Here be spoilers.

And then there was one! It'd be great if there were some easy way to talk about Wonder Woman without making any kind of comment about the DC films that have come before it, but to do so would be to ignore one of the things that makes Wonder Woman the delight that it mostly is: DC has finally gotten it right. The earnest vibes and positive attitude on display perhaps wouldn't land the way they do if they hadn't been so sorely missing from the DC film properties that have come before this one, and Wonder Woman is a blast. It's a mostly-good romp through the DC Universe circa World War I, with bright blue brushstrokes of Themyscira smartly contrasted against the smeared and greasy greys of London. Patty Jenkins is a director who knows exactly how to work with her color palette, filling the frame with full-color comic book hues during act one, yanking them out from under us in the film's middle portion, only smash them both together during the third act in a way that makes it clear the film intends retroactively inject a much-needed splash of color into the DC cinematic world at large.

Wonder Woman is a film that understands exactly what it needs to be, and it hits its mark ably. The DC universe — both in comics and in film — distinguishes itself from the shaggy humanity of its Marvel counterpart in a number of ways, concerning itself instead with gods, an idea literalized in this movie. There are no alcoholic businessmen to mine for flawed humanity here, and we've already been shown that the wrong interpretation of this type of storytelling leads to a bunch of unduly self-serious nonsense, missing a crucial sense of sincerity. Jenkins' Wonder Woman is tonally spot-on, managing to blend the tutelary import of Themyscira and its Amazons with a very human sense of levity that keeps things breezy and brisk, for the most part.

Strengths and weaknesses often go hand in hand, though, and this film's biggest example of both comes from the fact that it doesn't necessarily aspire to much more than that which it winds up being: an enjoyable superhero flick. Diana doesn't learn anything that significantly changes who she is over the course of the film. We are, of course, shown her journey to the realization that men are good and worthy of her protection, but this was something that she had been insisting from the get-go. Her actions only led her to the realization that she was right to ignore the warnings of her mother, whose overprotectiveness and doublespeak about Diana's "true nature" are completely undone when they're revealed in the film's relatively rote finale.

Wonder Woman's structure necessitates a comparatively dull second act in which Diana a fish out of water, all of which would have been an opportunity for some deft social commentary and smart thematic development in the hands of a more skilled screenwriter. What we get instead is a good stretch of "you can't do that here!" type hijinx throughout which every single male character scrambles to hide the awkward erections they sport any and every time Diana is onscreen with them. Unfortunately Wonder Woman is the kind of film that thinks feminism is best exemplified when by rendering an endless string of smugly doubting male characters googly-eyed and speechless by Diana's extreme competency, instead of perhaps taking a cue from Mad Max: Fury Road and doing its female character the of needing to overcome baked-in doubt and lowered expectations in the first place. Instead of showing us a world where Diana's abilities are understood by other characters and competently dramatized within the script, Wonder Woman clumsily makes moves like having Chris Pine's Steve Trevor continue to doubt Diana and her abilities/origin/mission despite having seen her literally level a clock tower with her bare hands. (Don't worry, he tells her he loves her by the film's end, after they've basically spent a long weekend together.)

Wonder Woman succeeds on an action level and is tonally enjoyable even if it's dragged down by a shaggy structure, inflated running time, and lack of any real thematic depth. David Thewlis is pretty grossly miscast as god of war Ares, and the final showdown involves a shit load of blue lightning and a CGI-armor clad Thewlis shouting things like "THEN I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!" when his evil offer to join forces and rule the universe as brother and sister is, of course, rejected. (Seriously, I'd really love to see the script for the final showdown.) These mistakes are far from serious enough to break the film, though they do pull a fair bit of the air from its sails.

When it comes down to it, Wonder Woman is a success. Gal Gadot acquits herself nicely, turning in a perfectly serviceable performance and looking every bit the part (don't worry, we're treated to an incessant string of reminders that Gal Gadot is an Attractive Human Being™ throughout the film) as she splits her time between not understanding the way Man's World™ works (silly woman!) and positively tearing their shit apart ("I'm both frightened and aroused."). Wonder Woman isn't half as smart as it should have been, but its kinetic action and buoyant positivity lift it well above the fantastically low bar it had to clear.

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