‘Wonder Woman’: The exception that makes the rule, or the start of better things from the DCEU?

(This review is a bit late, but for those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet, bookmark the page, because SPOILERS.)

‘Wonder Woman’ had a lot riding on it. Saving the DCEU after the critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Being the first female-led superhero movie (in this generation, at least), led by the gorgeous Gal Gadot. Re-introducing a beloved character to the big screen after almost, what, twenty years?

Marking the first superhero movie directed by a woman (directed by Patty Jenkins), ‘Wonder Woman’ not only holds strong but manages to be one of the best superhero movies out there.

Whether it’s a one-hit wonder, the exception that makes the rule, or an actual turning point in DC storytelling, is yet to be seen, but the fact is that ‘Wonder Woman’ is a damn good yarn. It follows typical story beats, yes, and is, for the most part, predictable. But, simply put, what it does, it does well.

wonder_woman_xlg
Badass.

It starts off in Themyscira, with Diana as a little girl, yearning to fight. Trained in secret by her aunt, General Antiope (for years, mind you) played by the brilliant Robin Wright; she and the Amazons are soon called forth when pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) lands on their shores with a German cruiser on his trail. A battle ensues, and while the Germans are eventually defeated (their guns being no match for the Amazonian skills with sword, shield, bows and arrows), the Amazons suffer losses, the most important of which is the death of General Antiope. This, obviously, leads Diana on her quest to save mankind, as she believes is her role.

The movie moves fluidly from one scene to the next, with typical DCEU cinematography present throughout the movie. The moment that I will never tire of watching, on screen, in the theatres, or in trailers (which, thankfully, I hadn’t seen prior to the movie), is the moment when she first jumps out of the trenches and becomes Wonder Woman –taking all that machine gun fire, then proceeding to the village, and blowing through the Germans.

Easily the highlight of the movie.

The strongest part of Wonder Woman is that it takes the time to set up the third act, putting the second act to good use to escalate and elevate tension, and build character, so the third act, while falling to the tropes of superhero movies, still manages to feel earned.

The thing about Wonder Woman is that she believes in humanity, in the good of mankind – that’s what she and Superman are supposed to have in common. (Not DCEU Superman, though.) The villains, Danny Huston as General Erich LudendorffElena Anaya as Isabel Maru / Doctor Poison, and (surprisingly, to me), David Thewlis as Ares, like most superhero movie villains (save for Loki), are one-note and unsatisfactory, serving the sole purpose of being the thing that the hero beats at the end of the movie, but there’s a genuine twist in the third act (Sir Patrick Morgan being revealed as Ares), which, in hindsight was pretty predictable, but something I personally didn’t see coming. (Side note: David Thewlis is doing an excellent job of portraying bad guys, playing the very sinister V. M. Varga in Fargo Season 3.)

As I mentioned earlier, the movie follows familiar story beats, with it culminating in a predictable but satisfying climax. However, this is definitely one of the better superhero movies out there, and well worth the watch.

“Wonder Woman” rating:

B+

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