It’s been twelve years since the last female-led superhero movie and nine years since the last really great DC superhero film, so there is a lot riding on the shoulders of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. That’s why it brings me so much pleasure to say the film is an absolute delight. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but offers enough that everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Jenkins deserves a huge round of applause for managing to pull the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) out of the dirt and giving it a character that doesn’t spend the entire film moping about.
The film’s acts are easily differentiated by their location; the first is set on Diana’s (Gal Gadot) home island of Themyscira and is full of Greek mythology that for the most part just washes over you. This whole section of the film does a nice job of setting up Diana as a character and introducing her love interest, Steve Trevor, played by the blue-eyed Chris Pine. The next section takes place in London during the First World War and is a sort of fish-out-of-water comedy that works for the most part. And, as is to be expected with a DC film, the final third becomes a bloated CGI mess that features two massively overpowered characters just hitting each other. This final act battle feels much more like a push from studio executives than Patty Jenkins’ direction; the action earlier in the film feels ground and impactful, such as a fantastic action set piece in a small village that sees Wonder Woman tearing through various German Soldiers.
Unlike Batman v Superman or Man of Steel, Wonder Woman has humour that works – for the most part. I found myself laughing at several points at the culture clash between Diana and Steve as they talk about what women should or shouldn’t do. Whoever decided to set the film in 1918 when women were struggling to get the right to vote, let alone fight in wars, was a genius. The film doesn’t shove gender politics down your throat but presents it in a way that feels empowering for both women and men. A particularly noteworthy scene features Diana crossing No Man’s Land after being told she couldn’t by several of her male companions: a wonderful moment that captures the essence of the film and Diana’s character.
On the acting front, both Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are good but not revolutionary in their roles. Gadot masters most aspects of the character but lacks the quality that makes me think she’ll be synonymous with the role in a way that Robert Downey Jr is with Tony Stark. Speaking of Marvel, Wonder Woman’s greatest issue is that from a story point of view it all feels slightly ‘been there done that’. It’s like the writer watched Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger and just crammed the two together. It lacks a real sense of originality that I think the film needs. Despite this, it does stand on its own two feet and boasts impressive action that neither of those Marvel movies really offered.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a huge step forward for women in blockbuster cinema and for DC’s cinematic universe. It boasts impressive and well-shot action, jokes that land more often than not and an interesting central character that I can’t wait to see again in Justice League later this year. Of the many superhero films released in recent years it’s definitely one of the best. Check it out if you find yourself in need of a big screen blockbuster this month.
Wonder Woman is in cinemas across the UK now. Image source: Businessinider.com