Out this week in cinemas is Warner Bros. Pictures latest entry in the DCEU, Wonder Woman. Starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine and directed by Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman sets the stage for the origin of Diana Prince (Gadot), Princess of Themyscira. Diana lives a wonderful life on the island of Themyscira with her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and fellow Amazonians. Protected from the outside world by a magical barrier the life of an Amazon is filled with constant training for a war that may never come from an enemy long thought dead. Young Diana hopes to live this same glorious life with her sisters and mother, but she is forbidden. This does not stop her from receiving secret training from the greatest general in Themyscira, General Antiope (Robin Wright). Eventually, she is found out and seeing the futility of trying to keep her daughter from her heritage Queen Hippolyta allows her daughter to fully achieve her potential. This goes on for many years until one day something unexpected breaks the barrier surrounding Themyscira and bringing with it the chaos of the outside world with it.
Wonder Woman is a fantastic film, with a deft hand, Jenkins weaves the origin story of Diana Prince with conviction. Set a hundred years before the events of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice this is a very different Diana Prince. She’s full of wonder and naivety hoping to right the wrongs inflicted upon the world by the war she believes is being subjugated by the God of War Ares. She believes in the best of man and watching her learn the truth of the soul of man is a fascinating and deeply moving journey. It’s truly a hero’s journey as she exemplifies the best in humanity and her very presence spurs those around her to better themselves especially in such a dark period in history as WWI. This couldn’t be achieved without the exemplary performance from Gal Gadot who brings such an incredible charm to the role. She has evolved into this role, and since Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice she has grown so much and gives a wonderfully balanced performance as Diana.
Another compelling aspect was the supporting cast, Diana has a small band of brothers with her as she heads to the Front and they are all brilliant. There’s Charlie (Ewen Bremner), a Scottish marksman with PTSD, Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) a suave Indian with a penchant for the ladies and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) a Native American smuggler who takes no sides in the war but sees the opportunity for peace Dianas presence offers and has to take that chance. These are lead by Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who is an American spy hoping to end the war with Diana’s help, and all I can say about Pine is this, he is outstanding. He has some of the most emotionally charged scenes in the entire film, and his smouldering chemistry with Gal Gadot gives Wonder Woman a compelling relationship to attach yourself to.
If there were any issues with Wonder Woman it would be some glaring problems in the CGI; there is one particular scene involving Queen Hippolyta and a cadre of soldiers that screamed amateur hour in the editing room. On top of that, there are one too many moments of slow motion fighting which could have been trimmed out of the film. The most underdeveloped aspect of Wonder Woman though is sadly its villains. Though the performances from Danny Huston and Elena Anaya as General Erich Ludendorff and Doctor Poison are commendable neither character is truly given their moment to shine. It’s a shame really because DCEU films usually have memorable villains.
On the technical aspect, Wonder Woman is a gorgeous movie, shifting between the soothing and vibrant hues of Themyscira to the dark and treacherous shades of WWI England. Giving Wonder Woman a visual aesthetic all its own in the ever growing universe that is the DCEU. Wonder Woman also brings with it the thumping score that audiences fell in love with when Diana made her debut in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. This film is almost the whole package sadly a few missteps in the development of the villains and a few hiccoughs in the CGI stop it from those five gold stars.
Ultimately Wonder Woman has a lot of pressure on its shoulders; it has to stand firm as a film for women, after all, it’s the first female superhero lead film since Iron Man started the renaissance of superhero films all those years ago. It also has to earn critical acclaim for the DC films that have not garnered the critical and commercial success of their Marvel cousins. I can happily say that Wonder Woman succeeds on both fronts giving the world a new cinematic hero to root for.