Wonder Woman is the latest installment to the DC Cinematic Universe joining Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. The DC universe is off to a rough start, but Wonder Woman may be the film that helps kick start a turnaround heading into the release of Justice League later in the year.
Wonder Woman is the best of the four DC Universe films released so far. It feels far more cohesive and tonally consistent than the other 3 films released so far. It still sticks with feel that has been set by Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, but it is able to balance it out more with some lighthearted segments. Previous films felt as though they left no room for the audience to have fun and simply enjoy themselves.
Wonder Woman does not make that mistake; relatively early on, there is a sequence where Diana is brought to London for the first time, and there is an amusing fish-out-of-water sequence as other characters try to acclimate Diana to the new world she is entering. Moments like these make watching Wonder Woman a more enjoyable experience than Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. But the best aspect of this is that the film does not go overboard in trying to force these more lighthearted moments in for the sake of meeting a joke quota.
The feel of this film feels more appropriate than previous DC films due to its setting. Because it takes, place during the First World War, it is naturally going to have a more serious feel to it, and this helps the film feel far more tonally consistent and appropriate than any of the previous three DC Universe films.
Even these restrained colors feel more vibrant and colorful than previous DC films.
This setting also gives way to one of the more enjoyable action sequences this summer movie season. Wonder Woman cannot stand by and allow people to be killed and imprisoned, so she decides to venture across no man’s land to take on the German front lines. This along with the ensuing liberation of a small town on the other side of the lines is a very fine action sequence that, while Wonder Woman is never in any real danger, she is able to show off her abilities in a proper setting. Last time we saw her in battle, she was sharing the spot light with Batman and Superman, but this time the spotlight is directly on her and she does not disappoint.
Unfortunately, this film is not without is shortcomings. The main ones revolve around the main antagonist of the film, Ares.
Within the lore of the film, he is the established as the main foil to Zeus, who created man in his own image. Ares saw man as too flawed and he corrupted them into wars in order to tear them apart. Following this, he engaged with a war with the rest of the gods until he is critically wounded by Zeus. Many millennia later, he has returned to push humanity to the brink of destruction which is what leads Wonder Woman to leave the comfort of her island home for the battlegrounds of Europe.
The first problem with this is that it is fairly obvious who Ares is, as it can be quickly discerned the first time he is on the screen. Aside from this, the main problem with the film is the climactic confrontation between Wonder Woman and Ares. Throughout the film, the combat sequences are straightforward and simple. There is no need for exaggerated set pieces with cities being destroyed. The most destruction that occurs is that a single bell tower of a single building collapses. But for this final battle, the restrained action sequences from earlier in the film are replaced by an orgy of destruction that is far more akin to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Rather than an intimate and intense one-on-one battles between Wonder Woman and Ares, there is an extravagant fight that didn’t really fit with the rest of the film.
The final issue with the film lies with Wonder Woman herself. Gal Godot certainly looks the part throughout much of the film, but there were too many instances where her performance did not feel genuine or authentic. Her performance is not poor by any means, but it certainly could have been stronger, and could have compelled more emotional responses from the audience. At times she felt stiff, especially when positioned next to other critical characters in the film, Amazon or human.
Weaknesses aside, this is without question the strongest film that Warner Brother has put out for its DC Cinematic Universe. The bar was fairly low before, but it should be higher after this. Had this film received a similar reception to the prior three, then the DC Cinematic Universe could have been in some major trouble heading into the pivotal Justice League film later this year. Fortunately for fans of DC and of Wonder Woman, Warner Brothers were able to put together their strongest outing so far, and while there are definitely areas of improvement, this films feels like Warner Brothers and Dc finally have a foundation for which to build their cinematic universe on.