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My wife and I are in the throes of a cross-country move, so we had to postpone our viewing of Wonder Woman until now. First off, I want to say that the movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, definitely lives up to the hype. Gal Gadot imbues Diana with strength, tenacity, compassion, and charm. Wonder Woman’s most heroic aspect is not that she is a god among men, but rather her unwavering belief in the good of mankind even when they might not deserve it.
Okay, let’s break it down.
Action: 8/10 Badass, visually stunning action sequences. The highlights were the battlefield scene (you’ll know the one) and the final showdown. The slow-mo effect was powerfully rendered, but a bit overused. More variety in the fight scenes would have gone a long way.
Acting: 9/10 I’m convinced Gal Gadot is actually Wonder Woman. She’s that good. Also, the actresses playing young Diana were dead ringers. Lilly Aspell, 8 year old Diana, is my hero. Some may call the look below one of stubbornness, but I call it persistence. Young Diana is the embodiment of Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue staring down any and everything in her way.
Chris Pine convincingly played everyman Steve Trevor. If you don’t know who Chris Pine is, don’t worry, I didn’t either until I watched his SNL episode (great host, btw). As per his monologue, he’s one of the Hollywood Chris’. Pine brings a chiseled jawline, likability, and solid comedic timing to Wonder Woman.
Characters: 7/10 While the acting was good, some of the characters could use work. Diana, great. General Antiope, super.
Despite Pine’s charm, Steve Trevor was a bit bland. He alternated between being awestruck by Diana and annoyed by her. Trevor took up a lot of screen time, yet I knew little about his background. There was potential to make him more than a hunky love interest, but it was never fully actualized on screen.
The villains were thinly sketched. I get that it’s a comic book story, but the cartoony depictions didn’t transition well to live action. Ludendorff is your typical power hungry German general, and the mysterious Doctor Poison is even more puzzling. What’s her story? That’s what I want to see!
Trevor’s trio of Merry Men were stand-ins for comic relief more than fully formed characters. Charlie (PTSD-riddled sharpshooter), Sameer (con artist/aspiring actor who is the “wrong color”), and Chief (Native American smuggler) had compelling perspectives, but introducing newbies at the film’s halfway point left little time to flesh them out.
Trevor’s secretary Etta was delightful, but underused. I would have preferred her to the trio of misfits as they added little to the narrative.
Plot: 8/10 The scenes on Themyscira effectively conveyed Diana’s childhood and the Amazonian culture/history/mythology in a concise amount of screen time. Exposition was clunky at times which is to be expected. The surprising twist, overall pacing, complete story arc, high stakes, and balance of action with emotion overshadowed the minimal flaws.
Setting: 8/10 The backdrop of World War I gave the narrative built-in tension and urgency. Accurate period costumes (showcased in that hilarious fashion montage) and set pieces (classic cars, 20th century London, the trenches) brought the setting to life.
Themyscira’s clear blue water and sunny skies made for a believable “paradise.” The scene where both worlds collide created a magical contrast: dark and stormy seas transitioning to a beautiful island day.
What I would have liked to see:
More diversity of all kinds. You’re telling me that there are no queer characters on an island full of women? One day this kind of representation will be second nature, at least I hope so.
Less dudes. I get it, putting Diana in the pre-women’s suffrage era made it all the more empowering when men questioned and underestimated her at every turn, but come on, could she have a bff or something? I vote Etta.
More Themyscira. Let’s just have the whole movie there next time. Now, that would be groundbreaking.
Final rating: 8/10 Do yourself a favor and go see Wonder Woman. Bring your significant other and your parents and your children and maybe even your dog. It was so heartwarming to go to a Father’s Day showing and see dads and daughters (and entire families) sharing this moment together.