When American intelligence officer Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes near the island of Themyscira, hidden home to the Amazonian race of warrior women, he is rescued by Diana (Gal Gadot), demigod daughter of Zeus and Amazon queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Learning of the war that currently ravages the outside world, Diana is sure that it can only be the work of Ares, God of War, and vows to accompany Steve back to 'Man's World' and restore peace.
Saying that Wonder Woman is the best DC Extended Universe film to date isn't that big a deal. What is exciting is just how greatly director Patty Jenkins' comic book blockbuster exceeds the series' earlier films, finally bringing DC's cinematic output to a level that can give its arch rival Marvel Studios a run for its money.
Following the excitement that surrounded the character's scene-stealing final act appearance in Zack Snyder's Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jenkins' film dials back the clock to 1918 for a wartime origin story. Some might see the setup as a lazy imitation of Captain America: The First Avenger, but in truth it's an inspired move that returns the character to her four-colour roots and heightens the fish-out-of-water elements that come from watching this Amazonian warrior trying to navigate (or, more frequently, trample over) the strict societal barriers of the time that curtailed women's freedom.
Despite only having one prior feature film directing credit on her CV (2003's true-life serial killer drama Monster), Patty Jenkins is an excellent pick as the film's director. She's just as comfortable with action scenes as she is with the more intimate character moments, and here inspired use of slow-mo cameras is the closest anybody has yet come to bringing comic book splash panels to life on the silver screen.
Wonder Woman also benefits from a shift in tone away from the earlier DC movies. While the darkness is still present, it's lightened by some well-judged moments of humour and the effortless charisma of Gadot and love interest Pine.
One flaw is that – following all of the brilliant build up – like so many superhero films before it this origin story climaxes with its protagonist having to repeatedly punch a big CGI creation. Having given us so many neat twists to the format elsewhere, it's disappointing to see the filmmakers take this route. The finale prioritises repetitive and empty spectacle over something as emotionally-charged as the rest of the film. But even this can't stop Wonder Woman from being... wonderful.
Picture: Anybody expecting Wonder Woman's AVC 2.40:1 Full HD encode to adhere to the rather muted palette favoured by Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are in for a surprise – at least as far as the film's first act is concerned. Filling the frame with golden beaches, turquoise seas and azure skies, the opening Themyscira scenes present cinema-hedz with beautifully saturated colours and exceptional clarity that draws out masses of fine detail.
As the action moves to 'Man's World' in the film's second act, so the look switches to the high-contrast, orange-and-blue colour grading that has become the default look for the DC Extended Universe. At the same time the grain (which was finely delineated in the earlier, brighter scenes) becomes much coarser. The knock-on of this is a slight drop in detail and some obviously crushed blacks that rob the encode of a perfect score.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: The BD's Dolby Atmos soundtrack truly is a source of wonder. Following a slightly laid-back start, its proves its mettle with the showdown between the Amazons and Germans in Chapter 2. By the time Diana arrives in London (Chapter 5) and hears the 'strange thunder' (Chapter 7), the mix is consistently playing across all available channels for dramatic and dynamic effect. However, the track also impresses with its quiet precision, as evidenced by the sound of General Ludendorff running his fingers down Doctor Maru's ceramic face mask in Chapter 5. Make no mistake, this is a superb soundmix.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: The Blu-ray also houses an interesting selection of bonus bits. These range from the expected behind-the-scenes featurettes to a look at how Wonder Woman compares to Batman and Superman. There is also a charming video exploringhow the character has inspired people over the years. Finally, Epilogue: Etta's Secret Mission is essentially the film's post-credit scene, providing another tease of future developments.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: The iconic superheroine's superb solo outing dazzles with its stylish visuals and explosive audio.
Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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