Why Wonder Woman Was Not That Great A Movie (Spoilers)
I went into the theatre really excited to watch Wonder Woman. I was mad at my friends because they got tickets for the first day it was out, while I was only able to go on the second. The reviews had me hyped. The trailer had me hyped. Gadot had me hyped. Absolutely the entire world was telling me that this was the DC movie we’d been waiting for.
I got my iced tea (popcorn would have been distracting), wriggled into the seat and prepared to be awed.
Two and a half hours later, I felt.. Underwhelmed.
I mean it was a good movie. I can’t deny that. The production was great, the the script was clever at times, and most of the casting was on point, but it decidedly lacked any sort of punch. Or a point. It was nowhere as good as the reviews promised it would be.
It was superficial. It was a bit fluffy.
Wonder woman in the comics was a force to be reckoned with. She beat up Superman. She goes toe-to-toe with the baddest in the galaxy. She’s part of the trinity. She oozes strength and confidence and femininity.
This Wonder Woman was simple. Not naïve, but just.. simple. If she could just kill Ares, everything will be OK. Love, she says, is all that the world needs. The whole movie is kind of simple, actually. Diana comes into her powers without ever questioning why she is different. Ludendorff just kills off the German top command with no consequence. Dr. Maru suddenly creates a better poison just because a scrap of her own notes just blows into her hand.
Sure it’s a movie and we all go in with a willing suspension of disbelief. But, like yoga pants on a hippopotamus, there’s only so something can stretch.
Even the action scenes were weak. Swords, punches and kicks were swung a miles away from their target, and it was very, very obvious. You get more realistic action in a low budget Thai movie. There were some parts where the action builds up to where it should be (and those parts are all in the trailer), and then it’s glorious, and exciting and you get an idea of how the movie might have been. The scene where she busts through a building to take out a sniper is exactly what I would have wanted the movie to be. If you ignore the stupid bit where Steve yells “shield!”
But does it not bother anyone that she runs through mud, bullets, mortars, and even buildings with barely a smudge on her skin. Meanwhile her companions are covered in smoke and grime. Is this a superpower I am not aware of?
It’s a dangerous thing to try and talk about Wonder Woman without giving the movie glowing reviews. It is even more dangerous to do so as a male. The Daily Dot very strongly warns male critics not to focus on the looks of a lead actress when reviewing a movie. But that’s a bit hard to do when the movie itself seems to focus on looks. In the middle of fights there’ll be a second where’s she’s just framed for the camera, wind blowing through her hair. The whole clothes shopping scene was just to draw attention to her looks anyway.
Wonder Woman is basically a Bollywood movie, but made in Hollywood.
To me it’s the supporting cast that add depth to film. Chris Pine’s use of emotion was a stark contrast to the woodenness of Gadot. But you could see he was trying too hard, like he was acting for two. Pine’s companions were excellent, and so very human. Lucy Davis was hilarious. The bad guys were interesting. Except for Ares. Ares looked like an angry school teacher who’s into cosplay. Who, in their right mind, would think that David Thewlis looks like the God of War.
The drama around Wonder Woman is socio-political. A strong female lead, a female director, a female comic book character in a world where males have dominated for generations. I can understand that. It’s a landmark. A strong step ahead for both film and comic culture. The ladies I have spoken to tell me they enjoyed the movie. That they enjoy seeing Gadot in the lead role. That having a female superhero doing well on the big screen is empowering. All this I can understand. And what I can’t understand, I can still accept.
It is a big step forward. But if you replace the Patty Jenkins with a male director, and if the story featured a male lead playing a typical male superhero, would the critics have rated it as high?
Wonder Woman may be a big deal culturally. It may be a big deal for women’s representation and empowerment. It may be a lot of things. And I can accept that. But don’t tell me it is a great film.