I was quite excited about this one. A blockbusting superhero Great War Film with box office receipts closing in on $1 billion US. A high profile, mass media, headline grabbing Great War Film with star names and a palpable glow about it. These positives would most likely be balanced out with a few down sides. I wasn’t expecting this to be a historian’s account of the conflict or something that would pass muster to a detailed forensic analysis of the weapons, uniforms or other assorted items of materiel.
‘Wonder Woman’ (2017) is the feature film debut for the DC Comics character from the olden days. She started out life in the 1940’s in the comics and by the 70’s was cavorting around in next to no clothes and wowing TV audiences with her star spangled hot pants. Into the 21st Century and she is now part of the DC Extended Universe franchise which will no doubt make a few people immensely rich and add a few bucks to the Warner Brothers stock price.
The story here kicks off when the eponymous Wonder Woman (Diane to her friends) sees a Great War era plane, piloted by Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) appear out of nowhere and crash into the sea just off the coast of her and her Amazonian Warrior friend’s secret island. An island hidden from the rest of the world by some sort of magic. Why this should happen is not explained but save him she does and then, again for no explained reason, some nasty Germans find a way to cross over too and set about trying to kill everyone. It all goes tits at this point and eventually Diane finds out about the Great War from Captain Kirk and decides it’s her job to stop it single-handedly. She comes to the conclusion that to do this she needs to kill General Ludendorff. That’s it. Set up complete. Hey ho and away we go.
So we’re about 20 minutes in and the plot has a few holes. How exactly did Captain Kirk and the murderous Germans break through this secret magical barrier to the Amazonians Island? Why did the Germans want to kill everyone? Why wasn’t anyone the least bit concerned that they were suddenly sunning themselves on a glorious summer’s day off the Amalfi Coast when seconds before they were knee deep in gore on a cold night on the Western Front? I’m not a regular watcher of superhero films but I’m guessing these are questions I’m not meant to be asking. This is clearly the level of disbelief I need to suspend.
Gal Gadot plays the lead and I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything before. Having looked through IMDB I can the reason for this. She’s pretty much only been in Fast and Furious movies and a few under the radar features. I think she’s got the chops for the blockbuster stuff and the way she plays the character as driven, innocent, knowing and slightly arrogant all at the same time is to her credit. Chris Pine seems to have the one way of acting. Smirk a little, grunt out the words, job done.
Visually, there’s a LOT of CGI but I suppose that’s what modern cinema is all about. I struggle with it though. Is it me? Am I some kind of renaissance man, unable to understand the world of computers and laserbeams and compact discs and atomic kittens? I’m only just 40! Even though the CGI is good (a LOT better than ‘Canakkale 1915’) it’s still obviously CGI. As a result I struggle to fully engage with films like this. They become cartoony to me, works of art but no more real than The Flintstones or Barney the bloody Dinosaur.
There’s a bit where Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk pull together a team (including Spud from Trainspotting) for their quest to the Front. When they get there they bivouac down with an American Indian for the night around his campfire. This little nugget of weirdness isn’t explained either and another sizeable hole in the plot appears. It doesn’t even add anything to the story overall. What was the point in that?
Then there’s some good stuff. Proper war stuff! But first Wonder Woman, Captain Kirk and Spud from Trainspotting go for a walk through the trenches where they come across some peasants. Old washer women and their grimy offspring plead for food as they shelter from falling shells. Hang on, what? But then, just as I’m wondering what I’ve just witnessed she goes over the top and it all kicks off. What follows is a half decent battle scene, if you forgive her catwalking like a stiletto’d Kate Moss through no man’s land. Bullets fly, people die, things go bang. Good stuff.
***SPOILER ALERT IN THIS BIT***. Overall it’s a big money film with a disregard for the details of the war. I fully expected that from the get go and ultimately this film exists purely to entertain so I have no major beef with that. What I wasn’t expecting was to find myself liking the characters quite as much as I did. I was a bit gutted when Captain Kirk died at the end (they’ll probably find a way to bring him back). Gadot puts in a solid performance, the story clips along and I didn’t clock watch too much considering the film comes in at 140 minutes. It’s okay. If you like these kind of films it’s probably really good. I don’t like these kind of films but I still thought it was okay.