Wonder WomanDirected by Patty Jenkins
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston
Hollywood’s track record with super heroine movies is pretty lame. 1984’s Supergirl flopped, as did Daredevil spin-off Elektra. Black Widow has propped up Iron Man, Captain America and Avengers movies, but Marvel is still yet to make her standalone movie.
Now comes Wonder Woman, the big screen debut of DC Comics’ beloved Amazonian heroine.
After the horrendous Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot’s mysterious heroine helped save the day with no back story. Here she has nothing but. It’s an origins movie after all, so we open in present day then enjoy flashbacks within flashbacks.
Through some clunky dialogue, with little Diana learning how to be a kickass heroine on her mystical island full of women, I savour the Mamma Mia movie-style backdrop, and try and separate Robin Wright from Diane Kruger as the concerned mum and trainer.
It’s a place of intermittent slow-mo action scenes. One can almost imagine the soldiers of producer Zack Snyder’s 300 movies off camera doing their testosterone-laced thing. The yin to WW’s yang if you like.
Then Steve Trevor flies into this paradise from World War One; grown-up Diana saves him, and realises she can do something to help the war effort after many of her people are slaughtered by enemy forces.
Chris Pine is terrific as Trevor, a mix of Captain Kirk and Indiana Jones. Inevitably Diana becomes the fish out of water as she rocks up in London, befriends Trevor’s secretary (comic relief Lucy Davis), and after adjusting to the era of buttoned up posh frocks and British customs, she heads off to defeat the villainous Ares. If he dies, it will bring an end to the war.
The villains, including Danny Huston, look like they’ve stepped from Snyder’s steampunk/live action anime/feature length pop promo Sucker Punch, and yet when Diana and Trevor enter the horror of No Man’s Land, it proves remarkably moving.
For about five minutes the film finds its heart and soul as Wonder Woman carves a path through the gunfire and bombs.
The second act is easily the strongest, but as our heroes, including the ever reliable Ewen Bremner as a Scottish sharp shooter, echo scenes from TV series Agent Carter – feisty heroine and sidekicks clashing with enemy forces during wartime.
Then comes the third act as Wonder Woman clashes with assorted villains, one of who singlehandedly derails all the good that came before.
If you recall that stupid ’heroes versus villain’ smackdown of BVSDOJ, there’s more of the same here, only twice as irritating.
The twist when it comes is clever, and a little inevitable, but what follows, as the boss monster reveals himself and then spends ages smashing things up amid pyrotechnics and rock guitar power chords, is pure video game nonsense. It’s as if Snyder learned nothing from the pitfalls of BVS.
However, director Patty Jenkins does a fine job up to this point, and there is an emotional sucker punch (pun intended) that left one fellow viewer in tears.
Gal Gadot does a fine job juggling the physical scenes with comedic and emotional stuff. Given her background as a dancer and model, she seems like a perfect fit for any super heroine.
She also has a million dollar smile, which is crucial for winning over the masses, along with that necessary, slightly alien feel.
Light years away from Lynda Carter’s cult 1970s TV series, DC Comics’ enduring heroine makes a mostly impressive feature debut. A shame about that stupid villain at the end, but it looks great and nice to see that homage to the original Superman movie in an alley scene. And like Clark Kent, it seems Diana Prince also has an issue with revolving doors.
It’s a great watch for the most part, and despite too many scenes shot in digital darkness (a personal bugbear), it ticks so many of the right boxes, it almost makes up for the shortfalls of previous DC messes.
Let’s hope the pending Justice League is even better.