DC Comics and Warner Brothers latest superhero movie has gotten a lot of positive feedback from both critics and fans alike. I am here to tell you that the positive reaction that the film starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine is deserving of it. I really enjoyed this movie and was engaged and inspired by it until the end, where I sincerely wanted more.
In a movie market where fans have become leery of origin stories, this one works on several levels. It is an origin story, but it’s framed by Diana’s experiences in the modern world. So, without spoiling anything, let’s get into the story itself.
The movie begins on Themyscira, island of the Amazons. We get to see a young Diana watching the intense training Amazon warriors go through. Her dreams of being a warrior are thwarted by the protective nature of her mother Queen Hippolyta played by Connie Neilsen. One night, Hippolyta recounts the tale of the Amazon’s history with man and the war with the Gods that followed. The queen tells her daughter this story to dissuade her from wanting to fight. Instead, it has the opposite effect. Diana begins to secretly train with the islands fiercest warrior, her aunt Antiope, played by Robin Wright.
Hippolyta begins to understand that she cannot protect Diana forever and the fact that there is a shared secret between her and her sister regarding the only child on the island. A secret that connects Diana to the God of War Ares himself. Reluctantly, Hippolyta engages Antiope to train Diana harder than any other Amazon. As she comes of age, Diana (Gal Gadot) begins to realize that she has powers that her fellow Amazon’s do not possess and the guilt over inadvertently causing injury causes her to flee to the beach.
We are next introduced to Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) as his plane crashes in the ocean off the coast of the island. As Steve is being rescued and brought to the beach, the German forces in pursuit of him discover the island and there is an amazing battle sequence on the beach between the German army and the Amazons, including some great combat from both Neilsen and Wright. The action sequence conveyed a fierce heroism that made my ten year old son lean forward in his seat and cheer. As much as I enjoyed the film, my 3 and 10 year old sons loved it as much, if not more, than I did.
Steve, under the influence of the Lasso of Truth, tells the Amazons about the Great War and all of them, including Diana believe that Ares is the force and influence behind the conflict. As Steve tells Diana privately his reasons for needing to go back to the conflict, the Amazon Princess feels a need and desire to help stop Ares. As Diana and Steve make their way back to civilization, we are given some great scenes showing Diana’s fascination with and curiosity about the world of men.
Gal Gadot is amazing as Diana. She has really taken huge steps in the evolution of the characterization that she created in Batman V Superman. Her naivete with the new discoveries that she makes in the world are conveyed brilliantly. Even the smaller moments, like hearing the cry of a baby, are performed with an endearing innocence that is believable . Her desire to help and her ability to convey both vulnerability and fierce determination make the role come to life on screen.
Chris Pine is great as Steve Trevor. He has a commanding presence on the screen and his chemistry and comedic timing are on point, especially in the scenes with his secretary Etta Candy, played with pitch perfect comedic timing by Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead). Pine knows how to play the hero and he does so here as well, but with the added dimension of knowing that the best way that he can help is to support Diana. Their moments together are tentative and sweet actually. There is an innocence to those moments as well.
Wonder Woman’s villains are the only really weak point in the film. Both Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison (a character from the comic books) and Danny Huston’s Ludendorff are not necessarily given much character development. We know Doctor Poison is developing weapons for Ludendorff in order to win the war, but there really isn’t much development and motivaton beyond those plot points. Ultimately, their presence in the film is to challenge Diana’s preconceived notions of right and wrong. Her confrontation with Ludendorff is especially tragic in that she is so convinced that her act will end the war that she cannot process what happens when it does not happen the way that she convinced herself that it would.
Without spoiling the plot, the final act includes and interesting twist that ultimately delivers on the promise of Diana’s mission.
The action sequences were breathtaking starting with the Beach Fight and continuing with the No Mans Land sequence. That sequence showed the power and presence of Diana. It was inspiring to look at and the director Patty Jenkins and cinematographer should be commended to for crafting such amazing scenes. Patty Jenkins delivered a brilliantly crafted film that hit all the right emotional and inspirational beats.
I’ve always been a fan of DC Comics and their characters. I’ve been reading comics for over thirty years and I have to say that not only was I engaged, entertained and inspired watching Wonder Woman come to life on screen, but my ten and three year old boys were as well. They cheered and smiled at the same things I did and we left the theater talking about how great the action was and how much we enjoyed the movie.
Although it was never mentioned by either one of them, I hope they took from the movie a sense that a strong woman is every bit the hero a man can be. I hope they find a sense of admiration for strong women in the world and appreciate and gravitate towards those type of women in the future. Personal feelings aside, this was a great movie. Not a great DC movie. Not a great superhero movie. A great movie. Everyone involved should be proud of what they were able to accomplish and I cannot wait for more.