movies: wonder woman

wonder woman - power, grace, wisdom, wonder
Growing up I was always a DC comics boy... although my general exposure to Diana Prince/Wonder Woman was limited to whatever brief interactions she had with Donna Troy/Wonder Girl in the Teen Titan comics.

However, I haven't been the least bit interested to see any of the new DCUniverse movies (and given the overwhelmingly m'eh feedback, I was happy to stay out of it)... and while I know enough about the other movies to be going along with, I'd heard sufficiently good things about Wonder Woman to want to see it.

And it was pretty good... but it suffered mostly on two fronts, the first of which being that it had to subscribe to the Synderverse version of DC... which mean that everything is about half a shade above muddy brown (if not for the poster, I would have had no idea that her skirt was meant to be blue or her armour meant to be red... the costume essentially looks brown and grey), and beyond a couple of the scenes on Paradise Island (and yes, I know it's actually Themyscira, but that's hard to type) at the beginning, I think all of the skies are grey.

Also, slow motion abuse. In the first major action scene in the human world I think I lost count at six or seven slow motion moments. It's every single action beat, because if you don't slow it down, how are you going to see this cool thing she's doing, but then every thing she's doing is a cool thing, so we need to slow them ALL down. No... thank you, but no.

There's also some very fake looking CG/bluescreen work, particularly on Paradise Island when the Amazons are fighting. Don't get me wrong, there are some kick ass stunts/effects, but there are more than a few that just feel so incredibly fake to me.

The other place where I felt like it suffered was the fact that I kept making mental comparisons to the first Captain America movie. I love the first Captain America movie (and I really wish I'd gone and seen it when it was in theatres)... and parts of this movie just feel very similar. Yes, its a different war, but when you have a super powered character with a shield fighting in a World War against Germans... it's a little... samey.

Especially when you factor in her fish out of water element (which, yes, doesn't come into play until the subsequent Captain America movies, but still).

There's also the fact that they play the DC movies as much more serious and dramatic than the Marvel movies... I'll be honest, there is some humour there, mostly provided by Lucy Davis as Etta (who I had no idea was actually a comics character, which just makes me like her even more), but it really felt like they'd just stitched her into the script at the last minute because they needed comedy relief. Don't get me wrong, she's really, really good... and I loved pretty much all of her scenes, but she's clearly just comedy relief and doesn't really do anything.

Speaking of the cast... I do like Gal Gadot... and she makes a really good Wonder Woman/Diana Prince.

So this is going to sound weird, but she felt too naive as a character. I'm guessing that's how she was written, and it may very well play in contrast to how she was played in the Batman/Superman movie... and I know that the character is essentially young and inexperienced throughout this time period, something about it just bothered me. I'm going to take that on as my issue, not the movie's... the character is supposed to know nothing of the world, Gadot played Diana that way, the script portrayed her that way, big check for achievement unlocked... there were just moments when she seemed kinda stupid.

Gadot does some fantastic work in the action sequences (aforementioned overuse of slow-mo notwithstanding), she looks amazing, she's a very easily likeable character... and I actually quite like the accent that they gave to all of the Amazons (which I'm guessing is Gadot's natural accent, or near enough).

I will give Robin Wright the award for most fully formed and impactful character with the least screentime though... Antiope is amazing (and possibly my favourite stunt is when she fires three arrows at once while leaping over a rock on the beach), you know who she is and what she's about in a matter of moments and she makes you give a damn.

Chris Pine... well, he's just generally Chris Pine... my least favourite of the Chrises (being Evans, Pratt, Hemsworth and then Pine in very last place). His job in this movie is mostly Exposition Fairy, and trying not to get in Gadot's way unless the script tells him to.

Their love story is weak at best, and while I know that it is part of the comics canon for these two characters, I really would have been just as happy if they'd left it out almost completely... I mean Pine and Gadot do have a number of really sweet moments, but it just felt really, really shoehorned in at times, especially the *purposefully vague spoilers* Fifth Element moment Diana has at the end of the movie as a result.

It was also nice to see a movie where the character who uses their good looks to try and sweet talk one of the (female) bad guys is actually the dude.

I did notice that the movie tripped over itself a little too hard to not give Diana any kind of lesbian/bisexual back story... because she's read about the sex with the men in the books. It's a blink and you'll miss it moment, but it stuck out a little for me.

The movie also suffers from the usual comic book movie problem of ill defined or inconsequential villain/s... as well as making the villains part of a historically accurate aggressor and then have them essentially go off on their own (see also Red Skull/Hydra and the Nazis). It was nice to have one of the villains be female though... although even for an ill defined villain, she was pretty thin, character wise.

But I also felt like there was much more of a moral ambiguity to using the Germans from World War 1. World War 2, go crazy, we know how that all turned out... but given that this movie just seemed to contain a lot of people in very, very similar looking uniforms on both sides, it just felt less clear cut that they should be slaughtering this particular group of people wholesale. The movie does try to address that by having one of the characters tell the heroes what the "bad guys" have done, but it just felt a little uncomfortable at times. Again, that may be more of a me thing than a movie thing.

It also feels a little weird that there is very little "American" about this movie, other than Chris Pine as Steve Trevor... Diana is shown living in Paris in the modern day (slight spoiler... the movie is bookended with modern day elements), and the first place she steps onto land in Man's World is England. I mean it makes sense, it just felt a little weird given the fact that I really identify Wonder Woman with America.

And yes, the fact that Diana is a kick ass woman from an island of kick ass women and doesn't give a damn if you think she should be doing something or not is a fine message. The movie does undercut it at points both with various male characters talking about how gorgeous she is, but also once she leaves the island it's basically her and a sausage fest for the rest of the movie. And it does feel like a lot of the conversations Diana has with anybody after she leaves Paradise Island end up revolving around a man... well, a god technically, but a male identifying god.

But it feels like the really issues that it has as a movie are more about it being a DCUniverse and Synderverse movie than it being a movie about a female character directed by a female director (and written by a man who's mostly written TV episodes).

yani's rating: 3 golden lassos out of 5

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