The summer blockbuster season is upon us, and we have already had a slew of blockbusters hitting our local multiplexes. The latest, and possibly the most anticipated, has arrived. Wonder Woman is a movie and a character that has been sorely missing from the superhero slate of films for far too many years.
Wonder Woman is the 4th film of the DC cinematic universe. The previous three films were mixed at best. For the most part, I liked Man of Steel and Suicide Squad. Batman V. Superman was a difficult watch because the film has so many problems, but Diana’s scenes were easily the best part of the film and she stole every scene she was in. But now, Wonder Woman has her own solo film.
It’s immediately apparent that this film is different than the film’s that came before it. Where Batman V Superman was dark, this film is light. It’s in the tone of the film and the locations used. There is a beauty here. Themsycira truly looks like a paradise. The Amazons are warriors and we have several scenes in the beginning showing us their physical prowess and fighting skills, but the island still feels warm and welcoming. There is a short history lesson about the history of the Amazons and of Diana herself. It’s a lot of information presented up front, but it’s done in a visually interesting way so it doesn’t feel like an info dump. Young Diana trains until she is the best among them and we see that she may have abilities beyond even the Amazons.
The story is a pretty standard superhero fare. She is the stranger in a strange land once she leaves Themsycira. Once she arrives in London the story starts to pick up. There is plenty of fish out of water humour with Diana not understanding 1918 London and the inclusion of Etta Candy adds more levity to the mix. It never feels forced and it’s genuinely fun, but there continues to be a pressing concern that this is not where she wants to be and this is all a distraction from her true mission.
Scenes on Themsycira are bright, it’s a perfect paradise. London scenes are drab looking but fun. The film takes a darker, more violent turn once she arrives on the front lines. The sense of adventure is there, but the film does show the wounded and the maimed soldiers in a comic book movie PG-13 kind of way. It’s definitely more than what was shown in the first Captain America movie. I’m really glad that they chose to set this film in World War 1 and not during World War 2. WW2 is the easier, almost safer choice. WW1 was a much different war, and I think that plays into this film’s overall story better. It was the Great War, the War to End All Wars, the first time the entire world was dragged into a battle at once, and it was dirty, bloody war with thousands dying for gains of a few yards. The history geek in me was very happy to see this setting.
Diana is confronted by the true horrors of war, but she also sees the people at their best too. We see that she is not only a powerful warrior but that she is also deeply caring and sympathetic to those she encounters. Gal Gadot continues to shine as Wonder Woman, she is naive at first, but not stupid. Chris Pine is very enjoyable as Steve Trevor, clearly playing second fiddle to her. He never tries to outshine her and quickly realizes that when trouble hits, she is more than capable of handling herself.
Wonder Woman as a film succeeds on many levels, but most importantly, it’s fun. It’s well written and well thought out with several emotional moments. The action is exciting. The characters are strong and never feel like stereotypes or caricatures. This is easily the best thing DC has put out in years, and it’s one of the best superhero movies to date.