Wonder Woman (4 stars)

Wonder Woman

Fantastically entertaining and empowering superhero adventure with Gal Gadot as the titular ass-kicker

Well, the appeal of Wonder Woman to generations of spotty youths has never been a mystery: she's a glamazon babe who saves the world in star-spangled knickers and a bustier. Women and girls hoping for a bit more from the superhero's very own feature debut will rejoice in what has emerged. This is, by some distance, the best adventure in DC's Extended Universe, given the po-faced meh-ness of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and the ill-judged efforts of Suicide Squad.

It's a stylish display of kick-assery, with a super likeable heroine in Israeli beauty Gal Gadot's Diana (who is much better costumed than Lynda Carter barely was in the iconically cheesy 70s TV series). There are very nice touches of humour, genuinely affecting tragic turns, and spiffing, thrillingly choreographed action set-pieces, excitingly directed by a woman – Patty Jenkins, who steered Charlize Theron to her Oscar in Monster back in 2003 and hasn't had a film gig since, toiling instead in TV.

This grabs you from the off, with Diana's childhood as a princess on Themyscira the hidden, idyllic island of immortal Amazons beautifully realised. Connie Nielsen is suitably regal as Diana's mother, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, who conceals her daughter's true origins and dreads the girl's destiny. Robin Wright cuts a magnificent figure as General Antiope, Diana's aunt, who trains the fearless girl in the ways of a warrior. Sequences of female archers, cavalry and combatants in training exercises are a wow, exceeded only by actual battle. When a World War I Fokker in flames emerges through a rift and crashes into the sea, Diana rescues pilot / secret agent / romantic interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, hubba hubba), who's hotly pursued by fiendish Huns, and it all culminates in a spectacular eyeful of womanly heroics.

Once she has learned of the 'War To End All Wars', its slaughter and suffering, Diana is determined to go into the world beyond and end it. (Cue amusing culture-clash as Diana arrives in the London of 1918.) A succession of menfolk try to explain why she can't, but this is a gal who won't be dissuaded from what she decides is necessary. A favourite exchange: Steve says, 'I can't let you do this.' Diana replies 'What I do is not up to you.' You tell him, sister. And you, evil general (Danny Huston), you mad, disfigured scientist cooking up poison gas (Elena Anaya), and all you henchmen in No Man's Land and German HQ – look upon this sword-wielding woman in fetching Xena-esque kit and tremble.

There is nice backup from an assortment of fine actors (David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewan Bremner) and a cute turn from The Office's Lucy Davis as secretary / sidekick Etta Candy. But it is the sincerity and strength that radiate from Gadot that completely win you over in a solid, however implausible, script. Justice League? Bring it on.

General release from Thu 1 Jun.

Wonder Woman

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 2h 13min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Patty Jenkins
  • Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright
  • UK release: 1 June 2017

Diana (Gadot) is a princess of the Amazons, who rescues WW1 pilot / secret agent interest Steve (Pine) and resolves to end the war. Stylish and exciting, with a top cast, touches of real humour and tragedy, and spiffing action sequences, anchored by a strong and highly likeable performance from Gadot.