Originally posted 6/5/17
I’m going to say a lot of negative things before I say anything positive so let me give you the TLDR up front: It’s good. It’s worth the movie price in 2D. It proves that female directors have been grossly overlooked for literally no reason at all but sexism. It’s fun and it delivers.
But the hype is too high.
I need to be up front about my bias against this film - I was sure it was going to suck. Positive of it. The trailer revealed little about the plot. There were a lot of slow motion actions shots and lines that sound like they were written only for the trailer. And most importantly, I hate the current direction the DCEU is going in. I hate Zack Snyder’s style: his color palette is flat and bland, his stories drip with sheltered white boy college freshman ideals - uninformed, untested, and underdeveloped, the CGI is not over the top enough to be interesting and yet isn’t grounded enough to feel immersive. My brother said it best once, he would be a great photographer for cheap hotel chains. He can make an image that is fine enough to look at but doesn’t know how to bring meaning or purpose to said image.
And this is* the guy in charge of creative at the DCEU, a property that would already be overextended and unfocused without his hand in the mix.
It’s also no secret that I am a DC fan girl to the core. I fundamentally prefer the themes of the god-like superheroes in DC than the more grounded superheroes in Marvel. The issue is that tackling those kinds of stories are harder to do. You need more time to flesh out the reliability of the daughter of Zeus than you do a teenage boy who was bit by a spider. Wonder Woman has always been an unfortunately undeserved character in this way because executives don’t want to take the risk developing a female character when they can bank on the fact that everyone will see a male character in action.
So a lot had to come together to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. I had no faith the DCEU was going to pull it off.
And maybe director Patty Jenkins didn’t either. In looking up her past films for this review I was surprised when I saw she wrote and directed Monster (2003 film). Wonder Woman is decidedly safer than Monster in every way. That’s not a bad thing, in fact that is probably the only way to serve all masters (DC fans, DCEU fans, the general public, and the producers) in this case. But the film doesn’t dare or reinvent the genre in anyway - which is why I warn that the hype is overblown.
What critics are rightly excited about is that the film tells an entertaining story in a perfectly coherent way. There won’t be an extended, director’s, or ultimate cut of this film ever. You will see the entire story the first time. All the actors look like they are having fun doing their job. Gal Gadot expresses strength, fun and unapologetic femininity throughout. Chris Pine** brings spirited dimension and depth to the usually uninspired Lois Lane doppelganger. The actors even have actual chemistry, something else that has been sorely lacking in the rest of the DCEU.
The action sequences, while they rely too heavily on the Zack Snyder Slo-Mo Video Game Style™, are actually shot in a way that the eye can follow. It’s not a bunch of unnecessary cuts to trick your mind into thinking you saw something cool. Gadot clearly did a number of her own stunts and that effort pays off in viewer enjoyment.
The themes are accessible, fleshed out and not made needlessly complicated. The dialog is inoffensive, nothing to write home about but also not “Martha!”. There are even real jokes in there, jokes that are far better than “We are the bad guys, ok?”.
Jenkins delivered a fine, simple summer blockbuster. Because that film starred and was helmed by women, that sadly is a feat for Hollywood in and of itself. And because that basic task was finally completed within the DCEU - a task Fox Marveland Disney Marvel has done several times over - Jenkins is the saving grace of the franchise. Don’t let the hype lead you into believing Wonder Woman will reinvent the wheel. It is the wheel: standard issue, tried and true, available at a fair price at a store near you. But that’s all we need sometimes.
It certainly all the DCEU needs right now.
*If ever the phrase “…but not like this” ever applied in my life, it would be for the reason why Snyder had to stepped down
** excuse me but
👀 Chris Pine and those thickass eyebrows tho…
A brave new world of To-be-looked-at-ness indeed (start at page 62 for the reference).
Ok that’s it, I’m done.
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