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WONDER WOMAN 

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10, Galaxy

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Patty Jenkins (writer-director of Monster) directs this origin story of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who was raised as Diana, an Amazon princess trained as an unbeatable warrior on a remote island. When an American pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes in the waters off her home, Diana learns of a world war waging in the outside world and agrees to accompany Steve, determined to fulfill her destiny.

Gadot is basically perfect for the role. The 5-foot-10 Israeli model, actress, and martial artist served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years and won the Miss Israel title in 2004. Like Diana/Wonder Woman, she's beautiful and fierce.

The film actually opens in present day when we see that Bruce Wayne had delivered an old photograph to Diana of her with her comrades Steve, Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) taken during World War I, which leads to an extended flashback of her protected childhood, her eventual warrior training, her saving of Steve, and her first foray into saving the world.

It's a pretty engrossing story—earnest, with doses of humor and gripping action sequences. It also tees up the next two DC Comics films Justice League, which is currently in post-production, and Justice League Part Two, which has been announced but hasn't started filming.

I have a feeling Wonder Woman and Gadot are finally going to give Marvel Comics a run for its money at the box office. This was a ripping good yarn!

One of the film's more interesting angles is Diana's belief that if she can just kill Ares, the God of War (played by an unexpected actor), he'll no longer have the power to poison men's hearts and war will cease, which is why she's so determined to find and destroy him. General Lundendorff (Danny Huston) and his chemist underling Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) certainly seem to be the manifestation of Ares, but the mythology that Diana believes controls the world of men is far too simplistic she learns.

She's a deeply empathic person who can't stand to see injustice and refuses to turn away when she sees it. The original plan was for Trevor to take her and his team around the trench warfare of no man's land and infiltrate the enemy on its flank, destroying Lundendorff's chemical weapons stockpile, but in the film's central rousing set piece, Diana instead heads straight for the enemy, braving German machinegun nests, mortars, and tanks. The sequence is proof that you don't need to be a man to stage an amazing cinematic battle, and hopefully it will land director Jenkins more big-budget jobs. Since writing and directing Monster, she's been largely relegated to directing TV series episodes and made-for-TV movies.

Hats off to DC, Warner Bros., and the producers of Wonder Woman for turning over the reins of this feminist story to someone with the smarts and the know-how to give Wonder Woman the film she deserves. (141 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

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