‘Wonder Woman’ Review


Our Rating

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Wonder Woman finally hits the big screen. The big screen stays hit…

Having spent her entire life in isolation on the paradise island of Themyscira, Diana, princess of the Amazons, saves the life of an American pilot. He then brings news of the war currently engulfing the world, and she begins to question her priorities…

When it comes to the superhero movie genre, it’s hardly controversial to say that Marvel currently calls the shots. Since the first ‘Iron Man’ was released in 2008 it’s been an almost unbroken run of hits, almost always scoring the double-whammy of critical acclaim and box office success, and it shows no sign of stopping. This year alone has already seen ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2’ score decent reviews while hurtling towards nearly $850million dollars at the global box office, and we still have ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ to come. And none of this happened by accident. Marvel plan everything properly, announcing movies years in advance of release dates, and then taking their time to ensure the right cast and crew are in place. Compare-and-contrast with the DC/Warner Bros. approach, which was to retroactively announce their own movie universe off of the back of the moderately successful ‘Man Of Steel’. A mooted sequel morphed into ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’, a movie that, and I’m being polite here, divides people. Overlong, almost humour-free and very dark in its overall tone, the critics were not kind (although I personally recommend the extended edition, as it’s a much better film), but it still made close to a billion dollars worldwide. That was followed by ‘Suicide Squad’, if anything an even more unpopular movie (with the critics anyway) than BVS. Despite a nearly non-existent plot and some seriously iffy casting (Cara Delevnigne… just, no…) it still made a sizable chunk of change at the box office. So what next? What could DC and Warners do to win over those pesky critics?

As it turns out, the answer was staring DC in the face. For many, the undoubted star of BVS was not Henry Cavill’s brooding Superman, nor was it Ben Affleck’s old-and-brooding Batman. No, it was Gal Gadot, an Israeli model-turned-actress mostly known for the Fast & Furious franchise, as Wonder Woman. Despite first appearing in 1941, the character had only appeared in live-action form in the shape of model-turned-actress (a pattern is emerging…) Lynda Carter, in a fondly remembered-if-very-kitsch ’70’s TV series. While numerous attempts to get the character up on the big-screen came and went (as well as another TV series with Adrianne Palicki, that never made it past the pilot stage), BVS, being the start of something bigger, offered a perfect opportunity to do it properly. And Gadot delivered in spades. Despite only enjoying a relatively small amount of screen time, she made a seriously strong impression, presenting Diana Prince as a beautiful woman-of-mystery, before transforming into an utter badass, powerful enough to leave both ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Man of Steel’ looking on awe. Stealing a movie from those two should surely make her own outing an inevitability, you’d think. DC and Warner Bros. agreed. Patty Jenkins came on board to direct, a strong supporting cast was assembled, and a movie was made. So has that critics curse been broken? Oh yes…

Straight off the bat, I’ll put it out there, and say that ‘Wonder Woman‘ is an excellent movie. This is very much an origin story, the early scenes showcasing Diana growing from a cute moppet into the warrior princess we’ll come to know, all the while dealing with an over-protective mother and a growing curiosity about the word beyond her island. This desire to know more is further fueled by the arrival on the Island of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a US pilot on a secret mission and literally the first man she has ever seen, who, after helping the Amazons fend off an attack by German soldiers, brings word to the island of the conflict currently raging around the world (otherwise known as  World War 1). Convinced the war is the work of the God of War Ares (not Kratos, sadly), and ignoring the protests of her mother, Diana joins Trevor as he heads back to Europe to complete his mission. The period setting comes into sharp focus at this point, as Diana encounters a world that is very much run by men, where women are expected to do as they are told, and certainly not talk back to the men who are, let’s be honest, presiding over the slaughter of millions. And they are certainly not expected to walk around carrying swords, shields and lassos, something that Diana is quite happy doing. And it’s to the writers credit that there is no real attempt to portray this world through modern, 21st century sensibilities. This is simply how things were back then, and the fact that Diana doesn’t get it and refuses to play ball is an important part of her character, and makes you want her to succeed, especially in the face of obstacles that are not of her making, as well as staggeringly unjust. The only slight nod to a vaguely revisionist view of the conflict comes in the form of Field Marshall Haig (and effective cameo by James Cosmo), blithely issuing orders that will send millions of men to their deaths, something that Diana is understandably shocked by.

Something that has become apparent with the vast array of superhero movies out there these days, regardless of which company is releasing them, is that casting is everything. It’s an area where Marvel are particularly strong, while others have a much more varied track record. Fox, for instance, have done okay with their ongoing X-Men franchise, but dropped a massive clanger with the recent Fantastic Four reboot (although terrible casting was just one of many, many problems with that disaster). DC, for their part, have drawn a mixed response so far with their casting decisions, with both Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, for instance, having just as many supporters as detractors. However, with Gadot they have absolutely nailed it. As mentioned earlier, she stole BVS with only a few minutes of screentime, but across her own 2hour+ run time she develops Diana fully from innocent wide-eyed girl to sword-swinging warrior princess, and all the stages in between, as the reality of the world she knows nothing about intrudes on her long-cherished beliefs and ideals. She’s ably assisted by a strong supporting cast, led by Pine who, by now, can play roguish charm in his sleep. In his hands, Steve Trevor is noble and heroic, while at the same time displaying a certain dark side to his character that could potentially muddy his relationship with Diana. The chemistry between the two is palpable, with the obvious attraction developing from their first meeting on Themyscira to the inevitable declaration of love. And you’ll probably be punching the air when that happens, so invested in these characters will you be.

While the small band of mercenaries (who later become much more altruistic) who accompany them on their mission to try and end the war (by basically killing Ares) don’t get a huge amount to do, each is given a small moment to shine, with Said Taghmaoui probably making the best impression as Sameer, a con-artist with a sense of nobility lurking beneath the surface. And it’s always nice to see Ewen Bremner, as a Scottish sharpshooter, and David Thewlis, as a politician trying to negotiate peace, gracing a blockbuster. Elsewhere, the villains are slightly less memorable, with Danny Huston portraying your common-or-garden megalomaniac German general, although Elena Anaya has a rather more interesting character arc as the wonderfully named Doctor Poison, armed with a name that does exactly what it says on the tin and a proper comic-book villain half-face mask. Fingers crossed that we’ll get to see more of her, as you feel she has plenty more to give. It’s also worth noting that the Germans (with the exception of Huston’s general) are not portrayed as evil monsters, rather just soldiers fighting a war. This could be seen as a revisionist viewpoint, or could be simply that that’s how Diana sees them, and we’re seeing things through her eyes. It’s quite a refreshing approach, and you certainly can’t imagine Batman approaching a night on Gotham’s streets in the same way. Essentially another reason why Diana is the hero DC, and indeed us, have been waiting for…

So to sum things up, ‘Wonder Woman’ is an excellent film, filled with enjoyable character development, quiet moments of introspection, thrilling action set-pieces, and an ending that feels just right, considering everything that’s gone before. But, and this could be so much more important, it finally gets the DC movie universe up-and-running on the big screen, following the slight misfires of BVS and ‘Suicide Squad’. And it couldn’t have come at a more important time. As Marvel’s march continues, DC are about to wheel out their truly big guns, as ‘Justice League’ is their next movie to hit cinemas (this November, to be precise). They need people to head to the cinema with a good memory of their characters fresh in the mind, and Wonder Woman delivers just that, and exciting, funny, touching, moving blockbuster that leaves you wanting to see more of the character and their world. And even if ‘Justice League’ does crash and burn, which is probably unlikely, Jenkins and Gadot in particular can be very proud of what they’ve achieved here, which s to say a female-led blockbuster, where a woman calls the shots and the chaps simply do as they are told. Long at it continue…


About author


Long-time fan of all things geek-related. Comics, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, Warhammer, video games, mythology, you name it, I probably like it. This also extends to pro-wrestling and heavy metal, hence the name. Particular loves would be the Star Wars sage, Game of Thrones (books and TV), Judge Dredd, Assassins Creed, and many more. Born and raised in Essex by parents who have broadly supported these passions over the years, so much so that they now share many of them.