Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman Didn't Save the DCEU, But It's An Important First Step - Wonder Woman Spoiler Free Movie Ryview

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

(Sidebar: I keep typing Woman Woman...not sure what's going on, but it that typo sneaks into the final article, just ignore it and move on).

I know it was the title of the article, but I'll reiterate here: Wonder Woman didn't save the DCEU, but it's an important first step. After 3 mediocre to bad entries, DC finally hits one out of the park. And I largely blame the director (although, as I describe below, a few other people deserve some credit).

But I'm starting with Patty. This was a solid movie package; it was a good tale, well put together, and had a pretty solid idea of what it was throughout. Particularly following Suicide Squad, consistency is nice. And the spirit of Wonder Woman is felt during the whole movie. None of this "Batman isn't really acting like Batman" crap. I really think this was true to the character.

I also really applaud the decision to move the timescale to World War I. While both were horrific conflicts, WWI introduced the world to trench warfare (if I remember my admittedly terrible history education correctly). And trench warfare is the perfect example of raw, disgusting, de-humanized conflict. It's a putrid, disgusting, endless standoff. It was the perfect springboard for traumatizing Diana.

Now let's talk about some characters. Gal Gadot did a wonderful job, and I must say that I actually have some small desire to rewatch her scenes in BVS: DoJ because of this movie. That leads into my title; having a good movie like this is a good move in the right direction, but it's not over yet. If Justice League is able to ride on a solid Wonder Woman and a better Batman to form a coherent team and a sensible plot, I would say the DCEU is saved. But not before then.

More character talk. Sorry to get off track. While Chris Pine's Steve Trevor is not quite as dashing as Nathan Fillion's in my opinion (from the animated movie a few years back), I still liked him. He was a pretty good mix of rogue and knight. My chief complaint is that he was a little too much of a black-and-white good character. But that's mostly writing, not so much Chris Pine. I didn't see much grey. He defies orders, but it's always like "that's okay Steve, it's the right thing to do".

I wasn't a huge fan of the rest of their motley crew though. Here's the problem: they were all fine on their own and given more development it would have been a nice group, but aside from a few scenes where they focused on "what do you want to be doing instead of killing people?" there wasn't much of anything. They were there, they seemed interesting, but that was it. They were tertiary characters with a lot of untold history and development. I would have liked more in the movie, and without I'm just left wondering why they were there at all.

I enjoyed the villains. I thought there was a nice balance of comic book over-the-top-ness and believable evil.

The writing was pretty good, I enjoyed most of the little "fish out of water" scenes where Diana is calling out the idiocy of the modern world. And the story was pretty solid. There were definitely a few spots where I felt things were a little overdone or awkward, but compared to Guardians 2 for example, this had much fewer places where I was like "Why did he say that? The cheese factor just went up 90%".

The cinematography was pretty solid too. There were several shots where I found myself thinking "That was pretty awesome." A few CGI moments were a little ragdoll-y, but for the most part the effects were well executed. And as I mentioned above, the movie did a great job of conveying a gritty, depressing war.

If you're on the fence about this because you didn't like the Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad, your fears are unfounded. This movie is a separate thing and it's done very well. If you're on the fence because you don't know much about Wonder Woman, this is a great origin story that doesn't require any prior knowledge of comic books to enjoy (in my opinion). And if you're on the fence because you're sexist, shut up and go watch a strong female hero kick some ass. She's pretty awesome.

And if you already want to see it, what are you waiting for? Go now!

Other things can wait.

Also, quick author's note:

This film blew away records for an opening for a female director. I wanted to keep this review sticking to the merits of the film without gushing too much about its diversity. But I do want to grandstand for just one moment. Having a successful, exciting super hero movie led by a woman is a very big deal. Fuck Marvel for dragging their feet on Captain Marvel, or a possible Black Widow movie. And fuck all the sexists for degrading Gal Gadot as eye candy. She did a wonderful job, and so did Patty Jenkins. They made a really good movie.

This movie is a big deal, and everyone involved should be proud. But look at what this big deal still didn't accomplish: it still had a largely male cast. It still has primarily male villains and male heroes. Justice League won't fix that either, with Wonder Woman being the only female member of the league in the movie.

Celebrate this achievement. But then get back to work. There are a lot of  other awesome female superheroes that deserve their moment to shine as well. Not to mention a whole lot of non-white, male ones that haven't had much of a chance either...

Until next time,


P,S. Here's a list of the superheroes that I want on the big screen:

Kamala Khan (this isn't necessarily an ordered list, but she is definitely my top favorite)
John Stewart (The best Green Lantern)
Static Shock

Also, better versions of Rogue and Batgirl.

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