Sunday, September 23, 2018
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'Wonder Woman' is only the fourth woman-headlined superhero movie. And it'll stand out

OPENING THURSDAY:

WONDER WOMAN

Sight unseen, here's a prediction about Wonder Woman (PG-13) that you can take to the bank:

It's the best superhero movie ever that doesn't need a man.

There's really no competition. Wonder Woman is only the fourth superhero adventure toplined by a woman since Christopher Reeve's Superman carved out the blockbuster template in 1978.

Gal Gadot is poised for similar icon status after an impressive sneak peek in the otherwise dull Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman slightly varies its DC Comics origins; she's now an Amazon warrior princess lassoed into World War I.

Diana's enlistment is urged by U.S. pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a hunk in distress shot down near her island paradise. She's battle ready and well-mentored by General Antiope (Robin Wright) and Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen).

Even rarer than femme-centric superhero movies are women directing such big-budget projects.

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins is only the second woman steering a $100 million-plus movie to theaters, after Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker). Ava DuVernay joins the club next year as its first woman of color with Disney's fantasy adventure A Wrinkle in Time.

Click here to read a review of Wonder Woman.

Meanwhile, here are those three superwomen flicks that Wonder Woman should have no problem surpassing, each duly banished to the Forbidden Zone:

Supergirl (1984): Reeve's Superman was still the only comic hero on the block so a spinoff seemed in order. Helen Slater in the title role was a fresh-faced vacuum flanked by slumming Faye Dunaway and Peter O'Toole because, hey, Brando did it. Bottom line: only $13 million grossed, a terrible Rotten Tomatoes rating (7 percent) earned.

Catwoman (2004): Whatever happened to Pitof, a director without enough talent to justify going by one name? Pitof ruined an otherwise great year for Halle Berry, making her slink and purr through a pitiful performance. Months later, Berry accepted her Razzie for worst actress one night and an Oscar for Monster's Ball the next.

Elektra (2005): I'm pretty sure that Jennifer Garner is thinking of giving Ben Affleck full custody of this flop. Elektra was a spinoff of Affleck's middling Daredevil that introduced the couple. Both characters have since been portrayed better on television.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE

School's out, kids are bored so it's Captain Underpants to the rescue with The First Epic Movie (PG). Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch lend their voices to a pair of pranksters who hypnotize their principal (Ed Helms) into believing he's a superhero.

BE THEIR GUESTS: SING-ALONG BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Here's another prediction: The live-action Beauty and the Beast remake now in theaters will never become a sing-along attraction.

Not as long as the original animated classic exists in karaoke-cinema form. Song for song, Disney's 1991 cast led by Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach is unmatched by their flesh-and-blood understudies.

Hear for yourself Saturday and Sunday at Tampa Theatre when Sing-Along Beauty and the Beast enchants the crowd at 3 p.m. Everyone's invited to belt out Be Our Guest and Gaston with gusto and the title tune with teary eyes. Karaoke-style subtitles will keep you on tempo.

Doors open at 2 p.m., when green-screen photos with Belle are offered free of charge. 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. $10. tampatheatre.org.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Alien: Covenant: Can a movie contain too much Michael Fassbender? Not a chance.

2 Chuck: Liev Schreiber plays Chuck Wepner, real-life inspiration for Rocky Balboa.

3 The Lovers: Married couple (Debra Winger, Tracy Letts) fall back in love. Maybe.

4 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Marvel's anti-superhero franchise gets bigger.

5 The Fate of the Furious: It's raining cars, hallelujah, in another lap around the blockbuster track.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

June 9: The Mummy; Megan Leavey; My Cousin Rachel

June 16: Rough Night; All Eyez on Me; Cars 3; The Book of Henry

June 21: Transformers: The Last Knight

June 28: Baby Driver

June 30: The Beguiled; The House; Despicable Me 3

July 7: Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 14: War for the Planet of the Apes

July 21: Dunkirk; Girls Trip; Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

July 28: Atomic Blonde; The Emoji Movie; An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

 
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