Wonder Woman’s unabashed optimism, hope and sensitivity make it a great deal more than ‘above average.’
“I will fight, for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
A great deal more than above average! You won’t believe how hard a mark that is for blockbusters to achieve these days. The fact that this one spends so much of its 140 min runtime flirting with greatness is merely the cherry on top. Patty Jenkins has crafted a wonderful homage to classic superhero storytelling – drawing on Golden Age heroics from both page and screen. It’s the heir apparent to Richard Donner’s beloved Superman, sharing in its unabashed optimism, hope and sensitivity. Where some CBMs like to pick apart the genre, resorting to moments of self-parody in a slightly warped attempt not to take themselves too seriously, Wonder Woman is perfectly comfortable playing it straight. It is endearingly earnest.
You could argue certain plot points feel played out – particularly early on. I remain unconvinced by film’s opening in Themyscira (beyond that gloriously OTT battle-on-the-beach). Diana’s interactions with her relatives and peers are all surprisingly wooden – the film only really finds its groove after her departure to the real world. Conversely, the final 20 minutes amp up the emotional stakes ten-fold, yet prove to be as satisfying and compelling as this film ever gets. Jenkins puts a creative spin on her villain (both visually and narratively), making them a far more credible threat than they ever appeared to be. The movie’s approach to the global conflict at hand feels a little broad and one-sided, but that arguably plays quite nicely into its pervading theme of naivety. And one of its finest achievements is the way in which it taps into the emotional consequences of war – for both civilians and veterans. The Trafalgar Square/memorial scene is a nice touch.
Gal Gadot is an action icon – this film makes it official. Her natural penchant for kicking ass and taking names is only topped by that irresistible smirk she wears on her face while doing it. Much like Arnie, The Rock and Statham, she’s at her best in a brawl, but can hold her own in the odd dramatic scene. She and Lucy Davis make for a well balanced comic double act, while its her chemistry with an endlessly charismatic Chris Pine that proves to be the film’s emotional anchor. What Gadot and Jenkins have achieved here cannot be understated. Together they’ve catapulted this legendary Amazonian Warrior firmly back into the public’s consciousness – and ideally opened the door for many more female-led & directed superhero stories to come.
I went to the bathroom straight after this and was greeted by a chorus of guys whistling the soon-to-be-if-not-already-iconic theme. Pretend for a sec they weren’t all taking a leak and this story becomes heartwarming.