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Wonder Woman (2017)

You may have heard this already, but Wonder Woman is a bit good.  I've grown pretty tired of the superhero formula and constant revolving door of money machine films in similar packaging, but was really impressed with the freshness of Deadpool (2016) and in particular, Logan (2017).  One of my favourite YouTube subscriptions, Nerdwriter, analysed this evolution of the superhero genre in his most recent video and put it much better than I ever could - suddenly, it's an interesting time to be making a superhero movie again.
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Saying that, until the positive reviews began to stream in I was approaching the release of Wonder Woman with a fair bit of trepidation.  DC film have obviously been really disappointing, drab affairs of late.  Although I caught Man of Steel (2013) and Suicide Squad (2016), I'll admit that it's negative reception put me off sitting through over 3 hours of Batman vs Superman.  It's a shame as although Man of Steel was long and dull, and Suicide Squad an absolute train wreck, I'm a Big Ben Affleck fan and was hoping Batfleck would pull it out of the bag - in the end, all we were left with was the gift of Sad Affleck.  Thankfully, Wonder Woman has actually left me excited for The Justice League and upcoming Batman movie. And more so than any future Avengers ensemble.  The trailers looked great, but the finished product was so much more than I ever expected.  Admittedly, my comic book knowledge is pretty poor, and as far as Wonder Woman goes all I was aware of the TV show where sex symbol Lynda Carter would spin in to her superhero costume.
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Coming in to it completely blind may have helped as I found the story and the Wonder Woman/Diana Price backstory refreshing and interesting.  The film plays out as a Crocodile Dundee-esc fish out of water 2 parter: the film begins with Chris Pine's WWI pilot in a tropical island populated by Amazonian warriors, and flips when Gal Gadot's Diana gets to grips with smoggy London, and the horrors of trench warfare in France.  The film's best moments of humour come when Diana and Steve clash with the alien environments and strange social norms, but it's those clashes that bring the two together.  I found their budding relationship honest and believable, and I really cared what happened when the action and stakes were raised come the film's finale.  They're both extremely likeable and charismatic and brilliantly cast.  The hardest person to cast was always going to be titular character, and after years of ifs and maybes they couldn't have picked anyone more perfect for it than Gal Gadot.  Having served in the Israel Defence Force, she's completely believable kicking the crap out of Germans (apparently even carrying out some reshoots when 5 months pregnant).  Couple that with that killer charisma and Miss Israel 2004 looks, and you're left with a woman born to carry a mega blockbuster.  As with most people, I wasn't aware of Gadot before she won the role, but this should be the beginning of a great career.  A sequence where Diana climbs a trench ladder and leads a surge across no man's land in slow motion reminded me of Daniel Craig emerging as James Bond from the sea water in his shorts - this is a watershed moment for the actor and character.  As their compatriot Sameer says upon Diana smashing a man through a bar table: "I am both frightened and aroused."  Pretty much.
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The story itself was really good, if veering closely to that of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) at times.  Almost felt more like a fantasy movie than standard superhero film.  It's a story about good overcoming evil, and how much of both makes up who we are as people.  The two aren't necessarily always mutually exclusive and although Diana goes begins the film extremely naive to this, her learning this about mankind makes up her key journey through the film.  Unfortunately (as is the case with so many superhero films) the villains are pretty forgettable and unimportant.  Whereas the Joel Schumacher era of Batman films fell in to the trap of allowing the villains steal the film entirely, I think of many superhero movies since The Dark Knight Rises (2012) where the villain has lasted in the memory after leaving the cinema.  Thankfully, Wonder Woman's main protagonist and her quippy sidekick were more than enough to keep me engaged.  The various action scenes were really well orchestrated, and as you genuinely care for the characters, each blow, bullet and snap of the lasso really matter.  The finale may have got a little too cgi-heavy for my taste, but by that point I was already in too deep to let it bother me.  Rupert Gregson-Williams' score is as good as any Hans Zimmer effort, and that killer action riff has been stuck in my head ever since.
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Along with Logan (notable nod to Deadpool), Wonder Woman, the first female-led superhero movie in 12 years, is the best of it's genre since The Dark Knight Rises.  We saw a little girl walking out of the cinema in full Wonder Woman outfit, and you would like to think that this strong female lead, message, and excellent job by a female director (Patty Jenkins) will inspire a few more.  Far from being a movie about women hating on men for two hours, the movie is just a refreshing take on a tired genre.  Nobody is sidelined, and it's exciting to see a movie so female-driven for a change, and one that doesn't feel the need to ram it down your throat.


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