Four Letter Nerd

4LN Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Since I was a kid, I have always loved the character of Wonder Woman and the story of Diana Prince, a beautiful princess who gives up all she knows to journey into man’s world and do her best to save man from himself. I remember being a little kid and my Aunt would babysit me and she would turn on the Linda Carter Wonder Woman show and we would eat ice cream and watch this show for what seemed like hours. This was my very first exposure to the character and my first taste of comic books. It wasn’t until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and the rest of the Dark Knight Trilogy until I truly fell in love with superheroes, but Wonder Woman leads the groundwork for that passion. I can proudly say I’ve read every Wonder Woman comic over the last 5 years and was even lucky enough to interview a creative team working on the Wonder Woman comic, Meredith and David Finch.

I have spent years waiting for an incredible DC movie, and even longer waiting for a Wonder Woman movie, and I am beyond excited to say that Wonder Woman is the movie I’ve been eagerly anticipating, and the one that DC desperately needed. Batman v Superman & Suicide Squad left a lot to be desired from most fans and had quite a large amount of controversy surrounding them. But, Wonder Woman offers a new slate that was desperately needed. I believe if this Wonder Woman film premiered before Batman/Superman, DC wouldn’t have had as many problems as they have been having.

Wonder Woman is the first major film for director Patty Jenkins, who previously has directed a few TV shows, and the 2003 film Monster with Charlize Theron, which she won an Acadamy Award for in 2004.  Along with an academy award, the film also grossed over 4 times its budget making it quite the success, and showing that Patty Jenkins knows what she is doing. After watching this movie, I seriously couldn’t think of better director for this film.

I’m going to do my best to keep this a spoiler-free review, but be warned that there may be spoilers following this section

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Official Synopsis from IMDb: “Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.”

From the moment this film starts, it doesn’t feel like your typical superhero movie, it’s 100% an origin story, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s an action-packed World War I movie, it’s about the innocence that’s lost by war, and it’s a film about true heroism. We are used to murders in alleys, bites from radioactive insects, super serum experiments, and aliens coming to Earth. The only superhero film I can compare this to is Thor, considering he leaves/is kicked out of Asgard and ends up in a small New Mexico town. But, there is something inherently different about Diana leaving Themyscira to journey into man’s world. There’s more valor and honor to it.

Patty Jenkins, along with screenwriter Allan Heinberg and producers Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns, did a fantastic job representing the difference between Paradise Island and the war-torn Europe. From the minute that Steve Trevor’s plane crashes on the island and German’s follow him into Paradise, we see the tone shift and colors change from bright and vibrant to dark and gritty. One of the biggest problems with Batman/Superman was the over saturated, gritty look of the film. Wonder Woman uses that darkness but also brings it to life in a way that the Batman/Superman team was never capable of.

One of the most unique and beautiful things about Wonder Woman is how Diana Prince looks flawless and the iconic Wonder Woman suit is 100% the focus, especially during battle. The color isn’t washed out or faded. If anything, Wonder Woman sticks out like a sore thumb when the battle rages in No Man’s Land and this makes her even more of a badass. While everyone around her is depicted in shades of gray, she’s brightly colored with reds, blues, and golds; as Wonder Woman should be.

The battle scenes are truly wonderful in this film, and it feels more like a Great War movie instead of a superhero film. Over the past year or two, I’ve talked with my fellow 4LN writer Stephen about how I fear the comic book movie bubble will burst soon. He always points to movies like Winter Soldier and Ant-Man because they are essentially just comic characters inside of genre films instead of strictly superhero movies. I can completely understand that now.

Diana has an innocence about her that makes the character unique compared to other caped crusaders, and this movie does an incredible job showing that innocence and its eventual loss caused by the horrors of war. At one point before Diana, Steve, and the rest of the crew make it to the front lines they pass a group of wounded, bloodied soldiers and you see the expression on Diana’s face drastically change. Gal Gadot sold that scene with nothing more than her eyes, similar to Johnny Depp’s work in Edward Scissorhands. There are quite a few times in the movie where Diana wants to save people but she must sadly come to the realization that not everyone can or will be saved in a time of need.

Everyone that was cast in this movie was a phenomenal pick from Gadot as Diana, Robin Wright as Antiope, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Danny Huston as General Lundendorff and finally Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison. It’s no secret that Marvel has perfectly cast several times and there are many actors from their films who completely embody their respective characters, but I am excited and proud to say that DC has that now in Gal Gadot. She IS Diana Prince. She stole the show in every scene she was in during Batman/Superman and she is equally as mesmerizing in her own solo film. Along with Gadot, Lilly Aspell plays the young Diana and does an absolutely incredible job with her deliveries of comedic lines and her bravery and mischief that you would imagine the daughter of a queen having. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot was absolutely fantastic and captured the dynamic of their relationship in a fantastic way. Watching their relationship unfold felt just like reading one of the origin stories from the comics.

DC has always been asking the question of, “What if Superheroes existed in our world?” They’ve not done the most compelling job of exploring that idea up until now. With Wonder Woman, what they do instead is move outside of the box a little and use their characters to ask, “What if the Greek gods existed in our world?” and that is truly what makes Wonder Woman a unique superhero movie. Trevor and his crew completely understand that Wonder Woman is “not of this Earth,” but does that mean that gods such as Zeus, Aries, and Hera could also exist still? Or maybe they always have existed… With such a simple question DC will be able to easily continue and turn Wonder Woman into a franchise. Frankly, It’d be a crime if they didn’t, seeing as to how they’ve already laid solid groundwork for it here.

I don’t have to tell you that seeing a Wonder Woman is a must. Even if you’re unreasonably skeptical, deep down you know that it is as good as everyone says, and then some. The biggest concern for a lot of people was whether or not Wonder Woman would be a mess like the few DCCU films before it. The greatest failure therein would be to see such an empowering female character flop on the big screen. You can rest assured that worry dissipates within the first 10 minutes of the film. So, you have no more excuses. Get your ass to the theater right now and watch the best damn comic movie this year.

         

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Bill Clark

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