Whereas Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad were exercises in sheer abortive blandness, Wonder Woman demonstrates an immediate, dramatic improvement. This is probably largely down to the work of an individual director (Patty Jenkins) with a specific vision in mind, as opposed to Hack Snyder’s drab Hollywood kowtowing.
Gal Gadot’s performance is a huge improvement on her dreadful, wooden appearance in BvS, and she maintains an effective balance in her portrayal of not so much fish-out-of-water, as godlike-warrior-out-of-water. Gadot performs with endearing warmth, and manages to be inherently likeable even though she also both incredibly powerful and somewhat lost. This stands in stark contrast to the angry, confused supermodel audiences were subjected to in the form of Henry Cavill’s Kal-El.
The film’s first-act suffers from the usual problems around its heavy-handed approach to exposition, however the sheer charm and beauty of the Amazons’ island Themyscira, as well as the fantastic costume design are able to carry the audience’s interest through. The middle-act of these type of films are often the most problematic and prone to bloat, however at this point Wonder Woman becomes an engaging, restrained spy/war-film, and for once D.C.’s desaturated misery actually becomes somewhat appropriate. What is it they say about a broken clock? The film has a little trouble navigating the no-man’s-land between portraying the true horror of the trenches, and also having to remind itself that this is a film largely aimed at capturing the imagination of a younger female audience. One thing that left a particularly bad taste in my mouth is the cool abandon with which young German soldiers are slaughtered by our heroes. This being WW1, the ‘goodie/baddie’ divide is not quite so clear-cut as it’d be if they were Nazis. Still, when Diana enters the trenches, we have our first true recent D.C. ‘superhero-moment’.
Despite a lazy, heavy-handed ending, Wonder Woman is an entertaining, fun superhero film that, even if it doesn’t lend itself to multiple viewings, hopefully signifies the first unsteady step out of the quagmire that D.C. has immediately blundered into in its blind rush to catch up with Marvel’s patiently assembled universe.