It Comes At Night

Year: 2017
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr. 

Written by Noah Jackson

‘It Comes at Night’ stars Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo (of ‘Selma), Christopher Abbott, and Riley Keough (of Netflix’s ‘The Discovery) in a psychological horror-thriller written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, the filmmaker behind 2015’s indie darling ‘Krisha. It centers around a family unit in a dystopian world that suddenly enters a power struggle when they allow another struggling family into their backwoods home.

I say this movie is a horror, and IMDb will say that it is a horror, and the trailers will definitely try and sell this movie as a horror, but this is a different, more agonizing kind of horror, because it’s the type of horror that requires patience and thought. Another recent comparison for this type of genre is Robert Eggers’ ‘The Witch, or a more famous example could be something like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining. ‘It Comes at Night did indeed have its moments of scariness, but so much of what makes the film scary in the conventional sense is an underlying tension that only escalates throughout the entire movie.

The way this tension is created is through the direction of someone that I think will have a long and decorated career making movies if he stays on the curve. What Shults manages to do in this movie, rather brilliantly, is keep the audience on pace with the characters, in terms of the information given. For the world this film takes place in, there is definitely something going on, but it’s very unclear what that specific thing is, and the audience is informed just as much as the characters are. What helps create the paranoid feeling is when different characters enter the story, and their versions of events aren’t necessarily correct. In the average film, if a character states something as fact, the audience is expected to take this statement as 100% factual truth. What keeps this film above average is that is very clearly makes its intention known that not everything told will be factual, and to me, this tiny notion of not knowing who I was supposed to believe kept me on the edge of my seat.

Switching directions to talk about the cast, there are six main cast members. There’s Joel Edgerton’s family, consisting of him, his wife Sarah (Ejogo), and their son Travis, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. About 15 minutes into the movie, the secondary family is introduced, played by Christopher Abbott, his wife Kim (Keough), and their infant son Andrew. Every cast member here is fantastic in their respective roles. Joel Edgerton for me is one of the most consistently underrated main actors in the business, and the subtlety he demonstrates here further credits my belief. For Christopher Abbott, this is the first film I have seen that features him prominently, and I found his character to be the most unpredictable, which I credit to not only his excellent performance, but the tone and setting developed by this director. My favorite performance of the movie is that of the main protagonist, Travis. This young actor deserves lots of praise for carrying this story on his shoulders. Despite not being the top billed star, he is clearly the central focus of this story, with lots of the main events being played out through his perception. A main share of the actual jump scares, because there are some in this movie, are done in dream sequences, through Travis’ dreams.

While the actor playing Travis certainly gives a great performance and has many moments wherein the progression of the plot intertwines with his development as a character, my biggest issue with this story revolves around how from a horror perspective, everything that is supernaturally scary occurs in dream sequences, and the dream sequences are pretty easy to spot because the aspect ratio changes, making it simple to spot when it’s a dream.

After leaving the theater, my buddy (we’ll call him Chip) and I were both desperately trying to dissect what was going on in that movie. On the car ride home it was lots of yelling and theorizing about what went down and what made this dystopian world different, and in our opinion, more interesting than most. The ensuing text conversation that went on for the next few hours was even more trippy, as we spelt out our own complete theory as to how this film works. We both walked away absolutely adoring this film, and the fact we could talk about it in such depth further spoke to that, because it revealed that we both were wrapped up attentively in the story.

While some obvious dream sequences and a few illogical decisions impeded my full enjoyment of the movie, there hasn’t been another film this year that had me asking so many questions (as in questions about further understanding the film’s universe, not the questions I asked about ‘The Book of Henry, like how the hell did it get made). It’s inconclusive, because as I said earlier, the audience only knows as much as the characters do, so certain pivotal plot points don’t actually have definite answers. Which also makes this the only movie of the year, other than ‘Wonder Woman because duh, that I think requires more than one viewing.

Noah’s Rating: 8.5 out of 10

 

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Churchill

Year: 2017
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell
Written by Tom Sheffield

Often referred to as “the greatest Briton ever”, it’s no surprise that there have already been a number of films and documentaries centred around the life of Winston Churchill, with this latest film about the former Prime Minister coming from director Jonathan Teplitzky (‘The Railway Man’, ‘Broadchurch’).

This whole biopic centres around Churchill (Brian Cox) in the 96 hours before the D-Day landings in Normandy, 1944. Churchill is haunted by his past experience of war, obsessively worrying about what the public will think of him, whatever the outcome of this plan, and filled with fear by the sheer number of young men’s lives at stake if he makes the wrong call. Trying to support her husband the best she can, Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson)  must make Winston see that his self-pity will not win the war, and it certainly isn’t how a leader should act.

First and foremost, my favourite thing about this film was easily the cinematography, courtesy of David Higgs (‘RocknRolla’, ‘Lesbian Vampire Killers’). Some of the scenes were so beautifully shot that even the dull, and often tiresome dialogue managed to keep my attention. The film kicks off with shots of Winston on a beach, the seas red with blood, and as he walks away the colour fades to black and white and the empty beach is now filled with the bodies of young soldiers. This harrowing shot sets us up for Winston’s state of mind for the rest of the film and a visual representation of what he fears may happen.

Alongside the superb cinematography, Cox and Richardson’s performances are the only other saving graces of this film. The way in which they deliver their lines during some of the most intense and emotional scenes really capture your attention. The hour and forty-five minute run time feels seemed to drag in places and I think a ninety minute run time would have sufficed. A number of shots throughout the film are Winston staring into the distance, cigar in his mouth, with his facial expressions giving clear indication there is a lot running through his mind. The silence is often broken with Clementine entering the room and speaking a lot of sense and often reminding Winston to act like the leader he wants to be remembered for being.

The film focused on Churchill’s demons and his on-going fight against them, and because of this I think this film focused on the wrong Churchill. Had the film centred around the same 96 hours but from Clementine’s point of view and her struggle to support her husband, I think that would have made for a much more intense and ‘thriller’ like film. I left the cinema wishing I’d seen more of her and what she was doing whilst Winston was out butting heads with his American allies about the plans for D-Day.

I can’t say I’d recommend giving this a watch whilst it’s in the cinemas, but if you’re interested in films about World War II or Churchill then you’ll probably want to pick this up when it comes out on DVD. There’s certainly a lot of comments online about the films historical accuracy, but I’ve avoided going into detail on this in my review as biopics tend to be flexible with truth behind the stories they’re trying to tell. But with solid leads and some beautiful shots, ‘Churchill’ would be a film I recommend for one of those days where you’re just not quite sure what to watch.

Tom’s rating: 4.5 out of 10

Transformers: The Last Knight

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael

Written by Corey Hughes

Whether you love it or hate it, franchising has become a fundamental influence on Hollywood’s success in film today. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the Fast and Furious series, movie franchises come in many shapes and sizes. Yet despite an overwhelming consensus of negative reviews from critics, the Transformers franchise is one that refuses to die down.

And why should it? With Michael Bay’s retail-toy adaptations being as lucrative as they are, Bay wipes the tears of negative criticism with $100 dollar bills. But with ‘The Last Knight’ reputedly being the final one to be directed by Bay, (fingers crossed), is there a possibility that the fifth film will defy all odds?

Nope.

Summarising a synopsis for ‘The Last Knight’ is as useful as a eunuch in a brothel. As the film begins, we are thrown back into the ‘dark ages’ of England, where King Arthur and the Vikings are at war. With the battle against Arthur and his men, the king seeks out the magic of Merlin (Stanley Tucci’s second outing in the franchise) to tip the balance of war in his favour. 1600 years later, the fate of the human race relies entirely on the discovery of Merlin’s magical staff. Blah, blah, blah; if you’re really into the plot at this point, then all credit to you.

This boils down to what I believe is Michael Bay’s biggest flaw as a filmmaker. Barring his over reliance on slow-motioned, explosive and debris-propelling action, he is entirely incompetent at telling a coherent and engaging story. His films, especially his treasured Transformers flicks, are told exclusively through these grand, spectacular action set pieces. Narrative, for Bay, seems secondary; a grout to fill in the gaps. The action, nonetheless, does look spectacularly convincing. The use of CGI, especially for the appearance and movement of the Transformers, is unparalleled in its presentation.

With the story being as convoluted as it is here, with multiple sub-plots in play, the film is desperately calling out for strong performances, but there’s none to be seen here. Although new arrival Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the crude, but whimsical old Brit is amusing, it’s Wahlberg’s ‘The Happening’-esque wooden performance that will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Yet that’s the least of the film’s problems. ‘The Last Knight’ establishes no sense of continuity from its predecessor and with the onslaught of new characters being vomited onto the screen, Bay and co. are discouraging their viewers to invest in the characters and the conflict that they find themselves in. Even the on-screen relationship between Wahlberg’s Cade and Laura Haddock’s highly-educated and snobby Vivian Wembley seems forced, with no eye for attention being invested in their developing attraction. It’s sloppy, unconvincing, and if we didn’t care about the film before, we surely don’t now.

In the end, this fifth outing for the Transformers franchise regrettably ticks all the boxes for a totally unforgettable Michael Bay action flick. Hot girl? Check. Unforgivable product placement? Check. Flat-lined humour with a paper-thin story? Check. Resisting the urge to pluck your eyes out from their sockets? Check.

On a more light-hearted note, I’ve created a new drinking game for ‘The Last Knight’: take a shot every time Optimus Prime declares, “I am Optimus Prime!” That way, by the time the final credits roll, you’ll be absolutely shit-faced. It’s by far the only way you’re going to enjoy this one.

Corey’s rating: 3.5 out of 10

 

Baby Driver

Year: 2017
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

Odeon’s ‘Screen Unseen’ is a regular event in which the cinema chain hand picks a film for an early screening. In the build up to the eventual screening, Odeon release very cryptic clues for the film they’re showing. This film’s clues were “Political hangover,” “Soon shorter star, surrogate shop,” “Tiny, dark, waiting in the wings, “ and “Fingers ‘n Finest formed.” I’ll let you figure out exactly how they link to the film in question, but as you can tell, Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ was the ‘Screen Unseen’. For a film to join the ranks of previous ‘Screen Unseen’ films like ‘Moonlight’, ‘The Revenant’, and ‘Whiplash’, Odeon certainly had high hopes for ‘Baby Driver’. Those high hopes were not unfounded. ‘Baby Driver’ is one of the films of the year so far.

‘Baby Driver’ is the story of Baby (Elgort) and his adventures as a getaway driver for mysterious criminal and bank robber Doc (Spacey). As far as the plot goes, giving much else away would ruin some of the surprises and magic you have in store. In ‘Baby Driver’, you have a film where the motto seems to be “it’s not about the destination, it’s how you get there.” Both the film and its title character get from Point A to Point B in the only way they know how; driving really fast to the sound of a really loud, really eclectic iPod. It’s a blast.

From the first scene, Wright lets us into idea of the film. Baby is the getaway driver and he is our lead character; he is the focus of our story. While some of his criminal associates are off performing heists, that is purely background noise to Baby’s enjoyment of music. The first song we hear is ‘Bellbottoms’ by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a blues-y, headbanger of a song, and the entire heist is ignored in favour of Baby air-guitaring and air-drumming and miming along to the song. Instantly, Baby comes across as charming and likeable and once the driving begins, almost impossibly talented. The first car chase, in the red Subaru that’s all over the trailers, is spectacular. It’s an intense, white-knuckle thrill ride through the streets of Atlanta. There are close shaves, clever tactics, handbrake turns galore, and accompanied by the song in question it becomes one of the best car chases I’ve seen in years. This becomes a common theme. Every car chase or major set-piece in ‘Baby Driver’ is on its own level of awesome.

As a huge fan of Edgar Wright, his Cornetto trilogy, ‘Spaced’, and ‘Scott Pilgrim’, I found his energetic style of filmmaking to be a perfect fit for ‘Baby Driver’. Even small, conversation filled scenes are punctuated with small sound cues at just the right moment or gesture. I got the impression as the film went on that the visuals on screen were so meticulously planned from the get go, almost as if the scenes themselves were filmed with a song in order to truly nail the timings. Everything you see in Baby Driver can be matched to a musical influence of some description, gunshots were in perfect sync with the music playing overtop, and even Doc explaining an upcoming heist had the rhythm of a drum solo. Wright manages to keep the pace and flow of the film at such a high level that I have no doubt that there are moments and jokes that I didn’t catch on first viewing and will require a second or third viewing. What a shame.

Given the talent on show, it should come as no surprise that the performances are terrific across the board, particularly from Elgort, Foxx, and James. Foxx’s Bats is a loose cannon, a difficult business partner when the business is crime and several characters find themselves on the wrong side of Bats. Lily James’ Debora leaves a long-lasting impression too as she comes across so endearingly from her very first appearance. It’s possible that there’s a manic-pixie-dream-girl element to her as she is Baby’s perfect match instantly, but when James pulls off the character so well you can’t help but be swept up along with Baby and his love for her.

Baby Driver’s driving force is no doubt its music. Judging by my Spotify playlist having increased in number by no less than 15 songs, there’s something for absolutely everyone as the song choices span several decades. ‘Baby Driver’ does for 80s blues what ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ did for 70’s rock. ‘Baby Driver’ covers every base it can in a soundtrack that no doubt took almost as long to get right as it did to actually film. A late chase sequence to the sound of a Queen song had my mouth agape for its duration as it was such a perfectly intense song for the visuals on screen. That scene, as well as several others, were utterly breathless and I can’t wait to see them again.

If I had a gripe about Baby Driver, I would say it’s in its third act as some characters make some choices that are questionable, possibly going against what we’ve been shown in the previous 90 or so minutes. One character has been far-removed from the key action until the third act and when they are, they appear to brush off fairly brutal violence very casually. That said, it’s a small gripe that has no bearing on my overall opinion of the film.

‘Baby Driver’ is a blast. It’s exciting, funny, heart-warming, and very original. The performances are terrific, it’s written and directed superbly, and all being well, ‘Baby Driver’ should be one of the big hits of the summer. Edgar Wright, you’ve done it again.

Rhys’ verdict: 9.2/10

My Cousin Rachel

Year: 2017
Director: Roger Michell
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glenn, Holliday Grainger

Written by Abbie Eales

Roger Michell, probably best known as the director of Notting Hill, brings us this fresh take on Daphne Du Maurier’s dark thriller, ‘My Cousin Rachel’. A wealthy young man, Philip (Claflin) plots revenge against his mysterious cousin Rachel (Weisz), believing her to have murdered his guardian Ambrose, following their seemingly hasty marriage in Italy in an attempt to gain his fortune. The story itself is not so much of a whodunnit, but rather a ‘did she do it?’ as we take Philip’s perspective in attempting to unravel the true story of his guardian’s death.

The book had previously been brought to life in 1952, just a year after the publication of the source novel, in a lavish affair starring Richard Burton and Olivia De Havilland which, while not quite reaching the heights of fame of other Du Maurier adaptations ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Don’t Look Now’, was considered a cinematic success and was nominated for 4 academy awards. To attempt another adaptation could be seen as a bold move, but Michell and team do bring a breath of fresh air to the story.

During the early scenes of the film we only hear about the mysterious Rachel through letters and gossip, she comes into Philip’s life not with the bang and confrontation he had been expecting, but with an understated entrance that means our first view of her is silhouetted against the moon, her back to a window. Rather than the monster we are led to expect, Rachel is quiet, funny and warm, with the household’s army of dogs following her about loyally from the moment she arrives.

As Philip’s infatuation grows, Rachel remains a mystery. She seems genuine in her affections for her departed husband Ambrose (the ‘great family resemblance’ is achieved by Claflin playing both roles) but why does she keep plying Philip with that odd herbal tea…?

Weisz plays Rachel with great skill, with Michell seeming to lead our expectations one way as a single glance leads us another. Rachel seems decidedly modern and at odds with the stifling societal expectations exhibited by all those around her. Indeed the fact that she is a woman ‘of appetites’ is whispered knowingly by several of the supporting cast. However Weisz ensures Rachel flits between being charming and likeable then cold and standoffish, just enough to keep us asking ourselves if she could really be capable of murder.

Claflin plays Philip every inch as the ‘wet-nosed- puppy’ Rachel describes him, which does become grating at times. Seeing the world through Philip’s eyes is a somewhat disarming and claustrophobic experience, with the view sometimes becoming as blank and shallow as he seems.

Philip’s lack of experience with women is referenced several times, and indeed the view of Rachel we are given is one buried beneath his own misunderstanding and confusion, alongside a burning attraction and fascination. The whole film could be seen as a giant metaphor for modern cinema, as we struggle along with an old-fashioned male gaze trying to depict highly complex modern womanhood.

While the longing glances and candlelit encounters increase, the orchestral score swells, keeping true to the genre. Other melodramatic tropes abound, from the waves crashing on the shore to the string of pearls breaking and scattering down the stairs.

The film may seem a little slow for some tastes, but the many threads of the story are drawn together in a deft web for the final act. Audiences have been discussing their view of Rachel for over 50 years, and this won’t change that, but ultimately My Cousin Rachel is a well-made period melodrama with an interesting modern twist.

Abbies verdict: 7.3 out of 10

The Mummy

Year: 2017
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

18 years after Brendan Fraser’s ‘The Mummy’ surprised us all by actually being good and fun, we have a re-imagining of ‘The Mummy’ as the first instalment of Universal’s planned Dark Universe. Dark Universe is meant to be a shared cinematic universe (how many of those have come and gone since Marvel near perfected the formula?) of some of cinema’s most iconic monsters, including The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is a lot of star power behind this incoming franchise, led by Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. On paper, the conceit could be a fun one, but frankly, after ‘The Mummy’, the Dark Universe is already off to a rocky start.

When an ancient tomb and sarcophagus is discovered long-buried under Iraq, our heroes Nick Morton (Cruise) and Jennifer Halsey (Wallis) are tasked with transporting the sarcophagus to London for investigation and analysis. En route, disaster strikes as the contents of the sarcophagus, an Ancient Egyptian princess by the name of Princess Ahmanet (Boutella), is awoken and hell-bent on taking Earth for her own. Beyond that, we have a search for a MacGuffin or two, and a meeting with a mysterious figure (Crowe) who knows all too much about Ahmanet and her quest for world destruction.

For my money, despite its fairly damning reviews since its release, I didn’t find ‘The Mummy’ to be wholly without merit. Tom Cruise has, deservedly, earned himself the title of Hollywood’s go-to movie star, and he does everything he can to sell this film. Cruise is evidently having a lot of fun as he does Tom Cruise things. Whether it’s rolling around a plummeting plane, swimming away from swimming mummies (you heard), or legging it from an incoming giant face-made-of-sand in the middle of London, ‘The Mummy’ hits all the beats of your typical Tom Cruise film. Ultimately, the film is almost astoundingly generic, but when it’s “Tom Cruise generic”, you know you’re in for an entertaining time at least.

The film is also surprisingly funny in parts, using physical comedy and occasionally embracing the ridiculousness of the film. Sadly though, these funny parts are in direct contrast to much of the action on screen, which is where ‘The Mummy’ begins to unravel. Hold your applause.

‘The Mummy’ is tonally all over the place. The film regularly jumps from mysterious, Nathan Drake style tomb investigation to a scene from a horror film to the characters having friendly banter in a pub. One of the lead characters meets an untimely end in the first third of the film and their death is treated as something of a joke after the character who killed them accidentally fires a third shot. ‘The Mummy’ is a film that doesn’t entirely know what it wants to be. It even earned a 15-rating in the UK for sustained threat, but it never fully utilised its rating. In a film primarily linked to a horror character, you want more than the occasional jump scare, only a few of which are actually effective.

The key problem with ‘The Mummy’ is it tries to do too much in one film. It tries so hard to set up its own cinematic universe after so confidently opening the film with a Dark Universe title card that it forgets some of the fundamentals of making a good film.

Now, setting up the Dark Universe wasn’t entirely unsuccessful as I found a mid-point scene involving Crowe and Cruise the highlight of the film. Crowe’s, without giving too much away, alternate ego is a hugely entertaining 5 minutes that above all showed Crowe having fun. Crowe is handed an incredibly exposition-filled role as he explains to Morton and Halsey what exactly Ahmanet is and what she wants, and it’s nice to see him get a satisfying moment in the spotlight.

Where the writers (5 of them! Yes, 5!) and director Alex Kurtzman fell-short was convincing us ‘The Mummy’ was a film that could work on its own. It doesn’t commit to its characters enough as no one beyond Cruise, Crowe, and Boutella even register as anyone of interest (I found Wallis to be particularly poor in all honesty). There is no real through-line from where the film begins to where the film ends; it’s more a collection of 5 or 6 initially unconnected action set-pieces (though mostly entertaining) woven together through thinly plotted dialogue scenes.

I couldn’t shake the feeling as the film ended that what I watched was, ultimately, pointless. The film itself will leave no lasting impression beyond setting up the Dark Universe, should this even carry on after the critical mauling ‘The Mummy’ has received. I found myself mostly entertained for the majority of its run-time, but I can assure you that the 2017 reboot of ‘The Mummy’ will not leave the same lasting impression the 1999 version of ‘The Mummy’ had. Wherefore art thou, Brendan Fraser?

Rhys’ rating: 4.7 out of 10

Captain Underpants

Year: 2017
Director:
David Soren
Starring:
Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele

Written by Dalton Brown

Nostalgia. Nostalgia is why I wanted to see ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’. I didn’t go to laugh or anything. I went because my inner child consumed me, brainwashed me, and basically forced me to go see this. My inner child is an idiot. But hey, ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ could have been a lot worse and, honestly, probably should have been. As it stands though, ‘Captain Underpants’ is alright; kind of underwhelming.

Based off a series of children’s books, the film follows Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart) – two best friends that are inseparable. They like making comic books about this imaginary superhero known as “Captain Underpants!” When they’re not writing their next masterpiece, they’re pulling pranks on their mean school principle… Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). Mr. Krupp hates fun. One day, Harold and George push Mr. Krupp past his breaking point; thus, forcing him to relocate the two friends to separate classrooms. The boys panic and try to hypnotize him. And it somehow works, cue “Captain Underpants!”

‘Captain Underpants’ is beautiful to look at, I’ll give it that. And it has a nice cast of characters too. The voice work is good. Everything about it is solid. Even the jokes. Though they do grow tiresome very quickly, they’re not completely unbearable. So, why was it underwhelming? Because I’m too old for it anymore, mostly. But also, there was a joke that had to do with the choir that kind killed it for me. And the third act became repetitive.

Despite all of this, it’s still a good movie. Granted, kids will probably get a lot more out of it than adults but there are some great messages about laughter and friendship and things.

I like the messages. I like the animation. I like what the movie is going for, but it could have been better. Maybe if it embraced its mediocrity? I don’t know. I suggest seeing it at some point, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s an easy watch and I enjoyed most of it, I was also expecting something a bit better.

Dalton’s rating: 6.0/10

Wonder Woman

Year: 2017
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis

Written by Fiona Underhill

Usually I start a JumpCut review by discussing what drew me to the film and my expectations of it. However, there are two major shadows cast over this particular movie. 1) DC – believe me, I could write A LOT about previous DC films and how it has affected my expectations of ‘Wonder Woman’, however, I’m not going to. 2) Feminism – an endless stream of articles have been produced about what this film does or doesn’t do for women. It feels like the weight of half of the world is on Wonder Woman’s shoulders. However, I am going to endeavour (and I may fail) to write about this film on its merits as a standalone feature. 

After a brief prologue, we first encounter Diana (who will become the lovely Gal Gadot) as the only child in the city of Themyscira, a paradise peopled by the Amazons – a tribe of female warriors given the duty of guarding mankind. However, they have abandoned this cause (which they view as hopeless) and retreated to their secret and protected island. They remain highly skilled in combat and continue training, led by Antiope (Robin Wright) – their greatest warrior. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Gladiator’s Connie Nielsen), wishes to protect her daughter, but Diana is headstrong and has the urge to learn the ways of her people. This idyllic haven is punctured one day by a WWI fighter plane, which crashes into the waters just off the islands, followed by German troops in boats. This leads to a stunning beach-based fight scene, which frankly had me welling up with emotion. 

The pilot who has crashed into this mythical world is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and he leads Diana on a mission to try to stop ‘Doctor Poison’ – a brilliant German scientist, from formulating a deadly gas that can dissolve gas masks. This is in what should be the dying days of The Great War, with politicians behind the scenes frantically negotiating their way towards Armistice. One of these politicians is Sir Patrick (a lovely surprise to see David Thewlis) and another beloved British actor in the London-based scenes is Lucy Davis (Dawn from The Office) as Steve’s secretary – Etta. Steve Trevor assembles a small band of rogues (including Charlie, played by Ewen Bremner), to attempt to stop the gas from getting as far as the trenches. 

Firstly, ‘Wonder Woman’ is full of humour. Much of this comes from the ‘fish-out-of-water’ Diana – a demi-god with little experience of the world of men, negotiating the world of war. Secondly, it is visually stunning. The action scenes are thrilling and yes, I will say it, this has a lot to do with the sheer glee of seeing a badass woman on screen in what could not be more of a man’s world. What to say about Gal Gadot? She is physical perfection and she does play Diana’s prowess, coupled with vulnerability and confusion very well. Chris Pine is playing a variation on Captain Kirk – sharp wit, ego, honour and the ability to be blown away by someone he underestimates. Coupling the world of superheroes with the world of twentieth century war does work surprisingly well (I will avoid mentioning one of my favourite Marvel films that does the same). 

Hopefully you have got the gist by now that I loved this film. It wasn’t perfect – there were moments of lull that made the film feel slightly too long, but it was definitely more exhilarating than boring. I am sure Diana will ‘play nicely with others’ in the upcoming DC ensemble films and I can’t wait to see what she does next. I hope she gets to have sequels in her own right – I will assuredly be turning up for them. It is thrilling that at long last, a female superhero in a film DIRECTED BY A WOMAN is getting her due (I warned you that I probably wouldn’t be able to reign it in). I urge you all to support this film in the all-important opening weekend – you won’t regret it. 

Fiona’s rating: 8.5 out of 10