I probably should have posted this on June 2 when I saw it, but hey, who actually reads this blog anyway?
Story: We see Wonder Woman’s origin story on an island of Amazons, but when super-spy Steve crash lands by the shore pursued by German soldiers, Wonder Woman joins the fight and leaves the island to become a participant in World War I.
Review: Overall, an okay movie. The story and structure were a bit all over the place but in general it reminded me a lot of Captain America: The First Avenger – especially the ending. More on that later. First, what I liked. Initially I wasn’t sure about the casting, but now I’ve seen that she’s being written as a silent warrior type with little to no sense of humor (e.g. Worf from Star Trek, Teal’c from Stargate SG-1, Teyla from Stargate Atlantis) and with that in mind she’s an excellent choice. She has good intensity and doesn’t look like a weakling. The accent/ethnicity thing I hear people fuss about I can totally ignore because 1970s comic canon has her mother sculpting a twin sister of a completely different race for her so WW can be whatever ethnicity looks fairly close to the comics. I also liked that they gave her a band of misfits to travel with. Since she’s written in such a dry way, she needs other characters to react off of her for entertainment value.
Now, my nit-pickery. Every action movie needs one or two moments when the hero stands in an obvious glory pose before a crowd/blazing destruction/dawn, but this film did it too darned much. It lost it’s emphasis after the first few times early in the film. One thing that I admit I’m only picking on because the director is female is the body language in Act II. When Steve takes her to the city, he’s always pulling her by the arm, pushing her with a hand to her back, or hauling her about with an arm around her. On the one hand, I doubt a warrior who had grown up around all women would be used to or accepting of that kind of treatment. On the other hand, it sends a signal to the audience that undermines WW as a protagonist, and as an independent woman. There there’s the costume. As you can see from the above image, the costume design followed the same drearily dark-colored stack of plastic plates design that all superhero costumes use nowadays. Also I kinda miss the blue cuffs, gold tiara, and stars on her culottes (or whatever they are now). I like that they emblem looks a little more eagle-like than W like though. The casting of David Thewlis (Prof. Lupin from Harry Potter) worked for the first part of the movie, but not for the end because he just doesn’t have that kind of personality to work with. Certain bits of background VFX looked kind of terrible in some of the battle scenes for some reason (sky, smoke, sparks, etc.), but if I saw in on my computer instead of a giant theater screen I probably wouldn’t notice at all so it hardly matters. The majority of the VFX were perfectly clean and nice. Finally, I have 3 issues with Steve, and unfortunately I need to tell spoilers to examine them so from here on out the review is a * SPOILER ALERT *. First, he’s given such importance and agency in the story (finds the research, assembles the team, makes the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone, etc.) that he often seems like more of a protagonist than Wonder Woman. Secondly, although I understand the emotional/structural need for Steve’s death, the writers didn’t paint him into a corner nearly enough to make suicide a reasonable option. With a plane full of time-bombed gas he could have 1) Flown it elsewhere to detonate it without being inside 2) Set the timer in the air and parachuted to safety while it exploded 3) Defused the bomb and burned up the gas 4) Removed the bomb and burned up the gas 5) Had Wonder Woman blow up the plane since she’s basically indestructible. Thirdly, as long as we’re at it, I disagree that killing him off was even necessary. Wonder Woman could have learned her lesson about love and believing in humanity through the actions of Steve and the supporting characters (had they been given a tad bit of character growth). Actually, what would have been funny is if they’d gender-reversed an old cliché by having Steve try to sacrifice himself only to have WW punch him unconscious and take his place, thereby saving the day. She could then do the rockem sockem god battle afterwards.
Recommended for: Die-hard superhero movie fans and people forced to watch it in solidarity because having a female director apparently makes a movie into a feminist film nowadays.
Content notes: (12+) – Quite violent, and I guess some people might have a problem with the wide shot of naked Chris Pratt covering his junk with one hand.