Wonder Woman was always doomed to be held by a different standard, viewed with unrealistic expectations, and to be burdened with perpetually mounting symbolic pressure. That’s what happens when a male dominated industry collectively refuses to include women (both as leading characters and as creative leaders behind the camera) in spite of a constant high profile conversation surrounding the issue. After decades of false starts and development hell, Warner Brothers finally managed to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen, and they employed one of the many competent, talented film directors who happens to be a woman. Now that the film is out, progressive-minded people can let out a sigh of relief. If Wonder Woman flopped, it could have been a lightning rod for sexist criticism and a excuse for corporate fat cats to continue to neglect female characters, artists, and audiences when it comes to genre films. The reviews are good, the box office is full of sweet, sweet cash, and audience response is positive. And though we dodged that bullet (or rather deflected it with a metallic wristbands) it doesn’t change what complete and utter bullshit it is that that response was a possibility; what unfair garbage it is that so much rode on the success of a singular film. Men constantly make shit movies without having to answer for their gender. Women should be allowed to make shit movies too. And they do. They did! Wonder Woman, although successful, is a bad movie.
The hero is introduced as a young girl on Themyscira, a remote island of immortal warrior women, isolated from the rest of humanity. We’re fed exposition about Greek mythology at a leisurely pace in a wonderfully hokey sword-and-sandals genre setting. The most interesting action beat in the film comes when a WWI plane crashes through the invisible barrier to the outside world, followed by German troops who clash with the native Amazonians. The pulpy clash of period-military men and gladiator goddesses on a Mediterranean beach is a striking image. This is the last bit of joy I remember feeling while watching this movie. The comic booky fun drains from the film when Diana escorts Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) back to man’s world to lend a hand with World War I, which she’s sure is being caused by Ares, the god of war.
Once they cross over from the island to No Man’s Land, the genre mashing ends. The film falls into step with the established style for DC films – grey, grim and grounded where it doesn’t count. While the world is aesthetically “real,”“dark,” and “gritty,” the story is bound by the thinnest logic. The characters act with little logical motivation and the two leads have little chemistry.
Gal Gadot gives the same plank of wood-esque performance she gave in the Fast and Furious movies. She has an undeniable presence of power. Her skill set is perfect for the Fast films, a series not so much about characters as it is about distinctive-looking fixtures of strength; looking cool while doing cool things. When it comes to interacting with her co-stars Gadot was less impressive. Her delivery often feels like a something Wonder Woman would say to a guest on an amusement park ride through a television screen. Like with most of these films, the central romance (between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor) never feels like a genuine connection. It doesn’t help that much of the film frames Diana as a naïve child being lead through the world by Steve. Not so much romantic as it is weirdly paternal.
They make their way through a needlessly convoluted plot that adds up to: going to a place to blow up a thing, and find a guy to kill. Steve and Diana are accompanied by a pointless gang of characters who have nothing to do. Wonder Woman beats up gang after gang of German soldiers before the pulpy comic book villain finally reveals himself to have a super powered slug fest. It’s mostly the same as all the other super powered slug fests. Whatever.
Wonder Woman is a tedious 2 hours and 21 minutes. Why do these movies need to be so long? Seriously is there anyone asking for this? What is wrong with a 90 minute movie? Perhaps my attention span is shrinking but I don’t think anything about this movie called for such an excessive runtime. Like the Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is the logical next step in Warner Brothers’ unstoppable barrage of disappointment.
I give Wonder Woman 4 gold lassos out of 10 period accurate WWI era German military helmets.
-Liza Friedman pointed out to me that Diana and Trevor go to sleep together…on a sailboat. Wouldn’t they just drift away? Doesn’t someone need to be actively sailing a boat like that to get anywhere?
-Doctor Poison was a really cool villain, I was sad she turned out to just be a bit player.
-Wonder Woman’s main theme music is really flippin’ cool.