The best DC film in five years, Wonder Woman leaps far, far over what was a very low bar.
A slog of an opening filled with trying exposition aside, Wonder Woman would not be the semi-redeeming cornerstone of the burgeoning Justice League franchise if not for its ideally cast lead. Gal Gadot, steering the character from her more ensconced roots, training with her compatriots on Themyscira, among them General Antiope (Robin Wright), to a much more nuanced hero confronted with the perils and realities of the First World War, steals absolutely every scene she’s in, even when not draped in her trademark armour and crest.
Here nailing both the humour-driven and more glamorously regal aspects of the icon, together with Director Patty Jenkins, who thankfully opts to not thoroughly objectify the character as so many of her contemporaries would have done given the helm of such a project, Gadot succeeds in bringing to the fore the most endearing traits of the role. Standing up for a town against their aggressors or charging into battle on the Western Front in one of the least slapdash treatments of armed conflict in a modern, straight-up action flick, a select few of Gadot’s action-driven sequences, the best of the film to boot, including a confrontation in an alleyway, are as good as some of the stand-outs of comic lore’s recent contributions to the silver screen.
Packing a phenomenal score, itself one of the film’s best innovations, Wonder Woman is still far from the triumphal entity we probably shouldn’t expect, but at least can hope for from DC’s vastly impressive source material. Chris Pine’s supremely charming spy no doubt an asset, a conveyor-belt of supporting cast members, including Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) and Lucy Davis (The Office) are never around long enough to have their presence felt or be all that relevant. David Thewlis, taking pride of place among quite a few largely forgettable figures, in particular seemed like he was quite lost and perhaps wandered mistakenly on to the set, along with Ewen Bremner (Spud from Trainspotting) who was much more of a distraction than anything else.
Several memorable episodes notwithstanding, a painful scene in a pub where the group, chatting, are suddenly interrupted by a gunman, only for him to be dispelled two seconds later and never mentioned again, is only compounded by Thewlis’ quintessentially British rogue walking into the pub and casually offering to move the plot along.
An explosiony, unnecessarily noisy ending reminiscent of DC’s more woeful additions to the box office and a few other regretful instances notwithstanding, Wonder Woman is worth the time, not just for the action but the novelty as it is of seeing a marquee comic book flick with a female headliner, too otherwise just that bit different from so much else on offer.
Wonder Woman is in cinemas on June 1