Wonder Woman (MAJOR SPOILERS).
Here’s my review. If you haven’t seen it, read at your own risk. And many of you, my peeps, might shake your head at me for this review. It will be different from most other people’s perceptions. But hey, read on, and we’ll see where it leads us.
I had high hopes. I had super high hopes. I adore the character. She has been close to my heart since I first saw Lynda Carter’s series in the 70s.
And Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the best thing (and one of the only good things) about Batman V Superman.
But here’s the thing. This movie? Not so much. Honestly, I feel like I should like this movie much more because finally, a female superhero headlines her own flick. And for that I am grateful and happy. But the movie? Was it great? Not to me. That makes me sad, by the way, because I so wanted to love it. But I didn’t. And let me tell you why.
First, here’s my question, how do you take a movie about a female superhero and make the plucky sidekick the actual hero (It would be like having a Superman movie but having Lois Lane be the hero. Would that *ever* happen? I doubt it)? Because that’s what the movie did. While Gal Gadot was really good in the movie, while she did a lovely job embodying the character, the writing didn’t do her justice.
Wonder Woman killed an unarmed opponent. She believed he was the God of War, but he wasn’t and boy did she kill that guy. And then there was no blowback for those righter of wrongs and doer of rights. She had no bad feelings whatsoever. Yes, this was war, but in the end he was no match for her, she killed him, and then didn’t feel badly at all once she found out she had killed the wrong guy.
Did she grow during the movie? Sure. Did I love the scenes on the island? Absolutely (and Robin Wright was fantastic as Antiope even if her accent slipped and slid periodically). But the writing was so the end of Return of the Jedi it was ridiculous and watching that ending scene between Ares and Diana was Emperor/Luke like crazy and that was a little boring. We knew how it would go and it would go nowhere new except a side trip to Cheeseville with the whole, “love conquers all,” vibe, (“No, I am a Jedi like my father before me. I’ll never join you.” “Very well. If you won’t join me young Jedi, you will die.” Blarg, the writer must have re-watched the Star Wars movie a bunch while writing this dialog [and yes, I know the trope has been around far longer, but the writing was almost verbatim to Jedi and it stuck in my craw]).
Speaking of Ares, when did the God of War become the God of Manipulation??
“It’s nothing I’m making them do, honest. I’m just giving them the tools to do it.” In other words, “Tee hee. Aren’t I super sneaky?” Um, no, dude. You are the God of War not the god of scenery-chewing. You can be violent. You can be dangerous. You can kill a bunch of people. But manipulate them? Be smart about it? Nah, manipulation is a trickster god thing. And smarts and strategy during battle, isn’t that more Athena? They should have written his character better, way better. Other than being super strong, he was no match for Diana. He had no center. And to me, villains with no center, who aren’t doing things because they think they are the right things to do, are not compelling or strong. He wasn’t compelling. He was just a little boy with Daddy issues.
Oh, brother! Can we get a new trope, please? How often can we see movies/tv shows (Lucifer, much?), and read books where the villain is the villain because he/she has Daddy issues or Mommy issues? This was no different, and it made for an insipid plotline. “I’m acting out because Daddy didn’t love me.” There was no tension until the last second when Diana called him “Brother.” That’s when we knew she had accepted her mantle even as she ended her own kin’s life.
Blech. How boring and overdone. And speaking of manipulation, I love the inconsistency of “If you build it, they will come,” in this movie. Oy. So, all you have to do to make everyone be good guys is to kill the God of War, huh? So, they have no free will? They can’t act on their own? They don’t think for themselves? And how is it that only the Germans were being evil (and influenced by Ares)? And wow, how quickly the thrall left them once Ares was dead. And wasn’t Ares spending all of his time in England with those forces? Shouldn’t they have been more influenced by him? Shouldn’t Steve Trevor have been? And hey, how come just a few years later there was another war, a bigger war? If she killed the God of War, by the logic in the story, shouldn’t that have stopped all wars from then on? Guess not, so how come it stopped the soldiers from fighting cold right then? I dislike those sorts of inconsistencies in writing with the hot white passion of a thousand suns.
And speaking of Ares, they telegraphed his identity nicely to me. It was Verbal in The Usual Suspects in that moment when Sir Patrick walked towards Etta. He wasn’t limping. He was menacing and that was all the clue I needed to cement my thought that Lundendorff was too insane to be the God of War. Again, Ares isn’t the God of Insanity or the God of Sneaky. He is the freakin’ God of War. Making him otherwise didn’t work for me at all.
OK, and let’s talk about scenery chewing. Dr. Maru? Really? “It’s going to be *terrible*” said with that, “I’m barely restraining myself from orgasming all over this window” passion was just eww. I hate mustache-twirling villains (see Billy Zane in Titanic). She and Ludendorff had zero redeeming qualities. Obviously, they were murdering psychopaths, but what if they were doing what they thought was the right thing? Wouldn’t that have been more interesting? More compelling? Wouldn’t that have made them more fascinating villains? That last moment when we saw Maru look like she was going to cry just showed me that she might have had some humanity left (in addition, you know, not wanting to be killed), but it was too little and way too late and it didn’t help the movie.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked Gal Gadot. For the most part, I liked her Wonder Woman. She did a great job. I just don’t think the writing did her justice and a good story is the foundation of a movie. If you don’t have that, everything else will suffer for it, and Diana and Gal Gadot did.
On the other hand, Steve Trevor? To me, he was the true hero of the movie. And Chris Pine did right by him. Pine does those bad boy with the heart of gold roles super well. He had just the right amount of heart/do the right thing/bravado/humor/with a side of sexy to knock the role out of the park. His sacrifice, his instant of realization that it was ok to do it because he knew he was leaving the world in capable hands and that his contribution was this one last thing was a lovely moment, and Pine delivered on it beautifully.
He was compelling. Heck, I would watch the crap out of a pre-Wonder Woman movie with him and his band of misfits. Now that would be interesting. When Diana asked him about what having a normal life is like and he answered, “I have no idea,” I so wanted to know more about him. What made him tick? How did he get to where he was?
And oh, by the way? He had no Daddy issues. That little watch trope showed us that he was the one person who liked his dad and I guess that made all the difference. See? In the end, it was all about Daddy issues. If you have them, you are a major villain. If you don’t, you get to be a good guy. And once you resolve them (like Diana did by finding out who her Daddy was and then accepting that), you can be a good guy for real.
Whew! OK. Now that that is over, I want to say just a couple more things. First, I am *so* glad to finally have a female superhero movie. Was it better than the other DC Universe movies? Yep. Did it need a lot of work? Yep.
I’m glad they did it. I’m glad it is a hit because hopefully, that means we will have more kickass female-led movies. And I hope that Wonder Woman 2 builds on this admittedly shaky foundation and truly knocks it out of the park.
Until next time.