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Critics rave over ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘electric’ Gadot

Israeli star earns lavish praise for role ahead of film’s release, though some fret over movie length, actress’s expressiveness

Gal Gadot starring as Diana Price, aka Wonder Woman, in the new Warner Bros. studio film of the same name (Courtesy DC Comics)
Gal Gadot starring as Diana Price, aka Wonder Woman, in the new Warner Bros. studio film of the same name (Courtesy DC Comics)

Ahead of its nationwide US release on Thursday, reviewers on Tuesday were overwhelmingly positive about the “Wonder Woman” film, with many gushing over Israeli star Gal Gadot as “electric” and an “inspired choice” for the role.

The film centers on the backstory of Amazon warrior Diana Prince, born on the all-female island of Themyscira, and her mission to help save the world during World War I, during which she becomes known as Wonder Woman.

Gadot, 32, a former Miss Israel, was born in Rosh Ha’ayin, the daughter of a teacher and an engineer; her mother’s parents were Holocaust survivors. A former model, she is married with two daughters.

“Wonder Woman is the best movie Marvel rival DC Comics has put out in its own cinematic universe, and unlike the recent parade of bleak superhero tales from both studios, it makes you feel good while you watch it,” USA Today’s Kelly Lawler wrote, giving it a 3.5/4 rating.

“But it’s Gadot’s film and she is electric as Wonder Woman, a role she debuted in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to wide acclaim. Unshackled from that film’s dreary baggage, the Israeli actress is able to shine as brightly in Wonder Woman’s smaller moments as she does when she lifts a tank with her bare hands. Her expressive face is magnetic as she witnesses the horrors of the world for the first time. Her optimism is at times heartbreaking — we, unlike Diana, know how evil the world truly is — but it is also inspiring,” Lawler wrote.

Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Wonder Woman" at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP)
Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Wonder Woman” at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP)

The Associated Press’s film write Lindsey Bahr noted that “like the heroine at its center, ‘Wonder Woman’ the movie rises with powerful grace above the noise. It’s not perfect, but it’s often good, sometimes great and exceptionally re-watchable.”

“She is the perfect Wonder Woman — a true blue hero who’s as believable in her bafflement of women’s fashions and social mores as she is dead-lifting a tank and swatting away machine gun fire with only her arm cuff,” she added. “I never cared about Wonder Woman before. Now I do.”

The Hollywood Reporter, more tempered in its praise, criticized the film’s length but hailed the “exotically kick-ass yet approachable” Gadot.

“Had it really broken the mold and come in below the two-hour mark, Wonder Woman could have been a thoroughly transporting film. As it stands, it’s intermittently spot-on, particularly in the pops of humor and romance between the exotically kick-ass yet approachable Gadot and the supremely charismatic Chris Pine as an American working for British intelligence, the first man the Amazon princess has ever met. With eager fans unlikely to bemoan the film’s length or its lapses in narrative energy, Wonder Woman will conquer their hearts as it makes its way around the globe,” the review said.

Variety’s Andrew Barker backed the casting of Gadot as an “inspired choice.”

“It may have taken four films to get there, but the DC Extended Universe has finally produced a good old-fashioned superhero… Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman’ provides a welcome respite from DC’s house style of grim darkness — boisterous, earnest, sometimes sloppy, yet consistently entertaining — with star Gal Gadot proving an inspired choice for this avatar of truth, justice and the Amazonian way,” he wrote.

Actress Gal Gadot attends the premiere of 'Wonder Woman' at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP)
Actress Gal Gadot attends the premiere of ‘Wonder Woman’ at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP)

Not all reviewers were equally enamored with the film or Gadot, however, with The Guardian’s Steve Rose giving the movie a weak 2/5 rating.

“Like many people out there, I had no shortage of excitement and goodwill towards this female-led superhero project, but in the event it’s plagued by the same problems that dragged down previous visits to the DC movie world: over-earnestness, bludgeoning special effects, and a messy, often wildly implausible plot. What promised to be a glass-ceiling-smashing blockbuster actually looks more like a future camp classic,” he wrote.

Rose also critiques Gadot’s acting, writing that when she is “called upon to communicate the horrors of war moments later, reeling around dazed and confused in a haze of orange poison gas, it’s a moment of Zoolander-esque silliness that brings home how weightless the whole story has become. Gadot is entirely credible as the embodiment of Amazonian perfection, but there’s only so much emotion her concerted brow-furrowing can convey.”

“Yes, yes, I know: ‘It’s only a comic-book movie.’ And on the level of big-budget trash, Wonder Woman is great fun. But there were hopes for something more,” he wrote.

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