It’s hugely satisfying that Wonder Woman marks the moment where DC got their act together enough to make an unequivocally good film. A leading female superhero has been a long time coming, and Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins ensure that all-too rare opportunity has not been wasted.
If neither reinvents the wheel, it’s a fault that all blockbuster filmmakers have been guilty of, yet several familiar sequences feel fresh through female eyes. An all-female training camp on the idyllic cliffs of Themyscira may be commonplace for Diana Prince, but for a little girl watching in the cinema it is nothing but inspiring.
Within the strict confines of a blockbuster superhero film, Jenkins does some fine work. She delivers the most emotionally affecting battle scenes in years which match the film’s tone of operatic melodrama. At its weakest this leads to earnest speechifying, but at a few glorious high points the result is as moving as anything seen in rival superhero films.
A lot of this comes down to Gal Gadot, who gives a great performance in a role heavy with the weight of the audience’s hopes. She radiates empathy as a woman learning for the first time what it means to be human, warts and all. Her chemistry with the also excellent Chris Pine is another highlight, and at its lighter moments Wonder Woman hits the same fish-out-of-water beats as Thor.
Should Wonder Woman’s status as the first female superhero film earn it a free pass? Never. And it certainly has its faults. The opening act drags with exposition and the climax slips into the same fire and brimstone mixtape so beloved of DC. But that status also buys it an inspiring, revolutionary spirit that your average neighbourhood superhero film can only dream of.
CAST: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock
DIRECTOR: Patty Jenkins
WRITERS: Allan Heinberg (screenplay); Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs (story by); William Moulton Marston (Wonder Woman created by)
SYNOPSIS: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.