Sunday, June 4, 2017

Movie Review: "Wonder Woman" (2017)

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Director: Patty Jenkins
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes

Diana is an Amazonian princess who comes from a race of powerful warrior women. When an American pilot crashes in the ocean near their hidden island of Themyscira, she rescues him and learns of a massive world war going on outside of her sheltered home. She then decides to head out into the world where she believes she can stop "the war to end all wars" by defeating the God of war, Ares, who she thinks is orchestrating the conflict.

"Wonder Woman" is the fourth film in the DC extended universe. It is directed by Patty Jenkins, who has only directed one other theatrically released film, the true crime indie flick "Monster," which won an Oscar for best actress. The film has a screenplay by Allan Heinberg, who wrote the story with Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs. It stars Gal Gadot as the titular Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, and Chris Pine as U.S. military spy Steve Trevor. Joining them are Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, and Lucy Davis. The film tells the origin of Diana, who is a princess of a tribe of warrior women known as Amazons. When Steve Trevor crashes in the ocean outside their hidden island of Themyscira, he inadvertently brings the German navy to their shores. After a battle ensues with multiple casualties, Diana learns there is a massive world war going on, and she believes it is her duty to stop it. She believes the way to accomplish this is by finding and killing the god of war Ares, and she thinks the place to find him is in the throes of conflict. 

We have to admit, we were a little apprehensive about "Wonder Woman." We were looking forward to it, but were never really pulled in by any of its trailers. Because of this, we entered this flick with a certain cautious optimism. Luckily for us, we very much enjoyed "Wonder Woman," and in fact, we just about loved! This is a fun and exciting film with some fantastic visuals and interesting, stunningly made stylized action sequences. There is a lot of engaging character development, and we really enjoyed learning the origin story of Wonder Woman since we were rather ignorant of all the details going into the film.

Gal Gadot was a superb choice for the role of Diana Prince. She is fierce, she is brave, she is charismatic, and she is able to sell almost all of her scenes convincingly, especially the action sequences. Sure, her acting can be a little stiff from time to time, but as Diana enters an entirely new, strange world of guns, war, men, and strife, we expect her character to be awestruck and taken aback by the horrors she witnesses. Overall, she does a fantastic job as this kick-ass character. She is really able to convey a beautiful sense of wonder and unfamiliarity with the modern world she has yet to experience. Not to be ignored, Chris Pine also is extremely charming in his own right as spy Steve Trevor, who tries to do the right thing by taking Diana to find Ares on "the front." He also serves as a love interest for her, but their romance never feels eye-rollingly bad or misplaced in its execution. Gadot and Pine have electric chemistry.

The best thing about "Wonder Woman" is its deviation from the DCEU as we have come to know it. Though the last act contains some of the DCEU's CGI-infested vibes and dreary color patterns in its boss-level showdown, this movie is actually colorful! Themyscira is a lush, gorgeous paradise full of gorgeous blue waters, rocks and cobbled hills, fields of bright green grass and lively yellow flowers, which you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in this universe thus far. Surprisingly, there is also a bit of levity to a story that is mostly dark and grim and filled with war. The humor mostly feels like it is supposed to be there and fits well into the story, apart from one of two scenes that felt out of place. When all of this is aided by an emotional score by Rupert Gregson-Williams, it comes together to make one hell of a movie.

Patty Jenkins has brought to life a really compelling film with a cohesive narrative and interesting characters in "Wonder Woman." When headlined by the tremendous and powerful Gal Gadot as a superhero who fights for truth, strength, justice, and love, it has the ability to run you through a gamut of emotions. It certainly kept us engaged throughout its rather sizable but well-paced runtime. It is not without its flaws (some overuse of CGI, a little bit of bad dialogue here and there, mostly disposable villains), but we watched this movie wide-eyed and glued to the screen, happy to watch what was unfolding before our eyes. Representation matters. "Wonder Woman" is absolutely deserving of its praise.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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