At the Movies with Jason: Wonder Woman

“Wonder Woman” is WONDERful…

Okay, that pun was terrible & has probably been used in 100 reviews so far.  My apologies.  Hi there, it’s Jason on Jack-FM with another HIT MOVIE REVIEW for you to read since there’s no way I could fit this into a 30 second break in either the 3:10 or 5:40 spots on the air on weekday afternoons.  (Seriously, you should tune in some time, I think I’m witty.)  ALSO, I’m going to do my best to give spoiler free impressions up front, then dive a little deeper afterwards.  I’m going to stay as spoiler free as I can, but there might be some plot elements that I mention.  I’ll give a warning so you can choose to stop reading wherever you’re comfortable…

Wonder Woman feels familiar, and that’s a great thing – for the most part.  It also feels like an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with thematic hints of it being part of the DC Universe.  In the ever present battle between Marvel & DC, I’ve always been a Marvel guy.  Their first foray into making their own movies with Marvel Studios kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, and that’s an important point of reference.

Wonder Woman tells the origin story of Diana, Princess of Themyscira, played remarkably by Gal Gadot.  It connects to Batman v Superman through the photo that Bruce Wayne discovers, then shifts immediately to Diana as a child on Paradise Island with her mother the Queen & her aunt the General of the Amazonian Armies.

What follows is fairly note for note taken from the comics & general history of Wonder Woman.  Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor crashes on the island while on a mission to help end World War 1. As an Amazon designed & destined to help save the world of man from the God of War Ares, Diana decides to help him.  She takes the iconic armor, sword, shield, and lasso of truth, and they set off to London to help end the War.

Upon entering the “World of Men,” however, she realizes that things aren’t as black & white as she had envisioned them.  The idealistic “we have to save everyone” becomes overshadowed by the looming threat of chemical warfare, and she’s forced to find what’s “right” for her.  She does so, with a power & fierceness that we haven’t seen from a female superhero yet.

In the end, she finds her true purpose in the World of Men, and grows from the relatively naïve woman arriving from Themyscira into the Wonder Woman we know & love.

The fight scenes are where this movie really shines.  Wonder Woman feels POWERFUL in a way that neither Batman nor Superman have so far.  There is a fantastic grace & fluidity to her movements and it’s clear that Gal Gadot really owned those moments where she was being as strong as she could be.

There are also some really great nods to the Wonder Woman TV show with Lynda Carter, during the London scenes where they’re trying to find Diana a suitable outfit to “blend in.”  That felt really cool.

Before we move on to the DEEPER part of the review, I’ll say – GO SEE IT, especially on the big screen.  This is the movie that the DCU has really needed.  It’s not muted & gritty like BvS, but it does suffer a smidge from “Origin Storyitis.”

The movie really shines when Gal Gadot gets to kick ass.  I can’t stress that enough.  She’s perfect as Diana, with both the innocence of a woman discovering the “real world” for the first time, and the adamant determination of a woman on a mission.

The rest of the cast was great as well.  The acting in this movie is really sensational.  Once Wonder Woman’s team comes together, the movie takes on a new life; each member with their own role, their own story, their own desire to end the Great War.

Danny Huston is superb as the enemy General Ludendorff, Connie Nielsen & Robin Wright as Hippolyta & Antiope were also first-rate, and Lilly Aspell as Young Diana truly stole the show in the first act of the movie.  She was perfect, with fierce eyes and a mischievous smile.  I was a little worried that Chris Pine would be a bit too “Captain Kirk” in this role, but he really played it well.  Then I remembered how awesome he was in “Hell or High Water” and kicked myself for second guessing him.

Some of the special effects were REALLY obvious, but never so much so that I was pulled out of the movie.  We’ve seen movies like this done really well, so I was hoping for a bit more polish.

FAIR WARNING:  Minor Plot Element Spoilers.

Earlier, I mentioned that this feels a lot like an entry into the MCU.  It hits a lot of the same beats as the origin stories of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.  However, that’s not a BAD thing, it’s just REALLY familiar.  I found myself two steps ahead because I could see where they were going with the story, and the giant dump of exposition at the top of the third act where we discover what’s “really going on” felt a bit forced, and a bit routine.

That said, now that I’ve seen the movie, I want to go back & watch it again. I want more time with the Amazons on the Island, and with Diana as the hero she was born to be.   I hope you do too.

Final Word – Seriously, go see it.  We need more movies with women in the lead, and this is a WONDERful place to start.  😉

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