CVIndependent

Tue11242020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

The DC Universe gets the blast of fun it sorely needed with Wonder Woman, a film that gets it right in almost every way—including a performance from Gal Gadot that makes it seem like the role is her birthright.

Gadot lights up the screen and commands the camera on the same level as Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. She simply is Wonder Woman; I can’t picture another actress even attempting to play the character. She owns it. It’s hers. Game over.

There’s always a faction of fans who bitch about superhero-origin stories, who want films to jump straight to the hardcore action, but I love a good origin story done well. The movie starts with young Amazonian princess Diana running around her island paradise, practicing her fight moves and yearning to be trained as a warrior. After butting heads with her sister, Antiope (Robin Wright, rightfully cast as an Amazonian badass), Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, yet another piece of great casting), relents, and allows Antiope to train her niece—as long as Antiope doesn’t tell Diana about the true powers Diana possesses. For those who don’t know the Wonder Woman back-story (I was a little rusty on it myself), it’s a sweet piece of mythology and mystery, and director Patty Jenkins (who made the Charlize Theron Oscar vehicle Monster) perfectly paces all the revelations.

Diana eventually winds up in Europe during World War I along with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a wartime spy who crash-lands on her island. Diana is convinced that the German military leader who Steve is fighting (Danny Huston) is the war god Aries, and she intends to take him out. This all leads to miraculously cool scenes of Wonder Woman leading soldiers on the battlefield against the Germans, and it’s nothing short of exhilarating.

Gadot has the best superhero smile since Reeve flashed his pearly whites in the original Superman (1978). When Reeve smiled, he drove home the fact that he was the sweetest, best darned guy running around on planet Earth (you know, back when Superman was generally happy rather than constantly moping about). Gadot has that same kind of smile superpower.

It says a lot that Gadot and Jenkins make you feel good in a movie with a lot of violence and villainy. Huston is a super-creep, and his evil sidekick, Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), likes making poisonous gas—and there are moments when her evil-doings are flat-out terrifying. Yet no matter how dark the film gets, it remains an overall upbeat experience.

However, the film is not perfect. There are some occasional terrible CGI special effects, although there are enough stellar effects to balance things out. Still, maybe this movie needed a few more months in post-production, because the shoddy moments are glaringly obvious. They don’t come close to spoiling the movie, but they keep it short of excellent.

Pine is a total charmer as the confused spy who winds up romancing a goddess—a love story handled in a way that is surprisingly convincing and quite adorable.

Perhaps some of the joy in this movie will make it into November’s Justice League, or future Superman movies. (Hey, Batman can mope … that’s his lot in life.) Wonder Woman gives the DC superhero crew a new lease on life, and offers the summer movie season the adrenaline boost it needed after the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie stunk up the place.

After all these years, and all sorts of failed attempts, Wonder Woman has finally gotten her chance to rule on the silver screen. Gadot takes that chance and soars. May she have many more adventures as fun as this one.

Wonder Woman is playing at theaters across the valley in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

Well … shucks. Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld deliver truly good performances as a father and daughter in 3 Days to Kill. Costner is somebody for whom I’m always rooting (even though I hate that stupid band he wastes his time with), and I love Steinfeld.

Alas, this one comes up short.

Costner plays a Secret Service agent who finds out he’s dying of cancer, and he wants to make his last days on Earth count. So he reconnects with his daughter (Steinfeld) and his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) in Paris while taking one last assignment. That last assignment is giving him a lot of money—and an experimental drug that could extend his life.

Costner is on his game here, and Steinfeld holds her own in the scenes they share. Unfortunately, the movie is all over the place tonally: Sometimes, it’s a thriller; sometimes, it’s a comedy; and so on.

Amber Heard shows up as Costner’s boss, and she tries to pull off some sort of femme-fatale routine that should be in another movie. Heard is always fun to look at, but she’s only turned in one great performance—playing the high school-age girlfriend to Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express.

There was a day when director McG was considered a hot commodity, but he blew it with Terminator Salvation. This hot mess further proves he might not have much in his bag of tricks.

Special Features: There are just a couple of short making-of docs that are of no interest.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld deliver truly good performances as a father and daughter in this hot mess from sloppy director McG.

In 3 Days to Kill, Costner plays a Secret Service agent who finds out he’s dying of cancer, and he wants to make his last days on Earth count. Therefore, he reconnects with his daughter (Steinfeld) and ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) in Paris while taking on one last assignment. That last assignment is giving him a lot of money—and an experimental drug (the kind that only exists in movies) that could extend his life.

Costner is on his game here, and Steinfeld holds her own in the scenes they share. Unfortunately, the movie is all over the place: Sometimes it’s a thriller; sometimes it’s a comedy; and so on. Terrible editing and sound choices don’t help matters.

Amber Heard shows up as Costner’s boss, and she tries to pull off some sort of femme-fatale routine that feels as if it should be in another movie.

Only Costner and Steinfeld save this thing from being totally awful.

3 Days to Kill is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews