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Review | Wonder Woman: ‘Diana Prince doesn’t just save the world – she saves movie franchises’

By Ross Semple

The release of Wonder Woman comes at a difficult time for DC’s cinematic franchise. Last year, both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were massively successful financially, but they were met with lukewarm reviews. Critics complained about a the lack of both substance humour in either film. With the release of Justice League later this year, Wonder Women needed to correct some of the mistakes of the past to give viewers hope that future films won’t fall into old traps.

Furthermore, a Wonder Woman film has been rumoured for years – with various projects stalling over the years, meaning fan expectations are set incredibly high. With all eyes on Wonder Woman, is rise to the occasion – or are fans in for an anticlimax?

It’s good news. Wonder Woman is almost exactly the film we wanted it to be.

As the first major comic book adaptation to be directed by a woman, Wonder Woman is more than just another superhero movie. Its an attempt to correct the mistakes of the past by giving this story of female experience and empowerment a true sense of female authorship.

The film’s director, Patty Jenkins, previously directed Monster, the critically-acclaimed drama that won Charlize Theron an Oscar, but she hasn’t directed a feature since. There are no signs of rustiness, however, as Jenkins presents the material with a pathos not often seen in this kind of film. There is a noticeable focus on the experience of human suffering and wartime camaraderie, which heighten the film’s stakes and make for a more immersive experience.

The plot is what you’d expect from a superhero origin story. Diana (Gal Godot) is raised by on the island of Themyscira by Amazons, who were created by Zeus in order to protect the world from the influence of his son Aries, who seeks to corrupt the minds of men through conflict and war. When World War I spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on the island, Diana leaves her home and follows Steve to London to try and destroy Aries and end the war.

Rebranding herself as Diana Price, she finds herself in a whole new world when she arrives in London. The fish out of water story is turned on its head when Steve discovers that Diana is far more intelligent than he expected – besting a self-professed ‘above average man’ in her knowledge of languages and espionage, as well as her skills in battle.

The action sequences are both impressively intricate and delightfully camp, as Diana seems to have a perpetual wind machine blowing her hair oh so gracefully – even while she’s kicking ass. Evidently DC are aware of the huge impact Wonder Woman has had on an entire generation of gay men, and they’re giving us exactly what we want. There’s a lightness to the film that is welcome in a franchise that has ranged from buttoned-up to just plain bleak.

The performances are strong across the board. Gal Godot brings everything we want from Diana Prince/Wonder Woman; intelligence, beauty, glamour, fierceness, and a dry wit. Chris Pine brings a humanity to Steve Trevor that makes him more than a love interest. Even the supporting roles are brilliantly cast: Lucy Davis steals every scene she’s in as Trevor’s assistant Etta Candy, and Robin Wright provides depth to a character that could’ve otherwise been forgettable.

A segment of DC’s audience may be turned off by Wonder Woman‘s flagrant femininity, but that’s just fine because the film isn’t for them. It’s for those who have had to sit through countless superhero movies that don’t speak to their experience in this world. It’s a film that will hopefully open the door to a future where superhero movies aren’t synonymous with the straight, white, male experience.

Wonder Woman manages to bring the DC cinematic universe back from the brink of destruction with a unique blend of action, emotion, and whimsy. Diana Prince doesn’t just rescue and save the world – she also saves movie franchises.

Rating: 4/5

Wonder Woman is in cinemas now.

Wednesday night (May 31) saw a VIP screening of the film for Attitude readers at London’s Charlotte Street hotel. Competition winners were treated to the exclusive screening on the same night of the premiere, along with the chance to pose with a statue of the woman herself and a Wonder Woman goody bag.

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