WONDER WOMAN

To quote Kate Bosworth's tepid Lois Lane in 2006's much-maligned Superman Returns

"Let's start with the big question".  

Does the DC Extended Universe's fourth entry succeed in areas where 2013's polarizing Man of Steel & last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, along with the dreadful Suicide Squad, did not?

After a viewing of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot's second appearance as the titular character following her well-received debut in Dawn of Justice, the answer is, without question, an enthusiastic yes.

Director Patty Jenkins, who once wisely passed on helming the 2013 misfire Thor: The Dark World for rival Marvel Studios, has done an outstanding job in telling an exciting story that takes some wildly different environments, characters & a splash of classic swashbuckling epics such as the Indiana Jones saga and brings them together in a way that, for the first time in the DCEU's existence, makes complete sense.  Any attempts by producer/DCEU resident director Zack Snyder to inject Wonder Woman with any signature Snyder-isms that have become laughable trademarks of his hit-or-miss career take a backseat to Jenkins' superb direction, which owes as much to the fine cast as anything else.

In the main role, Gal Gadot is given plenty of chances to bring her badassery front and center while also fleshing out her character beautifully-her scenes of exploring early 1900s society for the first time showcases her innocence, all the while being happily balanced by intense moments to show audiences why she's seemingly born to play the part when the action picks up.  Chris Pine as partner/love interest Steve Trevor may be playing a variation of his own Captain Kirk, but it's an adaptation that works well-the chemistry between he and Gadot is believable, with conversations between the two that feel natural, again owing as much to Gadot's charisma as Pine's.  

Every supporting part is handled beautifully, with each cast member making the most of their character while complimenting one another well-it's a balance that results in memorable performances, from Trevor's Howlin' Commandos-esque team of Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) & his secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) to Connie Nielsen & Robin Wright as Gadot's native family-even though the accents the latter two adopt may be shaky at best, their heart, as well as their nimble grace in some early fight scenes, are tremendously on full display.  David Thewlis, one of my favorite underrated actors, even shows up and, thankfully, once again performs admirably.  On the other side of the coin, the villans, which come in the form of Doctor Poison/Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya) and General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) teeter from average to weak, once again demonstrating how superhero films as of late have a problem creating convincing baddies, though Anaya does manage to do ever so slightly better.

Behind the scenes, Jenkins has assembled a crew that has effortlessly created Wonder Woman's world of the early 1900s, from a thrilling World War I sequence in No Man's Land that must be seen to be appreciated to excellent special effects and a fine score courtesy of Rupert Gregson-Williams which again makes use of the Wonder Woman theme first heard in Dawn of Justice.

While admittedly not 100% perfect, Wonder Woman is still absolutely the DCEU's best work yet, due in no small part to Jenkins' direction, a committed cast & a team of writers/FX artists/cinematographers that have brought to screens a great entry into the theatrical world of superheroes, and film overall.  A sequel will inevitably see the light of day, but more importantly Wonder Woman has saved a studio that was in dire need of a hit, a league who's future was as yet uncertain, and a character who deserved a debut that hit all the right notes.  

It's wonderful.