There is no way for me to review Wonder Woman my way, without revealing major plot points; so if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read it first. Also, WHAT are you waiting for? Go watch it *immediately*!
You know, before watching the movie, I was absolutely convinced that I would start off my review with: “I LOVE Wonder Woman. LOVE IT SO MUCH. AM GOING TO WATCH IT FOUR MORE TIMES IN THE CINEMA.” She was the only bright spot in the ponderous, self-important doom-and-gloom of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so I had the highest of hopes for this movie to show that the rebooted DC Cinematic Universe is not completely hopeless at making enjoyable superhero movies rather than angst-filled fests.
Plus, it stars one of my favourite actors Chris Pine, looking handsome with good hair (unlike in The Finest Hours, which I did not enjoy as much because his terrible hairstyle irked me so much during the movie), which *really* helped. Trust me, if it stars Jai Courtney, whom I dislike through no fault of his own except for having a villainous, I would have skipped it like I skipped Suicide Squad. Yes, I know I’m biased, but I’ve said it before and I say it again: my feelings towards the cast is very important in determining whether I watch a movie or not. And I like Gal Gadot a lot and adore Chris Pine, so I was very excited for the potential of this pairing.
Pre-opening buzz with fantastic reviews and praise for the leads’ chemistry only amped up my excitement in a way that I haven’t felt recently for even my most anticipated films. I almost gave in to a spur-of-the-moment impulse to catch the midnight showing on Tuesday night — because the first show was on Tuesday after midnight — but the more sensible part of my brain reminded me that I was tired and I had to go to work in the morning, plus I had already bought tickets to watch the earliest show I could possibly catch the next day, so I refrained.
And then it ended the way it did. :’-O I’m not sure that I can bear to watch the whole thing again and again, knowing how it ends each time. (I could rewatch the first three-quarters repeatedly though.)
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the movie. The ending just spoilt it a little for me. :S It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, but I had hoped dearly that I was wrong. What else could we expect? Diana appears again in the modern world in BvS, and since Steve Trevor is neither immortal nor a superhuman (unlike the other Steve I know and love), he either had to die heroically in this movie, or live to an old age and then die whilst Diana remained young forever. I was hoping for the latter, since they would be together at least, but superhero movies are never this happy. :'( But argghh! When Diana saw his plane blow up and started screaming in anguish and unleashing her wrath, I totally empathised. I would be screaming myself if I didn’t feel the need to follow social mores. The moment he ran towards the plane, I knew that was it. :’-O Him shoving her his father’s watch just cemented the certainty. Watching him steel himself to die crushed my heart. I was ready to rage against the filmmakers for showing Diana not hearing his last words (because they muffled it the first time), but thankfully they didn’t do her (and us) the injustice of watching him die without knowing what he said.
Sorry, I don’t mean to focus on him so much, but I really adore him. :’( He made Steve Trevor so charismatic and likeable, and his chemistry with Gal Gadot was amazing! All of my favourite scenes in the movie were their interactions. Especially his nearly naked scene, full of awkwardness and humour. Yes Chris/Steve, we know that you are considered an “above average” specimen of your kind. 😉 You don’t have to boast. (Also, did you have to stand there for a minute with your junk hanging out while talking to her???)
(By the way, that was one of the first scenes that director Patty Jenkins pitched him, and he thought the dumb male joke of being “above average” was so funny that it helped convince him to sign on. ?)
But the movie IS wonderful (pun intended), the best that the DC Cinematic Universe has to offer since The Dark Knight. It would have been one of the better Marvel movies too, if it were a Marvel movie. It is familiar, since no superhero movie can truly be original: a mix of the humorous fish-out-of-water elements of the first Thor movie, and the heroic latter half of Captain America: The First Avenger. (Diana even has her own version of The Howling Commandos.) When she first climbs out of the trenches and reveals her true self to the world and walks across no man’s land, deflecting all the bullets in slow-mo, it was SO EPIC. Probably the best superhero “coming out” scene I can remember seeing.
The final act is all DC though — draggy, convoluted and angsty with a loud, chaotic battle set in the dark. But in terms of plot, it mirrors the ending of The First Avenger, with someone named Steve (also played by someone named Chris) flying a plane full of bombs and sacrificing himself. Except that this Steve is not immortal, so Diana becomes Peggy, if Peggy never grew old and never saw Steve again. :'( The difference is that Diana and Steve got to dance, while Peggy and Steve never did.
(Diana’s reply to Bruce when she writes: “Thank you for bringing him back to me” also reminds me of old Rose in Titanic telling the crew that she never even had a picture of Jack, and that he lives on only in her heart. Though of course, Titanic has the more epic romance.)
The movie is not all about the romance of course; it is Diana’s origin story, and it is significant because she is the first major female superhero to have her own movie adaptation. (Elektra and Catwoman don’t count, because they aren’t as iconic as Wonder Woman, and more importantly, because the studios made a mess of their movies. ?) Patty Jenkins was supposed to have directed Thor: the Dark World, but left the project because she didn’t like the direction the studio was taking it. Which is great, since she doesn’t have a less-than-superb superhero movie in her portfolio making it even harder for her to find work. (I love Thor and I had fun watching The Dark World, but let’s face it: it definitely isn’t one of Marvel’s better movies.) She also directed Monster, which earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar, but unfortunately work in between then and now was dry because of Hollywood’s gender gap which makes it hard for female directors to find good projects to work on, because for some reason studio executives think female directors are “riskier”? Huh???
The scenes in Themyscira were beautiful and idyllic, and the Amazons fearless and magnificent warriors, before men with their corrupt, bloodthirsty natures had to invade their peace. (Each time they refer to WWI as “The Great War”, I feel a pang, because we all know that it *wasn’t* “the war to end all wars”.) I hope Diana returns to see Hippolyta and the other Amazons one day. The little girl they found to play young Diana was as cute as a button and a total gem! Some kid actors can be annoying (the boy in Poseidon, the girl in 2012, young Snow in Once Upon a Time), but I loved little girl Diana and how determined she was to become a kickass warrior.
And when she grew up, she became Gal Gadot, who was equally sweet and beautiful and kind. Diana was naive (but not stupid), and she was idealistic and just and compassionate, which sets Steve up as the perfect foil with his world-weary cynicism. She and Steve were just so precious together, with how Steve tries to shield her physically (before finding out that she can totally handle herself), and then unwilling to crush her belief that Ares is the only one causing men to do evil, so that she didn’t have to have her rosy view of mankind destroyed until the last possible moment. They made a cute couple. I wish they had more time. :’-O
But honestly, if not for the fact that Steve dies, I wouldn’t have minded the ending so much. (I have watched worse movies after all.) Diana’s realisation that love is the reason that mankind should be saved was cheesy, but we all need the reminder. There are days when I see the world going down the toilet and read so many hateful and ignorant comments on the internet that I wish all these deplorable people can be wiped off the face of the planet, along with the actual terrorists. (Including the terrorists that the media insists on calling “mentally ill”, because they are the wrong colour and wrong religion for their narrative.) But since not all of us are ready for the apocalypse, love is the reason why not everyone should be condemned alongside them. Because there is some good in the world and that’s what we’re fighting for.