Bad news, haters: WONDER WOMAN is good.
The latest DC comic adaptation film, which will lead nicely into the planned Justice League franchise, has been met with controversy since its initially announcement. The film not only has the audacity to feature a woman kicking plenty of ass, but it is also directed by a woman, and it comes from the den of deeply regarded comic book lore. Mike has done an excellent job of framing the ridiculous hoopla over some of the film’s greater controversy, so I will spare you that and get to my thoughts.
After a brief modern-day framing scene, with a Wayne Industries name-drop, the film really starts in the land of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Though the land is lush and utopic, the exclusively female population is not an enclave of naïve little ladies. This colony of Amazonian warriors spends their time training for battle and keeping to themselves. We get a delightful origin story, told through animated artistic renderings of the war of the gods, which explains the whole rigmarole about how these women landed there, and what their destiny is.
Diana (Gal Godot), daughter to the queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), is the only child there and she is antsy to begin her training. After some initial hesitation, her mother concedes but only if she is trained harder than any other woman in Themyscira. Good thing too, because when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) somehow crashes his plane into their mythical land, the bad guys soon follow him and the Amazons need to defend themselves. Needing to get back to the war (the Great War, not WW2, as we typically see in film) Steve heads back to his world, with Diana coming along to help stop the killing of innocents.
Aside from the gender politics, WONDER WOMAN does not try to drastically break any new ground in comic book film. Most of the humor comes from her lack of understanding of the world outside of her own, with Steve playing the bumbling straight man. But what this film does do, it does incredibly well. The humor is actually funny. The fight scenes are actually action-packed, and easy to follow. The good guys have plenty of heart (and aren’t all guys). And the bad guys are deliciously evil (and aren’t all guys).
The film is not perfect, but it is a damn entertaining summer action film. In the final good versus evil showdown the CGI looks a little rushed. The runtime (141 minutes) is excessive, but unlike the meandering and increasingly tedious TRANSFORMERS films, WONDER WOMAN never truly feels as long as it is. It keeps the pace going steadily throughout. The moral message (war is bad!) is a bit heavy handed, but given our current global predicament, I’m not sure that it isn’t a message that bears repeating.
While I tend to keep my reviews as apolitical as possible, and I pride myself on my cold gore-loving heart, I have to admit that WONDER WOMAN made me a little verklempt. Seeing all of those Amazonians kicking ass in the opening of the film was inspiring. I couldn’t help but be slightly jealous of all of the little girls who get to grow up with Diana, and Rey, and Jyn Erso, and Furiousa, and even evil Dr. Maru. Whether they want to grow up to be superheroes or supervillains, I am so grateful that there are amazing films now featuring these strong women on screen.