WONDER WOMAN (USA/12A/141mins)
Directed by Patty Jenkins. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner.
THE PLOT: Amazon warrior princess Diana (Gal Gadot) finds herself a fish out of water when she travels to our world after meeting American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Diana is determined to single handedly end World War I by killing the god of war Aries, but has no idea how to find him. While she searches, Diana discovers more about herself, about human nature, and about the world that was just outside her reach.
THE VERDICT: Since her first appearance in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ last year, Gal Gadot’s ‘Wonder Woman’ film has been highly anticipated but, since the release of Suicide Squad, there has been trepidation about DC’s latest cinematic outing. The good news is that DC seems to have learned from their mistakes and have managed to make’ Wonder Woman’ a fun, if familiar superhero movie.
Gal Gadot easily leads the cast as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, Gadot makes the character funny, engaged and engaging, and although it would be easy for Gadot to make the humour in the film feel cheap, tacky or at her character’s expense, there is a careful balance created with the character that never makes her the butt of the joke, but also allows her sincerity to be acceptable. Chris Pine is a perfect balance to Gadot, also playing up the comedy and the sincerity, while having fun with the adventure aspect of the film. The rest of the cast features David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner and Elena Anaya, while Robin Wright plays up her inner badass as Amazonian General Antiope.
Allan Heinberg’s screenplay is an origins story, beginning in the modern day with Bruce Wayne wondering where Wonder Woman actually came from, sending Diana Prince on a reminiscing journey about her time putting an end to World War I. There is plenty of adventure in the film, the jokes keep coming and the characters are written well enough for the film to even be moving from time to time. Diana is a strong character who never really allows anyone to truly control her, but making her unaware of her origins and the world she finds herself in gives the character vulnerability and relatability.
Director Patty Jenkins has stayed away from the big screen since her 2003 film ‘Monster’, and it is good to have her at the helm of ‘Wonder Woman’. Jenkins makes sure that the pacing of the film is even and keeps the story moving, while allowing the characters to feel as though they are becoming fully rounded on screen. As well as this the comedy is carefully balanced with the drama and adventure in the film, and the actors do well with their roles. Where the film falls down, however, is with some cheap looking CGI that drags the audience out of the action, and the final set piece feels long and drawn out.
In all, ‘Wonder Woman’ is a sincere improvement on the DC films we have seen of late, and there is a lot of fun to be had with the film. That said, there are times when the story of a superhero in a war or a world that is not theirs feels familiar and predictable, but the characters are well rounded, and the action, adventure and comedy are well balanced.
Rating: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    It’s been a long journey to the big screen, but 76 years after she first appeared on comic book pages, Wonder Woman has finally arrived. While the Lynda Carter TV show flew the flag for a while, this superb character was crying out for a film adaptation. It soars.

    Since she was a young girl, Diana (Gal Gadot) has always wanted to be a warrior. Growing up on the all-female Amazonian society of Themyscira, her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) recognises this, but wants her to hold back. Her sister Antiope (Robin Wright) trains Diana nonetheless. Their peaceful existence is about to be shattered. Although the island is hidden from the outside world by a barrier, WWI pilot and spy Steve (Chris Pine) breaks through and crash lands. Diana saves him and he tells his story, under duress of the lasoo of truth of course. The dying days of WWI rage outside and the obsessive General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is unconvinced by an impending armistice. With the help of scientist Dr Maru AKA Dr Poison (Elena Anaya), he’s developing deadly chemical warfare that could turn the tide of the war. Diana is convinced that Ludendorff is the God Ares, who poses a similar threat to the Themyscirans. With her true powers only hinted at, Diana may be the key to end the war to end all wars…

    A lot of criticism was flung at Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice last year from film critics. Despite some noticeable flaws, it wasn’t that bad actually. None of that blame can be attributed to Gal Gadot, who effectively stole the film from under the noses of co-stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. With memories of Lynda Carter still in his nostalgic mind, this reviewer had doubts about Israeli model Gadot and whether she had the physical presence to play the part. However, she certainly made the role of Diana / Wonder Woman her own, being slinky, strong and kick-ass to boot. Her solo film is an origin story framed through an extended flashback from ‘that photo’ glimpsed in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. And what a wonder it is.

    Directing her first film in 14 years since her Oscar-winning Monster (another transformative story) Patty Jenkins has fashioned a superhero film with a strong female angle – and is all the better for it. Hollywood has often baulked at female-driven comic-book character films (anyone remember the disastrous Elektra?). However, Wonder Woman has a long and rich history, which is fully deserving of the big screen treatment. Jenkins has done something quite daring here, in suggesting that Hollywood has neglected half of its audience. Girls can kick ass just as much as the boys. In fact, Wonder Woman makes it look easy compared to Batboy and Supes. A lesser film might suggest that she’s all-powerful, but Jenkins is careful enough to suggest that she’s vulnerable at times. Jenkins also has some fun with fish-out-of-water elements, which are played both ways (Steve in Themyscira, Diana in London) to rib-tickling effect.

    Rather crudely dismissed as a ‘weaponised Smurfette’ by The Guardian recently, Wonder Woman is far from that. There’s a delicate balance of elements at play here – heroism, humour, defiance, tenderness, concern, all of which come to embody Gadot’s note-perfect performance. She not only looks the part, but she also handles the dramatic beats and the explosive action too. A strong supporting cast, which also includes David Thewlis, balance out alternative views of the character so we don’t view her as just a goddess. After all, a sword and shield don’t go with a makeover. This multi-angle approach, while keeping the plot tight and streamlined, gives the film its edge. That was somewhat lacking in the overly busy Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. With Wonder Woman due to return in November with Justice League, the boys will have to up their game. Wonder Woman is thrilling summer entertainment and deserves to do boffo box office. It’s a clear winner. ****

  • emerb

    Wonderful! The new “Wonder Woman” is surprisingly successful. It’s a really refreshing departure from the tired old superhero movie formula not least because the hero is female but also that it’s set primarily during World War 1. Director Patty Jenkins last directed “Monster” 14 years ago in 2003 which won an Oscar for Charlize Theron and this is her first entry into the DC Comics universe and hopefully not her last. Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) was one of the few good things to emerge out of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and she doesn’t disappoint as the lead here. Jenkins goes back through
    time to deliver an origin story that functions perfectly well on its own but also leaves us excited for the franchise’s future.

    Set in World War I, the film takes us back to the beginning of Diana’s story, showing her growing up on the island of Themyscira, an all-female paradise that’s home to the Amazons. She was born from equal parts clay and her mother’s desire to have a child. She’s deeply loved by the rest of the Amazons, including her mother Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen) and her warrior aunt Antiope (Robin Wright Penn) but she doesn’t want to be protected, she wants to fight. She defies her mother and trains for the day she will confront Ares, the God of War and learn about her history. Peace on the island is interrupted when American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes there, and is saved by Diana. He is being pursued by Germans as he has stolen information from a local base. When the Amazons’ magic lasso compels Steve to tell the truth, and that he’s
    carrying intel that could help end the war, Diana is determined to go to the front so she can kill Ares and end the war . So they travel to London where Diana is horrified by the destruction and devastation. Steve gathers a loyal band of friends and together they set out to stop the evil Gen. Ludendorff (Danny Huston) who has his chief chemist, a disfigured sadist with hideous scars named Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), working to create a poisonous biological super-weapon to turn German defeat into victory.
    Israeli actress Gal Gadot makes a terrific Wonder Woman, she’s fierce, athletic, good-looking, expressive and independent. I’ve always liked Chris Pine, he’s handsome, charismatic, great fun and amusing (especially when he arrives with Diana in war-torn London and he witnesses her getting her first taste of 20th-century life – she’s a complete fish out of water). They have a nice chemistry between them, the banter is funny and the playful romance works. The film finds just the right balance between humour, gravitas and action and I really
    liked the amusing but brief appearances of venerable comic-book supporting
    character, the hilarious secretary Etta Candy, delightfully played by Lucy Davis (“Shaun of the Dead”). Comic relief also comes in the form of Steve’s friends — including Ewen Bremner as a Scottish sniper, Saïd Taghmaoui as a wannabe actor, and Eugene Brave Rock as a world-wise guide.
    “Wonder Woman” is a superior movie and by far the best DC Comics movie I’ve seen and is the first one to really challenge its Marvel rival. Not only is it a fast-moving action film but it’s a romantic comedy, a period piece and even a war movie. The action is explosive and dazzling and for me, the first big battle scene
    set in daylight on a beach was a real standout. Although, I felt a large part of the imperative final battle scene was too drawn out and unnecessary – just a minor quibble. There are laughs-a-plenty too especially when Diana first arrives in London completely lacking in social awareness and trying ice-cream for the first time and I liked the nice human touches such as a dance in the town square between Gadot and Evans. I thought the design team did a great job re-creating 1918 London and the war scenes didn’t shy away from tragedy: destroyed men with lost limbs, devastated countrysides and towns, dispossessed soldiers and torn families, an unusual feature for a comic book adaptation but they were used sparingly and effectively. In the recent flood of superhero movies, this one stands leagues above the rest. It’s slick, smart, exciting and engaging, definitely raises he bar for the genre as a whole. An impressive female superhero, a superb female director – now that’s my kind of movie. As the credits were rolling,
    I decided that I’m all set for the next adventure featuring Wonder Woman!