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One of the better superhero films of recent times
GIRL power reigns supreme in Wonder Woman, the newest entry in the summer superhero stakes - and one that offers enough in terms of narrative, action and entertainment value to meet viewer expectations.
With a female warrior in the protagonist's role and a woman in the director's chair, the film is also a pleasant departure from the usual male-dominated fare in the crowded comic book-hero genre.
Best of all, Gal Gadot is mighty convincing as the raven-haired title character, displaying all the qualities required of an Amazonian princess and daughter of Zeus: a fine physical specimen with the will, courage and special powers to defeat a formidable enemy. She also wields a cool-looking golden lasso and yeah, that shorts-and-bustier, bracelet-and-tiara combo doesn't hurt either.
Diana of Themyscira made her debut in DC Comics in 1941 and Wonder Woman is an origins tale that stays close to her comic book roots. Clocking in at a lengthy 140 minutes, the film, directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Allan Heinberg, spends significant time on her youth, training under the watchful eye of her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). The scenes are vaguely reminiscent of the regimen at Shaolin Temple - only with better-looking trainees and slightly more impressive scenery.
Diana's mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is reluctant for her to reach her full potential as that will attract the attention of Ares, the God of War and the primary villain of the piece. She's also wary of her daughter interacting with members of the opposite sex, warning: "Be careful in the world of men, Diana - they do not deserve you."
Right on cue, US Army pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes the Amazon party - ditching in the sea off Themyscira, only to be rescued by Diana. His tales of war and suffering (events take place in 1918 towards the end of World War I) and the German Army's impending use of a chemical weapon capable of mass destruction are enough to jolt Diana into action.
Her naive enthusiasm and total belief in her ability to end the war lead her to leave her idyllic island home for the first time and travel to London with Steve, where she enters the very world that mom warned her against.
Together with Steve and his ragtag team - master of disguise Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), sharpshooter Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and chief procurer Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) - she ventures behind enemy lines on a Mission Improbable to Belgium.
At a weapons plant there, a deadly poison gas has been developed by scientist Dr Maru (Elena Anaya) and will soon be unleashed by General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), who is believed by Diana to be Ares. Kill him and the war will end, she reckons - proving just how much she has to learn about human nature. Along the way, she leads a charge on a machine-gun nest and gets a dancing lesson in a war-torn village.
Diana adds a welcome burst of colour to any situation - and not just because of the costume she wears. Her unique approach to life in the real world, her indefatigable spirit and belief in the triumph of good over evil, and, not least of all, her ability to spank some enemy butt earn her a special place in the superhero pantheon.
Wonder Woman doesn't always hold our attention and the showdown with Ares at the end goes on for way too long but with a sense of humour, romantic interest and kick-ass action at its core, it still qualifies as one of the better superhero films of recent times. The world of men may not deserve her but it's still nice to know that gender doesn't matter when it comes to hero time.