Today, June 2nd, Wonder Woman opens in US theaters and this week, the movie has garnered a lot of positive reviews. The “DC killer”, Rotten Tomatoes, even has its Tomatometer score at 93% and Audience score of 98%. In my opinion, I don’t usually take Rotten Tomato scores into play when I personally want to see a movie but it does give optimism to a studio that hasn’t been stellar on this site. But with all that said, we at Nerd(col)lab make up our own opinions and I was lucky enough to watch the newest DC/Warner Bros. offering last night at my local movie theater in IMAX 3D with fellow Nerd(col)laborator Mikey. Here are my non-spoiler thoughts:
If you already didn’t know, I’m a huge DC fanboy. So naturally I had high expectations for this movie, especially with the awesome reviews on social media. Going into it, I knew the scenes I was able to see during the Warner Bros. San Diego Comic-Con panel were amazing and showed off Diana’s fighting skill and brilliant choreography. But, with the track record of these films not under the Marvel Studios label, my expectations cooled slightly, just in case I needed to prepare myself.
Right off the bat, it felt different. I couldn’t place it right within the first ten minutes but as the movie progressed, I started to move towards the “slow burn” category. This a term I use a lot when describing comic story arcs. These stories are a gradual journey instead of the big catalyst or event that most people are use to when reading comics. Some may say it’s too slow of a journey and may not pick up the next issue. But for me, this movie didn’t drag but it was a different pacing that I was not use to when watching superhero movies.
I equate it to the bang-bang blockbusters where a ton of stuff is happening on (and often times off screen) and we need to piece it all together while watching the movie. Patty Jenkin’s movie wasn’t like that. It had a pace, a simple one actually, set in World War I and for most people, it may appear as slow. I know I felt that during my viewing. And like I said, it isn’t a bad thing. It’s just not normal in the world of comic book films, and I’m looking at you Sony, because the 3rd Tobey McGuire Spider-Man was all over the place with 3 villains. Come on, man!
And the more I thought about this movie afterwards and into the night, I finally realized that the pacing was intentional. It set it up nicely for viewers to take in the message of Diana’s story. And that realization, for me, is why I really liked this movie. The way the characters came to life was so natural and I honestly believe that each minor character was intentional and developed which added to Diana’s own story.
I described what I initially felt to Mikey as this movie having a real story. Like it could have actually happened in history. Similar to what Lucasfilm has done with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a piece of the puzzle that adds to the overall franchise was presented to us, the fact why there was a tiny flaw in the the first Death Star. And I think that telling Diana’s origin story, in the way it was presented, gives great context into the movies that will come after, especially Justice League.
This movie was emotional. It had real emotions that I think a lot of people will be surprised to feel in a superhero movie. The strength of this film isn’t just the badass fight scenes where we see Gal Gadot transform a comic book character into a headstrong Amazon warrior but the believability of the other characters and their motivations. Chris Pine shines as Steve Trevor and I am happy to report that we didn’t get a Captain Kirk from Star Trek. We got a glimpse of that but it was truly well balanced.
And that’s a word I’d describe this movie as, balanced. The story was well weaved into the special effects and top it off with top-notch acting from everyone on the cast, I am starting to see why this movie has gotten really positive reviews. It took me a bit to really understand how I felt about this movie but I think because it isn’t cut from the same cloth as other superhero movies, I had to take that extra time to really comprehend the sheer brilliance of the film. The message and tone, the World War I setting and character motivations, and the bad-assery of Diana’s own development but still routed in this naive notion of good and evil is why I need to have another viewing to fully take in all the writers and directors were trying to portray.
I’ve always voiced that the first Captain America movie is my favorite and the benchmark was always comparing that film. But Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the Amazonian princess can’t be compared to. It’s in a league of its own because this movie, to me, isn’t just a superhero film; it’s actually a hero film. Diana being a superhero was almost second fiddle to the amazing character interactions, visual styling, and cohesive story. And that’s why this movie is so great and worth the wait for a strong female lead in Gal Gadot and amazing storytelling in its director, Patty Jenkins.
Simply put, this DC fanboy isn’t just happy but ecstatic to give props to DC for getting it right. And making the decisions they made to bring us one of the great superhero/comic book movies that a fan like me can be proud of.