Edgar Wright has reinvented the Film Noir for the 21st century. 
            Wright, as you may know, arrived in movies via comedy TV, working with Matt Lucas and David Walliams (looooong before they achieved National Treasure Status) and, of course, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on Spaced (1999 - 2001).  That led to Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), wherein Wright et al took familiar movie signifiers into their own sandpit and played with them their way.  This produced delightful, surprising and illuminating films.
            Guess what:  it still does.
            Here, Wright plays fast and loose with the generic signifiers of the heist movie, the gangster movie and, yes, the noir.  He’s not the first person to do this, of course:  I still remember sitting in a cinema back in 1992, watching an unheard-of film by an unknown film-maker, playing one of the unregarded afternoon slots in the Birmingham Film Festival.  The movie began with a group of villains in a diner arguing about Madonna songs and tipping waitresses.  It was, of course, Reservoir Dogs, and it was a very, very different take on the crime movie.
            No, I’m not saying this film is like that film.  Although Baby Driver does share many traits with Res Dogs, not least its loquacious bad-guys and eclectic use of music; what I’m saying is that re-inventing (or ‘re-imagining’ as I believe the managementbots like to term it these days) the heist move is a noble endeavour which has engendered great results in the past.

Let's go to work.
            It also doesn’t hurt Baby Driver’s chances that the last couple of decades has seen the getaway driver and the car-stunt elevated to previous unimagined heights of fame thanks, on the one hand, to the Transporter series (2002, 2005 & 2008) and the Fast and Furious series (2001 - date), but also because of the art-house fave, Drive (2011).
            Indeed, rather like that Ryan Gosling film, Baby Driver features a superhumanly able driver who works for villains out of necessity rather than choice; but he is trying to get out, because he’s got a girl he wants to go straight for.  It’s a familiar trope - best summed-up in Michael Corleone’s “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in” from Godfather III (1990) - but, then, this film is all about presenting us with things we recognise in new and unusual ways.      
            Baby-faced Ansel Elgort plays the titular chauffer, who has a breezy, cheery demeanour.  Like a lot of people, he has his ear buds in permanently and lives his life to the beat of his music.  For example, he essentially dances down the street to fetch coffee in the film’s opening moments.
           The oft-maligned (and overdue for a re-appraisal) Hudson Hawk (1991) introduced the delightful notion of orchestrating a heist to a song.  Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello split up but keep singing, and that way, they stay synchronised.  They could just wear a watch but, hey, where’s the fun in that?  

           See?  It's ace!  Anyway, Baby uses the same methodology when he drives.  It’s all about rhythm and gear changes, just like the song ‘Bellbottoms’, which underscores the opening car chase.  During this scene and in all the scenes of violence, the action is synchronised to the beat of the music.
            This is the way they used to edit pop videos back in the 1980s and editing found footage to the tempo of a favourite piece of music is an established way to teach video editing to Media Studies students.  I’m sure Wright will have done it many times in his youth; just like he’ll have fooled around with mix-tapes.
            Baby, likewise, makes mix-tapes.  And I do mean ‘tapes’.  All of his audio kit is out-dated, from the cassettes he records wild track audio onto, to the iPod he has plugged into his ears.  And this retro kit is the first hint that there is something more substantial going on below the stylish surface of this film.
            It almost doesn’t need saying that an Edgar Wright film is very clever, that initially comes through in the visuals.  During that scene when he gets the coffee, I’m sure there are loads of easter eggs in the graffiti and in the behaviour/identity of the passers-by, which the pause button will reveal when the film hits home video.

"Can we get a move on, Ed?  I gotta get back to Marvel.  You know what it's like working for those guys, right?  Right?  Ed?"
            The film also introduces us to some colourful bad-guys.  First off, we have The Crew.  This, like a 70s rock-band, has a floating roster of people who join and leave and rejoin later.  At first, it seems that Jon (The Punisher) Bernthal is going to be the problem for Baby, but this proves to be a nice piece of misdirection on Wright’s part.  Extra colour is provided for the crew by The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Kanye West’s Jamie Foxx. 
        These are all given loads of character traits and ticks to work with - particularly, I notice, throat tattoos - as villains who are variously enigmatic, menacing, manipulative and/or just plain mad.  As you might expect, Hamm particularly shines as Buddy (possibly not his real name), while Foxx gives a fantastic turn as Bats (presumably short for Batshitcrazy.)  You know you’ve got an interesting script, when Oscar-winning leading actors are willing to take supporting roles in it! 
Don't trust him, Baby, he's the fucking President
          The man with the plan is Doc - played effortlessly by Kevin Spacey.  He admires Baby’s skill, even has a soft-spot for the kid.  But then, they have something in common ... They both feel that being a bad-guy doesn’t mean one can’t be civil.  They also value their family and their past.  With Baby, this is symbolised in the machines he listens to music on - machines that he associates with his dead mother (rather like Peter Quill and his Walkman); with Doc this is symbolised by the toy cars he uses to rehearse his heists, toys which he carefully puts away in a box afterwards.
            There are a couple of tasteful scars on Baby’s baby face, which are subtle indications of a violent and dramatic past which, in-turn, foreshadows the violence to come.  About half-way through, the film turns on a dime, and we realise that the playful form of the film disguises a dark and troubling content; the strained civility and ritualised normality of the first half falls away, and real threat enters Baby’s life, accompanied by sudden and extreme violence.
            We have learned to care about him and therefore, when the things he cares about are threatened, we take it personal too.
            There comes a point when things go catastrophically wrong for Baby, and he seems to forget all of his driving skills.  That seemed oddly convenient - insofar as the script needed him to get into trouble and the only way to do it, was for him to forget all the natural, effortless abilities he’d demonstrated in the film’s first heist; which could have got him out of that trouble, if the plot hadn’t needed him to be in it.

It is never made clear whether or not Baby tips the waitress.  As we know, waitressing is the number one occupation for female non-college graduates in America.
            That trouble, of course, comes in the form of his girlie, Deborah, who is neither a femme fatale, nor is she a hard-bitten moll; she’s kinda passive, in fact.  Very much a passenger in Baby’s vehicle.  That said, the scenes of them getting to know each other are delightful, and Lily James needs to portray Deborah as being especially vulnerable if the inevitable threat to her is to feel credible.
            I’ve called it Film Noir for the 21st century because, like a lot of Film Noir, the main character is a basically descent bloke who finds himself trapped in a spiral of violence, drawn into a criminal world that exists alongside the real world.  I’ve always found a vein of romanticism in Noir - sometimes bordering on the delusional - and that is definitely here in the way that Baby holds on to the belief that he can keep the two sides of his life separate, when we, the viewer, know that the best anti-lock brakes in the world won’t stop the one story crashing into the other.
            So, what we have a mash-up (as the young people say) of old Hollywood tropes and new-media post-post-modern film-making techniques, to create a film which feels both very traditional and very fresh.

Playing with model cars is just for babies, right?
            No, the visuals are not as extreme and the style as overpowering as they were in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) - that’s a good thing - the dialogue doesn’t quite sparkle like Tarantino’s or Scorsese’s does - but the music ... That’s a helluva thing!  Both Tarantino and Scorsese are geniuses with threading music through their crime movies.  Mr. Wright is now right up there with them!
            James Gunn just got nudged into second place for Soundtrack Album of 2017.  I’m listening to the Baby Driver soundtrack now as I type this - find it here, on Spotify.
            I’ve long maintained that there isn’t enough Hocus Pocus by Focus in the world ... But following it with Radar Love by Golden Earring was a masterstroke.  So, Wright might not have Tarantino’s ear for dialogue, but he does have his ear for music and, if anything, he makes better use of it.  And, let’s face it, he has form using Queen music to brilliant effect!
            One other difference between this film and Tarantino - I actually found myself caring for the good-guys in this film, they became more than just ciphers (which Tarantino can be guilty of) and the bad-guys weren’t so terrifyingly brutal that you feel the need to look the other way - as happened from time to time in Kill Bill (2003, 2004) for example.
            Baby Driver is good-humoured and good-natured.  It’s fun from neutral to fifth, but that doesn’t cut into the tension of the dramatic scenes; it just means that, as a viewer, I was more invested in the adventure and, therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Written & Directed by Edgar Wright.
Dur: 113 mins
Cert: 15


            I missed Hacksaw Ridge at the pictures.  Maybe I was demotivated by the Oscar buzz.  Cos films that win Oscars tend to be safe and pensioner-friendly, don’t they?  Also, it’s a soppy story about a religious nut at war, directed by another religious nut.  Certainly one to avoid, right?  Wrong.  Oh so very wrong.  Now the film is out on disc and download: Watch it!
            The first time I saw Hacksaw Ridge, I had a vague sense of déjà vu.  The dust and the grit of the battlefield, the sudden explosive and unrelenting violence, the bond between the men and the deep, abiding faith underpinning it all ... It all rang a distant bell.
            It reminded me of the Mel Gibson starrer, We Were Soldiers (2002).  This was written and directed by Randall Wallace, who had written the Oscar-nominated film Braveheart for Mel Gibson seven years earlier.

The differences between Hacksaw and We Were Soldiers are overt and immeditately obvious.  The similarities are more subtle and under the skin.
            Both films concern themselves with the gritty brutality of war (different wars, but photographed in very similar ways), how this tests decent men, and the effect it all has on their families.  In Hacksaw, the focus is on Doss’ dad (Hugo Weaving), still struggling with survivor guilt twenty years after the First war, and terrified of seeing his sons go the way all of his friends went: straight into an early grave.  In We Were Soldiers, it’s the wives we spend time with, waiting in fear for the telegrams, led by a stoical Madeleine Stowe.
            But the similarities are not just thematic; they are woven throughout the fabric of Hacksaw Ridge.  Like the earlier film, when it shows the inscrutable Oriental enemy at all, it shows them travelling by tunnel, and sketches in the suggestion that they, too, are brave and honourable men, fighting for a cause they hold dear. 
            In the heat of battle, we get blood splashing the camera, in both films; we get God’s eye views of the wounded, we get slow-motion explosions filling the air with dirt and fire.  Repeatedly, the person speaking disappears in a spray of red in mid sentence, by a head shot that snuffs out their life before the sound of the shot is heard.  

This is the end.  The titular Hacksaw Ridge, where soldiers have to climb a ladder to reach Hell.
            There is an emphasis on excruciating wounds, particularly leg gore, and on men burning, as well as on the importance of evacuating the wounded.  We get men carried over shoulders. 
            There’s more:  We get a steely drill sergeant (Sam Elliot in Soldiers, Vince Vaughn in Hacksaw), and a decent C.O. (Gibson himself in Soldiers, Sam Worthington in Hacksaw). 
            In We Were Soldiers, the journalist, Joe Galloway, (played by Barry Pepper, fresh from his turn in 1999’s Saving Private Ryan) is a non-combatant who doesn’t know how to use a gun.  He co-wrote the book of what occurred in the Ia Drang Valley, in this true story.   
            In Hacksaw, of course, Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a medic who won’t use a gun, and who, eventually, told what occurred on that ridge, in this true story.

The real Desmond Doss.
            But Hacksaw Ridge’s lack of originality doesn’t hinder it one iota.  I know literally no-one who doesn’t love the film.  It’s also true that, in almost every way, Hacksaw is the superior movie.  Granted, there is nothing here the equal of the scenes in Soldiers where Stowe takes the telegrams to her neighbours, one by one, to tell them their husbands are dead.  But, otherwise, Hacksaw is all heart, carried by Garfield’s simply, gritty determination and his puppy-dog eyes.
            One key difference that’s worth mentioning, is with the way the two films depict the Sarge.  Where Vaughn brings a real human warmth to Hacksaw, in a role that could easily have turned into a parody of Full Metal Jacket’s R. Lee Ermey (1987), Sam Elliott, in Soldiers, is largely thrown away in his rendition of the same role, because his natural humour and charm are missing, leaving inflexible, humourless efficiency.  There’s always something off in a film where Sam Elliott doesn’t have that wonderfully lush ’tache.
You keep 'em peeled for that facial adornment, boy.  It's gone AWOL.
            Vaughn’s performance is important in setting the tone for what follows.  He isn’t a screaming caricature, he respects his troops.  He isn’t simply trying to turn them into robo-soldiers, he’s someone who understands his men, and understands the sacrifice they are about to make.  It’s significant that he goes into combat with them.
            When, early on, the whole platoon is punished for Doss’ pacifism, their revenge against him is quite restrained.  But then, the plot requires us to like these guys and root for them, later on, so they can’t be seen to do anything too monstrous.  It’s quite a trick to swiftly sketch-in a roomful of grunts, all wearing the same uniform, all doing the same things.  But we quickly get to pick out a few characters, and they will see us through to the all-important show-down atop the cliff.  We learn to care for them as much as Doss does.

Vince Vaughn giving the performance of his career (so far) as the restrained, humane, Sgt. Howell, leading his men into harm's way, not sending them in first.
            Hacksaw Ridge wears its heart on its sleeve.  Indeed, it wears most every organ externally at one point or another, as Gibson’s famous eye for gore continues undiminished.  But, despite the eye-watering gore and the relentlessly merciless violence, this is a film which doesn’t sink into exploitation, because it’s a story about inner strength and decency.  It’s a film about faith.  Cleverly, Gibson saves this from being a cloying Biography Channel Sunday-afternoon movie, because he doesn’t lecture; the film isn’t on a mission to convert.  It shows Doss being confused by his own faith, but never conflicted about it.  He doesn’t know why it’s right not to pick up a gun, he just knows it is.  It’s his personal faith, produced by his personal circumstances, no-one else’s.
            Faith is a strong thread running through both Hacksaw and Soldiers - in that film Gibson prays with his children at the beginning.  The appeal of this to Gibson is obvious now, less so when the film first came out.  It’s worth saying that it’s an impressive achievement that Gibson put this film together.  Just five years ago, his career was in tatters and his behaviour had reduced him to a comedian’s punch-line.  Yet, he managed to put together the finance and get the production and distribution support for this epic movie.  It probably helps that he still has interests in Icon, the production company he set up in the 90s).  But there’s no denying that he is still an impressive presence on screen (his turn as the villain in 2014’s Expendables 3 demonstrated that), however, for this film, he stayed behind the camera, didn’t even put himself in there as a cameo; and that was a wise decision because, on-screen, he is still a controversial presence; off-screen, not so much (we’ll see if that continues to be the case if he continues with his plan to make a sequel to 2004’s Passion of the Christ).

Gibson behind the scenes - here with Sam Worthington and, Jesus, Vince Vaughn isn't that tall is he?
            There was never any doubt that Gibson is a director of considerable skill - Braveheart (1995) demonstrated that beyond any doubt.  Hacksaw Ridge shows that twenty turbulent years have left this ability undimmed.  Maybe he is planning to ‘do a Clint’ and retreat behind the camera for the rest of his career.  If so, there seems to be little downside to that, as he remains a great instinctive film-maker.
            The core of this film is the night Doss spends alone on the ridge, and it is a riveting sequence.  It benefits from the character-building of the film’s first half.  It benefits from the way that everyone since Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1999) shoots World War 2; the way they already shot Viet-Nam, as being gritty and dirty and genuinely scary.  This isn’t some nostalgic piece of flag-waving, this is history as it is lived at ground level, minute by minute, heartbeat by heartbeat.
            I’ve watched Hacksaw Ridge with film-geek friends, with my partner (who hates war films) and with my dad (who prefers ’em to feature Clint or John Wayne) .  They all loved it.  So, watch Hacksaw Ridge.  Then, maybe go back and give We Were Soldiers another chance.  The two films complement each other! 
            Hacksaw succeeds in telling an inspiring tale that works for a wide audience!  And I defy anyone to not feel a pricking at the corners of their eyes when they hear the words “help me one more”.

“We're waiting for Private Doss to finish praying for us"  That's it, I'm fillin' up, now ...
Dir: Mel Gibson
Writers:  Robert Schenkkan & Andrew Knight
Dur: 139 mins.
Cert: 15


           I love superheroes.  I learned to read on black and white reprints of Spider-Man comics back in the early seventies; then I made many friends during the comic shop boom of the late eighties and nineties.  And now I’m basking in them all over again, up there on the big screen.
            Thing is, throughout all this, I have always been a Marvelite.  DC didn’t appeal to me.  Even when I was very small, their heroes seemed silly and their stories even sillier.  Reading Marvel comics made me feel grown up, like I had some secret insight into the lives of adults (Peter Parker was always struggling to pay his rent, Sue and Reed Richards were always struggling to balance the competing jobs of being superheroes and parents).
            The one time I did read DC was during that brief period in the late eighties when Jim Shooter drove several key Marvel artists and writers into the arms of Karen Berger, over at DC.  These included the artist George Perez, who brought his exquisitely detailed talents to bear on Wonder Woman.  This, then, was the only time I ever read her adventures.

A hint of the beautifully drawn and beautifully designed work of Mr. Perez.
            Consequently, I bring very little prior knowledge to a DC movie.  I had no idea who anyone was in last year’s Suicide Squad (except The Joker and Harley).  This means I can come to a superhero film as a relatively clean slate, something I can’t do with Marvel films.  The movie stands or falls by being a good or bad film in itself, not whether it’s a good or bad adaptation of a beloved childhood memory.
            This why I can say, after much consideration, that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is hands down the best superhero film ever made.  Not the most fun superhero film (that’s Marvel’s 2014 Guardians), not the most satisfyingly geeky superhero film (that’s 2012’s Avengers), just the flat-out best piece of film-making to feature a superhero.  It is the most complete, most satisfying superhero film in and of itself.
            Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016) have been risible, lamentable failures, by comparison. 
            To put your curiosity out of its misery, Wonder Woman is nowhere near as good as Dark Knight, but it towers over the other three.  It’s a completely satisfying piece of film-making.  It’s one of those films which is far from perfect but wins the viewer over so completely with its charm, that you just don’t mind (It has that in common with Guardians Vol. 2, which is perfectly imperfect - see my review here).

Introducing the Amazonian squad of ultimate badasses.  Check it out: independently targeted bow and arrows.  We've got tactical swords, tempered-steel ball-breakers.  We've got shields, knives, and pointy sticks! 
            Our story begins in an idyllic Grecian wonderland (which, I believe, is a hold-over from those Perez comics, 30 years ago) where the entire population are women warriors called Amazons.  It’s like Zack Snyder’s 300 (2006), only with less well-developed breasts.  This background does, at least, explain why Diana’s costume is a corset and a miniskirt because, back in the day, even men wore skirts.  According to these Amazonians’ own myths, they have the power to craft babies out of clay, but only Zeus can give it life.  So, these feminist warriors are still dependent on men, then.  Indeed, so the myth goes, they were created by Zeus to show men love and peace and stop them fighting each other perpetually.  Cos, y’know what boys are like when there’s no girls around.   
            “We are the bridge to a greater understanding between all men."  And how's that going, hidden away here on your paradise island, with no men around?
            This mythic flashback is presented as a series of animated Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which is certainly a diverting way to dump a lot of exposition on the audience in a short space of time - it certainly worked for Del Toro when he did it at the beginning of Hellboy II (2008).
            Young Princess Diana is being protected from Ares, the God who will bring war to her, if he discovers her existence (you find out why, later on).  However, rather conveniently, Diana discovers she has an explosive super-power just as war comes a-knocking in the form of a WW1 pilot who falls through an unexplained time-warp kinda thing, bringing a fleet of Germans on his tail.
            There are men on the Amazons’ island.  Well, that isn’t going to end well.               

Robin Wright is General Antiope.  Training Diana, kicking asses and taking names.
            A battle ensues, swords and arrows against machine-guns and, of course, Snyder’s fingerprints are all over this (he’s still got overall creative control of these DC films), but that just adds to the balletic elegance of what we see.  This vision of female warriors, it’s not like a Kathryn Bigelow film, where she’s just concerned with repeatedly demonstrating that she’s got brassier balls than the boys; these action scenes have quite a different feel about them.
            After this, we settle into a little getting-to-know-you.  These scenes serve several purposes.  We get chance to get to know both Gal Gadot’s Diana and Chris Pine’s Steve, as they get to know each other, but the film also plays around with the clichés of the genre.  So she walks in on him in the bath, rather than the other way round, and he is therefore reduced to sex-object to be looked at, which is a delicious reversal of the usual way of things.
            Of course, that isn’t the only reversal we get here.  A lot of very familiar motifs are made new again by simply having them involve women.  For example, it is Diana who draws the magic sword.  I’ve seen a lot of warriors tool up with a lot of swords, but never a woman before.  Not before bloody time.  Remember the bullet-catch in Superman the Movie (1978), where Clark catches a bullet destined for Lois?  Well, that gets reversed here, too.
            There is beautifully written fun to be had with their mutual misunderstanding of each other’s customs.  And the scene where she persuades him to sleep with her is subverted from the usual male wish-fulfilment fantasy, when she matter-of-factly assures him that she knows all about procreation and understands that men are “unnecessary for pleasure”.  That would feel very different in a film made by men!

Chris Pine's Steve Trevor, just standing there, looking all above average and that.
            Steve’s ‘secretary’, Etta Candy, is played perfectly by Lucy Davis, but isn’t given nearly enough to do.  She, again, provides a thread of very human comedy, when she and Diana go clothes shopping and, again, a sequence that could have ridiculed both parties, or been played purely so the camera can catch a glimpse of breast in a mirror, is a lovely piece of character comedy.  It pushes the story along a bit, but it pushes the characters along a lot.
            It was interesting seeing this film just a week after Pirates of the Caribbean, and comparing the way the two films deal with an assertive female character.  Pirates’ Carina is branded a witch, because she understands astronomy and navigation; in this film Diana’s entrance into a Whitehall cabinet meeting, with her understanding of tactics and foreign codes, is met with a comparably scathing response.  Even though the great and the good are discussing the imminent end of the war, it suddenly becomes far more important to get the woman out of the room.  Priorities, guys.
            This does, of course, let Diana (and us) get first-hand experience of the complacent corrupt old men who are running the war, before we get to experience the grit and grim of the battle first hand.  It’s important to get that perspective.  When I saw, in the trailer, that this film was going to drop Wonder Woman into the First World War, I was really concerned about this being cheap and exploitative.  But it isn’t, because the film concentrates on the human sacrifice, on the pain, on the victims.  Diana’s whole mission is to confront Ares, which is, in essence, the mission to end all war.
            Well, that’s gotta be a good thing!
            As we move into the film’s second half, set amid the chaos of the Western Front, we are introduced to a rogue’s gallery of swiftly-sketched side-kicks and colourful characters who, again, add to the films humour and humanity.  Wonder Woman is also chock-full of clever little details such as, for random example, the way Steve brings with him “English tea for the Germans, German beer for the English, and Edgar Rice Burroughs books for both”.

The motley crew:  Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Eugene Brave Rock as Chief and the bird in the unnecessarily short skirt ... is Ewen Bremner.
            The first big action set-piece, when Diana cuts loose in a small town overrun with Germans; bears more than a passing resemblance to the scene in Iron Man (2008), when Tony Stark first uses the suit, and takes out a town full of badguys.  But that scene worked for Marvel, it was a hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment that played a major part in building the billion-dollar empire that is now the Marvel Cinematic Universe; so, why shouldn’t DC try to catch some of that lightning in their own bottle?  I have to say, watching Diana running fearlessly into overwhelming odds, has a similarly inspiring effect.  That is a genuinely exciting action scene!
            As the film proceeds, it misses a few steps, and the plot reversals - the surprises that you aren’t supposed to see coming - are bleeding obvious; and there are a few annoying plot threads that are left dangling (such as what's with the time-warp thingy at the beginning ... and why did it suddenly appear?); but I really didn’t care.  The film had paid its dues, it had built up a cast of interesting and likeable characters who a really cared for; which is more than can be said for Man of Steel, Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad.
            The film even shoe-horns a few genuinely profound philosophical thoughts in amongst the energy bolts and flying masonry of the inevitably explosive show-down.

That really is an inefficient way to carry a long sword.  I mean, yes, it looks cool, of course it does, but, unless you've got freakishly long arms, you're never gonna get it out of the damn scabbard.
            So, Wonder Woman (and, thankfully, that phrase is never spoken in the film) makes credible a character who has always seemed, frankly, ridiculous.  Gal Gadot’s central performance is mistressful.  She is equally comfortable with the comedy as she is the drama, and she manages to wear that armoured corset with real dignity.  Chris Pine is perfectly chosen as her foil, because his humour strikes the right tone throughout (and, let’s face it, humour is something these DC films have been sorely lacking).  It is to the credit of all that Diana isn’t simply reduced to being Steve’s straight-woman.  She has her own intelligence and her own mischievous sense of humour.  She is, in other words, a fully-rounded character.  Imagine that.
            It is a tribute to the skills of scriptwriter Allan Heinberg, that this film feels like it was written by a woman.  He’s worked on TV shows with predominantly female casts, so he has a good idea of how to structure a scene so it doesn’t feel creepy or clichéd - as several of the getting-to-know-you scenes would have if they’d been written less sensitively.

In her first major acting role, Ms. Gadot manages to be disarming, both in the literal sense in the action scenes, but also in the more sensitive moments requiring a skilled actor.  Expect her to be a BIG star, very soon.
             Judging from the responses I've seen and read; this film is already inspiring a whole generation of young girls; hopefully to do more than just usher in a new fashion in cosplay.  I imagine there will a significant uptake of girls studying Martial Arts.  Which would be pretty frickin' awesome!
            And, of course, an incredible amount of credit has to be given to director, Patty Jenkins.  It’s been fourteen years since she directed a movie, but the last one she made was called Monster (2003) and it won Charlize Theron a hatful of awards, including an Academy Award.  I wonder if Jenkins chose to leave it this long, or if she just couldn’t find a project that was worthy of her?  Her touch is assured, throughout.  She handles the special effects confidently (okay, some of the flying scenes are a bit ropey), gives all of her characters depth and interest, paces the dialogue beautifully to bring out the comedy and the drama, often in the same scene, and then builds action scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in any recent blockbuster.
            Given the overwhelmingly positive response Wonder Woman has received, I wouldn’t be surprised if this superhero film doesn’t gather some traction at Oscar time.  Either way, I hope Jenkins is bombarded with offers to make films that are worthy of her, and she doesn’t leave it another fourteen years before she shows us all how it’s done, one more time.

Writer: Allen Heinberg
Director: Patty Jenkins 
Cert: 12A
Dur: 141 mins