Film: "Wonder Woman"
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine; Director: Patty Jenkins; Rating: ** 1/2(2 and a half stars)
To hold back on the season's biggest blockbuster required super-hero willpower. But I waited for the rage to wane before getting into it.
"Wonder Woman" is a saga of old world values told with a splendor and stoicism that precludes our cynical reading. There are many points in the story where the going gets pretty awkward, clunky downright askew. And that entire back story where a woman in war-torn German with a half-damaged face manufactures poison in a lab, resembles something out of a tattered copy of an Alistair McLean paperback.
And yet if "Wonder Woman works - and it worked only in parts for me- it is because Gadot is quite a gal. Eager-faced and mint-fresh, she's like a girl from that high school prom whom every boy wanted to dance with. She brings a sense of wonderment to her exploits and antics in WW1 London that even an actor of Eddie Redmayne's caliber couldn't in "Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them".
That's because Gal's Wonder Woman, a.k.a Diana, knows exactly where to find the beast and how to slay it. The super-heroine's ardent desire to rid the world of war and misery is communicated with a strong sense of unfussy righteousness. Gal can't act. Of course she can't. But she brings to the table a rich feeling of triumphant virtuosity.
Gadot's limitations as an actor are on full display in all her scenes with her co-star, the very charismatic Chris Pine who can stare down Wonder Woman's gaze at his junk and observA it is "above average" without sounding sleazy.
The same is true of this big-screen wonder of a film. It manages to hold its head high amidst all the absurdities of a plot that begs for logistic atonement but instead gets large doses of multiple ferocity in strikingly well-shot war scenes where Gadot dodges the bullets with her forearm.
Here, Gal just stuns you.
Clearly, her forte is action. She glides across the battleground with a splendid sense of rhythm and grace. A large part of Gadot's glory must be attributed to director Patty Jenkins whose awe at the material is expressed in every frame. But she doesn't let her awe get the better of her vision. The narrative has a structured controlled feeling to it. Gadot rides the waves of adventure like a surfer negotiating a provocative potentially dangerous ocean.
Yup, Gal can't act. But she can fly.