Movie review: WONDER WOMAN

The WONDER WOMAN movie hasn’t had an easy journey to the big screen. Diana’s quest started all the way back in 1996, and the project has had various obstacles and delays before finally settling on Patty Jenkins as director in 2015. Much noise has been made about the inability of a female superhero to attract a sufficient audience, and over time – as the Marvel and DC Universes have respectively gained momentum – the importance of this film has also increased. A lot is riding on the success of this film. If it’s bad, it’ll inevitably flop, and likely sound the deathknell for the female superhero genre (here’s looking at you, Black Widow). On the other hand, if WONDER WOMAN is a decent film, and it succeeds, this could really open the floodgates for this (sub)genre. Once again, Diana Prince – aka Wonder Woman – has inadvertently become the flagship for a very important movement…

WONDER WOMAN also follows on the heels of both BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and SUICIDE SQUAD. Whilst I enjoyed elements of those films, both fell far short of fan expectations. To put it bluntly, WONDER WOMAN feels like a last shot for the DC cinematic universe.

The film’s backstory will be familiar to those with even a casual knowledge of Wonder Woman. Diana is the daughter of the Queen of the Amazons, living an idyllic life on the island of Themyscira. But Diana dreams of more: she wishes to be a warrior. The arrival of Steve Trevor – a spy working with British intelligence services – offers her the chance to explore the world of men, which is currently in the throes of the First World War. Seeking an opportunity to banish the Amazon’s ancient enemy Ares – the God of War – Diana journeys to the new world…

WONDER WOMAN is not only an excellent super hero movie, but an excellent movie all round. It’s a great example of how a superhero movie should work; with a nigh-on perfect balance of good special effects, punchy script, great cast and fast-moving plot.

Let’s break that down. Firstly, as you’d expect for a multi-million dollar movie, the effects are excellent. I watched the movie in 3D, and it didn’t disappoint. It pops out of the screen, with vivid settings such as Themyscira really contrasting with the drab frontlines of the Great War. The fight sequences are thrilling and engaging (even if completely unrealistic!). Just check out the fight with the Amazons on the beach, or Wonder Woman’s conflict in no-man’s land. This is how superhero movies should be made…

I’ll tackle the script and casting together. Diana is a hard target to pin down: with both a child-like naivety, and the wisdom of an immortal. Gal Gadot really nails it – she has such an expressive face that the full range of emotion is relayed with a look. She’s a great Wonder Woman; an excellent choice for the role. Meanwhile, Chris Pine’s performance as Steve Trevor is also impressive: his chemistry with Wonder Woman is excellent, and the relationship that builds with Diana feels natural and compelling. The dialogue between these two is touching and humorous; a welcome break from the constant action.

The rest of the cast is also pretty damn good. I was slightly disappointed that Elena Anaya’s “Dr Poison” didn’t feature more heavily, given that Wonder Woman traditionally thrived on conflict with other female characters. However, that’s a minor point, and I can see why the film-makers chose not to introduce it: there are already multiple antagonists in this film, and perhaps to have given Anaya’s character more focus would’ve bogged the film down.

Although WONDER WOMAN is clearly a child of the DCU, the plot moves along briskly and doesn’t make the mistakes of BATMAN v SUPERMAN. At a running time of almost two-and-a-half hours, that’s saying something. Things move along fast enough, engaging your interest sufficiently, that you’ll barely notice it. There are a few heavier moments, which perhaps recall elements of BATMAN v SUPERMAN, but those are nothing more than echoes.

Overall, this is by far the DCU’s best offering to date. Highly recommended.

Craving for more strong female role-models? The first instalment of THE ETERNITY WAR – PARIAH – features Lieutenant Keira Jenkins. Available for pre-order now! Follow me on Twitter for all the latest updates. 

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