Wonder Woman (2017)
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Written by: Allan Heinberg
Starring: Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Ewan Bremner, Gal Gadot, Lucy Davis, Robin Wright
Despite the critical drubbing that Batman Vs Superman received, it was pretty much unanimous that the best thing about the film was when Wonder Woman shows up, as the boys couldn’t cope with things on their own. Her grand entrance coupled with that exciting guitar riff, heralded possibly DC’s most exciting big screen outing to date. After all the grumpy, grisled in fighting, Diana Prince’s solo debut shows the men how it’s done, in what is possibly the most entertaining superhero origin story in some time. Opening with the titular hero reminiscing over ‘that photo’ from Batman Vs Superman, we’re transported to the turn of the 20th century, on the hidden island of Themyscira.
A race of Amazonian Warriors inhabit this paradise, constantly training, and preparing for the day a threat might return to the world of man. Here we see Diana, daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus, growing up from a young girl, keen to learn the ways of her fellow Amazonians. Reluctantly her mother allows this, seemingly accepting that Diana is destined to become a warrior, and also hinting towards something we’re not let into just yet. It’s from here we take in Diana’s journey through her training and development as she discovers exactly what she is capable of. After crashing off the coast of the island, which Zeus himself has hidden from the eyes of man, pilot Steve Trevor is rescued by Diana, but also brings conflict to the island. After learning about the Great War, the first global conflict, Diana believes it is her duty to help the allies and bring about the end of the conflict. It’s from here the film changes in tone, both plot-wise and visually, taking in a darker aesthetic, matching the sombre atmosphere hanging over mankind at the time.
It’s a fish out of water, and almost a coming of age story, as the heroine adjusts to life in 1918, and her own naivety when it comes to the world of men, as she experiences the horror and joys of humanity’s darkest days. Something you can’t help but do with Wonder Woman’s first big screen outing, is compare it to Captain America’s MCU debut. Both are strong origin stories set during one of the worlds biggest conflicts, and precede the much anticipated superhero team up (Avengers/Justice League). And much like old Cap’, it’s the best of the respective bunch. From training montages to battering the crap out of Germans, Wonder Woman has some seriously kick ass moves, with fight scenes that flow so well, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a one-take martial arts epic at times. The weapons are used to great effect, and that Captain America comparison sneaks in again as she’s a dab hand with her shield. The ways she commands the Lasso of Truth is fantastic and her gauntlets can deflect anything coming her way. While the action is spread out over the film, it’s always exciting when we see Wonder Woman giving the bad guys a good kicking, developing and harnessing her powers and abilities as the film progresses. The characters in Wonder Woman are fantastic, be they the intimidating and stoic Amazons, or the rag tag group of mercenaries that accompany Diana across the battlefields of France. Chris PIne is superb as Steve Trevor, Diana’s guide in the modern world of men, and the pair bounce off each other with enthusiasm. The supporting cast are great too, from Steve’s comic relief secretary, Etta (The Office’s Lucy Davis), to the band of mercenaries, and that’s before touching on the bad guys.
Danny Huston has an uncomfortable presence as the German military leader, Ludendorff, obsessed with carrying on the war despite talk of armistice, and Elena Anaya has an aura of quiet menace about her as the chemist charged with creating toxic gasses for the Germans, Dr. Maru. As energetic and entertaining as Wonder Woman is, it does suffer in its final face off with the villain as things wrap up. It feels a little unspectacular. It’s a decent fight but is overshadowed by the action scenes that precede it. Patty Jenkins does a great job of delivering a big screen Wonder Woman and puts WB/DC’s recent efforts to shame. Gal Gadot embraces the role of the Amazon warrior princess and really makes the character her own. Rupert Gregson-Williams score is a great touch, which shies away from the usual beats of the DCU sounds, playing on, and expanding on, the barnstorming, electric fanfare we were treated to in Batman Vs Superman. A cinematic Wonder Woman has been a long time coming, and save for a couple of scenes that go against the grain, it’s been worth the wait.