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This movie changes everything. In the long, storied history of the blockbuster, few have boasted the technical brilliance, the compelling narrative structure, and the inestimable social significance of Patty Jenkins’ triumphant introduction to the DC Extended Universe. While flawed on a few unfortunate levels, Wonder Woman stands beyond its counterparts within the superhero genre as a truly transcendental experience. Whether you are a dedicated fan of the established franchise’s cinematic stylings or a jaded detractor of its previous efforts, Wonder Woman is an incredible movie that cannot be missed in theaters.

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Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana, an Amazonian warrior from the supernaturally-secluded island of Themyscira. Her close-knit society of women was tasked by ancient Greek deities with protecting Earth from the evils of humanity’s lust for power. Diana’s picturesque perception of life is shattered when Steve Trevor, a pilot deeply enmeshed in the dangers of Word War I, crash-lands past the barrier protecting Themyscira. Diana returns to London with Trevor and embarks on a journey that tests everything she believes about the value of humanity, the trustworthiness of her loved ones, and the price she is willing to pay to protect her world.

As someone who strongly disliked all three previous DCEU films (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad), my expectations for Wonder Woman were mixed at best. Despite its stellar marketing, I found it difficult to expect a “good” movie as I sat in line for my screening. The trailers for Batman v Superman were exhilarating experiences teasing a cinematic masterpiece that Warner Bros failed to deliver. In the end, I was firmly of the opinion walking into Wonder Woman that DC Studios could make nothing more than brilliant ninety-second snippets of shoddily-constructed, mediocre films. I was very wrong.

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Patty Jenkins, the critically-acclaimed director of 2003’s Monster (and not much since then), was a surprisingly inspired directorial choice. Her ability to frame action in a striking visual way was on full display here, from the dark trench warfare in the brutal heart of WWI to the surreal battles on Diana’s island of Themyscira with fantastically-designed horses, bows, and swords. For those, like me, who love Zack Snyder’s style of melodramatic slo-mo action but felt that the artistic beauty of those shots was somehow missing in Man of Steel and BvS, this is the movie for you. Jenkins has created a movie that feels completely rooted in the traditions of its franchise, but also exists above and beyond anything we have already seen on a creative level. Quite possibly the greatest action scene in the history of comic book cinema takes place halfway through Wonder Woman. That is not an exaggeration. I do not expect a sequence in a movie from 2017 to surpass this as the best scene of the year. Jenkins is the visionary director DC has been searching for.

The casting of Gal Gadot as the titular hero was met with a firestorm of Internet controversy. The Israeli model, first famous for winning Miss Israel in 2004, made her Hollywood debut in 2009 as Giselle in Fast & Furious. Throughout her time in the Fast & Furious saga (and in her turns in critical flops like Keeping Up with the Joneses), Gadot has underwhelmed viewers with performances that, at best, have been mediocre. However, all doubts concerning her ability to carry the DCEU forward are gone in my mind after seeing this. Gadot turns in the best female performance in a movie within the DCEU (or even the MCU) by a significant margin. Here, Gadot rivals even the intricate performances of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. If the direction of Justice League is done right, I anticipate a perfect Trinity of performances.

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I have relatively few criticisms of Wonder Woman (and some are rooted in spoilers, which I will avoid in this review). A few side roles (most notably Etta Candy) were frustratingly unnecessary or poorly performed. However, the combined screen time of these weak characters clocks in at a few minutes at most, so these creative missteps are forgivable. The final act of this movie is a bit bloated and the final villain confrontation could have been done in a much more effective and sinister way. Instead, it came across as a bit over-the-top and inadequately thought out at times. Furthermore, the strange tonal shifts that have become almost synonymous with the DCEU are present here. However, these minor flaws do not detract much from the overall glory that is the finished product. If you are wholly against the dramatic tones of the DCEU thus far, then perhaps you will not enjoy yourself here as much as I did. That being said, I cannot really see anyone arguing against Jenkins' prowess in the director's chair or Gadot's unique ability to own her character.

Finally, on a social level, there is no way to fully express the importance of Wonder Woman – both as a character and as a film. Since seeing Wonder Woman a few days ago, I have not been able to stop reflecting on the strong, independent, accessible female hero that future generations now have. So many beautiful moments stand out in my mind as truly in conflict with the countless male-dominated tropes within the subgenre of superhero movies. Not only does this film boast the greatest action scene I have seen in a very long time, but it also contains a sequence that will be studied for years to come as a perfect inversion of complex filmmaking concepts like Male Gaze. No superhero movie is going to change the world. However, as strong female protagonists have become more and more common, I hope that their social impact will also continue to grow. As powerful and compelling as Furiosa was in Mad Max: Fury Road or Rey was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, neither can stand up to the strength and majesty of Gal Gadot’s Diana.

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I can’t even begin to convey how much I loved Wonder Woman, even in the thousand words you just read. Its few flaws aside, this movie has elevated my expectations for superhero movies moving forward in so many important ways. Future films with blandly-filmed action, poorly conceptualized conflict, or, especially, weak female characters, have this Amazonian force to reckon with. Patty Jenkins has my complete vote of confidence moving forward and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has earned her place as one of my favorite characters in all of comic book cinematic lore. I may not be a fan of the DCEU yet, but I am well on my way to becoming one. Justice League is coming and, if this is any indication, it is going to be glorious.

Jonathan’s Score: 9/10

Stay tuned for Geeks + Gamers’ spoiler-filled Roundtable discussion of Wonder Woman, dropping next Monday. Comment your thoughts below, on Facebook, or on any of our social media platforms. Continue to follow G + G for more great content, reviews, and commentary!

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