All right, it’s time to check out DC’s latest film in its big film continuity. It scored 2 mega hits with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, but then delivered one of the worst films of all time in this genre with Suicide Squad. Clearly it’s been an all or nothing gamble thus far. Well, DC tried to stay with this motto for a while, but ultimately they had to cave in. Critics demolished their older films for being too serious so DC had to fall in line. This was their first attempt to make a film that’s more like a Marvel film with a large increase in humor and a lighter tone. It works to an extent and this film is fun, but a considerable step down from the first two. I’ve been a little cautious about this new tone as Justice League also looks like it’s going to be very jokey, but perhaps it’s good that they switched sooner rather than later. The dark tone worked surprisingly well for Batman V Superman, but typically it’s a recipe for disaster. This is the safer option for the series especially if they want the critics on their side. That being said, I hope we still get a lot of action.
The film starts off with a long prologue of Wonder Woman growing up on Paradise Island and deciding that she wants to be a warrior. She trains in secret and quickly grows to be the strongest on the island. One day, Steve Trevor crashes on the island along with a bunch of Germans so the Amazonian warriors are forced to fight back. They suffer many losses but drive back the intruders. Steve pleads his case to return to Europe to expose the German deeds and potentially end the war with a book that he has found and Wonder Woman decides to go with him. She believes that Ares is secretly behind this war and that destroying him will finally Make Humanity Great Again! Steve doesn’t believe her, but he now has a ticket to get off the island so he agrees to take her to Ares. Can the two of them stop the war?
There’s definitely a lot to say about a big film like this so I guess lets start with the positives. The big climax was pretty great. I had been worried that we wouldn’t have any real villains during the movie and it would just be Wonder Woman beating up helpless soldiers the whole time. Fortunately, we did get a big boss in the end. It should be obvious who the villain is, but I won’t say just in case. We got some tributes to Man of Steel with the imagery and seeing the super fight was intense. The speed and punches were at a high level and still show that DC has the best fights. Wonder Woman’s use of her lasso in the battle was great as well and her bracelets are definitely going to be very useful in future films.
Also, the film gets the sword out of the picture for the climax so Wonder Woman has to fight in hand to hand combat. I can safely say that this is how Wonder Woman should always be fighting. Hand to hand is just the most satisfying for fighters like her, Superman, and the other heavy hitters. It makes their strength feel more real. Now, you can make the case that there is a bit of power level fluctuations in this fight as WW’s opponent is initially much faster than her along with being much stronger as well but suddenly can’t dodge. We can chalk that up to arrogance on his part of just plot hax. Either way, the fight and visuals were on point so it’s not really a big deal.
Speaking of the visuals, those were definitely pretty solid. Wonder Woman’s lasso certainly glowed rather well and seeing it used in combat was fun. The video game esque combos that Wonder Woman got off it was certainly cool. The fiery landscape at the end was also very epic. DC seems to like it as we’ve now gotten this landscape for BVS, Wonder Woman, and it’s confirmed for Justice League as we see it in the trailer. It’s a great background so I wouldn’t mind if they used it for all future films. It just works really well.
Time to quickly mention a moment in the film that felt rather convenient. This was when Wonder Woman decided to raid the Amazonian armory and steal the artifacts. Why was there a random brick sticking out on the wall so she could grab it? I don’t get the purpose of that brick as it would just make stealing from the place a little easier. There were like 4 or 5 others that I saw as Wonder Woman crashed so maybe it was a design thing for the tower? It’s not like it mattered since she could climb it on her own, but I was a little puzzled.
One plot element that didn’t make sense as well in a more major way was how Paradise Island has no defenses. Apparently you can just wander near the barrier and walk right in. Once you’re through, then the illusion fades. If it’s that easy, I can’t believe that more people haven’t gotten through. So either the Amazons have been murdering everyone who’s gotten through (That wouldn’t be too hard to believe, but they acted as if a man hasn’t shown up in a long time) or they’ve just been lucky. Regardless, I think it would have made more sense to have had an actual physical barrier or gusts of wind that typically blow everyone else back. That way, Steve crashing there could still work since he would be going so fast that the winds couldn’t stop him.
Okay, time to talk about the iffy parts in the film. Roughly the first 100 minutes are pretty slow. I had my phone off and my watch is still broken so I couldn’t record the exact time, but it’s not a very exciting start. Wonder Woman training on the island isn’t exciting, but I suppose it’s necessary so the average viewer can get used to the character. As long as origin stories are done once and then never brought back again, then I’m okay with them. Every character has to go through the motions at some point although Hulk still did it best by just including it in the intro. That being said, most films counter this by starting off with a big action sequence. I feel like that would have been useful for this film. Have Wonder Woman start off with a cool fight in the present time as she beats up some super powered crooks or something and then have her reminisce about the good ole days.
Once Steve lands on the island, things go south. The film’s writing is particularly bad as we get very long flirting conversations. Since the Amazons haven’t seen a man in a while, the film plays up this angle extremely hard. It just keeps coming back and back over and over again. The whole boat ride is basically about this as well as Wonder Woman’s conversation with Steve while he was bathing. The film goes for some misdirects by having Steve misinterpret what’s happening half the time, but these scenes are just filler and not very well handled filler at that.
One plot I’ve never cared for much was the “I don’t know about human culture so I’m going to take everything literally and get into a bunch of crazy situations” trope. This one isn’t as exaggerated as other versions that I’ve seen through the years, but it is surprisingly high up. Wonder Woman doesn’t know that you can’t undress in public, but she’s read a lot of rather mature novels. She gets into a lot of trouble by waving her sword around and falling for Steve’s flirtations. I should mention that the romance is pretty bad as you’d expect. It was expected of course since Steve Rogers was about to get in the plane for the last time….I mean Steve Trevor. He got to have some fun before dying this way.
Another issue here is the supporting cast. Don’t bother to learn any of their names since they are complete throwaways. Steve figures that to break into Germany they’re going to need some men. So he picks up a drunk punching bag who used to be a sniper but is too traumatized to shoot anymore and is only good for singing. We get a liar whose whole strength is being charismatic, but there is never a chance to use this skill except for a drive through enemy territory where the villains are so inept that they let a guy in without a passport. Finally we have an Indian who is good at stealing cars and making smoke signals. These are not interesting characters nor are they good ones. The Indian is the only one who is somewhat tolerable as he doesn’t actually do anything…but then why is he in the film? Any scene with the singer is pretty bad and he really should have been cut out. The liar guy is also just bad as he’s only good for bringing us the beer scenes and we really didn’t even need those. The slow dance could be cut out as well.
I think it’s fair to say that the humor is also pretty bad. I suppose it’s a little better than Guardians as it’s handled with more tact and we don’t have a character like Drax running around, but it’s not really funny either. I can’t say that I really laughed at any of the scenes. The funniest moment of the film would probably be when Steve pretends that he can’t hear his boss and hangs up. I rather like that trope and it’s one that has lived through the test of time.
One problem that this film has to an extent comes back to the fact that there is no villain until the final 20-30 minutes. Because of that, most of the action scenes are of Wonder Woman beating up humans. It’s a slight problem because it makes the fights less exciting. For example, how engaged would you be if Superman breaks into an enemy base and beats up all of the minions? It’s just so easy that it’s not as exciting as it could be. It depends on your mileage as we did have a lot of people cheering in the theater as Wonder Woman took them down. The scene of her breaking a tower to stop a sniper got a lot of applause as well. At the same time, for me there is less enthusiasm because that’s just so easy for her. It’s why I was thrilled for the last fight because it meant that she could finally have a challenge. I think I’ve basically covered everything now.
Meanwhile, the Amazons better hope that they never have to fight a real opponent. Despite their tough talk and camaraderie they wouldn’t last very long against any army. Their island suffered losses to a very small battalion of German troops. What this effectively says is that any army could easily defeat them if they wished to do so. It seems like Wonder Woman is the only one with any actual super powers since she is the chosen one. The rest have to constantly keep their guard up or they’ll be shot.
The film is never boring though so that’s always a good thing. Even if the dialogue isn’t always my favorite, it doesn’t feel like the film ever slows down to a halt. Part of that is the novelty of finally having a Wonder Woman film and the other part is the visuals. It’s an entertaining film and it’s why I’d have greater hopes for a sequel since it would ideally take place in modern day. The old World War 1 days may be a better backdrop than the Jungle or the Wild West, but it’s still nowhere close to a nice high tech city.
One worrisome thing to keep in mind is that the film doesn’t explain why Wonder Woman abandoned humanity. We learn in Batman V Superman that she kind of grew bored of them and only came out of retirement on a whim. I was expecting the film to end with her being jaded with humanity and going back to the island, but I suppose a sequel would delve into that. The reason why I’d be worried about this is because I want her sequel to take place in the present. Hopefully they can just briefly mention it or make some kind of excuse for why nobody’s heard of her. I mean, she’s not exactly stealthy based on this film or even the ending where she jumps across buildings striking a battle pose. Something just doesn’t add up here.
As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely pretty sharp. There are a lot of fast paced rock themes that are fun to listen to. Wonder Woman’s signature tune plays a few times and the end credits theme of the film is good as well. Throughout the movie the soundtrack was consistently rapid which is certainly my style. DC’s been hitting it out of the park in this area for sure. Hopefully we’ll get some more epic tunes like this in Justice League.
I suppose we can’t end the review without talking about Etta Candy. Her role was a lot smaller than I had expected, but that’s fine. She was a reasonably good character and she took the situation in stride the whole time. Candy’s the kind of person who always makes for a good friend. I didn’t talk about Steve much either, but I wasn’t a fan. He’s basically your average Captain Kirk. He fights for what’s right and makes the tough calls, but always finds time to flirt now and again. Wonder Woman’s a great lead and certainly makes for a contrast to Batman and Superman as she murders everyone in her path. As a warrior that’s just how it goes and especially in war time. The first villain, Doctor Poison is basically just your average scientist so there’s not much to say about her. She came and went. Hopefully she would not return for a sequel since I want to stick to fighters who can fight back. Adding in Aresia to the 2nd film would make sense if you ask me. She would be a great opponent.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a good film. It has a pretty great climax and Wonder Woman herself is a good lead. The film tripped up a bit with the below average writing and supporting cast, but that wasn’t enough to destroy the film. There’s no after credits scene I’m afraid, but I suppose DC didn’t want people to claim they were copying Marvel. Hopefully Justice League has one though. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you should definitely check the film out. Low replay value is an issue with the film, but it’s not something that would affect you on a first viewing. Wonder Woman will certainly play a major role in upcoming films so you’ll want to see her origin first hand.