Wonder Woman (2017) - Written Review

At long last, with 75 years of comic book history, Wonder Woman makes her way onto the big screen in Warner Bros' and DC's Wonder Woman. Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film tells the story of Princess Diana of Themyscira, who upon meeting World War I spy Steve Trevor vows to travel into the heart of the war to thwart the presence of a sinister enemy to humanity.
Look, I'm going to cut right to the chase and say this: Wonder Woman is the best DC movie since The Dark Knight in 2008, and quite possibly up there in terms of classic status with Superman I and Tim Burton's Batman. It might not be quite perfect, but Wonder Woman, despite its slightly long running time, is a really fun, entertaining and heartfelt action blockbuster with a more sinister edge laced in there to create some truly terrific drama. The World War I setting gives the film a unique setting against the landscape of other superhero films, and actually plays a key role in the story and Diana's arc across the film - witnessing the horrors of a war not fought between good and evil but between innocents. There's a key theme of manipulating innocent lives in the film, and the way this builds into the ultimate climax is superb.
However, while we're on the subject of the climax its worth noting that the film includes a big twist that...despite working on a narrative and thematic level, means that the film has to stop part-way through the final battle to deliver an exposition dump before launching into a big CGI-heavy battle very much in the style of the Marvel films. Not that this is necessarily a negative, the film needs a big blow-out finale, but the structure of it all is a little clunky. The villain basically walks into the scene to be fought off by Wonder Woman, and it seems a little off.
Another negative is that the film forces in a prologue that plays almost like a deleted scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the proceeds to have no effect on the rest of the film. Having a modern-day prologue wasn't needed, and just seems to be there to put the character in place for Justice League in November.
But on the positives, well the cast are magnificent. While Gal Gadot may not be the most versatile actress on the planet, director Patty Jenkins brings out a strong performance from her lead, and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is actually pretty good. He's playing a strong character here, and clearly has improved as an actor since the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Lucy Davis, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis deliver strong performances throughout, but the film also manages to deliver with Diana and Steve's fellow team-members: Ewen Bremmer, Said Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock all work well as the film's howling commandos (and are much more developed than the actual howling commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger).
Patty Jenkins' direction is fantastic, and while the slow-motion is a little repetitive, and the fast casts in some of the fights get a bit much, she manages to keep her eye on the ball so-to-speak and crafts some magnificent action set-pieces, helped by the beautiful and colourful cinematography. The sequences in the trenches, and the way that develops is a stunning moment in the film, and there are plenty of these spread out throughout. The comedy, while not laugh-out-loud, softens the mood in places and the characters have plenty of time to interact with one another. Sure, there is the odd element left unchecked by the time the film ends, but the 141 minute running time is put to good use.
Rupert Gregson-Williams crafts a magnificent score, using the main theme composed by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL to craft a soundtrack that manages to stand on its own two feet outside of the DC Universe, and consistently worked well with everything that appears on-screen.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a brilliant film. It may not strive to do anything too outside-the-box, but as a standalone adventure for the character, it works on almost every level. Had this been the first in this series, I think the DC Extended Universe would have gotten off to a better start, but for now, as our one and only Wonder Woman movie, it's pretty damn awesome. 9/10


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