Magazine article Variety

Wonder Woman

Magazine article Variety

Wonder Woman

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

Wonder Woman

Director: Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen

It may have taken four films to get there, but the DC Extended Universe has finally produced a good old-fashioned superhero. Sure, previous entries in the Warner Bros. comic factory have given us sporadically successful, demythified takes on Batman and Superman, but both have seemed skeptical, if not downright hostile, toward the sort of innocent, unabashed do-gooderism that DC Comics' golden-age heroes exemplified. Never one for stewing in solitude, and taking more notes from Richard Donner than from Christopher Nolan, Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" provides a welcome respite from DC's house style of grim darkness - boisterous, earnest, sometimes sloppy, yet consistently entertaining - with star Gal Gadot proving an inspired choice for this avatar of truth, justice and the Amazonian way.

Although Gadot's Diana Prince had a decent chunk of screen time in last year's "Batman v. Superman," "Wonder Woman" assumes no foreknowledge of any previous franchise entry - or of the character herself, for that matter. With most of the film's presumptive audience too young to remember TV "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter, Gadot and Jenkins have an unusually broad license to introduce the character to filmgoers, and they manage to remain largely faithful to her comics origins while also crafting a hero who is both thoroughly internationalist and refreshingly old-school. In her earliest iterations, Wonder Woman was an all-American figure with a mythical background; here, she's an essentially mythical force who just happens to fight for America.

Like far too many films before it, "Wonder Woman" offers yet another origin story, but at least it's one we haven't already seen several times on-screen this millennium. And perhaps more importantly, it's almost entirely free of the distracting cameos and seeding of future films' plotlines that so often keep modern comic-book films from functioning as satisfying stand-alone stories.

After a brief prologue in modern-day Paris, the action whisks us away to the secluded island of Themyscira, home to the all-female society of Amazons. Drawn in lush, misty colors, the island is a sanctuary for the tribe, sheltered by Zeus, whom they helped in fighting off a coup from the war god Ares. On guard against Ares' possible return, the Amazons have all dedicated themselves to the arts of combat.

All, that is, except young princess Diana (Lilly Aspell at age 8, Emily Carey at 12), who's the only child on the island. Yearning to learn the ways of her fellow Amazons, Diana is shielded from combat training by her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Fortunately, her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright, cutting an imposing figure and affecting a strange accent) is the tribe's chief field general, and she agrees to train the girl in secret. By the time she's reached adulthood, Diana (Gadot) is ready to take on all comers, her traditional battle skills augmented by supernatural abilities of which she's only partially aware.

Themyscira seems a realm outside time, but the film's 1918 setting abruptly announces itself in the form of a crippled German warplane that crash-lands in the ocean just beyond the island's shores. Diana swoops in to rescue the pilot, an American soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). …

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