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Movie Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ Finally Brings Heroism to the DCEU

After the uneven and garish tones of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the first attempt at a Wonder Woman movie, especially after the dismally unfocused failure of a modern TV pilot. But I guess once you’ve crucified Superman and turned the Joker into a Juggalo, there’s nowhere to go but up (I hoped). And while Wonder Woman hasn’t exactly launched DC Comics into the cinematic stratosphere, it has enough spirit to revive my enthusiasm for the future of DC superhero movies in a single bound.

Wonder Woman Movie Review MovieSpoon.com
Wonder Woman makes her big debut.

Before she was slinking in the shadows in Batman v Superman, Diana (Gal Gadot) was an Amazon woman on the hidden island of Themyscira. Tucked away from mortal men behind some foggy force field, her mother is determined to keep her safe from the hearts of mankind, but she’s much too adventurous to pass up the opportunity to explore.

Her infatuation turns into a moral desire for a hero’s calling when the British spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) stumbles onto her island. He must be a brilliant spy for the United Kingdom, given his flawless American accent. After he crashes his plane into the waters of Themyscira, Diana soon learns of World War I and how many lives are on the line. She figures that if she can just defeat that pesky Ares, the God of War that filled mankind with violence, she can put an end to the conflict with her god-killer of a sword.

 
Wonder Woman Movie Review MovieSpoon.com
Chris Pine and Gal Gadot

With such talk of gods during World War I, I fully expected the movie to be an overly dour experience. Batman v Superman had already spoken of gods with such doom and gloom and it sounds rather grim that Wonder Woman has to slaughter a god among men. Director Patty Jenkins thankfully realizes how silly it is that Wonder Woman has to fight Ares to never make the scenario darker than it should be. Defeating such a villain requires a convoluted logic about showing love and compassion, while still trying to find a means to Wonder Woman’s hacking and slashing. Even sillier is the supporting female mad scientist who looks like the Phantom of the Opera and carries the name Doctor Poison! You can probably guess what type of gas she’s developing for the Germans.

Related: ‘Wonder Woman’ Is the Fantastic DC Movie We’ve Been Waiting For

But the key to Wonder Woman’s success is that it never gets too goofy with all these adventurous elements. Gadot and Pine have some amazing chemistry between each other when they enter the war. While Gadot tries to comprehend the complicated nature of politics and diplomacy, Pine attempts to make sure the Amazon warrior doesn’t go strutting around the streets of London with a sword and shield. These scenes could have turned into sitcom material from a different movie, especially with a comedic soundtrack to signal hijinks, but they never veer wildly off course from the mission at hand. You don’t want to get too silly when you have to stop that evil Doctor Poison when she’s developing super mustard gas, as well as a superhuman god drug as a side project.

Wonder Woman Movie Review MovieSpoon.com
Entering the fray.

Naturally, for being during wartime, the movie offers plenty of action scenes where Gal Gadot will literally spring into action on the battlefield. Machine gun fire holding back a defensive line? That’s no sweat for Wonder Woman’s shield. With her super strength and speed, she can easily go from zipping across the front line to flipping a tank with her hands. These scenes are all staged in a manner where the audience is never lost in what is going on in the action, making great use of slow motion when it’s needed. You can see everything in these scenes, including how cartoonish the CGI looks when Wonder Woman climbs buildings and leaps across rooftops. A little motion blurring could do wonders for her CGI body and make her bounds across German rooftops a little more human and less uncanny valley.


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