Following hot on the heels of the joyless Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the positively soul-crushing Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman had a lot riding on its shoulders. Not only did it need to put DC’s reverse-engineered extended universe back on track and establish a competent origin story for one of its key players, but it is also the first female-led superhero film since the 2005 dud Elektra.
Wonder Woman follows Diana (Gal Gadot), who grows up under the overprotective gaze of her mother on the secluded island of Themyscira. She yearns for adventure and it soon finds her when American soldier (Chris Pine) crash lands and tells her and the Amazonians that the Great War is raging. Diana takes it upon herself to leave her Tolkienesque wet dream of a hometown in order to fight against the Germans and find Ares, the God of War, whom she believes is corrupting the heart of Man and manipulating them into WWI.
While everyone has been collectively drooling over Patty Jenkins’ first feature since 2003‘s Monster, the reality is that Wonder Woman is not the superhero masterpiece that many are trumpeting. Calling it the best DCEU film is damning with faint praise; its predecessors were so mind-numbing that this dishearteningly familiar instalment only seems to shine brighter. Not even the charismatic Gadot can eclipse the distracting amount of cheap-looking green-screened shots, the frustratingly underdeveloped antagonists, a lunatic overreliance on slow-motion and a messily bloated third act that has DC regular Zack Snyder written all over it. Chief gripe, however, is the glaringly obvious fact that the Wonder Woman scribes – who include Snyder – have liberally calqued their script on Captain America: First Avenger, from the period setting to an all-American hero called Steve making a heroic, plane-based sacrifice.
Wonder Woman does happily achieve a course correction that’s been four films in the making, one that cements the Patty Jenkins-Gal Gadot pairing as DC’s saviours. And the ongoing fanfare surrounding this overrated film may just lead major studios to finally get their heads out of their antiquated arses and greenlight more big budget films directed by female directors. Even if no glass ceilings were broken in the writers’ room (the accredited screenwriters for Wonder Woman all have a Y chromosome), by the Lasso of Truth, it’s something. Baby steps and all…
Wonder Woman | Directed by Patty Jenkins (US 2017) with Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston. Starts June 15.
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