'Wonder Woman' has a frisky, friendly spirit

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

Stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine share a charming chemistry and director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg don't overdose on the violence, despite the film's World War I setting.

Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment/AP
'Wonder Woman' stars Gal Gadot.

As franchise superhero movies based on DC Comics go, “Wonder Woman” is not half bad. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? It’s overlong at 141 minutes and suffers from too much origin story exposition and middling CGI effects, but it has a frisky, friendly spirit that perfectly aligns with its wide-eyed lead actress, Gal Gadot, who plays the eponymous Wonder Woman, aka Diana, Princess of the Amazons.

Gadot, complete with elasticized red, blue, and gold costume; weighty sword; battle shield; and, of course, the Lasso of Truth, is well-teamed with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, an American spy who ends up enabling Diana's quest when he isn’t going politely gaga in her presence. (He’s the first man she’s ever seen and wonders if he is an average specimen. “Above average,” he volunteers.) As opposed to most comic book superhero movies, “Wonder Woman” isn’t a nonstop clobberfest.

Set in 1918 at the height of World War I (a switch from the World War II setting of the original comic book, which was created by William Moulton Marston), the film has Wonder Woman progressing from her Amazonian all-female island of Themyscira to London and then the fighting trenches in her heroic effort to annihilate Ares, the god of war, who she believes is responsible for all wars, and whose demise would bring eternal peace to the planet. How naive, you may think. Until, of course, Ares actually does show up (this is where the CGI gets middling). But here’s a spoiler alert: Ares or no Ares, there’s no way going forward that the “Wonder Woman” franchise will dispense with war.

At least the director, Patty Jenkins, and the screenwriter, Allan Heinberg, don’t overdose on the violence. This is not “All Quiet on the Western Front” in spandex. It’s worth noting that this is the first superhero franchise movie directed by a woman, and one of the very few featuring a woman. (Let’s not forget, or perhaps we should, “Catwoman,” starring Halle Berry.) Jenkins has stated in interviews that she wants the film to be empowering to young women; she even made sure the rating would be PG-13 in order to bring in younger female fans.

This means that a rather chaste air hangs over the film; when Diana and Steve, for example, share a kiss and presumably proceed to the boudoir, the scene fades out pronto. But the chemistry between these two is so charming that you don’t feel cheated. In a movie with lots of (mostly) well-staged action, the sequences in “Wonder Woman” that stand out are nevertheless the simple ones, such as the scene in London where Diana, attempting to fit into a world she has never before seen, goes shopping for suitable Edwardian women’s wear. The best parts of “Wonder Woman” are frivolous in the best way. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Wonder Woman' has a frisky, friendly spirit
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2017/0602/Wonder-Woman-has-a-frisky-friendly-spirit
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe