BY ROGER THOMAS
I have noticed that I have been tempted often lately to call several films “busy.” When I write that word I am usually meaning that the film has too much going on at once so that it is hard to follow the story. “Wonder Woman” is a busy film. Most of the two hours and twenty-one minutes of the film are filled with action, dialogue, and revelation. But early on, I noticed something that was missing of many films these days. This film has good pacing.
“Wonder Woman” takes time to show the audience one thing and then another. Here is an example. Those of us who are not “comic-book fans” do not know the lore of the island where Wonder Woman, who is actually named Diana, grew up and learned her ability to fight. The opening twenty minutes or so of the film lay that foundation. And with each new setting and adventure, the audience is ready for it, because the pacing of the film is right. Or perhaps smooth may be a better descriptive term.
There are other strengths beyond the pacing. I particularly like the decision to have the entire film set during World War I. (I know that the first film featuring this Wonder Woman character was in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” but this is the first film in this series to tell her story specifically.) Setting the film sometime during the first “War to End All Wars” was a grand choice; the time and place offered exciting scenes one after another.
My advice to the filmmakers is to continue taking Diana through history in the second film and maybe even the third. There is no rush to get Wonder Woman to the audience’s setting in her individual films. She will be doing enough of that action in the “Justice League” films that are on the horizon.
Another strength of the film is the cast. Gal Gadot is perfect as the title character. She plays a smart, beautiful, and witty woman as I am sure she is. Chris Pine, the most recent actor to play Captain James T. Kirk, plays an American spy who works with Diana after she saves his life. One other actor who has a pivotal role is David Thewlis as Sir Patrick. He has a very interesting conversation with Diana, one of the best moments in the film.
Speaking of dialogue, the film is very smart with words. I am not sure we have seen a “Superhero” film with this clever words since perhaps “The Dark Knight.” However, I would note that the “Marvel World” seems to be a little more successful with wit than the DC Comics. “Wonder Woman” is better, but the writers polish the humor a wee bit more.
Beyond these strengths the technicians for the film must have been very busy. There is great cinematography, set design, special effects, costumes and a whole host of other technical items. It is simply a well-made film, one of the better ones based on a comic book.
That is not to say that I thought everything in the film was perfect. I had issues along the way, but they were all minor. There were a few more battle scenes than necessary. I guessed early on who the main villain was.
However, I did not predict everything. There were a couple of things that surprised me, which I will not share; these are things one needs to discover in the darkened theatre.
I hope “Wonder Woman” succeeds at the box office. I also hope Gal Gadot’s next role as Wonder Woman will be successful as well. That film is “Justice League” which opens November 17 of this year. May the “League” film be as well-paced and compelling as is “Wonder Woman.”
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.