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I wouldn't quite call the theme of this movie broken, but it is muddled. The message that mankind is inherently corrupt, and that killing one guy won't end war and evil is a good message... and then Diana kills Ares and the war ends.
The thing is, the movie isn't technically wrong. Taking wicked people out of power won't make everyone good, but obviously it can do good. Some of my personal favorite themes in movies are ideas that seem paradoxical, but are true nonetheless. Like there being joy in sadness. Or that one needs to fight for peace. Or in this case, as cruel as mankind is, they are still worth loving and fighting for.
With all this in mind, there's a way to fix the presentation that's so simple I'm surprised the filmmakers didn't actually do it:
Allude to World War II.
Add in talk of German dissatisfaction. Or have Diana mention the following wars in her ending monologue. Or let Ares ominously declare before his death something like, "What luck for rulers that men do not think."
It would be a simple, grim reminder that the Greatest War the World Would Ever Know was not that. That even if you stop one big bad guy, more bad guys will rise, and more wars will be fought.
It wouldn't be a happy-leaning ending, but it would have made it a more thematically resonant film.
You may have heard some of the criticism of the DCEU- that it's too dark, overly complex and reliant on context from prior installments, and has unlikable characters, among many other things. Wonder Woman succeeds where many other DCEU movies failed, and thus serves well as a stand-alone film.
The film, despite being part of the DCEU, doesn't require the viewer to have watched any of the previous films. Instead, it focuses on Wonder Woman's origins, from growing up as a child on the island of the Amazons, to setting out to kill Ares and stop World War I. Despite the setting, the film isn't as dark or gritty as one would fear, as while War Is Hell is in full effect, the overall tone is relatively optimistic, and the film is leavened with humor.
Diana herself is quite well-written, and serves well as a strong, if realistically flawed, female protagonist, thus effectively giving the film a feminist element without being too Anvilicious about it. Her overall character arc, in which she is forcibly stripped of her naivete and forced to recognize humanity's flaws, without completely giving up on her desire to do the right thing, is quite compelling. Steve Trevor, a British Intelligence agent who also wants to end the war but has fewer illusions about how to do it, works well as a foil and Love Interest.
The supporting cast is less important to the story, but most characters who are around for more than a few scenes show a surprising amount of depth. While Ares only reveals himself near the climax, he's an excellent villain with some disturbingly accurate points about humanity.
The action scenes are well-choreographed and exciting, enhanced by good camera work and special effects and complemented by a fitting soundtrack. Diana's skilled with her sword, shield, lasso and bracers, and is thus quite enjoyable to watch as she vanquishes foes armed with rifles, machine guns and other modern weapons.
All in all, there are many reasons to view Wonder Woman- exciting action scenes, a strong female protagonist, a compellingstory and many more- so I highly recommend that you do so.
Most DC films tend to go for grittiness and downplay the fantastical elements and try to avoid relying on suspension of disbelief. This film does not, and it does so in a way that is better for it. The scene where Diana charges across no-man's land, deflecting the gunfire and helping clear the trench, then going on to liberate the town is uplifting and amazing in a way not seen since Superman's emergence in the first Superman movie back in the 1980's.
There is a feminist element to the film but here it was... (gasp) not the focus of the story, subtle and not anti-male. I'm not saying where I stand on feminism, I am saying the feminist aspect in this was well-handled, unlike how overt it was in the otherwise good film "Mad Max: Fury Road", and how all-round horrible it was in what I call a dumpster fire of a film - "Ghostbusters 2016".
In closing I highly recommend this. It's not DC's best, but it is good, enjoyable, unique and definitely worth watching.
Let's get this out of the way; Wonder Woman is definitely the best live-action DC film in a very long time, albeit this is a bit like being the most sympathetic child-murderer, or the most intelligent Brexit voter. It's not like there was fierce competition.
The opening of the film is bad. It's nothing but exposition about Diana, as a child, living in Themyscira, and it doesn't stop being exposition until she grows up and leaves the island, which luckily doesn't take too long. But it's really bad while it lasts; like someone read the Wikipedia page for Wonder Woman's background and decided to make that, and only that. There's nothing except the vital elements of the Wonder Woman backstory. No childhood friends. No personality or development or conversations that weren't written in stone by the Gods thousands of years ago. I hate to compare it to Marvel straight off the bat, but James Gunn introduced us to a talking raccoon and a tree by just having them be in a scene and talk to each other. And the tree couldn't even talk! And it was better than this stilted 'Diana, backstory, weapons, male co-lead, now piss off' shtick.
But then the positives start to appear. Wonder Woman joins Steve Trevor and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, including a Scottish man with an appallingly accurate accent, and they venture off into World War I, which is... hit and miss. It doesn't really work as a combination of Superhero Origin Story and Tragic 'War Is Hell' Story, but it's admirable that they tried, and it doesn't entirely fail. It's interesting watching Wonder Woman go after one guy with the understanding that he must be Ares and therefore responsible for the whole war, but when she finally kills him, it turns out that he was just some dickhead, and the war will continue... and then that shocking development goes absolutely nowhere because Ares does show up a minute and a half later and the idea that you can't solve every conflict by killing one particularly high-ranking bad guy is promptly discarded.
Actual positives; the action scenes were quite good, especially the alleyway scene. Supporting cast are nice, with Steve's secretary and the Scottish sniper getting some small but genuine character moments. Gal Gadot makes a good Wonder Woman. And while DC still haven't figured out that it's okay to put genuinely funny parts into your movie, instead of the occasional sarcastic one-liner followed by another 15 minutes of broody angst, there are a few giggles. Also, lots of British characters, so I felt well-represented, although you're not really appealing to a British audience until you relentlessly take the piss out of Croydon.
I don't want to be too harsh though; this is a good-ish film. And it's fantastic that DC have finally found the key to making films that are decent. It's just a shame that at their best, DC are still producing films that just manage to reach the same quality as Ant-Man and the second Thor movie.
So, after two divisive films (which I liked, actually) and one abysmal abomination of a film, comes Wonder Woman, film which nigh-unanimously regarded as a good movie at least. I liked it too.
8/10. A great movie that stands out among other similar movies.
Wonder Woman is an overall good film that succeeds in making a compelling origin story about Diana. Overall, this film is a success; Gal Gadot and Chris Pine were excellent, and the film does a good job exploring some of the flaws about humanity.
Solid 8/10 for me. Look forward to what they do with Wonder Woman next.
Wonder Woman is the movie the DC Cinematic Universe should have started with. With 3 failures under its belt, this film is a breath of fresh air.
While nothing exceptional, the Wonder Woman is quite enjoyable and the action scenes are top-notch. The sidekick character is likable, the humor is fitting and well-timed, and the characters... well, they're in-character and their motives are understandable. It's a testament to how bad the other DC movies have been so far that this is considered exceptional, but let's stop talking about the other movies. Considering Wonder Woman as a standalone movie:
Strong themes are carried through the movie. While the feminist theme is obvious, it's also nothing radical.
In that era, men are the cause of most evil, because women just couldn't do anything back then. But it's not as if all women are good and all men are bad - nothing is clear-cut here. This is especially true with Diana's ideals. Everything she's learned is tested against a world she's never seen before with horrors she literally could not imagine. She was born from the gods and was raised on (possibly factual) fairy tales; and so she believes her quest is very traditional and fairy-tale-like. She'll defeat the Big Bad and everything will be okay again.
And this is a really important message and a strong theme of the movie I liked. Diana may have super strength and speed, but she can't fight human nature. She can't take on an entire World War by herself. While other characters know they have to leave innocents behind to suffer while they complete their mission, she considers it evil, but mostly because she can't fully comprehend the scope of the entire war.
So the big reveal, the not-really-a-twist comes when she slays the Big Bad... and nothing happens. The war continues. As the audience expected. This should be a big profound moment of realization for Diana when she understands how the world really works.
But wait! There's another twist! It turns out she killed the wrong Big Bad. The true Big Bad shows up. They fight. Our sidekick does what he can do to complete the mission. The real Big Bad is killed... and then the war ends the very next day.
What did we learn here, folks? Something about human nature and how greed will naturally drive men to war, and you can't stop it without changing the very nature of humanity itself?
Oh wait, no, the lesson was that if you kill one guy and the war doesn't stop, he was a decoy. So kill the other guy and everything will be OK. That's... uh... very deep.
Honestly, this film could have done much better without Ares in the movie at all. Just... leave him out completely. She should have had to learn the hard way that there just isn't always one bad guy who's the source of all evil, and she has to learn to deal with that.
What with every other DC movie this decade going foul, a tremendous amount is riding on Wonder Woman to be good. Thank goodness then it turned out to not only be good, but also a movie that reminds us how a superhero movie should be done.
Wonder Woman's origins cover a lot of the same ground as Captain America - another star spangled hero famous for punching Nazis in propaganda comics. That's probably what led the decision to set WW in World War I, a more cynical, morally ambiguous conflict. Whilst WW ends in a similar way to Captain America: The First Avenger, (with a plot about stopping super-villain general launch a super weapon via giant aeroplane), it has a much more satisfying payoff because the rest of the movie has done the leg work to make you care about the heroes, the conflict, and the broader concept of war itself.
The single best scene in the movie is when Wonder Woman first arrives on the front line. She takes one look at No Man's Land, decides to make it her own, and singlehandedly charges into a wall of machinegunfire and mortar shells. You'd think a model in a garish red and blue metal miniskirt would look quite silly in this sort of setting, but it is surprisingly compelling. I've seen Zack Snider screw up a very similar looking trench scene in Sucker Punch, and seeing his name in the writing credits made me concerned at first, but this movie actually takes the best of his work (the appropriately Grecian themed, slow mo combat from 300) and avoided all the other bullshit that's come with his terrible other superhero movies.
This movie has a lot of heart. It takes the time to do what a lot of other superhero movies don't do anymore, and actually illustrate how much the hero cares about saving people's lives. Wonder woman's face cracks into a huge smile when she sees a human baby for the first time, and it is that same Amazonian warrior who is then confronted ten minutes later by suffering, downtrodden soldiers marching back from the front line. Whilst we are often told that a superhero is doing something to save the world, we are never actually shown how much they care about people - nor are we made to think that in a superhero movie, its not only humanity itself that are the villains, but also the ones who are going to save the day.
If I had any criticism of the movie, its that the special effects sometimes let it down. This is more obvious in the beginning, with some unconvincing looking moments in the Amazon's home world, and at the end, where a final showdown with the super super villain is full of cheesy fire and lightning. Other than that, it is a good movie that knows how to explore a gritty setting the proper way, how to provide big action, and how to explore the bigger themes without sounding too preachy. Watch it. Watch it again, and then buy the DVD.
In this age of self-serious, grimdark superhero movies, this is... not a huge exception. But it does one thing differently there: it has a lot of understated humor mixed in with all the serious. Wonder Woman - Diana Prince - is a Fish out of Water when she leaves her homeland behind and lives in the world everyone else lives in. And that's played up as a source of humor many times, but also more seriously at other times. Seeing her adapt to "normal" life is fun, and I won't spoil any of the jokes, including the ones I heard many people laughing at. The humor is not a constant, though, and fades away as the overall mood changes later on.
This movie has character. I actually liked the characters and found them interesting, likeable, and fun to watch. Wonder Woman's changing reactions as her idealism is questioned, as she learns things that were hidden from her, and as she sees how people react to the horrors of war, and the way all these revelations affect her, brings her very much to life and makes her a fun, dynamic character who does more than simply kick ass and take names.
Speaking of kicking ass, the action scenes are great. Slow-mo is used to emphasize a move before we see its impact, and the fights and action are very well choreographed. I loved watching the action scenes, and I can say that about few movies.
The movie does use the annoying Hollywood "gray and blue" muted color filter, but at least it uses it for a reason - to separate the colorful world of Wonder Woman's island with the horrors of World War I. I still don't care for that choice, but I can respect the movie's choice to use it to represent the difference between the two "worlds".
Speaking of the WWI setting, there is a cast of other people who play a major role in the movie - the fighter pilot Wonder Woman rescues, who serves as a constant companion with much character development of his own, and the crew he assembles for a mission in the war. That crew is fun to watch, and it's fun to see the difference between their espionage and standard combat, and Wonder Woman's acrobatics and kickass combat. Usually in movies like this, it's men who have the super combat skills and women who do the espionage and sneakiness, but here it's the other way around.
Some people have remarked that you can subtly tell the movie was directed by a woman, since the camera doesn't linger on the Amazon-esque outfits Wonder Woman and the other ladies from her island wear, and it's funny, because it never occurred to me that the outfits were sexualized. Maybe because the camera doesn't linger on them! :P
Anyway, I had a fun time. It's a nice mix of comedy, darkness, action, adventure, espionage, drama, and some very well choreographed fight scenes. I hope this movie does really well.
... Well, it's easily the best DCEU superhero film, even though it still falls short of Marvel. But hey, baby steps. Crawl before you walk before you run.
Personally, Gal Godot still just does not work for me as WW. Her emoting isn't that great, her action scenes look weirdly edited with too many slow-mo shots, and the stuff on Paradise Island felt very by the numbers.
But then Chris Pine showed up, and his greatest superpower is doing his damndest to make sure this is a fun, enjoyable film. Once Diana's off with him and experiencing the world at large we finally get a lot of things the DC films have desperately needed: heart, characters with actual character and personality, and some genuine hero-ing. Some of the characters still fall short, like the sniper guy who has some vaguely explained problems and yet never really has a resolution to his character arc, but for what we see of these people though, they carry more spirit and depth than damn near everyone in the last three films combined.
The problem is though that the film just didn't know how to end itself.
Setting the film during World War 1 was a fun idea, and it provides an excellent dichotomy between Trevor's worldiness and Diana's idealism with a war where true villains were few and far between (though still present) and yet atrocities were still aplenty due to the sheer inertia of civilization. Trevor wants to do good but his limits are clear, as are his specific duties, whereas Diana wants to do good everywhere but naively thinks that all conflict can be solved just by finding the designated Big Bad and killing them. There was a lot of potential here to subvert and play with the tropes of a superhero story, possibly more than any other hero film made before it, but unfortunately it gives up on itself. Or maybe it didn't realize just what it had the potential of creating.
Thus we end up getting a very stock and boring final battle where the villain is supposedly killed with the power of LOVE (even though it looked more like Wonder Woman was doing her best Specium Ray impersonation a-la Ultraman) and a film that just sorta... tells itself things are resolved and that they've come full circle even when they don't really feel like they have.
I can't say the film is a must-see, but it also isn't offensively bad or mediocre. I had plenty of laughs and liked some of the action sequences, which is more than I can say about any other DC film. If you want to give it a shot you definitely won't regret watching it, but I don't think it'll really stick with you unless you're a die-hard fan of Wonder Woman.
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