Well, DC finally got one right!
That's pretty-much all you wanted to know, right? We're done here?
Okay. Fine... we'll do the review thing.
By far, the best character in Batman v. Superman was Wonder Woman. She was the only one who looked like she was having any fun.
Whether her limited screen time would translate well to a feature film was the big question. Fortunately, it did.
Gal Gadot carries this movie. As she should, being Wonder Woman and all that. She does a great job in the film exuding strength, vulnerability, intelligence and naivety. Those sound like contradictions, but there's a definite fish-out-of-water element to the film. Fully in charge in her familiar surroundings, out of her element away from them. Her take on Wonder Woman is charming, funny, powerful, compassionate and optimistic. And pretty-much drop-dead gorgeous, too. But man... I would not want to get on her bad side. Ouch.
Wonder Woman is what a comic book film should be - fun! Yes, there are definitely some serious moments (the film takes place during World War I, after all), but it never becomes morose or gloomy. In the midst of what was a horrible war, Wonder Woman literally shines as a beacon of hope. (Taking notes, Superman?)
Chris Pine (as Steve Trevor) is much more likable here than in any of the Star Trek movies (perhaps because he only has to live up to Lyle Waggoner and not William Shatner), and does a good job for the most part, although at times his chemistry with Gadot is a little hit-and-miss. Generally though, he works well, and has several nice scenes in the film. Lucy Davis as his secretary Etta is a joy to watch, but is pretty under-utilized. But maybe that's for the best, given the film's 2 hour 21 minute run time. For what it's worth though, it didn't feel like a long film.
The rest of the supporting cast are solid as well, with no real clinkers in the group, but no real show-stealers either. The villains don't shine as much as they should though, with very few scenery-chewing moments for them to relish. That seems to be par for the course with superhero films though (save for a few exceptions). Getting the right balance of charismatic and crazy is a tough challenge.
The action scenes throughout the movie are first rate, although the final battle gets away from the more exciting close-quarters, hand-to-hand action of most of the film, and into more over-the-top superhero stuff. Yes Hollywood... we get that you can do destruction. For my money, the fights earlier in the film were much more engaging, because they were on a much more human scale.
The movie does a great job visually of capturing the time and environment of WWI, as well as Wonder Woman's home of Themis... Themas... Paradise Island. The special effects are generally first rate, although there are some scenes involving vintage aircraft that look pretty bad for some reason.
The period of the film does bring up gripe #1 though: Wonder Woman's theme music. Right at the outset of a terrific fight scene where she's kicking some serious butt (reminiscent of Batman's similar scene in BvS), her theme song - first heard in BvS - starts wailing away, on a blaring, electric guitar. This is supposed to be 1917. It immediately ripped me right out of the movie. The theme itself musically is fine, it was just the treatment of it that bothered me. They should have gone full-orchestra with it. It would have been just as (if not more) powerful, and would have fit within the movie much, much better. (Admittedly...
My #2 gripe has to do with the ambiguity left at the end of the film. A lot of questions remain unanswered, although the most annoying for me was: just what are Wonder Woman's powers, anyway? They're ill-defined in the movie, and at times seem contradictory.
- She knocks over a tank in one scene, then a few scenes later Steve Trevor easily blocks her from walking across a room.
- Can she fly? Or just jump really far? Seems to me she was floating a few times in there. If she can fly, why was she getting on a plane in BvS?
- Energy blasts? Wha...?
- She can be cut... but not blown up? How does that work?
I'm assuming we'll find out some of this in Justice League. Or the sequel. Or not.
Also... just what had she been doing since WWI, anyway? That's never explained.
The overall plot is pretty good. It's a comic book movie, and an origin story, so you're going to have to expect certain things to happen, and a lot of backstory to be covered. Fortunately, Wonder Woman's (Diana's) childhood scenes are really well done and the actress playing her as a kid (Lilly Aspell) is great fun to watch. That said, gripe #3 is that some of the film is a bit reminiscent of Captain America: The First Avenger. Being set during a World War, some of that may be unavoidable, but there are some parallels that are too similar. There's also a bit of the first Thor movie in there as well, although that's not as prevalent as I expected it to be.
Still, my complaints are pretty minor, especially relative to the last several DC films, and some Marvel films as well. Wonder Woman is a great character who gets her due in this movie. Gal Gadot does her justice (pun not intended) in a terrific, well acted performance, and she's the very heart of a really good film. It's fun, entertaining, and best of all - hopeful. Well worth seeing.
Check it out. Wonder Woman gets an 8.5/10.
And you don't need to stay through the end credits... there are no extra scenes. But I did because I paid $15.75 to go see it, and I'm watching every frame I paid for.