Wonder Woman, in her Gal Gadot incarnation, first came to our cinema screens in Spring 2016 as the ‘guest star’ of the mediocre Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. In DC Comics, it was followed by Suicide Squad last August – a film I enjoyed, but it didn’t go down too well with a lot of fans.
There’s a 3D potted plot summary which boils down to Zeus vs Ares, aka Diana’s father vs her brother, and how the gods created Amazonian women to distract men from war, even though Diana knows nothing of intimacy proper, it appears. The opening summary culminates with the news that Zeus helped out the women by building an island paradise for them to live on, far out of the way from reality.
She starts off as a feisty child and is trained by her auntie, Antiope (Robin Wright) – when apparently in the comic books she’s trained by mum, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). However, they know that Ares is still out there somewhere and will return, so they’d best get fighting fit… hence, that’s the bit of plot.
Throw in love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a US pilot, whose plane crash lands in Wonder Woman world, plus the German Navy arriving by mistake to kick up a stink, and the basics are there for a trip back to London as the two leads team up to fight ‘the war to end all wars’, aka World War I… even though there’s been many wars since, but then as talented as Wonder Woman is, she can’t tell the future.
Imperial German Navy General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston, a cut-price Jürgen Prochnow – so they should’ve hired him) and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), aka Dr Poison, are cooking up a new kind of mustard gas, but which has the same sort of devasting effect as you’d expect. Elsewhere in the cast, David Thewlis is the upper-class Sir Patrick from British Intelligence – the organisation our heroes have to ‘go rogue’ from in order to sort out the baddies; James Cosmo has a cameo as Field Marshall Haig, who’s all part of BI; T2 Trainspotting‘s Ewen Bremner is one of the team tagging along to help out, and the oddest addition to the cast is former The Office star Lucy Davis as Etta, an assistant of Steve’s.
Why oddest addition? Because, as one of the trailers shows, she had quite a number of lines which all looked very forced in terms of comedic value. Someone with a lot of lines in the trailer tends to exponentially have a lot more in the film. However, beyond those scenes, she pops up with another line before too long and then… that’s about it for her. Why make us invest in a character who’s never there?
In fact, Ewen Bremner’s in it far more than her, and I didn’t even know he was in it until he popped up onscreen!
There’s also bits of comedy from time to time, mostly between the two leads, such as a conversation where she declares she’s “the man who can” (get things done, basically), and when she explains her lack of a conventional father to a bemused Pine how “My mother made me from clay and Zeus brought me to life”, plus when he’s in the bath on Wonder Woman island, gets out and stands up in the buff:
- Diane (quizzical): “What’s that?”
Pine (looks down, bewildered at first, then looks to the side): “Er… oh, a watch” (not his John Thomas)
Wonder Woman has a lot of style to it – especially in the fight scenes, but like Man of Steel and BvS, less is more. The film is way too long – we get the origins, there’s the introduction to Pine’s character, then the plot is set out, and then they go off to sort out World War I, but it feels really dragged out. In fact, rather like Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, once it gets into plot explanations, the jokes slow down.
I saw this in 3D and if you’re going to see it on the big screen, I’d stick with 2D – there’s arrows and bullets flying about, but nothing you’ve not seen in that department before. Some of my benchmark 3D movies including Prometheus, Life of Pi, The Walk and Gravity, and this comes nowhere close. It’s typical post-production 3D where everything feels a bit ‘stuck on like cardboard’, like one of the original Paddington Bear cartoons. However, there is a nice bit in the trenches when the soldiers briefly walk in front of the subtitles.
In fact, about that scene, how does Diana’s fancy coat stay clean down there? And why would you wear such attire? Must be blisteringly hot!
I see there’s lots of praise for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, but to me, I just found her fine and not outstanding. I like her fancy ‘lasso of truth’ and her explosive ‘X-Factor‘ post, though, but I would question how she can climb walls like she does, when her upper arms aren’t particularly muscly.
Meanwhile, Pine isn’t too irritating (or wooden – I’ve made that joke before, in Star Trek Beyond), but blimey, there’s many errible cod-German accents that, from Pine and co would never bluff the bad guys, but then again, *their* accents are terrible, too, since they’re also non-German actors.
If you’re wondering whether there’s a post-credits scene… the answer is no. There’s some CGI animation during the first part of the closing credits which replicates elements from the film, but beyond that, there’s nothing.
Up next is Justice League in November, although first, I think we should have The Wonder Years Woman, tracing the origins of Winnie Cooper from 1968 onwards, looking at the relationship with Kevin Arnold from her perspective for the five years until they graduate, and Kevin’s Dad pops his clogs in the epilogue.
Don’t worry – there’ll be a post-credits scene where he comes back to life!
Widescreen aspect ratio geeks like me may be disappointed to learn that there is no footage shot for this film other than in the ratio of 2.35:1. Originally, the IMAX version reportedly had some footage shot in 1.44:1 (like a number of scenes in BvS), since such a portion would have been shot on 70mm film, but digital presentations can only open up to 1.90:1 so you would still miss out, and even when 1.44:1 footage is available, it depends on whether cinemas will actually GET that version. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens had one scene in that format, BUT it was only available to THREE cinemas in the UK, since Disney didn’t want to pony up the dough.
It may be that people saw Zack Snyder’s name as a story credit and put two and two together and got five. Still, we do have two great experiences on the way in IMAX. Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight is the only film to be filmed in IMAX 3D this summer – and, so far – in 2017! Like with Transformers: Age of Extinction, he knows how to deliver the audio/visual treats and I can’t wait to see that one on the Vue Printworks screen in Manchester. That film is in digital IMAX, so will open up to 1.90:1 for a number of scenes.
Then, in July, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk will be released in 70mm IMAX with scenes opening up to 1.44:1 – just like his incredible Interstellar. Dunkirk will also be showing in its correct ratio in Vue Printworks. Both films are a must for the big screen!
Going back to Wonder Woman, and what really summed this film up for me is a boat scene when Diana is with Steve and she’s tapping her hands on her thigh in boredom… I found myself doing the same. This is because the film is very predictable, and the baddie in the final fight looks like he’s strolled off the set of the game, Dark Souls III. In addition, far too many people die simply from one bullet or arrow in typical Hollywood style.
Overall, therefore, I found Wonder Woman not so wonderful, and more like Wearisome Woman, since wearisome is defined as “causing one to feel tired or bored”.
(Okay, you’re still thinking about Gal Gadot’s thighs, aren’t you?)
Book tickets for Wonder Woman at Vue Cinemas.
In addition, click on the poster for the full-size version, and you can also buy Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film in Hardback.
Running time: 141 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.35:1 (Dolby Vision, Super 35)
Released: June 1st 2017
Director: Patty Jenkins
Producers: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Richard Suckle
Screenplay: Allan Heinberg (based on a story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs)
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Diana Prince: Gal Gadot
Steve Trevor: Chris Pine
Hippolyta: Connie Nielsen
Antiope: Robin Wright
General Erich Ludendorff: Danny Huston
Sir Patrick: David Thewlis
Sameer: Saïd Taghmaoui
Charlie: Ewen Bremner
The Chief: Eugene Brave Rock
Dr Maru: Elena Anaya
Etta: Lucy Davis
Young Diana (age 8): Lilly Aspell
Menalippe: Lisa Loven Kongsli
Artemis: Ann J Wolfe
Philippus: Ann Ogbomo
Diana (age 12): Emily Carey
Field Marshall Haig: James Cosmo
U.S. Soldier: Zack Snyder (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.