Friday, June 30, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Deeper superhero movie with action and laughs
Cons: War movie underpinnings
The Bottom Line:
Finally on big screen
Diana shines with action
And plenty of heart

Wonder Woman Gets Her Big Screen Movie.  Finally

My first exposure to superheroes was a rerun of the 1970’s Wonder Woman TV show.  I immediately fell in love, and I’ve had a soft spot for Wonder Woman ever since.  Naturally, that meant I was following news and rumors for a big screen movie for years, and I had to see the final result in the theater.

Diana (Gal Gadot) is the daughter of the queen of the Amazons.  She is raised on an island hidden from the world of man and, against her mother’s wishes, is trained in the art of war.  But the outside world intrudes on her world when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane near the island.  As Diana hears about the War to End All Wars happening in the outside world, she knows she needs to leave with Steve.

You see, the Amazons were created for one purpose – to fight Ares, the god of war.  Diana believes he is highly involved in the current conflict.  Will she find him?  Will defeating him stop the war?

I haven’t been super impressed with DC Comic movies over the last few years, which did give me pause going into this film.  However, I found that this film had added depth the others didn’t.  While Diana is na├»ve at times, she is not the dark and brooding hero that DC thinks everyone needs to be today.  And there is actually quite a bit of humor scattered throughout the movie.

Having said that, this is a war movie, and that is driven home in the final act as things take some darker turns.  Even earlier than that, it is easy to forget you are watching a superhero movie since the film doesn’t shy away from the realities of war, both for the soldiers and the civilians caught in the crossfire.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t action scenes.  Diana gets plenty of opportunity to show off her powers, and those scenes are, well, wonderful.  The action and special effects are believable and perfect because they help tell the story instead of overpowering it.

This definitely has more character development than many of the recent DC Comic superhero movies have had, and the actors really step up.  Overall, the actors do a great job of bouncing between the action, comedy, and the more serious moments.

I’m still puzzled by the decision to move her to World War I.  Wonder Woman has her origins in World War II, the time period when she was created.  I know the producers have said they felt because of the shifts in the world happening during that time, it created some unique storytelling opportunities.  Personally, I think the themes presented here would have been even deeper with a World War II backdrop.  But maybe that’s just me wanting to be a period purist.

And on a completely silly note, I have to take exception to Ares being the villain here.  You see, my ultimate Frisbee summer league has a Greek god and goddess theme this year, and I’m on team Ares.  It’s a matter of pride.

Wonder Woman manages to touch on deeper themes while still entertaining like a superhero movie should.  I wish it hadn’t gone quite so much into the serious war movie sub-genre, but it is still a huge step up for DC Comic movies, one I hope they follow going forward.

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