Dateline v. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Some Sensitive Themes and Violence

Running Time: 141 minutes (2 hours and 21 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Superhero

Released on June 2, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, DC Films, Tencent Pictures, Wanda Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films, and Warner Bros. Pictures

"Wonder Woman" Created By William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter

Writers: Jason Fuchs, Allan Heinberg, and Zack Snyder

Director: Patty Jenkins

  • Gal Gadot as Diana
  • Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
  • Robin Wright as Antiope
  • Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
  • David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan
  • Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
  • Elena Anaya as Isabel Maru / Doctor Poison

Wait, a good DC Extended Universe Movie for once? Is this the saving grace that the frequently derailed franchise oh so direly needs? Is it a little too late for salvation, or does our lasso-wielding demigoddess arrive just in time to save the day?

The movie court is now in session! With a new format to keep things distinct from the rest of the crowd, we will now be reviewing films, and even various stage plays and television programs, in the form of a semi-mock court hearing.

The defendant is in trial, which will determine if it is truly a genuinely worthwhile cinematic experience, or just a plain waste of time. The prosecutors have filed various accusations against the defendant, but, with our right hands raised, we will judge the situation in fairness, and will make a just and thorough conclusion, so help us God? Yes, we do. Presiding the trial are your one and only Honors at Dateline Movies, who welcome you to the case of Dateline v. Wonder Woman!

Also, because I am just concerned for your movie-viewing senses, a spoiler alert is in order!


What is the movie about?

Kept far and out of reach from the rest of society by her mother, Hippolyta, played by Nielsen (Gladiator), Diana, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up With The Joneses) a powerful Amazonian warrior, desires to experience and see the world outside of her home in Themyscira. Against Hippolyta's orders, Diana's mentor, Antiope, played by Wright (Forrest Gump) trains her, in preparation for something cataclysmic.

One day, Steve Trevor, played by Pine (Hell or High Water), crashes into the isolated island. He bears of a news of the brewing First World War, as well as the two sinister figures orchestrating everything from behind the scenes, General Erich Ludendorff, played by Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and Isabel Maru, or known more as "Doctor Poison", played by Anaya (The Infiltrator).

Determined to bring down the God of War, Ares, Diana must embark on a quest with Steve, with some support from someone named Sir Patrick Morgan, played by Thewlis (Gangster No. 1), to save the world. Diana, however, begins to learn that it takes more than super strength to really be a heroine.

What we think of the movie?

The Defense:

The defendant was initially a movie that I was not entirely anticipating, given the overall track record of the film series. In fact, the character's presence in the ironically best example for a how not to do a crossover movie, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, might have been one of the few high points, but personally, there originally was almost no certainty that the Amazonian legend could even salvage anything. But after watching it, the movie really did aimed higher than your usual franchise's standards.

  • Gal Gadot and Chris Pine's chemistry is unbeatable and undeniable.
Gal Gadot proved to the rest of the world that she really does have the talents to bring such an iconic multimedia legend to full, lively color. Chris Pine, being on his first, and potentially, only appearance in the franchise, has an entire audience who is already more than wholesomely familiar with his charisma. Having the two of these spectacular talents appear together, we are obviously expecting a very powerful on-screen spark, and we did. In a way, their characters are the same, with the difference being that Steve is a human being, while she is an enhanced individual. In the wrong hands, these characters might just be bland. But thanks to Gadot's and Pine's affectionate portrayals of their characters, the movie certainly delivered in having characters that we, the audience, can root for, and relate to.

I also highly praise Gadot for truly embodying what Wonder Woman stands for, love. Her performance here, with assistance from a wider focus on her character, easily solidifies the heroine not strictly only as a definitive symbol of empowerment for women everywhere, but as a wonderful and inspirational cinematic leading character for everyone!

Also, since we are talking about acting, I might as well honorably mention some of the other noteworthy performances, including Saïd Taghmaoui's (G.I.Joe: Rise of Cobra) Sameer, Ewen Bremner's (Trainspotting) Charlie, Robin Wright's Antiope, Connie Nielsen's Hippolyta, and David Thewlis' Patrick Morgan. Director Patty Jenkins deserves a lot of credit for, with her confidently heartfelt direction, made the performances, and the whole movie, more than noteworthy.

  • It is (almost) completely standalone from the rest of the franchise.
What makes this movie more than worthwhile is its complete standalone nature. It is what makes Wonder Woman completely fresh and entertaining. In contrast to all of the previous installments in the DC Extended Universe, most especially the prime example of how not to do a superhero crossover, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this one does not have any world-building elements. Not much Easter eggs to go, and absolutely no important and shoehorned foreshadowing. Everything is all about Diana and her adventure through a fictionalized version of the First World War. This is one true example of a standalone solo movie in a shared cinematic universe film series

Also, we mentioned "almost" because Batman is referenced at the ending, but that single reference will not, in any way, harm your experience when watching the enjoyable flick. In addition, the film fills-in the plot hole that is the mystery behind Diana's photograph, but again, it will hardly even annoy you. Besides, the latter is one of those times that the Easter egg does not feel forced, and thus makes it cool to be referenced.

Plus, I find it fitting that Diana is not directly mentioned as "Wonder Woman" here. It would feel really forced and unnatural, and it is already better that we see her go through an adventure prior to taking the mantle.

  • It is a fun and inspirational superhero, coming-of-age period piece.
Unlike Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is as dark as the deepest pits of the abyss, and Suicide Squad, which is a poorly executed, over-stylized attempt at cinematic fun, Wonder Woman knows exactly how to make a superhero movie. See Warner Brothers? Not everything has to be brooding or nihilistic in aesthetic style, or overall tone. Sometimes you just have a little bit of sunshine and joy. And no, we do not mean having an endless string of boring and childish gags as a means to make a watchable film about people with superpowers. It has almost everything that makes a superhero movie fun.

It has action. The standout action sequence in the entire flick is obviously the "No Man's Land" (Get it?) battle, where Diana, with her magical shield and bracelets, deflects barrage after barrage of bullets, so as for Steve and the rest of the good guys to liberate a nearby village. I also like Rupert Gregson-Williams' score for this scene. I would also add the introductory "Invasion of Themyscira" among the great battle scenes, but honestly, I do not think that any other action sequence in the movie can top the No Man's Land battle.

It has imagination. The movie claims that the Greek Gods exist, and only Zeus and Hades, who is Zeus' son here, instead of his brother. Hades, the twist main antagonist of the flick who is manipulating things from behind the scenes, is feeding inspiration for ideas in creating weapons of mass destruction. How is that for pure imagination? In addition, all of this is told through a fictional take on the First World War, through the eyes of an initially innocent protagonist, who eventually becomes a wiser version of herself. It is a coming-of-age story, with a superhero twist, and the elements of such story are finely integrated into this film.

It has heart. Basically speaking, it does not feel manufactured or robotic, and it feels more natural and actually inspired. While having a bleak tone does help set a movie of a similar genre apart from the rest of the competition, trying way too hard to be edgy is wrong. I am glad that Wonder Woman decided to embrace the more mythical, and much more uplifting tone that we almost rarely see in features. Okay, the humor part does require some work, and we will go over that later, but the film does turn-out inspiring. The latter claim is shown more clearly by the final battle, where Diana, after witnessing Steve sacrifice himself in order to divert the plane carrying the poisonous gas payload away from innocent lives, remained to love anyway, acknowledging that all you really need is love. Also, Sia and Labrinth's song, "To Be Human", is just awesome, and it really reflects the character of Diana.

With that, the defense rests its case, and it is now time to move on to the prosecution.

The Prosecution:

The defendant does have a lot of factors that prove that it really is deserving of its rave reviews. However, it really is difficult to make a completely perfect movie. One that is flawless from its very foundation, upwards. Wonder Woman still encounters a variety of flaws that mainstream films encounter time and time again. Most notably, the most dreaded things, inescapable things in existence, cliches, which thus brings us to ...

  • "Chosen One" Cliches Aplenty!
... this timely, yet overused trope. I do love the trope of the "Chosen One", so you know. Not only does it add some level of detail to the main character, it also adds some degree of potential thrills. However, as much as I do like having a prophecy of a messianic figure coming to our needs sooner or later, I also do not like the formula being reused over and over again. I would have been okay with Diana being the surprise "Godkiller" of the movie, who is meant to kill Hades in the future, had the movie not point-out the super obvious plot twist at the near start of the movie. Also, I think it would really have helped out if her powers as a "Godkiller" are explained, and not just being mere, randomly chosen powers written at the last minute of post-production. Note that this is just me referring to the fact that I have no concrete idea as to how the "Godkiller" powers work, given that the movie has not given a good explanation about its functions.

And speaking of cliches, even the ones that are not related to the Chosen One arc, there are a lot of other areas of familiarity here and there, including the "God Complex", wherein a literal god believes he is of higher power, and sees all humans as a form of sub-species, the "Disillusioned Warlord", who wants to still bind through his principles, even if they are outdated, and the "Underappreciated Associate", wherein the one who does all of the work does not get any recognition from her superiors.

We have also heard several moviegoers comment that the film has a lot of elements from Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger, given that both main characters fought with shields, in a world war, with the main protagonists fighting a mad general and his weird scientist sidekick trying to push the war further, and has someone named "Steve" dies, or seemingly perishes, while piloting a cargo plane carrying a deadly weapon. The comparisons might make the movie-viewing experience distracting, especially if you are extremely familiar with The First Avenger like the back of your hand. While nearly identical, I would comment that Wonder Woman did its best to distinguish itself by dabbling more into the realm of fantasy, in contrast to science fiction, and by being marginally better than the first movie in the Captain America trilogy. We are sorry, Marvel. While both movies have a quasi-fictional take on historical events, Wonder Woman succeeds by adding the emotional punch that your movie had, only with a much more lasting appeal.

  • There are a lot of exposition-heavy moments.
While the movie does not take its sweet, sweet runtime trying to set-up potential spin-offs, the moments that are dedicated to exposition are committed to construct the world that Diana lives in, from the ground up. Remember, I did say that the ideas used for the Greek Mythology bits are awesome, but the fact that the story, with wonderful painting-style animation that details the tale from Houston Sharp, Igor Sid, Piotr Jablonski, Yuriy Chemezov, Roman Kupriyanov, Eve Ventrue, Max Schulz, Didier Konings, and Raffy Ochoa, is mostly boggled down by narration. Come to think of it, who would tell their children a creation tale as a bedtime story?

Also, the first minutes of the flick, which feature the creation storytelling segment, are all about Diana undergoing rigorous training for the coming battles, and while it does offer as insight on her maturing, it might make viewers bored. These minutes, as well as the pretty funny moments of Diana trying to adjust to her new surroundings, and some heartwarming ones of Diana bearing firsthand witness to the horrors of war, might also destroy some enthusiasm for the epic "No Man's Land" battle, which honestly, takes a lot of time to get to. Fortunately, this problem disappeared once we already get to the aforementioned scene.

  • Two villains are boring, and the big bad is intriguing but generic.
And finally, the two villains of the movie, General Erich Ludendorff and Doctor Poison, are just plain dull. There are instances that the two of them have some parts that are compelling. Ludendorff is fueled with so much patriotism and national pride, plus ambition with a side of a mean case of the god complex, that he is willing to plunge the world into a massive war. Doctor Poison, in contrast, has some complexity, as a person who no longer sees humans as beings worthy of living, and now resorts to creating doomsday devices, but is not appreciated. Unfortunately, the film made it feel like that they are nothing more outside of being unassuming puppets to a much grander scheme. What makes things worse is that they have, in some degree, some strands of Jesse Eisenberg's (The Squid and the Whale) Lex Luthor. Obviously, that is not a good thing, even if Eisenberg's work is something unique. If you do not believe me, just watch that part when Ludendorff and Maru unleashed a chemical agent on a meeting, after a failed attempt at reigniting the war. After joking about leaving a gas mask, even if it will not save any of them, they then laugh in the most cartoonish, and the most awkward, sense possible. What is this? This is not the early 40s, people. If you want to make a decent pair of villains, make them terrifying, not stereotypical.

This is not the case for Ares, however. In a slightly surprising twist, Ares is not Erich Lundendorff, as initially predicted by everyone, including me. Rather, it is Sir Patrick Morgan, who for some reason being the actual God of War, is disguised as a diplomat. As we are fed with the already predictable twist that Diana is the "Godkiller", and not the sword, Ares is shed with some sides of, ironically, humanity within him. His defense for feeding the bad guys with ideas to plunge the world into chaos is that he sees humans as beneath him. Okay, none of that is entirely original, even if his plan is definitely worth noting. Sadly though, the character being completely cliched undermines the many chances that would make him a memorable foe.

The Ruling:

With that, it is time to make a ruling. We used the term "ruling", because the word "verdict" has been used several times already.

Our "ruling" can either pronounce a flick as "not guilty", if the film in question is at least entertaining, or just a masterclass in cinema, or "guilty", if the flaws overshadow a potentially great movie, or basically, bad.

In Conclusion:

The Defense:

The Prosecution:
+          The chemistry of the two leads, and the performances of much of the supporting cast.

-          There are a lot of “Chosen One” cliches, and a lot of the other story elements are all familiar to the bone.

+          The movie does not bother on trying to set-up the larger universe.

-            The first minutes of the flick are slow, and some jokes fail to bring a few laughs.
+          Scenes such as the “No Man’s Land” battle, and the creation story painting sequence, are godsend! (Har-de-har-har)

-            The villains are lame, although at times, they could have been so much more.
+          With Patty Jenkins thankfully at the helm, the film knows how to be fun and thought-provoking, at the same time. Also, it has a unique take on Greek Mythology.

+          “To Be Human” by Sia, and Labrinth, and the scores, are brilliant!

The Ruling:

“Not Guilty!”
For being an entertaining film in its own right, we declare it as “not guilty”, of wasting everyone’s time with another dumpster fire.

Wonder Woman finally gives the DC Extended Universe a flawed but enlightening ray of hope that it desperately needs.

And with that, movie court is adjourned. We will continue to follow this movie review format from here on out, simply because I am getting really tired of the standard format.

Justice League is now out in theaters, and me and my family watched it at a block screening organized by my school's parent-teacher association. We will be following-up a review of that flick as soon as possible. Just a heads-up, despite the critics saying that it is an absolute disappointment, it is actually a fun, yet error-cluttered movie, and it is totally worth the tickets.

Before we officially leave, we will just leave the decent theme song here. We mentioned a lot about it. It is "To Be Human". We just find it really fitting to use as a parting gift, given its clear Wonder Woman-inspired theme. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

1 comment:

  1. A mix mind and pivotal word. Precisely what I was searching for!