Arts & Leisure

Gal Gadot is simply “Wonder”-ful

GAL GADOT as Wonder Woman in the new “Wonder Woman” film (Warner Bros.)

By Jim Tortolano

Several actors have played Superman or Batman or Spiderman in films. Good performances, bad ones, it seems like these iconic superheroes are in some ways uniforms and myths who can be inhabited by a variety of people.

But it looks like there can only be one “Wonder Woman.”

With apologies to Lynda Carter’s TV version in the Seventies, it’s difficult to imagine anyone so perfectly suited to portray the Amazon princess as Gal Gadot. In the movie released on Friday, the former Israeli Defense Forces soldier performed a wide variety of rescues on and off the screen. In Allan Heinberg’s screenplay, Diana single-handedly ends World War I and saves Chris Pine (Steve Trevor, her love interest), but at the box office also does the heavy-lifting of giving a solid megahit for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics stable.

The film, directed by Patty Jenkins, is pretty good, although it drags in places and has the kind of computer-generated high-damage climax that has practically become a legal requirement in superhero flicks.

Whatever minor flaws there are in the movie, however, are easily forgotten in one’s admiration of Gadot, who manages to portray WW as an admirable and lovable blend of athlete, idealist, nurturer, innocent and implacable foe.

The plot is appealingly simple. It starts in the present with a teaser of a preface, and then flashes back to 1918 for the main story. As any comics fan knows, Wonder Woman is an immortal Amazon princess demigod who lives on the magical island of Themyscira until Trevor’s plane crash lands there.

She saves him and learns of the horrible carnage of the Great War. Armed with innocent outrage, she decides to head to Europe to halt the fighting, which she believes is inspired by Ares, the God of War.

En route to the final confrontation, there are many engaging scenes of her as a fish-of-out-of-water in London and her shy courtship with Trevor. However, there are probably too many of those scenes, and one becomes tempted to glance at one’s watch a few times.

But simply put, Gadot is sensational here. Pine is likable and well-suited to be the second banana in this role, a nice contrast to his alpha male job as Captain James Kirk in the “Star Trek” series. There are other good performances on screen (including Robin Wright as her aunt) but Gadot takes up almost all the room in your brain for admiration of a – pardon the pun – wonderful performance. The movie is good; Gadot is great.

“Wonder Woman” is rated PG-13 for action, violence and some suggestive stuff.

 

 

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