The new Wonder Woman movie is out in theaters this week. It tells the tale of a young Princess Diana raised on an island inhabited exclusively by a race of female warriors called Amazons. When a World War II pilot washes ashore and informs the Amazons about a great and terrible war brewing beyond the shores of their island, Diana takes it upon herself to travel to Man’s world to do her part in ending the war. Let’s take a look at what viewers can expect from the movie:

What Works

  1. The Chemistry of the Cast (4 Stars)

Wonder Woman was made on a much smaller budget than other DC films, so director Patty Jenkins swapped out unnecessary giant CGI action sequences that have bloated the runtime of so many superhero movies, and replaced them with many smaller, intimate moments between Princess Diana and Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyta and the many other ancillary characters.

The excellent chemistry between the cast ensures these moments provide rewarding insights into Diana’s world and help her become a relatable, 3-dimensional character rather than simply The Immortal Superhero Princess of Ass-Kickery.

Wonder Woman

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2. Great Action Set Pieces (5 Stars)

Wonder Woman is a very atmospheric film, and depends on the right type of sets to give you a sense of the fish-out-of-the-water story of a princess leaving behind an enchanted island to experience the horrors of World War II. The set pieces have been used judiciously in service of the plot, and serve to provide a thrilling, action-packed backdrop for Diana’s transformation from a wide-eyed princess to a seasoned warrior.

Special mention here of Patty Jenkin’s decision to infuse so much color and vibrancy to the film in contrast to Man of Steel and BVS’s imagining of a relentlessly gray and depressing world. This is easily the most good looking DCEU movie to date, and I’m not just talking about how good Gal Gadot looks striking a warrior pose in full Wonder Woman regalia.

I’d Make a Sexist Joke About Her Costume, But I’m Kind of Afraid She’ll Jump Out of the Photo and Stab Me in the Kidneys.

3. A Coherent Plot (3 and a 1/2 Stars)

Yes, you read that right! A DC movie finally follows a coherent plot structure and doesn’t look like a series of plot points stitched together by a marketing executive who has no idea what ‘Editing’ means. The Wonder Woman of the comics has a frankly preposterous origin story, and the film does a good job of incorporating many parts of the mythos into the film, and even poking fun at some of the more ridiculous parts of the origin storyline which was laden with explicit Greek Gods-related imagery.

Replaced in the Movie with Explicit Christ Imagery

What Doesn’t Work

  1. The Fight Choreography (3 Stars)

Am I the only one who is heartily sick of Zack Snyder’s patented slow down and then fast forward through the action scenes shtick? Wonder Woman is guilty of the same crime. Every gritty stand off between Nazis and Princess Diana in the middle of the most horrifying war in history threatens to become a stage opera, with music blaring in the background and yet another slow motion shot of Diana flying gracefully and delicately through the air.

Also, the final fight in the movie ends up sucking for the same reason that every other superhero fight scene sucks these days: Too much poorly rendered CGI so that the emotional core of the final struggle to save humanity gets thrown out the window.

“WOMEN CAN BE MINDLESSLY DESTRUCTIVE, TOOOOO!!!”

2. Performances (3 Stars)

Gal Gadot is excellent as a young and hopeful Wonder Woman but clearly struggles in the more emotional scenes of the movie. Once again, a superhero movie is saddled with villains who are neither interesting nor memorable.

The sudden turns the film takes from being about an island of mythological warriors to suddenly being about World War II, to switching back abruptly to being about the Greek Gods tosses the film’s tone into several wildly different gears, leading to some loud and hammy performances in the third act after the more sober and grounded acting choices of the first two acts of the movie.

Also, a Villain Who’d be More at Home in a James Bond Flick

Average Rating: 3.7 Stars

I’m a DC fan, so as thrilling as watching the Marvel cinematic universe has been, it’s been equally frustrating to watch the gloomy, muddled messes that DC has been making of their iconic characters ever since Man of Steel came out.

As awesome as the soundtrack to the Wonder Woman movie is, it’s already been used so much in Batman V Superman and this film’s trailers that it doesn’t have quite as much of an impact as the first time around.

DC’s track record means fan expectations are going to be very low for Wonder Woman, which is why the fact that it is a genuinely good movie will probably trump whatever complaints you may have had with the film if it had been a Marvel movie (like how Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 was found wanting despite being a good movie, because it was following the excellence of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1).

Let’s hope Wonder Woman signals a shift in the DCEU’s style of thinking so that they allow more hopeful interpretations of their characters in the inevitable sequels, spin-offs and team up movies we’ll soon get to see of the DC superheroes.

[See More: Will CW’s ‘Black Lightning’ Represent Black Characters Properly?]

 

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