For many Wonder Woman conjures up images of Saturday tea time watching an ex-beauty pageant queen cavorting around in a skimpy stars and stripes outfit and thigh boots, frankly it’s the sort of thing that, these days, the Editor would pay good money for (‘You’re fired!’- Ed). With Gal Gadot introduced in last years Batman vs Superman and frankly being better than either of her headline stars its now her turn for a standalone film. This first proper big budget female superhero film has been in development hell for years with directors coming and going and the story going through a variety of treatments but as might be expected its initially an origin story with young Miss Woman or Diana Prince as she’s actually called living on an island of Amazon women watching them in combat training. For some reason all these Amazon women have heavy East European accents and ludicrously toned physiques that makes the whole place look like some Sapphic Russian Olympic training camp. But watching them train is not dissimilar to the opening sequence of that testosterone fuelled romp, ‘300’. It’s here we find Diana, in a beautifully shot back story that looks like an animated painting, was born of clay by God of Gods himself, Zeus and consequently has powers that she is unsure of until a particularly harsh training day unleashes her inner god like powers.
Diana’s island is untainted by men so goodness only how they reproduce although the Editor has suggested a turkey baster must figure somewhere (‘You’re still fired!’ – Ed) and is somewhat out of time too as the outside world is in the middle of a World War which she only finds out about when Chris Pine plummets in to the sea in his biplane and is rescued by her and what follows is the first full on battle of Amazon women vs Nazi soldiers. In a firearms against arrows fight it’s the first test of how successful the action sequences will be and the news is that director Patty Jenkins handles it with aplomb. Perhaps the only jarring point is that Diana having trained as a warrior with all the others seems oddly upset and surprised that some of her Amazonian mates die in the battle.
Wonder Woman’s gadgets, unlike Batman’s, always seem confined to a few items and here we do get the lasso of truth which, when wrapped around Pine, forces him to tell the real reason why he’s there. The lasso of truth works its magic far better than the office toilet of truth where the Editor is frequently found with his head down it confessing, ‘I’ll never drink again’, only to start quaffing pints again at lunchtime. Pine is very good in what is normally the female sidekick eye candy role and plays the laughs well especially in a bath scene which borders on porn parody. Having established that he’s a spy who has found that the Germans have developed a poison gas which he believes is going to be used o both sides troops despite a truce being negotiated and together the pair set off to stop the atrocity occurring despite Pine being ordered not to by his superiors led by the always good David Thewlis as a crusty English Lord.
There’s much riding on this for Warner brothers who are keen for their DC comic universe to rival Marvel’s and this is an excellent start. Gal Gadot is very good in the lead role although for a large part of the film her outfit is covered up in an unflattering coat and skirt combo and when she does dispense with it in an allied trench before a tremendous fight scene the battle weary soldiers look on as though the pub stripper has turned up for some morale boosting. Set during wartime this is similar in feel to the first Captain America film with its production design which flits from Diana’s island to World War era to modern day and is very well done. Director Jenkins has assembled an excellent supporting cast from Danny Huston as a homicidal German general to his sidekick, a female chemist with a disfigured face part covered by a plastic guard and with her immoveable ventriloquist dummy face she looks like a demonic botoxed Amanda Holden. The plot is much as can be expected and features sequences as good as any battle we’ve seen in Marvel films though the script does have a grind to a halt moment as one character has a Hollywood message complaining about the tribulations of having to battle for social acceptance if you are of a racial minority – the #OscarsTooWhite campaign appears to have been fresh in the writers mind when putting this together.
Perhaps a little over long at almost two and a half hours but this is one of the best superhero films we’ve had in a while and the Warner bros execs can breathe a sigh of relief……..and in case you’re wondering Lynda Carter doesn’t make a cameo appearance and there was no post credit scene in the print we watched.
Here’s the trailer…….