"Wonder Woman" Review

With DC’s recent track record, it was hard to be any more than cautiously optimistic going into Wonder Woman.  But in the end, it is one of their best films!  I’d say it’s my favorite DC comics movie since Christopher Reeve.  It might not be a coincidence that Gal Gadot embodies Wonder Woman in a way that’s reminiscent of Reeve.  Reeve showed a Superman who actually enjoyed being a hero, even if it was difficult.  Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the same and it’s always refreshing to see that on the big screen.

There’s been a trend lately where movies feel like your glass is half full or half empty.  But Wonder Woman has moments of intense sadness and despair mixed in with feelings of humor and love.  This isn’t just an action movie with some jokes, it’s a film where the central theme is that pain and joy are often never far apart.  Some of that comes from the setting.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that even tried to capture “the war to end all wars,” but it really works here.  The setting and the narrative intertwine very well.

Love is one of the main themes of the film, but it was also clearly a driving force behind the production.  Nearly every aspect is put together with a sense of pride and skill that has been missing from quite a few summer blockbusters of recent years.  The fight scenes were not just enjoyable, but you could actually see and follow most of the action.  When you watch Diana fight, you'll be able to really appreciate her skill and power.  The art direction and costume design are perfect, and the soundtrack is fantastic!  All the performances are really good, though Etta Candy is underused and several of the villains are not particularly three dimensional.

Director Patty Jenkins giving Gal Gadot instruction.

Director Patty Jenkins giving Gal Gadot instruction.

Everyone is going to be looking at Patty Jenkins as a barometer for the future of women-led blockbusters, which is an unfair and unnecessary burden to place on her shoulders, but what are superhero movies about if not unfair burdens?  Jenkins rises to the task, and honestly I’d like to see DC give her a lot more to do in the future. 

There are things to quibble with, as always.  While it’s the best use of slow motion I’ve seen in years, it is still overused.  There’s a framing story that could have been left out, but I could see why some audience members would want it, especially if they’re coming in from the more recent franchise films rather than a comic book background.  But none of that takes away from a film that is incredibly enjoyable, and one of the best of its genre.

Rating: A

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Mary Ratliff

Mary Ratliff is a storyteller at heart, and is equally at home working on fiction and documentary films.  As an active member of the D.C. film community, she has worked on several features, a webseries, commercials, and numerous short films as a member of the art department and a script supervisor.

As a screenwriter, Mary was a finalist in 2010's DC Shorts Screenwriting Competition and the recipient of the Will Interactive Dramatic Short Screenplay award for her script, "Catching Up."  The film also received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant, and the completed short won the Visions Award for Outstanding Thesis Project in 2011.

Ratliff has earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Electronic Media at American University (Washington D.C.) and a BA from Hollins University (Roanoke, VA) with a major in Film and Photography and a minor in Art History.

Besides her work in Film, Mary is also an avid photogapher and writer, and has written articles for online magazines including io9 (see below). Mary also enjoys playing video games in her free time. It was her love of the gaming community that lead to her latest film, the feature length documentary Good Game.