'Wonder Woman' movie review

The Amazon princess saves our summer

The world needed a hero to save it from dreadful summer movies like "Baywatch" and the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" outing — and Wonder Woman is up to the task.

It took nearly 80 years since D.C.'s powerful Amazon princess made her comic debut for Wonder Woman to finally be given a solo movie and the final product proves to be worth the wait.

"Wonder Woman" is easily D.C.'s best live-action movie since 2009's "Watchmen." The comics giant has been getting crushed by its arch-rival Marvel for a decade in terms of the overall quality of its movies. But with "Wonder Woman," D.C. has pulled off something even Marvel never could: A female-led superhero movie that's a credit to the genre.

The seeds of "Wonder Woman" were sown in 2016's dismal "Batman v. Superman." Israeli-born star Gal Gadot, who plays Diana, aka: Wonder Woman, in both films, was the best part of "Batman v. Superman," and she continues to prove why she was cast in this coveted role.

"Wonder Woman" follows the character from her childhood on the secluded island of Themyscira, where she is raised by a tribe of mythical Amazon women including her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). As Diana grows into a full-fledged, butt-kicking warrior, her growing curiosity about the outside world is piqued when an American military spy (Chris Pine) crash lands on the island during World War I.

Pine and Gadot are fantastic as co-stars, matching one another step-for-step in the film's action sequences, romantic moments and comedic conversations. Much of the film's humor is similar to any fish-out-of-water story, as Diana is making her first trip to the average world.

Gadot carries the movie and never shows an ounce of weakness. Her thin frame doesn't keep her from being believable as a warrior and she is able to earn laughs, sympathy and admiration from the audience in equal measure.

The main problem with "Wonder Woman" is that, aside from its powerhouse lead character, we've seen almost all of this before. Over-the-top German villains with bad accents; a ragtag group of mercenary heroes; an alien superhero eliciting laughs while trying to assimilate into normal society. That stuff is all old hat but "Wonder Woman" separates itself by putting its female lead above all other players ... like WAY above all other players.

This entire film revolves around Diana and even in a few moments where Pine's character tries to "mansplain" or play the masculine protector, she swiftly cuts him down and steps to the front. Wonder Woman is played as a complex character who voices her opinion every step of the way and acts on her instincts rather than advice or orders. It's refreshing to see a woman lead a boisterous tentpole blockbuster — and perhaps even more so to see a woman granted the chance to direct such a movie, which Patty Jenkins handles admirably.

In this era of endless aggression, fake news and alternative facts, a hero who values peace and carries a lasso that makes her adversaries tell the truth is one hell of a fantasy. Wonder Woman is the hero we needed this summer.

CLINT'S GRADE: ★★★½ (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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WONDER WOMAN

Release Date: June 2, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston

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Clint Davis covers entertainment and trending news topics for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.

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