Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman Review


Everyone, take a breath,


There, wasn't that nice? Just sit and let it sink in that Wonder Woman turned out to be a good movie. And not just as a guilty pleasure like how I enjoyed Suicide Squad, I mean an honest to God, solid, enjoyable, fun, charming, and just pleasant superhero movie for the summer. It's good, and it feels good to say that it's good.

I've made it no secret that I slightly dislike Batman v. Superman, and saying that it spoiled the DCEU for me would be a gross understatement. Going into Wonder Woman, I was so scared about how it would turn out. I wanted it to be good and despite there being nothing all that bad in the trailers, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was a DCEU movie and it had to screw up somehow. It was just a given. As the movie went on, I kept waiting for it. Waiting for that moment where everything falls apart. But then I suddenly forgot that I was watching a DCEU movie, and instead started watching a fantastic Wonder Woman movie.

Now let me say that it's not perfect. Wonder Woman is not a perfect movie, but the things I dislike are more towards personal taste rather than outright bad decisions or lame effects. People sometimes mistake my criticisms as me saying that something is wrong with this movie, and here's what it is. My word is not that law, and it should never be viewed like that. That being said, when I say "the plot doesn't make any sense", that's me pointing out that there is something narratively wrong with the movie in terms of structure. Alien: Covenant had poor structure, so when I harp on it's third act, that's more because it's bad structure. Yes, I also didn't like it because of the poor structure, but that's way different from me just saying the plot sucked because it was a bad story. What I'm trying to say is that the things that I dislike about Wonder Woman are personal qualms that I can totally understand why it didn't bother someone else. These are my thoughts on it, and everyone's free to agree or disagree, but don't worry, I liked Wonder Woman a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

Diana is an Amazon from the island of Themyscira, an island that was created by Zeus as a safe haven for the Amazons for their inevitable confrontation with the God of War, Ares. Here, Ares is essentially everything wrong and evil with the world and his evil caused Pandora's Box like effects and humanity, so Zeus sealed him and created the Amazons to fight him whenever he returns. Diana grows up believing this story, and sees a pilot by the name of Steve Trevor crash on Themyscira and tells the Amazons about World War I and the horrors going on in Europe. Diana is sure that Ares is the cause of the war, so she ventures off the island with Steve in order to fight Ares and put and end to the war by killing him once and for all.

Can I just say that it's great to see color again in a DC movie? Like, there's green, blue, red, yellow. Bright, beautiful colors.

Anywho, the basic reason why Wonder Woman succeeds so much is most due to Gal Godot as Wonder Woman herself. Much in the same way that Christopher Reeves is the definitive Superman and Tobey Macguire is the definitive Peter Parker (not Spider-Man guys, just Peter Parker), Gal Godot IS Wonder Woman. It was hard to tell when she appeared in the last ten minutes of... that other movie, but now it's easy to see that she's damned good as Wonder Woman. She's kind, compassionate, and is sensible to boot. When Diana goes to Europe, she could have easily been in a fish out of water story where she looks around at things like telephones and cars and marvels in amazement, but the movie thankfully never touches that angle. Diana feels like a hero here. She's not cynical, snarky, arrogant, she doesn't throw quips, and she certainly doesn't brood. She's a classic hero that still feels refreshing to watch even in a deluge of other superhero movies.

What's even better is that she has excellent chemistry with Chris Pine, who plays Steve Trevor. These two just feel so believable and Steve has some of the best asides and moments in the film. Most of the movie is spent around these two characters, and it's certainly for the best because we grow to care about them so much by the end. Oh sure, there are a bunch of supporting characters, but they don't really matter all of that much for two reasons. One I'll get into later, but the biggest reason is just because how much we grow to care about Diana and Steve.

The set pieces in the film are also just a blast to watch. The fight scene on Themyscira when Steve arrives is absolutely beautiful to watch, not only because it's colorful (hint! hint!), but because there's some fantastic stunt work done as well. People are jumping and flipping all around, and that sets the tone for nearly all of the action scenes. Oh there are gun fights in the movie, but when Wonder Woman fights, she's leaping, sliding, and kicking all sorts of ass. It does rely a bit too much on CG towards the end of the movie, but it's excusable given how solid the action was at the beginning and still is towards the end.

The gaggle of villains here though are on the south side of mediocre unfortunately. We get an awesomely designed Dr. Poison, but she doesn't do anything besides look cool. We also get an angry German general that's so forgettable and pointless to the overall story that I completely forgot his name. And then we get a lovely CGI monster for the finale that I think was supposed to look cool, but I kept on thinking about how clunky the movie's final boss looks and talks. I understand that Wonder Woman's library of villains isn't the largest when compared to Superman's or Batman's, but she has way better villains than the ones here. Okay, Dr. Poison was still cool, but make her the main villain instead of divvying it up to multiple people!

But the core of my complaints, and I can guarantee that no one will see my point on this, but I don't care, is that all of this is, at the end of the day, pointless. If this takes place in World War I, and we see Wonder Woman fight Doomsday with Superman and Batman and is going to star in Justice League, then every character here teeters on being worthless to become attached to. This movie takes place in World War I. War or no war, none of these characters are going to appear again. If they're in their 20's and 30's in World War I, there's no way they're going to survive for a century just to appear in another movie or two.

I'm bringing this up because it almost damages the relationship between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Almost. Whenever they were sharing a tender moment together, I just kept thinking that none of it was going to matter at the end of the day. It says a lot about how strong the performances are when I can overlook that glaring flaw, but the side characters? With the exception of the Amazons (because DC continuity is weird and time is weird and it's a lot to get into here), I never got attached to them. It's the same reason when I never cared about the characters in Rouge One; they were all created to die, so why care about them?

It says a lot about the movie's strengths where I can overlook something like that. Plot is incredibly important, but Wonder Woman is able to get by on its fantastic performances and great action scenes.

And its color. Because it has color. Ooooooooooooh.

I'm not going to say that Wonder Woman saved the DCEU for me. Because as good as it is, we're going to have to deal with Justice League in November, and all of the goodwill from this movie ain't going to save the Titanic part II. So don't look at this as part of a franchise. Look at Wonder Woman in the same way you would look at Logan. It's standalone story about a superhero that excels far beyond what anyone would have ever expected for the genre and stands on its own away from other movie's continuity. Wonder Woman is a great time, and it feels so damned good to say that now.


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