wonder Woman is the heroine herself.
The action scenes in this movie are tremendous when they are present. Due in part to structure, there’s an interesting blend of action and exposition. The opening scenes Themyscira add loads of interesting lore that will be of good insight to new fans. Watching the amazonians in action is usually pretty great, though slow-motion is a little over-utilized near the beginning, every other use of it works out splendidly. Near the middle and the end of the movie the action intensifies into some “Holy S***” moments that I haven’t seen since last year’s Civil War.
The remainder of the cast is utilized decently with some exceptions. We have an underdeveloped villain that falls to certain clichés. I feel that some of the accomplices to Trevor could have been fleshed out more/better. With a 2 hour and 23 minute run-time, it’s certainly something that’s do-able. There’s a stretch where not a lot happens but thankfully we’re invested in Diana’s story and overall goal. She’s one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen on-screen in recent memory and the movie doesn’t bludgeon the viewer that it’s a gender issue.
Wonder Woman succeeds on so many levels. It’s a very good superhero movie, it’s a solid origin story. It has heart and containment which I don’t see much of anymore in this genre. It’s colorful and vibrant yet it explores the duality of war in the proper manner. There are faults without a doubt, but if a year of many tired movies, this one channeled what made the classics so good and so much fun while adding a good emotional layer to it. It’s not deep like Logan is, but it’s a hell of a surprise and I think it warrants a viewing from all general movie-goers. Wonder Woman is a great summer movie and fits well with the genre classics that inspired it.