With previous DC endeavors like Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad receiving generally poor impressions across the board, a lot is riding on the Wonder Woman standalone film. The character played a decently sized role in Batman vs Superman, but we didn’t learn too much about the character herself. This time around, director Patty Jenkins dives us deep into the origins of Diana, before she was known as Wonder Woman. With pretty solid cast, does the film manage to overcome the pressure and keep the DC cinematic universe afloat? In a way, yes.
Firstly, it’s important to note that Wonder Woman is in many ways, separate from the DC universe. Unlike Batman vs Superman, you don’t have to know much about super heroes or DC in general to enjoy the film. There’s a brief scene in the beginning of the film that slightly ties it to other films in the universe, but keeps its own identity at the forefront.
Besides the expected super hero action and drama, we’re treated to a classic “fish out of water” story. Starting on the island of Themyscira, we learn all about the origins of both Diana (Gal Gadot) and the all-women Amazon tribe she belongs to. It’s a bit CGI heavy for the first act, but I enjoyed time taken to show Diana in various stages of her life. From child to teen, and eventually adult, we see Diana training to become the warrior she wishes to be. One scene in particular was very impressive, in which Diana’s mother (the Queen of the Amazons) recalls her days as a warrior. As she narrates, we get the visual treat of a painting come to life. It’s an effect that is incredibly unique and cool to see.
After a while, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a World War 1 British pilot, crash lands near the island. He tells Diana of World War 1 and the destruction it has caused, which prompts her to leave her homeland and save the Earth from destruction. There’s much more to it than that, but for the most part, it’s accurate. I won’t spoil anything, but from thereon, we see Diana struggle to get accustomed to modern civilization at the time. There’s a good collection of humorous scenes mixed in with the drama, and the relationship between Steve Trevor and Diana is believable and touching.
A lot of the success of the film comes from the performance of the cast. Visually speaking, the film is great looking, but the performances are what shine the most. Chris Pine does an excellent job as Steve Trevor, and brings a very human element to the story. While I don’t think Gal Gadot absolutely knocked it out of the park, her portrayal of Diana was good. She too was able to draw a bit of humanity out of her role, and I liked the way her character grew as the film progressed. If anything, Gal Gadot tends to oversell it a bit, especially when emotion is needed. However, her missteps in performance are greatly overshadowed by some of the other characters in the film.
As far as secondary cast goes, everyone is pretty functional with a few standouts. I greatly enjoyed David Thewlis’ portrayal of Sir Patrick, and was also equally surprised by the child actress Lilly Aspell, who plays Diana as a young girl. Unfortunately, there are a few characters that get way too much screen time. Partway through the film, we’re introduced to Steve Trevor’s crew. They follow Steve and Diana throughout the rest of the film, but never do much of anything. The character of Charlie (Ewen Bremner) wasn’t very good to begin with, and delivered a bit worse. Both Sameer (Said Taghmaoui) and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) are acted well enough, but are ultimately perform no function in terms of narrative.
The pacing of the film was a bit slow for my tastes, and started to grind a bit once the cast reached London. With a running time of nearly two hours and thirty minutes, there was quite a bit fat that could’ve been trimmed. Despite this, I found myself entertained and connected to the overall narrative. The villain in Wonder Woman is better than most Marvel villains, which was good. I really bought into the growing relationship of Steve and Diana, which is both well told and heart warming.
Overall, Wonder Woman is definitely one of the best DC films to date. It wasn’t my favorite, but I feel like the story didn’t resonate with me as much as it will for other people. If you have any interest in the film, and don’t mind a bit of down time, you should definitely check it out. While not everyone will like it, and some may even dislike it greatly, I believe Wonder Woman is a great film for nearly everyone. As a closing note, I have to commend the character that DC has created. If anything, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana is a great role model for young girls, and an excellent display of female strength and power.
Movie Rating: 4 stars.
Movie Ratings Guide
1 Star = Unwatchable
2 Stars = Cannot Recommend
3 Stars = Would Watch Again/For the Fans
4 Stars = A Solid Movie
5 Stars = Must Own (DVD/Stream Download)
I'm a life long gamer and an overall media junkie. In addition to writing great articles like this, I host a gaming/comedy podcast called "Super Gamecast 64" available on iTunes and Stitcher. I also watch an unhealthy amount of movies, and try to spread as much love into the world as I can. Hope you enjoyed the content!