The DC universe has been struggling, with all its major movies failing to impress viewers. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman tried to emulate Nolan’s somber philosophical take on superheroes, looking into the hearts of characters and trying to claim that even our heroes aren’t free of darkness. Wonder Woman goes for a different formula, something that is more traditional in the Marvel universe: a children’s tale of good and evil involving more fantasy than philosophy, and as it turns out, it works really well for DC too.
The movie is the origin story of Diana, the Amazonian Princesses, raised in a sequestered all-woman island, to be the strongest warrior in their history. When a pilot crashes into this island and tells her about the world war plaguing the rest of the world, Diana feels a sense of responsibility to help end the war and restore peace to the world.
Wonder Woman offers some of the most sublime action sequences with some neat camera work, sleek use of slow-motion, a powerful soundtrack, and awesome choreography. Not since the last 300 movie did I get to watch and drool over such cool fight scenes. It’s interesting to watch Diana grow as an alien to our world and its complexities. Her binary interpretation of all that goes on around her as good or bad from her Amazonian perspective, and how this view is challenged as the movie progresses is great to watch, even though the movie decides not to explore this further. There are some good laughs as Diana reaches the new world and tries to understand and fit into the world’s customs and clothes. The cinematography and the 3D are few of the biggest strengths with everything from the idyllic island, to the gloomy streets of London, to the war-front in Belgium feeling exactly like they should. I’m also thankful that shaky camera was not used to ruin any of the action scenes. Gal Gadot owns the screen with her physical presence as the strong beautiful Amazonian princess while conveying her naivety and determination at the same time. She is a pleasure to watch and is undoubtedly the perfect choice for this superhero.
Even if it’s DC’s first movie using this generic good-and-evil story, Marvel has dumped truckloads of these on us already. Frankly, the plot is basically the same as Captain America: The First Avenger, with a few elements of Thor sprinkled in. The soundtrack during the action and chase scenes borrow Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman intro track from Batman v Superman and are very effective. However, the rest of the movie has a very Marvel-ish soundtrack that gives it the feel of a children’s movie. For three-quarters of the movie, it feels like Diana is learning how messy and gray our world and its war really is, and there is not one evil ruler responsible for all the violence like she believed. It might have been an interesting concept to explore, but the last act undoes all this groundwork and brings in fantasy gods, pulling a page right out of Marvel’s Universe, and reducing it to a childish story. Don’t get me wrong, the movie still works, but I’ve always maintained that a grounded superhero movie is better than one with plots of magic and gods, but it’s also harder to pull off. Nolan did it with his trilogy and the Russo brothers did a great job with their Captain America movies, but everyone else who tried has failed.
Wonder Woman is a movie that finally brings color to the DC universe, that has been dull and joyless up until now. If the Justice League trailers are any evidence, Snyder himself seems to have realized this and is trying to let some levity in. Wonder Woman doesn’t reinvent anything, and neither does it stick with the somber and realistic theme of the DC movies before it. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun to watch. I will rate it 8/10. Watch it in 3D.