Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Wonder Woman

By Angie Raphael

4.5 stars

Believe the hype. Wonder Woman is almost everything I hoped it would be. It is funny, emotional and action-packed. Plus, it has a strong message about war, diversity and feminism. In this origin story, Diana (Gal Gadot) is raised on a secret island by women until WWI spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane and ruins their peaceful existence. Steve, who is in possession of a book by the villainous German scientist Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), wants to use it in his quest to save lives during the war, but Diana has an even more ambitious plan to kill the god of war, who she believes is responsible for humanity's destruction. Armed with her shield, sword and Lasso of Truth, Diana travels with Steve to London and then onto the centre of the war zone.

Gadot is a near-perfect Wonder Woman. What sets Diana apart from the male superheroes we have seen on screen in recent years is that she is not arrogant or full of angst. Rather, her motivations are steered by love and kindness, but it never feels sappy. Like Superman, Diana is pure goodness and wants to believe in the best of humanity, but is constantly let down. She is superior to humankind but desperately wants to make the world a better place. In this film she is naive and innocent, which is very different to her portrayal in Batman v Superman where she is far more experienced.  Meanwhile, Steve is a loveable rogue and also grounds the film in many ways. The chemistry between two of the world's most beautiful people sizzles on screen. The supporting cast are also good, including David Thewlis as a British politician, Danny Houston as a German general intent on using chemical weapons, and Said Taghmaoui as a Moroccan undercover operative.

Screenwriter Allan Heinberg ties the plot in to WWI history surprisingly well and the story is framed by the modern era with a reference to Bruce Wayne. In the capable hands of director Patty Jenkins, the film makes its point about feminism and gender roles often in a comical way, without being politically pushy. It is especially well presented in the London shopping scene with Steve’s secretary Etta, played by the very funny Lucy Davis. However, the film is a little slow to start and has an unnecessary running time of more than two hours. Nonetheless, Wonder Woman is a refreshing and exciting superhero film.



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