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Blu-ray Review: Wonder Woman

September 21, 2017

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A blockbuster that instantly became a cultural phenomenon when it was released in theatres earlier this year, Wonder Woman is an entertaining superhero movie that also broke several important records, becoming the highest grossing live action film ever from a female director.

The film brings to the screen the origin story of Diana (Gal Gadot), an Amazonian princess who was raised to be a warrior on a utopian island without any men.  When Steve Rogers (Chris Pine), a pilot escaping German forces in 1917, crash lands on their shores, Diana ventures into the outside world with him and starts to discover the full extent of her powers as Wonder Woman.  World War I is raging, and she believes God of War Aries is responsible, and is determined to stop his carnage through the power of goodness.

Gal Gadot is quite good in the leading role, not only believably portraying Wonder Woman’s physical strength, having rigorously trained to take on the role, but also carrying an innate understanding of the character’s empathetic qualities as well.  Diana is a superhero whose main power is not only that she is strong but also that she is pure of heart, and it’s a balance that Gal Gadot nails perfectly.  Chris Pine does solid supporting work alongside her, and the two of them have immensely charming chemistry together, sharing witty banter and romantic sparks in a way that is a lot of fun to watch.

Director Patty Jenkins does an excellent job of marshalling both the action sequences and character moments, with a clear vision for the film she is trying to make.  The fact that she is a longtime fan of the character and comic books really helps.  The production design is gorgeously detailed, authentically transporting us back to WWI, especially in the gritty and extremely well staged scenes on the battlefield and in war-torn towns.  This is also the best film yet in the DC Extended Universe, delivering a better origin story than Man of Steel, and much better entertainment than the bloated and messy Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which incidentally gave Wonder Woman her big screen debut.

Now Wonder Woman still does have some flaws, and faces a few narrative challenges.  The script is a bit clunky at times, and the childhood flashbacks at the beginning can feel mawkish and clichéd.  The film also ends with the same sort of slow motion, CGI battle between the hero and a thinly written, digitally enhanced bad guy that has plagued too many a superhero film, and I found myself somewhat losing interest in what was happening on screen in the last act.  If the film had skipped over some of the earlier flashbacks, gone straight to being a war movie, and then ended things before the generic climax closes it on a less memorable note, it might have reached greatness.

But Wonder Woman moves along smoothly for much of its running time, especially in the midsection when it mainly unfolds on the battlefield.  The film’s best set pieces, like a massive scale beach battle near the beginning and the entire No Man’s Land sequence that provides emotional crux of the film, are extremely well directed and represent top tier pop entertainment.  While Wonder Woman does have a few flaws, there is a lot to like here.  This is an entertaining and well made superhero movie that holds an empowering message, and it’s worth seeing for the many genuinely good moments it delivers.

The Blu-ray also comes loaded with bonus features.  First up is an all-new epilogue entitled Etta’s Mission, featuring Steve’s secretary (Lucy Davis) as she recruits his fellow soldiers, and it’s followed by several extended scenes, a blooper reel, and a good selection of ten featurettes that give us indepth looks at both the title character and her legacy as well as various aspects of the film’s production.  Watching the behind the scenes footage also shows us what a good job Patty Jenkins really did directing the film, even acting out scenes to help with blocking before the cameras would roll.

Wonder Woman is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release.  It’s 141 minutes and rated PG.

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