It's fitting that a woman not any woman, but Wonder Woman should come to the rescue of the DC Comics universe after three underwhelming outings (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad) more or less cemented its place behind Marvel in the superhero-creating business.
You only need to jog your memory back to the expensive duds that were "Catwoman" and "Elektra" to see why it's taken so long for a Wonder Woman film to arrive on our screens, despite the fact that she's been a popular figure in the comics for over 75 years. A Wonder Woman movie was reportedly in the works for over a decade, but it wasn't until Warner Bros decided to expand the DC movie universe to plan for an Avengers-style "Justice League" film that they became serious about introducing the character in her own solo project.
So after that extended cameo in last year's "Batman v Superman" unanimously regarded as the best thing in the film she comes out of the gate swinging, embodied once again by the gorgeous Gal Gadot who manages to pull off sexy and empowered, vulnerable and steely without any trouble.
The new film introduces us to her origin story as Amazon princess Diana, growing up in a women-only island paradise where she learns to be a warrior. The arrival of American fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) bursts the blissful bubble of her life. She becomes aware that a cruel war is raging in the world outside, and becomes convinced that it's her duty to end it.
Come to think of it, it's the same battle between good vs evil that's at the center of every superhero movie, and the villains aren't particularly memorable either. What flies is the tone and the treatment. Helmed by Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to her Oscar win for "Monster", the film has a buoyant feel to it, very different from the dark, cynical undertones of Zach Snyder's films.
Similarly, Diana's naiveté and earnestness is a refreshing change from Snyder's brooding male superheroes. Gadot imbues the character with integrity and compassion, and she looks great in the iconic but frankly ridiculous Wonder Woman costume. She shares terrific chemistry with Pine, and their exchanges, particularly Diana's fish-out-of-water scenarios will evoke many laughs. It must be said that Gadot's portrayal of the character, her complete ownership of the role is what elevates the film many notches higher. The action scenes have a comic-book zippiness, and she throws herself into them with fluid grace. The last 20 minutes a sensory overload of loud explosions and expensive CGI-enabled stunts feels much like the climax of every other film in this genre. Yet, it's Gadot's sincerity that keeps you invested in what's unfolding on screen.
"Wonder Woman" doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's a hugely entertaining film that packages the familiar with a lot of flair. I'm going with three-and-a-half out of five.
Rating: 3.5 / 5