Review – Wonder Woman

wonder woman

Wonder Woman (Warner Bros. / DC Films) Cert 12A, 141 mins

DC Comics have a lot riding on the rather strong shoulders of Wonder Woman. They’ve been left far behind by Marvel in the last 10 years as their rivals blazed a colourful and exciting trail to box office glory despite the former having just as formidable a roster of characters. DC films – excluding the Dark Knight Trilogy – have not performed as well as they could at the box office and have delivered some fairly poor efforts like the lacklustre Green Lantern, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Someone Switch the Lights on and Suicide Squad.

Those are all big pictures which might have brought some cash in but they’ve hardly set the world on fire. There’s no sense of anticipation like Marvel build for their upcoming slate. In fact there’s more a sense of suspicion about what we can expect. Their films are generally seen as a bit darker (in every sense of the word) and not as bright or breezy as Marvel. Batman vs Superman definitely did not help. It was too long by about an hour, made no sense at times (“why did you say that name?”  – give me strength) and for a film featuring two comic book giants and a first glance at Wonder Woman it was pretty boring.

So it pleases me to say that their faith in director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot as the Amazonian princess has been rewarded because Wonder Woman is not your average DC film.

For starters there are scenes in daylight. Colours. Characters you invest in. And a kick ass heroine who absolutely kicks ass. Something that you don’t see a lot of at the movies and it’s about time that they put a strong female superhero up on the big screen. Mrs Blogger was so taken by it that she giddily ran out of the screen pulling Wonder Woman moves. Bless.

Although Wonder Woman did appear in Batman vs Superman and was probably the best thing in it we only saw her briefly. There was no real introduction or back story so in her solo outing we go back in time to the paradise island of Themyscira where the young Diana lives with her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and an island of powerful female warriors. We learn about them being created by Zeus and how they were hidden from the world to keep them safe while mankind generally ruined everything.

The future Wonder Woman wants to learn the ways of her people which we see in a montage mainly involve shooting lots of arrows while being on horses, jumping from horses, being in mid-air at random angles and smacking each other about with swords and shields. The Queen wants her daughter protected from all of the violence but eventually lets her sister Antiope (House of Cards star Robin Wright) train the girl.

Like a Rocky film we have some further training montages which quickly ends up with Diana being all grown up in the form of Gal Gadot. It’s all action packed stuff and entertaining and the pace picks up as pilot Steve Trevor (the current Captain Kirk aka Chris Pine) crashes into the sea near the secret island and is rescued by Diana.

It’s here we find our time setting for the movie. Trevor is a spy trying to get back to Britain with information on what the Germans are up to during World War I and on hearing what’s going on Diana realises she must leave her home and try to help end the fighting.

Once the film shifts to the war the action is really ramped up. The first real fight scene involving the fully trained warrior princess is a bone crunching treat as she takes down the bad guys with all the means at her disposal including a sword, the good old lasso of truth, a shield and of course some mad fighting skills.

Gal Gadot is great as the lead. She was born in Israel and as all their citizens have to do when they turn 18 she served two years in the Israeli Defence Forces. Gadot was a sports trainer and that clearly paid off when it came to getting the role of Wonder Woman because the girl can move. She gives it everything and is excellent throughout the film. DC will be hoping she brings that same passion and power to their upcoming attempts to match Marvel in the ensemble movie world with Justice League (coming to our screens in November) and Justice League 2. And you can expect a Wonder Woman sequel I would imagine!

The finale falls back into the old DC “do it in the dark” routine which is a bit of a disappointment because it makes the action tricky to follow but that’s a minor grumble. It’s a well directed, well written and well put together movie with a great cast – even Spud from Trainspotting is in it! Not as Spud sadly, he’s in his other role as actor Ewen Bremner. Although Spud in a Wonder Woman film would be tremendous.

Summary:

Wonder Woman is by far and away the best DC effort on the big screen in years and hopefully sets them on a new track to raise themselves up to the same level as Marvel. As a lover of all things comic book related I want to see both sides do well because it means I get to see awesome big screen adventures so we all win if that’s the case!

It banishes all thoughts of the less exciting output of recent times and surely DC have to make her the centre of their movie universe rather than the boys. Time for the girls to take over! As if they aren’t in charge already…

 

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