75 years ago, Wonder Woman first hit the comic page in All-Star Comics #8. Since that time, she has gone on to fight Nazis, tackle women’s rights, and even had a hugely popular TV series starring Lynda Carter. As popular and iconic as Wonder Woman has remained throughout the decades, she had never appeared on the big screen until 2016’s ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, where the super heroine was portrayed by actress Gal Gadot. Fans generally seemed to love Gadot’s portrayal of the Amazonian princess, which led to her first feature film, finally.
As a man, it’s going to be difficult for me to differentiate and articulate my feelings on this film from the overall meaning and message that the movie portrayed. I want to be as fair as I can in terms of my review of the film itself, but also want to take time to explain my feelings on just what this movie means to the general film-going audience. As a man, I cannot accurately depict a female’s perspective on what this film meant to them and nothing that I write can ever come close to it. I also don’t want to give a play-by-play of the film, but will talk about some of the bigger plot points.
When we last saw Diana in BvS, she had just helped Batman and Superman defeat Doomsday. However, this new film is a bit of a prequel. We see a quick glimpse of Diana in the present, where she is looking at a photograph of her and a crew of men, the same photo showed in BvS. This photo is the actual original copy, which was sent to Diana by Bruce Wayne. Diana begins to recall the events that led up to the taking of the photo which sends us back to her childhood on the mystical island of Themyscira. The majority of the film takes place during World War I. With some of the background of the plot and setting out of the way, I’ll talk about my likes and dislikes before giving my overall score of the film.
Knowing that Gal Gadot hasn’t really been acting all that long and hasn’t been in too many films, I was hesitant expecting her to be great. The short amount of screen time she got in BvS didn’t do much for me in terms of my expectations for her leading her own film. However, I think she did a really nice job in the film. Diana in ‘Wonder Woman’ is a very naïve character, as she’s never experienced the outside world. She has such a big heart and wants to fulfill her duty as a guardian of Earth against the forces of evil, and this aspect is very prominent in the film. Her selfless acts and love for mankind really shine, as she repeatedly puts the needs of others ahead of everything else.
Diana’s character is fleshed out very well and her motivations really struck home for me. The action scenes that we do get to see are very well done and made for fun scenes, as we get to see her powers evolve throughout the story. She really comes into her own by the end of the film and it’s easy to make the jump to BvS. I also really enjoyed the Amazon mythology, as I am a fan of ancient Greek stories. The inclusion of the pantheon of Greek gods into the DCEU is quite an undertaking and I think director Patty Jenkins fit it in very nicely.
I’m also a sucker for period pieces, and with the setting of World War I, a time period that doesn’t get a lot of attention in modern storytelling, the feel of the film with its costumes and mannerisms were really cool. I’m glad that the story didn’t put a giant emphasis on gender inequality, though it is a present theme. I feel like constantly harping on the subject would have taken too much attention off of the main plot. The inequality theme also comes up racially with other characters, which were also enlightening, especially in today’s world. (Side note: it’s disheartening to see that issues that were prevalent in the 1940s are still rearing its ugly head today, but I digress). I enjoyed some of the side characters, but I’ll talk more about them when I get into my dislikes. Overall, Gal Gadot did a really great job in her first leading film and I look forward to seeing more of her in the upcoming DCEU films. The main villain turned out to be formidable and looked really cool.
As I mentioned above, I liked some of the side character, but also had a lot of issues with them as well. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor was a really nice addition to the film, but I feel like his role took a lot away from Wonder Woman. For a film that has such an iconic female super hero leading her FIRST film, Steve Trevor’s role was too large, in my opinion. There were a lot of moments that could lead audience members to believe that the film was actually about him and not Diana, and to me, this was a mistake. I wanted to see Diana not having to rely too much on Steve’s leadership, but I understand the thinking behind it, as I previously mentioned her naivety. With a film like this, I would have preferred to see more female characters in larger roles outside of the events on Themyscira.
One of the worst characters in the film was Dr. Poison. The trailers depicted her as a large villain in the film and she largely does next to nothing. She really took me out of the film when she appeared on-screen, as the actress portraying her was bad and her facial expressions were ridiculous. She looked like she was constantly surprised at everything going on whenever she appeared. I also didn’t care for Steve’s group of friends. They ultimately had no real skill and didn’t actually do much of anything.
I have one gripe, which may seem trivial and silly, but annoyed me. In the beginning of the film, a quick glimpse of an armadillo scattering across the landscape is shown. Armadillo are indigenous to the Americas, so I’m not sure how one would appear on an island near Greece. If armadillo do appear on other places around the world, feel free to rip me in the comment section of this post.
My final dislike regards pretty much the entire second act of the film. We saw a really cool battle scene of Themyscira at the end of the first act, but after that, the film got very boring with lengthy dialogue and pacing issues that started to take me out of the film. Too much time was spent on things like shopping, planning and talking and I feel like 20 minutes could have been removed to make the film flow more smoothly.
Despite some of the issues I had with this film, it was still really awesome to get Wonder Woman her own solo film. Gal’s performance as the most iconic female super hero outweighs some of my issues and I can’t help but be excited for her future in the DCEU. DC/WB still has a long way to go, as BvS was a letdown and Suicide Squad was horrendous. Here’s hoping that Justice League will finally be the film to reel me in completely.
My Rating: 7/10