There are three stories here, and as much as this film might blur the boundaries they are very, very different.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, as the title might suggest, relates to the creator of Wonder Woman Dr William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), who, as depicted in the film, together with his wife Elizabeth (the always excellent Rebecca Hall) invents the lie detector and begins a polyamorous, then none too savoury relationship with William’s teaching assistant Olive (Australia’s Bella Heathcote).
If that seems like a lot for a feature film to cover, it is.
Each alone is a fascinating story, with the creation of the lie detector relegated largely to the first act. The tangential themes of the innovation play sparingly and when so as explicitly stated throughout the later narratives. Converesly, the creation of the Amazonian warrior is realised in not insignificant part through a series of abrupt second act non-sequiturs featuring Marston justifying what is now one of the most famous characters in the world to some none too happy naysayers.
The genesis of Wonder Woman as outlined in the film, showcased overtly so in one colourful sequences that has and will feature in every piece of promotional material, if visually engaging lacks both the subtlety the film otherwise seeks to evince and the types of establishing motifs that do anything but convince that you are about to witness what is here predictably rendered.
Stranger still, a film that seeks to explore what today remains in many quarters shunned sexual overtures is at lengths remarkably coy in it’s depiction of the characters’ particular inclinations and lifestyle. More significantly, the three leads, rather than developing to any great extent remain heavily stuck in the archetypes that better serve the first, introductory act of a story abundantly reliant on the revelationary upheaval of it’s persons. Evans, an expository machine dependent in stretches on stilted dialogue, is joined by Heathcote’s ingenue, both up against the more relatable and grounded Hall who carries much of the emotionally fraught and frequently uneven film.
Still engaging for the trio’s performances and it’s captivating premise, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women remains a better option than Justice League for those DC-tragics, this author among them, ever-entranced by the series’ eclectic characters.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is in cinemas now