Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

“What first attracted you Dr Mann to the movie with the scantily-clad Amazonians?”

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Amazonians deliver! And how. The much anticipated new Wonder Woman movie is with us, and for once the film lives up to the wall-to-wall marketing hype.

With a heavy dose of mythology, Diana is growing up as the cossetted daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, “Gladiator”), the Queen of the Amazons, on the hidden paradise island of Themyscira. Trained up as a warrior by Hippolyta’s sister, General Antiope (Robin Wright of “House of Cards”), Diana is clearly something special. Her ego is reinforced by the knowledge that she was made of clay with life breathed into her by the God Zeus.  It’s enough to turn a girl’s head!

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Grabbing a firm hold of the shaft. Gal Gadot getting to grips with Themyscira’s ‘God killer’.

It’s 1917 and the man-free paradise is shaken up when an American spy by the name of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, “Star Trek: Beyond“) crash-lands in the waters off Themyscira.  (And yes… you didn’t mishear me… this film genuinely features a hero with both the names “Steve” and ‘Trevor”). Prince Eric – no, sorry, wrong film – is saved and awakened on the beach by Diana as the others arrive.  “Thank God!”, say the Amazonians. “At last, someone to process the 200 year backlog of washing and ironing”!  

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“Ariel, Ariel – is that you?”

But Steve (an “above average specimen”, LOL) is not long for paradise as he needs to return to the war with the results of his spy-work: a chemistry book stolen from the gorgeously deformed Dr Maru (Elena Anaya), gas-developer for the evil General Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Seeing Ludendorff to be her God-like nemesis Ares, Diana returns with Steve to the WW1 battlefields with the intent of killing the God of War and so ending the ‘war to end all wars’.

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Doctor Maru, never one to crack a smile.

Much ‘fish out of water’ fun is had with Diana meeting civilised London society, although perhaps this section of the film doesn’t quite live up to its full potential:  having ice cream for the first time, without any sign of surprise, all she can come up with is an amusing but rather lame “You must be very proud”.

But where the film really accelerates into awesomeness is when Diana reaches ‘The Front’. She emerges from the trenches like some shimmering vision of hotness, to set male and lesbian hearts a flutter. Its the most memorable trench-exit since the finale of “Black Adder 4”, and the subsequent scenes of Diana single-handedly facing the German guns is for me one of the most compelling and enjoyable scenes in any recent DC or Marvel movie.

Holding all this together is the ex-Israeli army-trainer Gal Gadot in the title role. And man oh man, what a Gal! Statuesque, athletic but also sweet, charming and emotionally fragile she completely owns this role from beginning to end.  Gadot made a memorable entry in the otherwise poor “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (#marthagate #neverforget #neverforgive) but nothing prepares you for just how great she is in this outing. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that this film, although having a UK 12 certificate, is a film of immense danger to heterosexual teenagers of any age (#humor):

  • All boys will be cast into a lifetime of misery, never able to find a woman that can possibly live up to the impossibly perfect vision of Diana Prince, tearing up the German army with fists and whip!;
  • All girls WILL BECOME LESBIANS AFTER WATCHING THIS FILM!

Parents: you have been warned! 🙂

Chris Pine – the thinking women’s Chris Pratt – once again proves himself as a talented actor who manages to successfully morph to inhabit the role he plays. Much as he did in the excellent “Hell or High Water“, not once did I equate him to be James Tiberius Kirk after the first 5 minutes. 

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A magnificent man and his flying machine. Chris Pine as spy Steve Trevor.

Effective in supporting roles are David Thewlis (“Harry Potter”) as a ‘helpful’ army bod and an almost unrecognisable Lucy Davis (“The Office”) as Etta, Steve’s comedic secretary.  Steve’s rather unlikely sidekicks of Sameer (Said Taghmaoui, “American Hustle“), Charlie (Ewen Bremner, “Trainspotting”) and ‘The Chief’ (Eugene Brave Rock “The Revenant“) all rather fade into the woodwork by comparison. 

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Any other day at the Office… Lucy Davis as comic relief Etta.

I saw the film in 3D (“careful now… you could take an eye out with those things”) and very good it was too. Aside from some rather unnecessary Amazonian arrows, its never feels overdone, and elements of it were extremely effective.

Another star of the show is the superb Wonder Woman theme by Hans Zimmer, here rolled out by the film’s composer Rupert Gregson-Williams (“Hacksaw Ridge“). Unfortunately, the rest of the soundtrack is not particularly memorable.

The film shifts into more traditional yawn-worthy ‘superhero finale’ mode in the last twenty minutes, which is a bit of a shame. It’s also really curious that for such a sexually charged film there is an almost complete absence of ‘lurrve’ on show. The one love scene coquettishly fades to a view of the outside window. Was this to protect the film’s family friendly rating (probably) or that the director didn’t want to show her heroine in a remotely submissive position (possibly)? More frustratingly, the morning after there is no mention of it at all! (“Move along, nothing to see here”). I at least wanted some sort of recognition that a human/God liaison had taken place: Steve grimacing a bit when he sits down; or Diana on the blower to Themyscira saying “Yes, you were right Mum. 5 minutes in, and it just snapped clean off!”

I know my friend David Moody (of markanddave vblog fame, and a big DC/Marvel fan) was generally disappointed with the film.  Conversely, Amy Andrews from the ever-excellent Oh That Film Blog loved it. I’m with Amy on this one, and greatly enjoyed it as a well-constructed action rollercoaster. The nearly two and a half hours sped by. By the way (and I took one for the team here) there is no “monkey” at the end of the film’s credit to hang on for.

Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) directs and knows the audience she is aiming to please. One can only imagine the empowering impact this film will have on young girls, crossing their wrists to ‘THAT’ music and, in their imagination, casting terrorists into the hell that they should be consigned to. In this week of yet more Isis atrocity in London, Wonder Woman is a role-model we could all stand and salute: “I believe in love” too.

Fad Rating: FFFF.    

 

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