Wonder Woman

It's a giddy feeling, walking up to a box office window and saying, "One for Wonder Woman." Equally giddy seeing the title big and bold in the end credits. Because a Wonder Woman movie simply felt like it was never going to happen. Not just because of sexist studio executives reluctant to greenlight a female-centered superhero movie (especially after the Catwoman debacle), but because Wonder Woman, iconic though she may be, has a lot of inherent silliness to overcome: the skimpy patriotic costume, the glowing lasso, the invisible jet. Much about this heroine was so dated and campy that many felt the 1970s Lynda Carter TV show was the best adaptation we were ever going to get.

In short, that we now have a serious, big-budget Wonder Woman movie, starring a committed and charismatic actress, is a miracle in itself. That it doesn't actually stink is a bonus – and a relief.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot is to Wonder Woman what Christopher Reeve was to Superman: born for the role. It's clear that the film's producers really searched far and wide for the ideal Diana Prince, and that Gadot proved so perfect that director Jenkins even had her multinational cast of Amazons cop a faux Israeli accent for the sake of consistency.

That first act – mostly backstory, showing Diana growing up on an island of lady warriors – is admittedly clunky. I wish Jenkins and her creative team had infused Themyscira and the Amazons with more myth and mystery: much of the first act looks like your basic 1960s sword-and-sandals epic. Once Diana saves a lost pilot/spy (Chris Pine), then follows him through the mists and into the gray murk of World War I Europe, Wonder Woman picks up considerably, and for a good long while it's a romp, a nice mix of fish-out-of-water humor, character development, romantic sparks between two actors with great chemistry, and some nifty action sequences. Then it rushes headlong into the usual bombastic third act battle with the bad guy. Frankly, I would have preferred more character drama, since Gadot and Pine are so enjoyable together. Having them swallowed up by special effects is perhaps inevitable in a movie like this, but it's not really any fun.

Wonder Woman is worth seeing for its appealing star and for its earnest feminist (and pacifist) themes, and also to send Hollywood a message that making the film was not a mistake. I'd hoped it would be better, but that's just me.

There's no invisible jet, by the way. No cameo from Lynda Carter, no nod to the TV show's theme song in Rupert Gregson-Williams' rousing score. (The composer must be ecstatic to finally be doing something besides Adam Sandler movies.) And not once are the words "Wonder Woman" even mentioned. It's all appreciated.