All DC had to do was improve on the turd sandwich that was Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman would be its best superhero film to date. Good news friends, it did! DC ticked off enough character and plot structure boxes that we used to take for granted in giant blockbusters and now for us, the consumer; that is enough to call it passable. A solid B- to C+, and by today’s standard that is a decent report card.
Behind the helm is Patty Jenkins, the first woman to direct a feature length with a budget over $100 million, and this intrigued me as I thought it may mean more refined and nuanced action apart from the ‘pew pew pew!’ of Michael Bay or even DC puppet-master Zack Snyder. Happily, she’s left us somewhere in the middle of that, sure its peppered with clichés but what it loses in overused tropes, it gains in meaningful relationships and an actual narrative arc.
Gal Gadot is perfectly cast as Diana, Princess of the Amazons – who was teased in the woeful Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie last year. Now we get to see her standalone film/backstory that is basically what Captain America was for Marvel; about someone with a shield fighting in a world war against an evil scientist.
Diana lives on an island that is essentially a utopian paradise crafted by Zeus himself to protect the Amazons – a legion of warrior style Valkyrie women who spend their lives training for an inevitable day where the God of War; Ares will make his move. When a WWI plane crashes nearby, Diana discovers there is an outside world currently on the brink of collapse and she is compelled by her duty to go and fight.
Next, we get a classic fish out of water tale but it is slick and fun, with likeable characters, a cool setting and of course – Hans Zimmer on the score which makes for a flawless soundtrack. The VFX aren’t terrible but do reek of the DC look, which is almost cartoonishly bad at times. And anyone whose studied scriptwriting can read where it’s going basically from scene one, but that doesn’t detract (much) from an engaging and entertaining movie. For me – the time period works really well too.
The first, but certainly not the last, origins story in this burgeoning cinematic universe, as one by one each hero is going to get their moment in the spotlight and perhaps the biggest surprise of all with this film, among many, is that Wonder Woman sets the bar for them, and places it high.