It’s fair to say that opinion is somewhat divided at Starburst HQ regarding the merits (or otherwise) of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. What’s inarguable is that it’s scored a significant hit at the worldwide Box Office and given DC’s Cinematic Universe its first critically-acclaimed hit and gone some way towards righting a ship which was looking distinctly unseaworthy following the misfires of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. If you can’t wait to get your hands on your own copy of the movie when it eventually arrives on DVD and Blu Ray (or on one those pesky download/streaming services) you might be tempted to grab a copy of Nancy Holder’s workmanlike novelisation of Allan Heinberg’s lively screenplay just to pass the time.
The prolific Holder has serious form as the author of a number of previous movie tie-in novels (including last year’s ill-fated Ghostbusters reboot) but is also on familiar ground in chronicling the adventures of a feisty, ass-kicking female superhero figure as the writer of a number of original novels based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Her novelisation of Wonder Woman does pretty much exactly what’s expected of it and little else; it’s a straightforward retelling of the events of the film, introducing Diana, princess of the Amazons, as a child on the island of Themyscira who is drawn as an adult into the world of men and their wars when American pilot Steve Trevor, undercover for British Intelligence, crashes into the sea near the island as he flees a determined assault force of trigger-happy Germans during World War One. Diana, now a formidable adult warrior, rescues Steve from drowning and pitches in alongside her fellow Amazonian warrior-women to repel the invading hordes. But the curious Diana cannot bear the thought of the horrors of war and, convinced that the Amazonian’s old enemy Ares is inflaming the hearts and minds of the human race, joins Steve as he makes his way back to England, with the intention of joining the war effort and putting an end to Ares’ games once and for all. You’ll have seen the film, you know what’s coming…
There are no real surprises in Nancy Holder’s rather by-the-numbers adaptation of the script. She does her best to worm her way into the story’s characters’ pysches but it all feels a little perfunctory and undercooked. Holder throws herself with gusto into describing the film’s action sequences but inevitably her eager-to-please prose isn’t quite up to the task of really depicting the grace and energy of the movie’s set pieces, especially the punch-the-air no-man’s land sequence which is where the film really sings and comes alive. Super-powered fight scenes and special effects blitzes look great on the silver screen but can’t help but come across as stodgy and sluggish on the printed page. But Holder’s clearly having fun spending time with Diana, Steve and the film’s colourful cast of supporting characters and she obviously relishes the early, evocative scenes on the island where young Diana earns her spurs and trains to become a warrior despite her mother’s objections. Elsewhere she struggles to put much flesh on the bones of the story’s bland villains and the film’s CGI overload finale just falls flat when reduced to text. A useful souvenir of the film while it’s unavailable for home viewing but the Wonder Woman novelisation doesn’t do anything inventive or original enough to give it a shelf life much beyond the film’s run on the cinema circuit.
WONDER WOMAN – THE OFFICIAL MOVIE NOVELISATION / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / AUTHOR: NANCY HOLDER/ RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW