• by Wes Singleton

Wonder Woman, B

Rated PG-13, 141 minutes

"Wonder Woman" kicks tail and lives to tell about it. The entertaining new "Wonder Woman" is a wondrous and a much better way to start off the summer than with any pirates or lifeguards. While not perfect (excessive, plodding backstory), it's one of the few, genuinely worthy and smarter DC comic cinematic efforts of late - with all due respects to Batman, Superman and the Suicide Squad, of course. Directed by and starring a woman as a female superhero, it's feminist notions should be taken seriously in such a male-dominated world.

Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot ("Star Trek's" Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict - World War I - that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat and an evil general ("American Horror Story's" Danny Huston), Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

"Wonder Woman" is terrific popcorn entertainment that delivers some stellar action set pieces while providing a nice tentpole to kickoff future films. It's directed by Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning "Monster," and written by DC and TV writer Allan Heinberg and features Gadot in a breakout turn as Diana/Wonder Woman, this version a far cry from the kitschy 1970's TV version with the lovely Lynda Carter, of whom I'm still a big fan; Gadot imbues Diana with a charming mixture of wonder, beauty and brains - in other words, she's the total package.

"Wonder Woman" is a tad too long, even overly ambitious in providing Diana's Amazonian backstory; the first act goes on too long, and some may even get restless waiting for the action to kick in, but once it does, it doesn't disappoint. When Gadot's Diana struts across the war-torn Western front to fight the Germans, the movie takes a different turn, providing some much-need adrenaline that'll leave you cheering, and the second act, including the battle-filled climax, is far more energetic than its first half.

The rest of the cast ably supports Wonder Woman and her remarkable skills: Huston's villainous general is painted in broad strokes, but it works fine with the film, while Pine is a serviceably bland but appealing sidekick to Diana. Watch for "House of Cards" Robin Wright and "Gladiator's" Connie Nielsen in small roles as Diana's strong-willed aunt and mother, respectively, who help shape the woman she is today. Character actor David Thewlis (best known as Remus Lupin from the "Harry Potter" film series") as a seemingly kind-hearted Allied military officer who may or may not be a truly ally.

"Wonder Woman" is the superhero we need for these times, and is good for the movie business, DC Comics and America in general. If she ran for President, she would definitely get my vote.

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