Princess Diana (Gadot) lives a sheltered life among the Amazons on the island of Themyscira but dreams of something greater. She convinces her aunt, General Antiope (Wright), to train her and soon the time comes for action when an American pilot named Steve Trevor (Pine) crashes on the island and tells the Amazons about World War I. Diana is determined to help stop the war and save humankind so she leaves her home for London.
Saying that Wonder Woman is the best instalment of the DC Extended Universe stable, and that it sets the benchmark for ones to follow, may not seem like the biggest compliment. After all, when you’re preceded by the likes of Man of Steel (which was just fine), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and (*shudder*) Suicide Squad, that’s not a particularly high standard to overcome. Still, Wonder Woman is awesome and awe-inspiring in its own right.
The film consists of a variety of environments, including the island of Themyscira (populated by the Amazonian people), the battlefields of the war, and London of the early 20th century. The production design of all is appealing and immersive.
The battle sequences are cool and the special effects are impressive. Wonder Woman is one of those cases where the trailer doesn’t do it justice and the film far exceeds it. The characters are well-written and the story moves at an effective pace. There is also some humour derived from the 'men v women' and 'Diana v other humans' discrepancies. There’s little in fact to not enjoy about or fault in the film.
Gal Gadot is pure perfection in the titular role while Pine is suitably charming and never imposing. They are backed by fun supporting characters with great performers behind them. Steve’s secretary Etta Candy (played by the highly amusing Lucy Davis, Dawn from The Office UK) is tasked with teaching Diana about contemporary gender politics. Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock and Trainspotting’s Ewen Bremner form Steve’s misfit team.
It’s also a relief that there aren’t too many characters as in other superhero movies like Suicide Squad and Captain America: Civil War, which suffered as a result of over-populating their films and over-complicating their plots. Wonder Woman is efficient in its narrative and even has the power to move as a result of its strong, affable characters. One of the few issues that it suffers from, akin to other superhero movie counterparts, is a sense of confusion as to what to do for a villain. The villains here, while by no means the worst ever written, are never all that compelling. As for the final battle sequence, Wonder Woman opts for a comic book aesthetic that feels like it’s catering a bit for fans but in fairness, the rest of the film is a work all its own thanks to the direction of the impressive Patty Jenkins (Monster).
There are few representations of women on the big screen to look up to, and as a female reviewer one can’t help but be conscious of that perspective in reviewing a film. But the characters of Wonder Woman, most especially its titular character, encompass strong, fierce warrior women that are genuinely a wonder to behold. Still better than that, Wonder Woman is an all-round captivating piece of cinema.