12A – 141mins – 2017 – 3D
After being introduced with a supporting role (but no title credit) in last year’s bloated super-smash melee Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (which I reviewed HERE), DC Comic’s immortal warrior princess is granted her own solo mission, incorporating her 5000-year-old origin story into a prequel adventure set during World War I.
Sculpted out of clay and given life by the god Zeus, Diana (Gal Keeping Up with The Joneses Gadot) is raised by the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen); the only child on the mythic island paradise known as Themyscira. But when American Air Force spy Steve Trevor (Chris Star Trek Beyond Pine) crashes his plane off-shore, pursued by German troops, Diana seizes a one-way ticket to return Steve home and – she believes – end the Great War by defeating the Amazon’s arch-enemy: Ares, the god of war.
The overt villains of the piece are in fact less indestructible but no less single-minded in their quest for conquest and destruction: German general Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and facially-disfigured mask-wearing maaad chemist Isabel Maru, better known as “Doctor Poison” (Elena Anaya). Depicted as bad-to-the-bone and afforded scant motives for their nefarious schemes, they are the film’s sole weak link. It is hardly surprising when a Palpatine-esque ‘phantom menace’ is revealed to be pulling their strings from the shadows.
Elsewhere, however, director Patty Jenkins brings Allan Heinberg’s screenplay to life with glorious aplomb. The fantastical island scenes pop with intense colours, while the real world locales are drab and smoky (“It’s horrible!” is Diana’s gut-reaction as their boat sails in to London) but ripe with atmosphere. Humour is perfectly employed to lighten the mood, encapsulating Diana’s fish-out-of-water scenario and Britain’s chipper ‘keep calm and carry on’ wartime mentality.
While Wonder Woman’s iconic (skimpy) costume is reserved for the battle-heavy second half, the good guys keep this ship afloat from the get-go. Gadot is an inspiring blend of bold and defiant, even in the face of her deficient real-world knowledge, while Steve and his roguish cronies (Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock) are charming in a flawed but dependable sense. Lucy Davis also makes a big impact as Steve’s bubbly and vivacious secretary in this spirited and successful superhero escapade which gives hope to DC’s stalling Extended Universe (I’m looking at you, Suicide Squad). Now, don’t let us down, Aquaman!
CR@B’s Claw Score: