ReelBob: ‘Wonder Woman’

By Bob Bloom

The DC movie universe finally gets what it needs to boost its superhero franchise — a woman’s touch.

After the deadly serious “Man of Steel,” the lumbering, elephantine “Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice,” and the dark and dreary “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman” lassoes the series, rescuing it from a deep hole of cinematic miscues.

Two women are the saviors — Gal Gadot in front of the camera, and Patty Jenkins behind it.

In this origin story, Gadot plays Princess Diana of Themyscira with a woman-child wonderment and amazement, as she leaves her secluded Amazonian life to rush into a 1918 wracked by World War I.

Jenkins adds a pace and attitude that is closer to a Marvel feature than the ponderous outings the DC-Warner Bros. partnership has foisted upon fans the past few years.

Diana’s impetus for leaving her paradise-island home is the rescue of pilot Steve Trevor, a sincere Chris Pine, whose plane crashes near the island.

He is an American, spying on Germans who have followed him to Diana’s home, bringing death to an Eden-like existence that has not known violence for millennia.

Diana feels duty-bound to return to England with Trevor, so she can find Ares, the god of war, whom she believes is behind the conflict.

Gadot’s Diana slowly learns to navigate the world of mankind and its various complexities — political, social and sexual.

Gadot infuses Diana with curiosity and naiveté that is charming and disarming, yet without diminishing her warrior sense of self.

Jenkins provides an undercurrent of gender politics and a sense of depth that helps raise “Wonder Woman” above previous DC films.

Jenkins generates a sense of individuality and purpose to “Wonder Woman.” It feels like a film made from a singular vision, not by committee or focus group.

At times, it feels as if Jenkins had screened some of the competition’s films, especially “Captain America: The First Avenger,” to understand what that studio did successfully.

This is the richest and most vibrant outing since Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy.

“Wonder Woman’s” special effects and action sequences — especially Diana’s first foray into No Man’s Land — are sensational and hold you tightly to the screen, as if you were in the grip of her magic lasso.

At 141 minutes, “Wonder Woman” falters some in its third act, in which it takes a turn from the brutal reality of war — at least the movie version of it — to a more traditional superhero good vs. evil battle.

Gadot and Jenkins convey a much-needed sense of excitement and adventure to a group of movies that seemed to be suffocating on their own gravitas.

“Wonder Woman” should not be missed. It is a rousing and entertaining movie about discovery, duty and sacrifice.

It also shatters a glass ceiling that should have been broken years earlier.

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

 

WONDER WOMAN
3½ stars out of 4
(PG-13), war and action violence, suggestive content

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