FILM REVIEW – ‘WONDER WOMAN’ (2017)

Friday, June 2, 2017 marked the official US theatrical release of Wonder Woman, the newest film in the DC Cinematic Universe (and to-date the most critically acclaimed) directed by Patty Jenkins. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance Tuesday, May 30 courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
(Due to editorial staff being on vacation, this review, originally written June 1, 2017 is now presented in its entirety.)
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

First, a confession: I like the new DC movies. Do not get me wrong; I don’t love them. But I like them, and sometimes I really like them. I did love Man of Steel, and I think people that protest that Superman doesn’t kill need to unclench for a moment to remember that it wasn’t always true. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was very flawed, but I saw what they intended, and I still managed to enjoy it. People also overlook its positives, like the fact that it probably gave us the best cinematic rendition of Batman yet. The director’s cut is much better, too. I don’t have a lot of good things to say about Suicide Squad, except that when I stopped taking it seriously, it was actually pretty fun, even though I can’t call it respectable.
Now that that’s established, forget that I like the DC Cinematic Universe so far:
Wonder Woman is good. It’s very, very good.
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Set during World War I, Diana (played of course by Gal Gadot) lives on the Island of Themyscira with the Amazons, a race comprised entirely of peaceful, but incredibly combat-capable women created by Zeus. When a man crashes his plane in the water just beyond the Island, Diana saves him, and learns of the Great War. Believing the time has come to finally destroy Ares, the God of War, once and for all, she leaves with him to discover the World of Man and meet her destiny.
It’s faithful to the source material. It is not too gritty, but does not deflate DC’s serious approach with excessive comedy. But it is funny on all the right beats. The direction does not look overbearing; the acting seems surprisingly natural for the unnatural situations the characters often encounter. The action sequences are coherent, which means they even surpass much of the vaunted Marvel films.
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

The narrative is successful in it’s simplicity in both execution and concept, an issue that DC has been struggling with in its attempt to make high-minded comic films.
The villains are interesting, and even though you can understand them immediately (as you should in a black-and-white Good vs. Evil story), they are not so two-dimensional that you have no questions about their desires and motives. Is Doctor Poison just motivated by pure sadism? I’m not so sure. How can General Ludendorff justify his drive to win the war even at the expense of his own countrymen?
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

As for Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot lives up to the role quite nicely. Being a badass in real life probably helped. She is innocent without looking stupid. In fact, her ignorance of the world she is discovering seems to highlight everyone else’s foolishness. Her confidence and self-assuredness does not verge into the realm of brazeness. In every scene, she demonstrates that caring is not a weakness. I have always lumped the character in with Superman and Captain America: heroes that are boring because they are boy/girlscouts. And yes, Superman and Captain America are boring, even when they are done well. Perhaps especially when they are done well. Characters like this need more interesting characters juxtaposed to them, then they become interesting in their contrast. Not so here. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is vivacious, emotive, and passionate. We don’t like her just because she’s good and saves people from danger. We want to see her succeed for her own sake, and her own fulfillment. When you can do that with a superhero of that category, what more could I ask for?
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Bottom Line:
Overall, Wonder Woman is an exceptionally well-done superhero(ine) film, and easily the best of the current DC Cinematic Universe. It’s a very welcome step up in quality, and manages to be a great film about a female superhero without ever going political and preachy, or worse, stereotypical and insulting. It’s a massive achievement, and one that DC should be very proud of. Do yourself a favor and go see this one. It’s well worth every penny. – 9.0/10
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– Benjamin Harter
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
@NerdNationPress
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