Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman on opening night and while I thought it was pretty good, it has definitely taken me a while to ascertain my true feelings. I often have this problem in life, just not usually with movies. Rotten tomatoes gave it high praise, and while poignant and entertaining, I'm leaning towards the fact that perhaps it was given a little more praise than it deserved. However, I am in it for the long haul (development of the DC universe), so I'm primarily happy that DC didn't squander their first chance to delve into the origins of one of the Justice League's core characters. After all, Marvel's introduction of Iron Man, and subsequent Avenger movies was pretty brilliant.

Firstly, let me start off by saying that I am a D.C. fan. In fact, I'm still upset at the cosmos for not having been born as Bruce Wayne. And while Superman Vs Batman (BVS) received undue criticism from fan boys and critics alike, in contrast, I think Wonder Woman may have received a slight boost in its rating assessment. However, when juxtaposed with the rushed, poor plot-driven, character soup that was Suicide Squad, this movie may have well been Lord of the Rings.

By the time Wonder Woman's release date was eminent, I had gotten over the fact that they casted a slightly skinner Amazonian demi-god warrior princess than I would have liked, ultimately because her cameo in BVS was spot on. Gadot, a former Israeli soldier, is buff enough for a slender 5'10" frame I suppose, but more importantly, she is stoic, elegant, and believably concerned with defending mankind...a staple sentiment that is shared by all heroes...although in a way, unique to the Princess of Themyscira. I think Gadot accurately portrayed the perfect combination of innocent and warrior.

Unlike the destruction of Krypton, or the murder of the Waynes, Princess Diana's upbringing is a
lesser known story, and for the most part, the establishment of her warrior roots was apropos, although I think a little more could have been done to illustrate that Wonder Woman is arguably the best comic book combatant in existence.

As a family hero movie, Wonder Woman was mostly perfect. Chris Pine stated in an interview that it's a different comic hero movie than its Marvel counterparts, as some of it is both a love story, as well as a coming of age story. Some of the scenes deviated from the overall feel of the film teetering on the verge of being campy (e.g. picking up a tank during a fight as her hair flows in the wind and fire consumes the background), but otherwise the action sequences were well choreographed, there was strong chemistry among the characters, and as much light-hearted humor as one can expect during World War I.

I think my biggest issue with this movie, and I'm beginning to realize that this could be a systemic issue with all of DC's movies thus far, is either the selection and/or characterization of the villain. One of the many problems with Suicide Squad, was that there were two antagonists, only one of which had a plausible purpose, and neither had a particularly compelling final battle. Similarly, Wonder Woman's foe was both a little far-fetched, and equally anti-climactic. Without divulging too much, I feel as though Diana was never in any real danger and the director, while admittedly having a lot to balance and live up to, didn't quite create the necessary suspense and sense of urgency analogous to a super villain intending to unleash a dangerous gas on humankind, or one in tune with the capabilities of the God of War.
All that being said, the cinematography was striking and the fight/battle sequences were well-timed, credible, and engaging. The creativity in demonstrating Diana's powers was sufficient, although I felt some was left on the table with truly displaying her full battle potential (e.g., boomerang tiara). However, her naiveté aligns with the idea that the Amazon princess is still discovering who she is, and is not yet fully battle tested.

In the end, Patty Jenkins and Zack Snyder delivered a solid origin story that successfully lays the ground work for subsequent DC movies and a firestorm of consumer paraphernalia unrivaled since Batman Begins. Wonder Woman is definitely worth the cost of the ticket and its battle cry sets the tone for the season of summer blockbusters. I give this movie a rating of three and half out of five brownie points, and I think I may be lassoed into seeing it again...enjoy!


Price said...

Too, I am a DC fan want to see its motion picture universe succeed at least on par with its TV and animated films.
In many ways, the film was like "Thor" structurally, e.g., we spend time in "another world" learning the origin story, move to the land of humans for the adventure to begin, the fish-out-of-water scenes ensue, the hero faces more than one villain -- one which is the battle bad ass -- Aries as a MacGuffin seems far-fetched indeed.
I agree with your assertion about the battle villain and was not ready for the story to dive so deeply into supernatural mythology. I also liked the cinematography, gritty, dark for the most part in that DC-blue tone introduced in "Batman vs. Superman."
The fight scenes that lead to the final battle are good, though their framing, choreography and editing aren't particularly unique in these days of superhero movies.
It would have been interesting to see what more fluid, less choppy photography and editing might have generated.
As for the protagonist: yes, Gal is a bit slight of frame to play my depiction of an Amazon. But that said, I thought she was excellent. She executed the choreography well, played wide-eyed wonder and innocence with aplomb, and is strikingly beautiful, as is Diana.
Chris Pine is his typical charismatic, azure-eyed leading man. I think the film errs in limiting Lucy Davis' Etta. She is responsible for much of the movie's humor and could have been a awesome supporting character similar to Michael Pena's hilarious Luis in "Ant Man."
I wouldn't put in the league of "Batman Begins" as a superhero-origin story, but it definitely holds its own against "Iron Man," "Thor" and "Captain America."
Very much liked reading your piece and appreciate its allusions to other DC stories.

Price said...

and may I add, a blog post about your confession, " has definitely taken me a while to ascertain my true feelings. I often have this problem in life, just not usually with movies." Would make for an intriguing blog post at some point :)

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