Wonder Woman (2017)
8/10
Amazonian's Deliver!
10 June 2017
The much anticipated new Wonder Woman movie is with us, and for once the film lives up to the wall-to-wall marketing hype.

With a heavy dose of mythology, Diana is growing up as the cossetted daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, "Gladiator"), the Queen of the Amazons, on the hidden paradise island of Themyscira. Trained up as a warrior by Hippolyta's sister, General Antiope (Robin Wright of "House of Cards"), Diana is clearly something special. Her ego is reinforced by the knowledge that she was made of clay with life breathed into her by the God Zeus.  It's enough to turn a girl's head!

It's 1917 and the man-free paradise is shaken up when an American spy by the name of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, "Star Trek: Beyond") crash- lands in the waters off Themyscira.  (And yes... you didn't mishear me... this film genuinely features a hero with both the names "Steve" and 'Trevor"). Prince Eric - no, sorry, wrong film - is saved and awakened on the beach by Diana as the others arrive.  "Thank God!", say the Amazonians. "At last, someone to process the 200 year backlog of washing and ironing"!  

But Steve (an "above average specimen", LOL) is not long for paradise as he needs to return to the war with the results of his spy-work: a chemistry book stolen from the gorgeously deformed Dr Maru (Elena Anaya), gas-developer for the evil General Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Seeing Ludendorff to be her God-like nemesis Ares, Diana returns with Steve to the WW1 battlefields with the intent of killing the God of War and so ending the 'war to end all wars'.

Much 'fish out of water' fun is had with Diana meeting civilised London society, although perhaps this section of the film doesn't quite live up to its full potential:  having ice cream for the first time, without any sign of surprise, all she can come up with is an amusing but rather lame "You must be very proud".

But where the film really accelerates into awesomeness is when Diana reaches the trenches. She emerges from the trenches like some shimmering vision of hotness, to set male and lesbian hearts a flutter. Its the most memorable trench-exit since the finale of "Black Adder 4", and the subsequent scenes of Diana single-handedly facing the German guns is for me one of the most compelling and enjoyable scenes in any recent DC or Marvel movie.

Holding all this together is the ex-Israeli army-trainer Gal Gadot in the title role. And man oh man, what a Gal! Statuesque, athletic but also sweet, charming and emotionally fragile she completely owns this role from beginning to end.  Gadot made a memorable entry in the otherwise poor "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (#marthagate #neverforget #neverforgive) but nothing prepares you for just how great she is in this outing.

Chris Pine - the thinking women's Chris Pratt - once again proves himself as a talented actor who manages to successfully morph to inhabit the role he plays. Much as he did in the excellent "Hell or High Water", not once did I equate him to be James Tiberius Kirk after the first 5 minutes. 

Effective in supporting roles are David Thewlis ("Harry Potter") as a 'helpful' army bod and an almost unrecognisable Lucy Davis ("The Office") as Etta, Steve's comedic secretary.  Steve's rather unlikely sidekicks of Sameer (Said Taghmaoui, "American Hustle"), Charlie (Ewen Bremner, "Trainspotting") and 'The Chief' (Eugene Brave Rock "The Revenant") all rather fade into the woodwork by comparison. 

I saw the film in 3D ("careful now... you could take an eye out with those things") and very good it was too. Aside from some rather unnecessary Amazonian arrows, its never feels overdone, and elements of it were extremely effective.

Another star of the show is the superb Wonder Woman theme by Hans Zimmer, here rolled out by the film's composer Rupert Gregson-Williams ("Hacksaw Ridge"). Unfortunately, the rest of the soundtrack is not particularly memorable.

The film shifts into more traditional yawn-worthy 'superhero finale' mode in the last twenty minutes, which is a bit of a shame.

Patty Jenkins ("Monster") directs and knows the audience she is aiming to please. One can only imagine the empowering impact this film will have on young girls, crossing their wrists and in their imagination casting terrorists into the hell that they should be consigned to. In this week of yet more Isis atrocity in London, Wonder Woman is a role- model we could all stand and salute: "I believe in love" too.

(This is an abridged version of the One Mann's Movies graphical review. Please visit bob-the-movie-man.com. Thanks).
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