Wonder Woman? Meh.

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So, I've seen Wonder Woman now. As was common in the Golden Age of comics, there's a lot of cannibalism. WW effectively is DC's Captain America, complete with a cadre of hardened war vets with distinct personalities, even a Scot with a funny hat. That, however, is NOT why I ultimately didn't like WW. It starts simply enough (don't worry, no significant spoilers).

The Black nanny.

Does anyone in Hollywood know what's going on? We're having a lot of issues with all kind of civil rights things, like trying not to marginalize Black people!? The top of the film features a young Diana Prince (she gets the last name later) running, only to find that she's run away from her Black mammy. Oh please. Diana is white. The Queen is white. Most talking parts are white, though there's one "senator" who gets, what, five words? Then there are issues with the special effects.

Amazon flies off galloping horse, shooting an arrow while flipping, and landing on her feet. That would be nothing except she magically need not obey physics and the laws of motion. A horse is traveling at around 20 MPH, you jump off and try to land on your feet, what happens? If you do it like the Amazon, you smash your face into the ground. A bit later, a high leaping Amazon throws a pair of knives down towards the camera. If you look closely you can see that they leave her hand and minutely correct direction.

The racial and social aspects are also a mostly subtle aspect of the film. First, there's the contrivance of sparks between Gadot and Pine. It's more staged then natural, though that's more a side effect of the less-than-elegantly formed dialogue. If that weren't cliche enough, there's the team. First, we get the Native American who talks earnestly about how the white man took their home and how he is better being free waging war in Europe. Seriously? Here's an idea. Don't steal homes from people, not that we can fix that now (though we can make reparations). Then there's the Middle Eastern fellow, Sameer, who chooses to fight as a mercenary since he isn't allowed to be an actor because of his color. These scenes don't have any honesty in them. They feel spliced in with a blunt butter knife. It's demoralizing.

Then there are aspects of WW that don't add up. In the first battle scene, a sniper is suppressing WW and her team in a courtyard. Mr. Scottish sniper seems incapable of actually sniping (why is he there, again?), so Chris Pine hatches a plan. Three mortals run out and grab an enormous sheet of metal. They hoist it over their heads, and Diana uses it as a springboard to smash the bell tower to bits. I mean, it really explodes. The entire top of the building, gone. So, if she can do that, why can't she jump, what, 80 feet? Besides, she jumps higher than that earlier.

Worse yet is the subtle, almost imperceptible misogyny. Simply put, you can't be a good woman, even a super powered woman, unless you have a man to coax it out of you, even if that man complacently supports the repression of women. While Chris Pine's performance is wonderful, his ultimate role is to be a guide to the real world outside of the sheltered world of Themyscira, the hidden island home of the amazons. They dance. They do it. He navigates her around. She, the nubile naif who doesn't understand the world as it truly is.

I know these feel like nitpicks, and some are. The story, overall, is good. Most people who don't read comics likely don't know it, so it feels fresh. Gal Gadot is great as WW, though there need to be fewer SLOMO scenes of determined walking. Chris Pine is also great. Others have said that he is comfortable playing any role, leading or supporting. I think it's more than that. I believe that he's comfortable in his own skin and enjoys pretending, but doesn't need it. It's like any craft, and he is skilled. I don't, however, believe we've seen what he can truly do yet. I look forward to those days.

I'm a little surprised that this is a blockbuster, to be honest. It's more like a Marvel film, if not quite so tight and lacking the easy banter. DC has set a low bar for entry, though, and Hollywood's latest entries have been, well, crap. So much money spent to achieve so little actual value. Sadly, I don't think Wonder Woman represents a turning point for the DC cinematic universe. I have a bad feeling that this is just an anomaly.

Bummer.


3 responses
Just a quick note, since I threw this together from sleeping on it. This isn't a catalog of everything I think is wrong with the movie. There are more things, but I can't recall them all (I'm old) and I don't want to spoil it for anyone who chooses to see it. Nuff said.
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