by Alan Yudman
Marvel has owned the superhero genre. While that studio has turned out Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America, X-Men, Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor and Ant-Man movies. D.C. has well, stunk. That studio owns iconic titles like Batman, Superman, Justice League among others. But so far 2 Superman movies (MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE) have been terrible. They make GREEN LANTERN looks great by comparison. It wasn’t. But there was a glimmer of hope in Batman v. Superman. The appearance of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Now Diana of Themyscira has her own movie and WONDER WOMAN finally gets it right.
There is a perfect mix of humor, drama and action. The origin story feels organic and part of the whole, rather than tacked on exposition.
Put it bluntly, Wonder Woman kicks ass. Director Patty Jenkins (MONSTER) keeps the story moving, never letting it get bogged down or slow. The action and set pieces are fabulously choreographed. Rather than the penchant for close up, frenetic fight scenes Jenkins instead goes a bit wider and slows down the movement of Diana and the other Amazons. It makes the scenes balletic, beautiful and most important— easy to follow without the need for Dramamine.
The humor is situational— mostly it plays off Diana’s naiveté about the modern world. It could have been eye rollingly dumb but it isn’t thanks largely to Chris Pine who plays it straight rather than for laughs. It will be interesting if the writers can keep it funny in the sequels, because Diana will not be innocent any longer.
The villains, a WWI German General and his mad scientist female doctor, are well drawn and easy to spot. Their motives are clear, which is refreshing. No questioning, “are they really that bad”? Yes, they are really that bad.
Pine and Gadot have wonderful chemistry. Their sexual tension is somewhat innocent, following the lead of unrequited love that played out in the TV series between Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner.
Gadot isn’t a great actor, but she is better than average and doesn’t overplay the role. She’s innocent, committed and fierce. Exactly what the movie needs. She is perfectly cast as the Amazonian princess. The perfect combination of beauty and bad ass.
There is always room for a sequel, but the next time we see Wonder Woman will be in the Justice League movie due out in November. Here’s hoping that movie strikes the same balance of tone and action that Patty Jenkins does here. In WONDER WOMAN, we finally have a female superhero that carries her own movie and does it successfully. That is awesome on so many levels. The fact that this film beats several Marvel movies at their own game is even better because that means we’ll see more of Diana. That’s something we should all root for.