Being the first female-led big budget superhero film – while also being billed as the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) beacon of hope – Wonder Woman always had a lot riding on it.
While I’m not one of the many who didn’t enjoy Man Of Steel (MOS), Batman v Superman (BvS) or Suicide Squad, popular opinion seems to be that the DCEU needed a shot in the arm ahead of this year’s hotly-anticipated Justice League film.
We got a glimpse of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in BvS – and in truth she seemed to be one of the few positives the masses took from a film that was (harshly in my view) panned.
Thankfully, there should be no debate as to how good Gadot’s first solo outing as Diana Prince is. It’s a great origin story set amid World War I and succeeds on every level it needs to, making
Wonder Woman the genuine hero (or should I say heroine) the DCEU was badly craving.
It’s been done to death in the comics, but Diana’s origin story (unlike Batman or Superman) hasn’t been told on the big screen – something that pays off big time in the first act.
We meet her as a young child on Themyscira, a fictional paradise island that is inhabited solely by female warriors known as Amazons.
Created by Zeus, their existence is hidden from the rest of the world and their sole purpose is to take down Ares, the God of war.
Her Mother/Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and auntie General Antiope (Robin Wright) disagree on how best to raise her, but Diana is eventually trained to be the best of the best.
However, their glorious isolation comes to an end when American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands into the water surrounding their paradise island.
He tells the Amazons of the great war – which briefly reaches their shores – and Diana is unable to sit back and allow the human race to suffer at (in her mind) Ares’ hands. With Diana adamant she must accompany Steve back to London, Wonder Woman switches from the beauty of Themyscira to the horror of WWI.
It’s here that the film superbly fleshes out Diana as a true hero. Her black-and-white views on good and evil ensure that she’ll always take on the enemy head on, something best encapsulated when she jumps out of a trench in full Wonder Woman uniform and takes on heavy German artillery by herself.
Although Danny Huston’s Ludendorff and Elena Anaya’s Dr Maru do a sound job as the (slightly underused) chief bad guys, the real enemy here is the war itself.
Diana may be looking to fulfil her destiny and take down Ares, but she essentially makes everybody around her a better version of themselves – and what could be more heroic than that?
Gadot and Pine are joined by a solid supporting cast that includes Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Lucy Davis and David Thewlis, but it’s the lead two who dazzle.
Gadot, although not considered an ‘A-list’ actress, is wonderful in almost every way. She looks the part, but more importantly portrays a character that isn’t defined by her obvious beauty.
Pine also brings gravitas as the male lead and puts in a very strong performance. His chemistry with Gadot is superb – and his reaction to the Amazons and their lack of understanding of the world helps deliver a few welcome comedy moments.
As in BvS, the end battle is perhaps Wonder Woman’s chief weakness with a couple of cliched moments. But the film, as you’d expect, also looks the part and has a superb musical score.
With the Justice League just around the corner, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the modern day version of Wonder Woman.
Voice Verdict: 9/10 (reviewed at Boston’s West End Cinema)
+ Gadot’s Wonder Woman
+ Pine is great too
+ Lift off for the DCEU
– End battle is a little cliche
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, June 9 to Thurs, June 15)
**THE MUMMY (15)
2D – 1pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 3.30pm (daily), 8.40pm (daily)
3D – 6pm (daily)
**MY COUSIN RACHEL (12A)
1pm (Wed), 3.40pm (daily), 6pm (daily), 8.20pm (daily)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL (U)
10am (Sat/Sun), noon (Sat/Sun), 1.30pm (Sat/Sun), 4pm (not Sat/Sun)
WONDER WOMAN (12A)
2D – 2.20pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 8.20pm (daily)
3D – 11.20am (Sat/Sun), 5.20pm (daily)
6pm (not Tues), 8.40pm (not Fri)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE (12A)
2D – 11am (Sat/Sun), 2pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.15pm (not Tues), 8.15pm (daily)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2 (12A)
2D – 10.40am(Sat/Sun)
Sat/Sun 10:15 – Beauty and the Beast 2D (PG)
Wed 11.30 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (12A)
Tues 5.30pm – Wonder Woman 2D (12A)
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED
TAKE THAT: WONDERLAND
NT LIVE: PETER PAN
MICHAEL ANGELO: LOVE AND DEATH