Since the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s superb Batman trilogy, the DC Universe has fared rather poorly on the big screen. Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman all had major issues, to say the least. But one patch of brightness amid the otherwise dreary slog of the latter was the appearance of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. At the time I was very irritated because I didn’t want her shoehorned into that idiotic film. Thank goodness then, for Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, which gives Gal Gadot the introduction she deserves. Here she is as iconic, inspiring and utterly definitive as Christopher Reeve was in Superman.
Ostensibly an origin story, Wonder Woman begins on a hidden island paradise where the mythological backstory of the Amazon women warriors and Diana (aka Wonder Woman) is explained. Fast forward to World War I, and Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy undercover in the German army, crash lands on their shores. Hot on his heels are the German army, which leads to the first battle in the film. After learning about war in the world outside, Diana joins Steve on his mission to prevent deadly gas being used on the Western Front, along the way hoping to defeat an ancient arch nemesis. Cue much fish-out-of-water comedy, a spot of romance, and plenty of action.
Wonder Woman is a joy. Like the Christopher Reeve Superman, the film has wit, heart and awe to spare. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is terrific, and the supporting cast – including Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock – are all good too. A stand-out set piece with Diana going over the top of the trenches into No Man’s Land will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time-great superhero sequences. In addition to such fine direction from Jenkins, the also film benefits from a rousing music score by Rupert Gregson-Williams.
To be fair, it’s not entirely flawless. One could argue the messages about war and peace are slightly confused, although the spiritual metaphors about whether or not the human race deserves to be saved are admirable. Diana is forced to conclude that what we deserve has nothing to do with it, and along the way surprisingly poignant themes of sacrifice and redemption are also touched upon. It’s perhaps a tad overlong, with the requisition CGI blow-out in the final act, but all of these are fairly minor nits.
In summary, Wonder Woman is a wonderful piece of work.