Saturday, June 10, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman (2017) - Directed by Patty Jenkins; Written by Allan Heinberg; Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Said Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock.

By Kenny Howell

I think pretty much everyone unanimously said during Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, maybe out loud in the theater, when Wonder Woman appeared, "why are we not watching her movie".

Those two jagoffs were crying about having mothers with the same first name, and she was whipping tons of ass.

But we only got about 15 minutes of Wonder Woman in that crap fest, so we had to wait for her standalone movie. It's here, and man it makes everything else DC has done lately look like crap.

We get the Wonder Woman origin story, a woman named Diana, made from clay by her mother the Queen and brought to life by Zeus to help protect and island of Amazons, a group of women who are tasked with keeping humans safe from Ares, the god of war who wants to destroy all humans.

The Amazons have been isolated on their island, which his hidden from everyone else on Earth, prepping for the eventual invasion they see coming when humans learn of their existence. That comes in small form when a World War I spy crashes down on the island while being chased by German soldiers. That man is Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine (Hell of High Water), who had gone undercover as a German soldier to steal the plans of a chemist trying to make a deadly new gas the Germans were going to use to end the war.

The Amazons fight off the German soldiers, but Diana is compelled to go with Steve back to the war, against her mother's objections. It is the Amazons duty to protect the humans from Ares, and Diana sees it as her calling to go kill him to rid the Earth of war.  She then goes to early 20th century London, and puts a plan together with Steve put an end to the vengeful God.

It's hard to know where to start with Wonder Woman because it does so many things right that the previous DC films did not. The biggest is the amazing control Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has over the narrative. It's a beautiful story about finding your purpose and achieving your destiny through bravery and hard work. The previous DC films were so scatter-brained, and constantly punching you in the face with building smashing or like in the case of Suicide Squad, every song that had been recorded in the past 30 years. Wonder Woman is a tad long and could have been trimmed, but there isn't a ton of fat to go. Everything is essential the story, and each scene is important to move the story forward.

The other big aspect is what we knew in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses) is fantastic. She has the perfect combination of badassery, power, confidence and charm, and IS Wonder Woman. There isn't much catching her pretending, she embodies it. I know the knock on superhero movies, but you have to seriously consider her for Best Actress at the end of the year. There may not be anyone more in charge of her character than Gadot as Wonder Woman.

DC also made a perfect casting choice with Pine as Steve. He has maybe been one of the most consistent big film actors over the past few years, though his material might not have always been up to his ability, and the way Gadot and him play off each other really bring something between the characters that might have not been there in other people's hands. They have a screwball comedy-esque vibe, especially in the early scenes when Diana is trying to figure out this new world.

Now we are left with where DC goes from here, because the bar has been set for their product. Justice League, which looks like more of the same from DC, has a lot to live up to now. It is definitely going to be tough boots to fill.

Rating: ***1/2

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