WONDER WOMAN (2017): Pretty wonderful

Over 70 years in the offing, we finally have a “Wonder Woman” (WW) movie, and directed by acclaimed female director Patty Jenkins (“Monster” 2003) no less, the first woman to direct a superhero film.

And it’s a good superhero film; easily the best DC has to offer, admittedly a low bar to clear. Still, instead of the usual grim, scattered and unfunny fare DC was pushing, “Wonder Woman” has a positive tone, solid focus, and genuine humor.

Not to mention killer action sequences, which unfortunately crest mid-movie, with the climax being a bit underwhelming. WW is not without its problems, but hardly any relate to it being an origin story. We don’t flounder on Princess Diana’s paradise island of Themyscira for too long; although her homeland is awesome to behold and filled with powerful women, Gal Gadot’s heroine knows she needs to leave in order to Become, as does the audience. Our time with her Amazonian sisters is therefore short and sweet, showing us not only Diana’s heritage but her compassion.

And she’ll need both when Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor crashes the party, bringing news of a violent world outside and genuine bad guys in tow. Pine strikes a balance between scoundrel and chivalrous, and his fight soon becomes Diana’s. She leaves with him to fight “the war to end all wars” if she can destroy Ares, the literal God of War, whom she believes is behind it all.

This belief is part of Amazonian Princess in King Arthur’s Court; her virtue and naiveté is the source for most of the film’s humor and part of Diana’s charm… and her formidable battle prowess, undermined only by overuse of the leg sweep, and vague, demigod abilities that manifest only after a clichéd “Noooo!” scene.

Thankfully, all of this PG-13 spectacle is brought to you sans foul language. However, there’s a fair amount of niggling complaints that combine to make “Wonder Woman” good, but not great: at 141 minutes long, WW could have been tighter. Some of the CGI appears rubbery, Zack Snyder slo-mo is overdone, as is the WW guitar “theme” and Diana announcing her ancestry to her many enemies. But the largest sleight would be Diana’s repeated exposition regarding her motivation being the power of love, although her passion and earnestness underline this and drives it home, leaving “Wonder Woman” to be that rare superhero film that actually uplifts.

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Writing Credits: Allan Heinberg (screenplay), Zack Snyder (story by) & Allan Heinberg (story by) and Jason Fuchs (story by), William Moulton Marston (based on Characters from DC: Wonder Woman created by)

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content

Richard Bonaduce
Richard Bonaducehttp://www.saltlakemagazine.com
Rich Bonaduce was born and raised in Pennsylvania but has lived in Utah now for half his life. In addition to being a regular contributor as a Film Critic for Salt Lake Magazine, he is also the Film Critic and Entertainment reporter for FOX13’s weekly morning show Good Day Utah. He’s also a drummer in local band “Mojave Rose,” and is much shorter than he appears on television. You've been warned.

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