Wonder Woman (2017) 

It’s no secret that the DC Comics Extended Universe has had a rocky start. Finally, with its fourth film, we have a movie that’s more than just OK, in fact you could say it’s WONDERful. Too much? Yeah too much. 

Patty JenkinsWonder Woman not only surpasses the other DC movies, it manages to outdo a lot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films too. Epic in scale, this is an origin story that seems fresh, Gal Gadot giving a performance so assured and so measured, she owns the screen every time we see her. Personally, I feel like Gadot has attained the level of Hugh Jackman or Christopher Reeve already. She just is Wonder Woman. 
Wonder Woman’s story is an origin tale, but without too many of the usual tropes. Opening with a scene in the present, Diana recieves a photo from an unseen Bruce Wayne and reminisces about her life. We’re shown the gorgeous Themyscira and the Amazons who live there. Young Diana Is trained to be a warrior by her aunt and life seems to be going great. It did remind me of the start of Moana, and I mean that as nothing but a compliment. 

By rescuing Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the first man she ever laid eyes on, Diana is thrust into World War I. A German fleet attacks her home and Diana decides she has to stop this war, blaming Ares, the God of War for the atrocities. 

The second half of the film feels less like a superhero film and more like Fury or Saving Private Ryan but with a Greek Mythological twist. Wonder Woman manages to be action packed, thoughtful and universe-building while still maintaining its own tone. The scene in which Diana marches across No Man’s Land, deflecting bullets was breathtaking and powerful and sums up Wonder Woman in one short piece.

The tone and feel is perfect. Yes, it has to fit into the already planned DCEU but Patty Jenkins has managed to make a beautifully shot movie that’s very much it’s own thing. We get an adventure movie that’s so much more than I expected , a new cinematic hero with unwavering sincerity. This film never gets cheesey. It bold and earnest and is proud of what it is. I’d compare it with Captain America The First Avenger,  another period comic book movie, but Wonder Woman is a much more complete film overall.  

Diana’s connection with our world is mostly played for laughs at first, before she realises the horrors of war and what man is capable of. 

By man, of course,  I mean humanity. The recent outcry over a female only screening of this film was both stupid and hilarious. Of course they should do a female only screening, it’s a great publicity event and it makes sense! The irony, however, that men would object  to and criticise this women-only screening of a movie that features a women-only island being attacked by men, is not lost on me. 

 The ensemble cast of Wonder Woman is not overly stacked with A-List names, relying instead on Gadot’s instantly iconic performance and some solid supporting actors. Chris Pine is great as Steve Trevor, a layered character, not just a one dimensional love interest. Following his turns in 30 Days of Night and X Men Origins: Wolverine by playing Ludendorff, Danny Huston’s comic book movie villain streak continues! His snarling warmonger teams with Elena Anaya’s porcelain masked Doctor Poison. The rest of the cast is largely quirky character actors,  Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock form Trevor’s diverse band of mercenaries, providing laughs, heart and depth to the film. David Thewlis pops up as Sir Patrick Morgan while Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright play Diana’s Mother and Aunt respectively. I really liked Lucy Davis as Etta Candy. Absolutely hilarious and in fact coming close to stealing the show, shining in all of her scenes. 

Wonder Woman is a film with very few flaws. It’s intelligent, deep, exciting and most importantly FUN. A character filled action romp that takes its self seriously but is never po faced over dour. Proving why the character is the perfect counterpoint to Batman

Thankfully and indeed similar to Marvel’s recent Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, this is a movie in a larger Universe that doesn’t feel the need to serve any other story than its own. Respecting itself and the audience, I’m greatly appreciating that we got a complete story and I was left wanting more. The best DC Movie since The Dark Knight and a fantastic primer for Justice League. Don’t miss this one. 

8/10

Wonder Woman is in cinemas now. 
FOR FANS OF: 

Superman (1978)

Spider-Man (2002)

Captain America The First Avenger (2011)

Gladiator (2000)

Ben Fenlon 

www.supernerdsuk.com 

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Directed by: Chris McKay 

Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill 

As someone with a life long love of Batman,  I’m probably not the person to give an unbiased review of The Lego Batman Movie. I’m sure I’d be expected to either love it unreservedly or despise it for making fun of the greatest superhero of all time and not being grim or gritty or dark. 

Well, it’s the first one. I absolutely LOVED it. From the opening voice over, to well, the concluding voice-over,  The Lego Batman Movie is a winner. 

Will Arnett’s return as Batman is better than his appearance in The Lego Movie and he really gets to shine here. Michael Cera’s Robin is pure joy, the perfect foil to our über Dark Knight. Their makeshift family is forced together by Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, playing a more traditional version of everybody’s favourite butler.

The whole cast, in fact, is really good and well suited. Zach Galifianakis as the Joker works well, not as maniacal as Mark  Hamill but not as terrible as Jared Leto. Sorry, too soon? Jenny Slate is good as Harley, but doesn’t get enough to do. I think almost every Batman villain gets a scene or two, sadly leaving us wanting more from some characters, especially Billy Dee Williams, who finally gets to play Two-Face after being short changed by Tim Burton.  I also loved the return of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as the bickering Green Lantern and Superman from The Lego Movie. 

The story is kind of heavy for a kid’s film. Batman, rejecting the Joker’s assertion of them being each other’s greatest enemy, spends the movie soul searching and learning to have friends as well as accidentally adopting an orphan called Dick Grayson. Of course, the movie is not drab or gritty as this makes it seem, no matter  what Lego Batman himself may claim.

What I liked most about TLBM is the sheer attention to the character’s history. Every Batman film gets mentioned, some obscure comic characters show up ( Hello Condiment King) and some seriously well thought out easter eggs. The actual “You Complete Me” scene from Jerry Maguire, famously copied by Heath Ledger’s Joker, is shown, followed by Batman laughing hysterically at it. Pure gold. I didn’t expect to see Tom Cruise in a Lego film. Plus, Batman’s new song, the follow up to “Darkness, No Parents” is one of the catchiest things I’ve heard in ages. 
Family friendly, yet stocked with enough grown up jokes to make the parents laugh, TLBM is first and foremost a comedy  Making fun of the source material, yet totally showing love for every iteration of Batman, especially the 1966 Series, Lego Batman walks the line for its entire running time, in fact I can’t decide whether it’s a genius Batman spoof or the most true to the character Batman film ever made. Possibly both at the same time. 

For Fans Of :

The Lego Movie

The Dark Knight 

SpaceBalls 

21 Jump Street