I will fight, for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Blog readers of a certain age will recall Lynda Carter, the TV incarnation of Wonder Woman, in her spangly costume and bullet-deflecting wrist bands, righting wrongs on a weekly basis and never turning a well-coiffed hair. Given that warm and kitshy show's popularity, it's a wonder all its own that only now has a film version come along. Gone is the kitsch, with Diana Prince/WW getting a full origin story that explores her Amazonian roots (as in upbringing, not hair). It's a film I wanted to like, and - in parts - I really did.
The DC Comics cinema universe (forever playing catch-up to Marvel) introduced their Wonder Woman in last year's Batman Versus Superman. Played by Israeli actress and martial artist Gal Gadot, she cut an impressive figure, easily stealing the boys' thunder in the latter part of the film. This time around she has proper screen time, her 21st century self thinking back on her youth as the princess Diana on Themyscira, secret island of the Amazons. Costumed up, she seems like a woman well out of modern times, so it's fun to see her embracing her powers within this mythological context. Here she is trained up by her aunt - Robin Wright's impressive Antiope - until able to pit herself against the toughest of her Amazonian sisters.
Taking a similar route to Captain America: The First Avenger, the film then morphs into a period piece. Diana leaves her island and adopts the cause of US air force pilot and spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) during the final days of the Great War. Nurtured on stories of the god Ares and how he brought conflict to mankind, she has a goal both simple and noble - the end of war itself. Nice idea if you can pull it off.
Gadot is the centre of this film and its greatest asset - beautiful, powerful and empathetic, thankfully without being fetishised at any point. (Yes she's in the iconic glam outfit, but it's because she's a mythological warrior, not because she's totty.) Visually the whole enterprise is splendid - from the glittering Mediterranean vistas of the opening act to a well-realised period London and the grit of the Western Front. The action sequences are more about one-on-one combat than the city-shattering CGI of DC's other recent offerings, and are enhanced by the balletic grace of the Amazon warriors' fighting style. In fact the movie is never more alive than when its title-character is wading into a sea of trouble, shield slung about her and sword at the ready, her memorable theme-tune kicking in full-blast, as she strides purposefully forward.
Sadly not all is so wondrous as those stirring moments. The script (and the blog risks becoming repetitive here) does not serve the actors well, with stretches of rather limp dialogue linking together to action scenes. Pine's hero remains two-dimensional eye candy as a result (and he's the young Captain Kirk!), while character roles played by such as Lucy Davis and Ewan Bremner simply aren't provided with enough clever, witty dialogue to chew on. At the risk of sounding like a Marvel fanboy, this is what DC's rivals do so much better - they make their films sharp and funny and interesting, even when characters aren't knocking seven bells out of each other.
Nonetheless Wonder Woman is worth your time for its splendour, its superbly choreographed action and its noble ass-kicking heroine. If the screenplay had a bit more humour and philosophical heft, this film would be wondrous indeed.
Ed's Verdict: It's Gal Gadot's moment, and she shines along with the rest of the glorious visuals. Just polish up that damn script to match!