UK Release Date: 1st June 2017
Runtime: 141 minutes
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock
Synopsis: When an American pilot crash lands close to her hidden island, an Amazonian princess moves into the world of men to put an end to the war.
Before this year, the DC Extended Universe of superhero movies had yielded everything from the soulless slop of Batman v Superman to the abject mayhem of Suicide Squad. What it hadn’t given us yet was a genuinely good movie. That is, at least, until Gal Gadot arrived as the star of Wonder Woman – one of the most enjoyable superhero origin blockbusters released in years. Monster director Patty Jenkins strips down the basic genre narrative to tell an earnest and refreshing story. It’s a thrilling wartime tale that combines great action with a progressive protagonist who really kicks arse.
Diana (Gadot) has grown up on the secluded, women-only island of Themyscira, receiving warrior training from General Antiope (Robin Wright) in secret from her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands close to Themyscira and reveals to the Amazons that the First World War is raging away from their shores. Believing that mankind has been duped into war by evil god Ares, Diana pledges to help end the war by tracking Ares down and killing him before German biologist Dr Poison (Elena Anaya) develops the most devastating weapon in military history.
Beating Marvel to the punch by a number of years, DC has delivered the first true female-led superhero movie with Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is a protagonist who has real charm, warmth and charisma, delivered with an earnest combination of innocence and forthright confidence. Gadot has shown little in the way of acting range in her past roles, but she’s an absolute delight as Diana. It’s a performance that serves as a refreshing counterpoint to the morally tortured and broody male superheroes we have seen in recent years to create a back-to-basics take on the comic book movie.
Gadot is the star of Wonder Woman, but her character is deepened and explored by her killer chemistry with Chris Pine. He slots into the traditional love interest role and also gets in his own moments of heroism, but nicely underplays everything. Their relationship is the crux of what helps the movie to work so well and the fish-out-of-water scenes of Diana trying to fit into wartime London while wielding a sword and shield are made all the more hilarious by Pine’s deadpan reactions. Lucy Davis also excels in a brief, comedic turn as Pine’s secretary. It’s in these moments that the film provides its subtle feminist context, which is ever-present, but never unwieldy or preachy.
The action sequences in Wonder Woman are compelling and balletic in their choreography. An early scene in which German forces attack the Amazons on the beaches of Themyscira fizzes with energy, excitement and innovation. It’s an emotional high point for the film and also showcases Jenkins’ surprising flair for fight scenes. The famous – or infamous, depending on your perspective – electric cello riff is the highlight of a propulsive, kinetic score that helps the action to pop and fizz with impressive intensity.
Wonder Woman feels as if it’s gently breaking the superhero mould without ever really stretching the formula all that much. Many of the standard conventions of the comic book movie are present and correct, from the suiting up moment to the big, dumb, super-powered final fight. However, Jenkins has a nimble grasp of these issues and is able to construct a film that never wavers in its commitment to telling a story that is straightforward, earnest and always fiercely entertaining. DC has finally arrived. Next stop: Justice League.
Pop or Poop?
There’s something quietly revolutionary about Wonder Woman, which hands its female protagonist the ability to kick all manner of rear end in a way that other superhero franchises simply haven’t. Gal Gadot is a revelation in the lead role and Chris Pine is the perfect foil to allow her to shine.
With top-quality action and an enjoyably crazy finale, Patty Jenkins has finally injected some life into the ailing DC universe.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.