“Wonder Woman” forms the next installment of DC Extended Universe films, and could be described as a spinoff to 2016’s subpar “Batman vs Superman”. Diana (Wonder Woman) is the sole superhero appearing in this film, leaving her front and centre to kick some serious butt and also tell us her story. Of course a good superhero is nothing without a villain, and that is in the form of the God of War, Ares.
We meet Diana as a little girl (played by Lilly Aspell), living on an all-woman paradise island with her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) and her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). As she grows older, Diana (Gal Gadot) is a well trained Amazon like her peers, and begins to learn the true extent of her powers and identity. It’s then she meets Steven Trevor (Chris Pine) an American spy working undercover trying to get the German secrets in an attempt to stop the war, which he believes will come to a head after discovering the plans led by Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya). Of course this tugs at Diana’s heartstrings, and she sets off with Trevor to London to help stop the war, who she believes is a product of Ares – the God of War. They meet Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Wright) in London, who helps Diana assimilate and also provides a good deal of humour.
The flick is set early in the 20th century at the height of World War 1, but brings a god-like presence in the ultimate theme that man is inherently good, and that conflict is the cause of a higher power. In this, the flick really humanises war as we get a sense of the people behind the gas masks and guns.
Chris Pine may seem like an odd choice, but proves to be just perfect for the role as Steve Trevor. Trevor, who like Diana, has yet to experience true love and marriage, becomes the first man Diana ever lays eyes on. He gets to know Diana in a similar fashion to how she gets to know herself, as she discovers who she really is and the extent of her true powers. And of course Gal Gadot just shines as Wonder Woman and Diana. Perhaps someone build Gadot out of clay purely for this role, as she has a truly faultless performance.
The film obviously has a hefty dose of girl power, as Wonder Woman at her strongest could defeat an entire army. Not only that, but the female presence brings emotion and heart to the forefront, which also links back to Diana seeing the soldiers (particularly the Germans) as humans, who have merely been misled and brainwashed.
“Wonder Woman” has a soundtrack that perfectly encapsulates every emotion. It’s not overreaching, and it doesn’t just try and shove in as many Muse songs as possible. It also works incredibly well in possibly the best romance scene I’ve ever seen. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife, and I could physically feel myself edging forward on my seat, almost pushing Pine and Gadot together. Rupert Gregson-Williams, writer and composer of the film’s music, has done a stellar job at capturing the heart of each scene, without completely taking over.
You could describe the flick as Indiana Jones meets Casablanca – a Saturday matinee with action and adventure, but all the feels and a credible romance that doesn’t overshadow, but rather forms the perfect backdrop. Wonder Woman’s first love isn’t forced, it’s more organic and she isn’t told how to feel. None of the movie or dialogue feels wasted or pointless, which is a rare thing these days. No scene drags too long and the story is told from beginning to end succinctly and thoughtfully.
Props to Patty Jenkins, who has made the best movie she could possibly make without purely focusing on the context of “superhero”. It’s got a good dose of humour (particularly when Diana makes her debut into regular life), a kick-arse cast, impressive stunts and a story with enough twists and turns to keep you enthralled til the very end. Similarly, the last 20 minutes wasn’t the cliche superhero vs villain destroying cities or countries, which is a refreshing change. Of course the film will appease the DC fans, who have been hanging for a superhero film with someone to truly barrack for.
“Wonder Woman” is a perfect example of how sequels and spinoffs can be better than their predecessors. It’s miles above Batman vs Superman, and is the perfect setup to Justice League, as you leave feeling like you know the Diana/Wonder Woman story in depth. Fans of Wonder Woman over the years will get a kick out of the new and improved Gal Gadot version, but don’t sweat it if you’re not familiar with the superhero or DC franchise in general – it’s a standalone film with no prior knowledge needed.
“Wonder Woman” is inspiring, action-packed, well thought out and has given the DC Extended Universe new life.