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Wonder Woman (2017)

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"Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder"

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horrible ending ruins a good movie

I wanted to love it. Wonder Woman’s awesome, and I loved watching her on the animated Justice League as a kid. Wonder Woman was the absolute last chance I gave the DCEU, because if anything was going to redeem them, it’d be this movie.

What’s most frustrating is that I loved the first two hours of the film. Sure, there were flaws: an incomprehensible bastardization of Greek mythology, WB’s signature monochromatic palette, a somewhat cliché motivating death to kick things off. But that’s nothing that can’t be overlooked in favor of Gal Gadot being an absolutely flawless Wonder Woman. There was even humor in the movie, and I wasn’t sure that was allowed in the DCEU!

Not to mention the story and themes were so incredibly powerful. Wonder Woman’s simplification of World War I, blaming it all on Ares, only to discover that mankind is terrible all on its own… that’s both powerful and intelligent. The theme of mankind not deserving a savior, but being worth saving anyway, is wonderful — ...(more)

I wanted to love it. Wonder Woman’s awesome, and I loved watching her on the animated Justice League as a kid. Wonder Woman was the absolute last chance I gave the DCEU, because if anything was going to redeem them, it’d be this movie.

What’s most frustrating is that I loved the first two hours of the film. Sure, there were flaws: an incomprehensible bastardization of Greek mythology, WB’s signature monochromatic palette, a somewhat cliché motivating death to kick things off. But that’s nothing that can’t be overlooked in favor of Gal Gadot being an absolutely flawless Wonder Woman. There was even humor in the movie, and I wasn’t sure that was allowed in the DCEU!

Not to mention the story and themes were so incredibly powerful. Wonder Woman’s simplification of World War I, blaming it all on Ares, only to discover that mankind is terrible all on its own… that’s both powerful and intelligent. The theme of mankind not deserving a savior, but being worth saving anyway, is wonderful — it’s probably the best idea that Angel ever had. It was well built up at the village where Diana got to enjoy some downtime and see what the world is like in its better moments.

So Diana remains stubborn, kills the guy she thinks is Ares… and realizes that Ares wasn’t behind all the world’s evils. The realization is crushing to her, and it bears repeating that Gal Gadot is superb. This has been a fantastic movie. Now we just need an epiphany and an ending, and I can go home and cheer the movie on along with the rest of the Internet.

And then all of that greatness is squandered because Zeus forbid we have a superhero movie without a half-hour battle sequence to cap it off. All that awesome plot-related thematic stuff that elevated this movie above its genre? PSYCH! Turns out, there is an Ares! Turns out, he is responsible for much of the bad stuff going on!

There is a bit of guff where the film tries to have it both ways, with Ares saying the equivalent of “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!” Perhaps that would’ve worked if the film hadn’t shown a peaceful sunrise and armistice immediately after Ares was defeated… which wholly undermines the whole “it’s not Ares’ fault” thing they should have been going for.

Can this kind of story turn be salvaged? Yes, but with a LOT of work. We know that World War II is coming up, and since Ares was defeated, they can still do the “it’s not Ares, it’s mankind” arc in a sequel. But given that there aren’t plans for a Wonder Woman sequel, and that actually fixing it would invalidate the climax of this movie, the potential for getting it right the next time does not redeem the mistakes of this film.

Aside from ruining the movie thematically, the final battle was excruciating to sit through. It was the exact same thing that made Man of Steel awful: a solid half hour of two people punching each other and smashing through things. I’m sorry, but that’s boring!

By the end of the battle, I was checking my watch and waiting for the end that seemed like it would never come. I’ve been spoiled by fun action sequences in the MCU, and incessant punching just won’t do anymore. This is a criticism that could be powered through if everything else was good, but considering the battle was awful from both a thematic and cinematic perspective, I was left fuming at the end.

Not to keep harping on about Marvel, but DC could have elevated this movie so far above the MCU by foregoing a conventional villain! Marvel has a well-established villain problem, where almost all of their movies have a villain who’s either a disgruntled business partner or a megalomaniac seeking Infinity Stones.

The closest they came to surpassing that was Civil War, perhaps their best film. There, the “villain” was just a guy who exposed the conflict already present in society, and let our characters grapple with that. Wonder Woman could have done one better, and had a film about Diana grappling with society instead of with a mustachioed bad guy.

This is so galling because there was a great Wonder Woman movie made! The first two hours were pretty much all I wanted out of this movie. And then the filmmakers couldn’t leave well enough alone, and had the movie punch its way to mediocrity in the home stretch.

So, DCEU, we’re officially over. No matter how appealing one of their future movies looks, I’ll know better. Because if they managed to screw up a movie this good, then they don’t deserve my money, nor do I believe in them. Blame it on Ares. (less)

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Mostly very good, especially the first half which has a good mix of action, humour and drama, climaxing with the iconic No Man's Land scene.
The second half gets bogged down in an over extended showdown, and curiously when Diana should be the focus of attention the film spends a lot more time with Steve than necessary, almost overshadowing the title character.
But the fight scenes are well done and Gal Gadot carries the role well. I'd watch another one.

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A great intro to Wonder Woman with some flaws.

Wonder Woman is not only an amazing solo outing for the titular DC superhero, but it’s also an incredible pivot from the dark, self-serious films that have populated DC’s cinematic universe. The movie is an effective origin story set during World War I that stands entirely on its own as a narrative, without any clunky mythology or wild attempts to tie itself into other franchise films. Plus, Gal Gadot is a joy to watch as Diana (Wonder Woman), a smart, well-adjusted character that unlike her colleagues Batman and Superman, lacks dreary psychological trauma. Gadot shoulders this high-pressure role with great ease and has excellent chemistry with Chris Pine, the soldier/spy who crash lands on Diana island and draws her into fighting in World War I.

For all the superb things about Wonder Woman however, it still has some flaws. First, Pine’s character is wildly inconsistent in whether he trusts and believes in Diana, which is annoying for how illogical it is. This lack of c...(more)

Wonder Woman is not only an amazing solo outing for the titular DC superhero, but it’s also an incredible pivot from the dark, self-serious films that have populated DC’s cinematic universe. The movie is an effective origin story set during World War I that stands entirely on its own as a narrative, without any clunky mythology or wild attempts to tie itself into other franchise films. Plus, Gal Gadot is a joy to watch as Diana (Wonder Woman), a smart, well-adjusted character that unlike her colleagues Batman and Superman, lacks dreary psychological trauma. Gadot shoulders this high-pressure role with great ease and has excellent chemistry with Chris Pine, the soldier/spy who crash lands on Diana island and draws her into fighting in World War I.

For all the superb things about Wonder Woman however, it still has some flaws. First, Pine’s character is wildly inconsistent in whether he trusts and believes in Diana, which is annoying for how illogical it is. This lack of consistency is most apparent in the portion he tries to shush her or hold her by the arm while they're running around London, and in the scene where he tries to keep her out of his mission even after he’s seen her prowess on the battlefield. Second, like all superhero movies this one has bloat, especially in the final act where it deteriorates into a dark, CGI-heavy, cookiecutter conflict. Third, her motivation for saving the day (i.e. love for a man) is incredibly trite, and kind of disappointing given how feminist most of the film is. Those gripes aside, Wonder Woman is still a massive improvement over other recent DC movies that’s lighter and more fun, while managing to explore complex themes about mankind’s inherent desire to fight war. It’s well-worth the watch. (less)

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Taglines:

"Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder"

Plot:

An Amazon princess (Gal Gadot) becomes the legendary superhero Wonder Woman.