2 Jun 2017

Screen Time: WONDER WOMAN

WONDER WOMAN
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner
Director: Patty Jenkins
Runtime: 141 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 1st June 2017

Jo S: First, my context for this movie. Wonder Woman has been MY superhero since I was a kid. When I started wearing glasses, Diana Prince was there to show me girls in specs were cool. When I grew lanky as a teenager, the Amazon princess was there to let me know tall, strong girls could be awesome. When the movie was announced and the first pictures of Gal Gadot in THAT outfit appeared, the expectations started to mount up; her brief appearance in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was the shining jewel in that cluttered shambles of a film and this... this HAD to be good. And thankfully… yes! Whilst not completely perfect, it's the best DC movie of its era and stands up strong and brave in its own right.

Gadot is stunning as Wonder Woman: athletic, tall, strong; she has the physique to carry off the fight scenes convincingly and a punch which feels like it could fell a church tower in one blow (she punches a CHURCH down, man!). She glows throughout, luminous in every scene; the section where she strides fearlessly across No Man’s Land, bullets blazing off her cuffs and shield, is magnificent and has instantly become my all-time favourite movie image. The fight scenes throughout are outstanding: the Amazon’s balletic, acrobatic horseback archery, sword and knife work, initially weak against bullets but soon prevailing; close hand-to-hand fighting in a confined space, Diana’s sheer strength against machine guns and explosions. For those who became tired of endless martial arts-style fight scenes, this is meticulously thought out: Diana’s style is credible, the fighting with German soldiers is brutal and messily real, wire work is used sparingly and effectively. Surprisingly, I found the sections with the lasso very weak: it had insufficient weight for me, and objects flung around with it moved clunkily: this was a disappointment; as it's a near-unique weapon, I had been looking forward to this.
There were other flaws in the movie, yes: the script was a little stilted in places - why do DC movies struggle so much with humour unless they're parodying themselves? As seen in the trailer, Lucy Davis as Etta Candy tries her best to squeeze some chuckles out of the whole idea of getting an Amazon into appropriate attire for British society but the result was just a bit too awkward for me. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor thankfully shows skill in the two-hander scenes between the hero and the man she rescues and then falls in love with; the chemistry is there between the two. His reactions in the scene on the boat where Diana explains that she has read all twelve volumes of Cleo’s treatise on love and describes its conclusion had me snorting popcorn ungracefully up the back of my nose.

There were great performances in evidence from supporting cast too: the rapidly assembled motley crew of specialists were entertaining but rightly did not pull focus; the Amazons were believable as a race of strong independent women for whom men are unnecessary; elegant, graceful and good without being smug or patronising. David Thewlis and Danny Huston both wore their roles well and I'm interested to see more of Elena Anaya, here as Dr Poison: her magnetic eyes and perfect fragile poise elevated this portrayal out of what could have been a very hackneyed 'vengeful damaged scientist plots to kill thousands’ trope.
So what would kid-Jo have thought of this vision of HER superhero? Mostly, the six year-old, newly bespectacled version would be going ‘Eurgh, kissing’, but I reckon gawky teen-me would be pretty proud of how the mighty demigoddess turned out. And now nerdy 40-something-year-old me is off to shop for a jaw-dropping dress you can stash a sword down the back of without a room full of Germans spotting it. 9/10

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