Dir: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Saȉd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock
Run-Time: 141 Mins
Amazon Princess Diana (Gadot) has lived for thousands of years on a Gods created island paradise full of warrior women. In World War 1 a spy, Steve Trevor (Pine), crash lands in her tranquil existence. Becoming convinced that the Great War is being orchestrated by the Vengeful God of War, Ares, she gets drawn into the human world and the violent conflict in Europe.
Wonder Woman feels fresh in many ways. Firstly it feels fresh in comparison to the DC Extended Universe movies because while they have been dark, grim and joyless Wonder Woman is a sometimes harrowing, moving depiction of the horrors and sacrifices of war while still blazing the message that Love and Hope triumph over Hate. Its features a solo female lead who kicks arse and doesn’t need telling what to do. It’s fresh in the superhero movie genre because the love interest (Pine) doesn’t only exist to get into danger and need to be rescued; he’s allowed to be a fully 3D, competent (“above average”) character in his own right. He saves himself. He helps her sometimes too, though he’s the none super character in a superhero couple. They help each other, they are both able to argue with each other and listen to each other’s opinion without ever letting the other tell them what to do. It’d be impossible to say the same thing about any superhero movie where the genders are reversed. In a genre loaded with insipid love stories like Thor and Jane Foster (literally had to google the characters name) or Amy Adams’ barely there Lois Lane; Diana and Trevor’s love story is the most rounded, equal and believable romance of the lot.
It helps that Gadot and Pine share a fantastic chemistry. Gadot is 100% on point as a defiant bad-ass, certain in her convictions with a strong sense of right-and-wrong; while a never better Pine deploys his Kirk-esque deadpan humour to infuse a character prepared to go however far to do the right thing in a world full of evil and oppression.
For a film which feels so fresh, so unique, the thunderously disappointing thing about Wonder Woman is how it opts for the climactic twenty-minute fight CGI Fest that every other superhero film ever has done. It’s not a particularly bad one, but by now even the world’s biggest fan of superhero smackdowns must feel like Mr. Cresosote contemplating that wafer thin mint by now.
The other action scenes are excellently shot and handled; the highlight being a charge across no-man’s land and the liberation of a small village which is also the films’ emotional heart and key character defining sequence; while from the lush paradise island to the mud and debris of no-mans land everything looks glorious and fully realised on the big screen
Any other flaws are minimal: Rather than subtitling the German speaking characters, Wonder Woman opts for having actors speak English with dodgy German accents – Ve haff vays of making you fink you are vatching ein big budget episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo.
While an expository story explaining the history of the Gods and their war with Ares and their creation of the Amazons is necessary it’s also a clunky mass info-dump, while late on Steve Trevor and his behind-enemy-lines team (Taghmaoui, Bremner, Rock) seem to be able to saunter straight into heavily fortified Nazi installations with no challenge whatsoever.
The Verdict: Amazon Prime. Easily the best DCEU film to date, but let’s throw some meaningful praise the way of Wonder Woman, shall we? Comfortably the best origin story for a solo character in the current run of Marvel and DC films and in contention for the best Superhero film of them all. It has values and ideas, but knows what it is: a comic book romp and it delivers on the action with confidence and surprising heart.
Even the Lasso of Truth manages to not be the most eye wateringly corny thing you’ve ever heard of.