Movie Review: Wonder Woman

WONDER  WOMAN

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine

Running Time 2 Hrs., 21 Mins., PG-13

My Rating: B+

After witnessing the disaster that was “Suicide Squad” (2016) firsthand and hearing the less than so-so reception to “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) secondhand, I didn’t feel much gnawing anticipation following the release of trailers and for the new “Wonder Woman” (2017) movie. With DC’s track record rocky, I refrained from wallowing in excitement as a precaution for disappointment.

But as the last few weeks have reminded me time and time again, whether statements be made by mainstream publications or from superfans fueled by their satisfaction, “Wonder Woman” has decidedly not followed in the footsteps of its slogging DC predecessors. It has taken the road less traveled, deciding to characterize itself as a lark rather than as a moping, grit-infused “epic” trying its hardest to appear ambitious.

Because I like my superhero movies simplistic and lighthearted, “Wonder Woman” is a dream: it’s light on self-satisfying regality and heavy on wit and sprightly action. It’s refreshing partially because it isn’t concerned by the present-day goings-on faced by Superman and company, partially because it never takes itself too seriously and has a lot of fun showcasing the versatility of the revelatory Gal Gadot. Fans of the eponymous icon and/or the wider DC universe will be thrilled.

“Wonder Woman” is an origin story that brings new life to the generally tired term. In the film, Diana Prince (or, as we more easily recognize her, Wonder Woman) is prompted to reflect on her life after receiving a century-old photograph from Bruce Wayne in the mail. In her retrospection, we’re first transported all the way back to her upbringing on the secret island of Themyscira, a region incepted by Zeus to home a superior race of Amazonian warrior women, and then watch her become the very person responsible for bringing World War I to an end as a young woman.

It’s a journey worth celebrating, namely because the adventure is so entertaining (think 1950s adventure movie until the finale reminds us how big an expensive spectacle can get) but also because it gets so many firsts out of the way without batting an eyelash. “Wonder Woman” is the first major superhero movie fronted by a female protagonist and is the first Hollywood blockbuster (and comic book feature) directed by a woman. That it took so many years is dumbfounding. But “Wonder Woman” is certainly worth the wait and will undoubtedly become a hallmark for film historians to drool over. All is enhanced by the fact that the film’s plot allows for a female wunderkind to completely rewrite history.

It has some problems with drawn-out exposition and with backstory sometimes a little more in-depth than it really has to be, and is slightly dampened by a high-action conclusion that drags with its lack of humor and its lumbering pace.

But so much of “Wonder Woman” is exquisite: Gadot is magnificent, as adept of an action heroine as she is a comedienne, and Chris Pine, as her love interest, is affable in a role actresses have had to toy with for decades.

For now, I can’t be bothered to pretend to be interested in the lives of any of DC’s other heroes. Frequently housing them are bland, tiresomely bleak operas I’d prefer not to sit through. But I can be bothered to declare my admiration for Diana Prince and her superheroine alter ego. A sequel to “Wonder Woman” is all I can yearn for in the present.

I suppose multiple rewatches once the DVD hits the stands will have to do.

A student at the University of Washington, Blake will major in Visual Communications or Journalism.  petersonreviews.com

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