(director: Patty Jenkins; screenwriter: Allen Heinbergbased on a story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs/based on DC’s Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston; cinematographers: Matthew Jenkins; editor: Martin Walsh; music: Rupert Gregson Williams; cast: Gal Gadot (Diana/Wonder Woman), Chris Pine(Steve Trevor), Robin Wright (Antiope), Danny Huston (Ludendorff), David Thewlis (Sir Patrick), Connie Nielsen (Hippolta), Elena Anaya(Dr. Maru), Lucy davis (Etta Candy), Emily Carey (Diana as a teen), Lilly Aspell (Diana at 8), Ewen Bremmer (Charlie), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer), Eugene Brave Rock (The Chief); Runtime: 141; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Zeva Oelbaum; Warner Bros.; 2017)

“Visually dazzling pop culture superhero movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) helms with zest this origin story of Wonder Woman, the woman superhero’s first movie and it’s also the first major studio superhero film directed by a woman. The visually dazzling pop culture superhero movie is based on DC’s Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston and is adequately written but with an implausible plot and clunky dialog by Allan Heinberg.

What’s changed in the film version from the comic book setting of World War II, is that things are set in 1918 during World War I.The prologue is set in the Louvre, in Paris, where we experience flashbacks to the childhood of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, the former combat instructor and Miss Israel). We learn she was raised as Diana, princess of the Amazons, by her mom, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), on a sheltered island paradise called Themyscira and as the only child on the female only island where she was secretly trained to be the unconquerable warrior by her aunt, the fierce Amazon general Antiope (Robin Wright).

On the island at 8, she’s played by Lilly Aspell; as a teen she’s played by Emily Carey; and, during her first island battle she’s played by Gadot.Diana learns of a war in the outside world when an American working for British intelligence, the charming World War I pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash-lands on her island and is followed by hostile Germans on boats. She rescues him, and with the island’s Amazon warriors defeats the bad guys, as she uses her new fighting abilities in swordplayand firing flaming arrows to kill the invaders. Convinced that Ares, the Greek god of war is responsible for all wars, she leaves with Trevor to go to the front, where she plans to end the war by killing Ares and Trevor plans on passing onto British intelligence a stolen chemist’s notebook, written in Sumerian, on a deadly new poison gas. In London, she determines that Ares is the German madman General Ludendorff (Danny Huston). He’s someone who hopes to prolong the war by foiling an armistice by unleashing the most potent gas developed by the psychotic chemist, wearing a half-mask, aptly nicknamed Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya).

With a break in the action, Diana comically shops for regular clothes to fit into the London scene. She’s escorted by Trevor’s amiable secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), and puts her new outfit over her spandex red, blue, and gold costume. When jumped in an alley by German spies, Diana again shows off her fighting ability by taking them all down. Later she attends a stormy session in parliament, as some members clamor for peace at any cost in the form of an armistice. A high-level British politician Sir Patrick (David Thewlis) befriends the two and urges them to be for the armistice. But his way of stopping the war is not her way and the naive Diana goes with Trevor on a secret unauthorized mission to the Western front where she intends on killing the ruthless General Ludendorff to stop the war and he intends on destroying the chemist’s ‘dirty’ weapons factory. The duo is helped at the front by a trio of misfit mercenaries recruited in London, a Moroccan fast-talking operative (Said Taghmaoui), a drunken Scottish marksman (Ewen Bremner) and an American Indian black marketeer (Eugene Brave Rock).

It leads to a weak CGI effects finale, as it covers all the checkpoints for your typical action film while adding a few delightfully lightweight scenes. But even if it does a decent job keeping things fresh on the superhero front, the overlong film at nearly 2 1/2 hours can’t spare us from dragging in spots. For what it’s worth, the superhero film turns out bearable, and the viewer can feel relieved it’s so much better than the cheesy 1970’s TV series with Lynda Carter. Wonder Woman is a graceful action heroine, even when carrying her weighty sword, her battle shield and the Lasso of Truth. I came away thinking Gal Gadotwas the right choice to play Wonder Woman, even if she seems to be limited in range as an actress.

Wonder Woman

REVIEWED ON 6/2/2017 GRADE: B-     https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/