Justin’s Movie Reviews Episode IX: Wonder Woman

Woo, buddy.

So, last night I went to the 10:00 PM showing at my local theater so that I could experience ‘Wonder Woman’ with an opening night type of feel. I have a habit where I have to sit two-thirds of the way up and in the middle. I will literally not buy a ticket to a movie online unless I can get those seats. No, I’m not kidding. It’s the best place in the theater to sit. It’s exactly where the technicians sit before a film hits the theaters so that they can test the video and sound quality. In essence, it’s the perfect seat. I’m glad I had it for this film.

I wouldn’t say the theater was necessarily packed, but it was quite full for a late-night showing on a Thursday. The movie did not disappoint for anyone in there, and it even got a rousing applause once it was over. It was actually a really cool moment to witness as people genuinely loved the film all the way through. And it deserved to be loved. Let’s talk about the film, though. There are going to be fundamental things in the film talked about. So, with that said, SPOILER ALERT! Okay, let’s do this.

DIANA

I honestly could not have imagined a better actress for the role of Wonder Woman than Gal Gadot. She was flawless in the film. From the fighting to the line delivery to the emotion she showed during crucial scenes. Gadot absolutely nailed every aspect of this movie and character. It might be going too far, but I don’t think it is when I say that this entire movie would have failed had someone else been chosen for the role of Diana. It really is that simple.

A lot of the best dialogue happens between her and Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor. Diana is basically clueless to the outside world, as you’d naturally assume since she’s been isolated on an island away from mankind all her life, and the interactions she has with Steve throughout the film are just so much gold. There’s one scene with them on the boat where he’s trying to explain marriage and sex to her, but she was kind of yanking his chain a little bit since she already knew what sex was. And then she says she’s read all about it in some 12-volume book series that stated women need men for procreation but not really for pleasure, and the vibe after she says it was just too funny.

Their little back-and-forths were just so perfect. The way Pine would deliver his lines with almost a curiousness to them was great, and Gadot just played off of it to perfection. Perhaps the best scene for the Diana character was when she had to wrestle with whether or not she would kill Doctor Poison. You could see her struggling internally with the decision of how to best treat humanity – with an iron-fist or with compassion. It was really, really something.

THE LONDON STUFF

When Diana and Steve ultimately arrive in London after leaving the island, every little event there is pristine. Diana is so amazed at how hideous London appears to be, and flat out mesmerized by the people there. She’s curious as to why a passing couple was holding hands, and when Steve tells her that they were “together”, she tries to hold his hand but he had to tell her it was together in a different way. It was like watching a person learning in real-time. So great.

But it’s in London where we meet Etta Candy, who happens to be Steve Trevor’s secretary. When Diana is introduced to Etta, she asks what a secretary is, and when it’s explained to her by Etta, Diana basically says it sounds a lot like slavery. That prompts Etta to like her right then and there. It was just hilarious. Etta basically dotes on Diana every step of the way and their friendship that blossoms throughout the film is one that’s genuine. They’re the yin and yang. Almost sisterly, in a way.

Every single scene that took place in London was quite good. Especially if it involved Diana or Steve. When they visit the briefing about how to best stop General Erich Ludendorff and Doctor Poison, Diana is blown away by how none of the generals in the room want to actually see evil put down. At one point, she even says something to the effect of, “where I come from, generals don’t hide behind a desk but rather fight alongside their soldiers.” It was quite powerful. London was possibly the best city setting in the film.

THEMYSCIRA

There’s really not much else to say other than the entire island of Themyscira is visually stimulating from an aesthetic beauty point of view. It’s almost like the Garden of Eden in a way, the place of absolute perfection in the world. There’s not a single thing out of order there. Everything is in its right place, and every Amazonian on the island has their own purpose. The scenes shot there were stunning and made you feel like the place was very much alive.

As for the Amazonians, yeah, the accents can get a little weird at times but it’s not even really that annoying. The best scene involving them, by far, is the battle on the beach scene against the Germans. The way it was shot and choreographed was sensational, and the sheer raw power that you felt from that scene as some fought and died alongside each other was moving. When General Antiope, Diana’s aunt, sacrifices herself to save Diana, it was truly despairing, but it brought to life the true person and warrior that Diana was meant to be.

ARES

Ares is the true main protagonist in the film, but he doesn’t manifest himself into actual form until the closing moments. You see him earlier in the film, but you literally have no idea it’s really him at all because of the ingenious way that David Thewlis keeps the true nature under wraps through the character of Sir Patrick Morgan. That’s who Ares is on the earth as. And even though Sir Morgan is trying to negotiate an armistice during The Great War, Ares has a greater goal in mind – poisoning the mind of men.

After Diana kills General Ludendorff, whom she thought was truly Ares, she is perplexed as to why the war hasn’t stopped. That’s when Sir Morgan reveals himself to really be Ares. It, honestly, was such a swerve and I was kind of caught off-guard by it. I didn’t know who Ares was going to be, but I certainly didn’t think it was going to be him. During the big battle between Ares and Diana, Ares tries to tell her that humans are just corrupt and that he did nothing wrong. He simply gave them the ideas but it was they who made the conscious decision to use them.

During the midst of the fighting, Ares tells her she has to punish mankind for their mistakes, which she could have done by crushing Doctor Poison with an armored vehicle. Instead, she chose to let Doctor Poison live, and told Ares that they have a light side to their dark side. In the end, she ends up defeating Ares by using the full extent of her powers after Steve sacrifices himself to blow up all the mustard gas in a plane. She remembers that he told her he loved her, and that drove her to finally defeat Ares for good and promises to defend mankind from any evil.

I’m honestly curious how much better the character of Ares could have been had it been given more time to grow on camera, but I also think the way they introduced him was quite ingenious. They really just kept mentioning him as like this boogeyman in the dark just waiting to come get you, and I do think it added to the mystique of who he really was. His powerfulness, his armor, his weapons, they were all great. He was a fantastic villain, even if he didn’t truly show up until the final 20 or 30 minutes.

THE FRONT

Perhaps the most epic shot of the entire movie is when Diana, Steve, and the rest of their little gang gets to “The Front.” That’s where the fighting is the most intense and no man on either side of the line has been able to move an inch during the entire war. They’re each dug in and there’s nowhere to go. Diana is overcome with a rush of sadness and the drive to do something to help the innocent people after meeting with a woman holding a child in the trench. The lady tells her that the people in her village are being held against their will and used as slaves basically. So, Diana does the only thing she knows how to do – she helps the innocent and fights.

Diana is so moved to emotion that she springs into action. She begins to climb the ladder out of the trench and onto the main battlefield. Steve is shouting at her in the distance to not do it, but she does anyway. She’s brave, she’s strong, she’s fearless. The first shot from a German solider comes at her, but she merely just smashes it to the side. Then she charges at them, bringing her shield in front of her, and keeping the soldiers distracted long enough for Steve and the crew to show up and help. The Germans get swarmed in the trenches, and it’s a victory for Diana and company.

That image, though, of her rising out of the trench to fight against an entire army is one I surely won’t forget anytime soon. The music crescendoed in that moment, and it created this stirring of natural feeling that is quite rare to experience in a superhero movie. Diana, in that one brief moment as she climbed, was showing that people didn’t have to be afraid if they truly believed in their cause. She believed, and she showed everyone that belief was enough. It was magical.

THE FEEL

While the scene with Diana climbing the ladder in the trench and making her way onto the battlefield was the most epic shot of the film, the most moving scene was when Steve tells Diana that he has to go commandeer the plane with the mustard gas on it and basically sacrifice himself. He hands her his watch, which was something she had asked about on the island after she saved him from his plane crash, and tells her that he wishes they had more time. He then tells her he loves her and rushes off to the plane before she can respond. Only, Diana couldn’t hear him at the time because she had just gotten her bell rung by Ares in battle. She had no idea what he was saying, and only later did she find out.

During the battle with Ares, right after Steve blows up the plane, she closes her eyes and is able to focus in on what he told her. The delivery of the lines by Pine were exquisite. The way he told her he loved her, which was said in a very non-sappy way, was perfect. That entire scene, once you figure out what he told her, takes on a whole new feeling. I’m not saying it was a real tear-jerker of a moment, but it certainly made you feel something as you watched two people who truly did love each other go their own separate ways to fight their own separate battles. He sacrificed himself for the greater good, and she used that sacrifice to rid the world of great evil. It was a beautiful moment.

VERDICT

Look, I’m not saying it’s the best superhero movie of all-time. I truly don’t even know what would classify as that anymore. All I’m going to say is that I never go to see the same movie twice in theaters, and I’m definitely going to see this one a second time because of how truly awe-inspiring the whole thing was. It was shot beautifully, edited perfectly, and acted expertly. While ‘Logan’ drove you to tears at certain points, this one drove you to an emotional edge of both love and amazement. It was truly something else.

On the way out of the theater, I noticed there was a man who had brought his three daughters and a couple that had brought their two daughters. There were quite a few women in attendance for the film, and I was one of about ten men who happened to be there. I think there were people waiting a very long time for a movie such as this, and I can’t even imagine how well it’s going to do. Everyone needs to see it. It’s outstanding.

RATING (OUT OF FIVE STARS)