The leap from comic strip to a film blockbuster, “Wonder Woman” is notable for multiple reasons. Most importantly, it gives women moviegoers an all-powerful heroine to cheer as a refreshing antidote to the onslaught of male action heroes over the years. It is also a film directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, in an industry marked by the scarcity of women directors. “Wonder Woman" also has as its star the dynamic, towering Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot, who as Princess Diana soars as a dynamic action figure, a sight to behold as she battles all-comers with her karate chops, sword-wielding and magic Amazon powers. She looks spectacularly beautiful.
While thriving on typical comic book nonsense, the screenplay by Allan Heinberg, holds interest by flashing back to the childhood of Diana through her emerging as an idealistic woman who wants to stop the carnage of World War I. We get the heroine’s background as the daughter of Hippolyta, the Amazon queen played by Connie Nielsen, in the setting of an isolated Mediterranean isle gorgeously photographed. Hippolyta wants to protect her daughter from becoming a warrior, but Diana’s aunt, Antiope, portrayed by a vigorous-looking Robin Wright, secretly starts to train her for combat.
The plot ticks forward when handsome Chris Pine as pilot Steve Trevor plunges into the sea in his plane and do-gooder Diana dives to rescue him. He is an Allies spy pursued by Germans, which provides an excuse for the Amazons to battle Germans landing on the island.
The film becomes sexually cutesy when Steve emerges naked from bathing, and Diana, who in her sheltered Amazon life has never seen a man, gazes at him an asks if he is an average man. “Above average,” he informs her. The set-up for a romance is formed.
There is humor when they head off to London, where Diana wears customary clothing while carrying her sword and shield, as well as invading Parliament in accompanying Steve in his duty rounds. Much is made of Diana’s naive view of the world and her being appalled at people trying to kill one another. She assumes the mission of wanting to end World War I. On the German side there is the evil woman inventing lethal chemicals to be used in the warfare, and the plot involves possession of her secret book.
As one might expect, the story becomes increasingly ridiculous as Diana makes her way through the trenches on the battlefields and fights with her hand-to-hand combat skills and ability to fly through the air, as well as deal with her relationship with Steve, who is ready to sacrifice himself to stop the chemicals from being used.
The message for peace delivered via Diana’s anti-war sympathies is loud and clear amid the noisy destruction and the thundering music. Will Diana be ready to stop World War II, then prevent World War III? A Warner Bros. release. Reviewed June 6, 2017.