Directed by Patty Jenkins
Written by Alan Heinberg (story & screenplay), Zack Snyder & Jason Fuchs (story)
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis
Review by Jordan
For Eddie’s take on the film CLICK HERE
“Be careful, Diana. They do not deserve you”
It sure was strange, that after the impossibly conceived Watchmen and critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, that DC films hit such a low point with confused, unexciting efforts such as Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman. I doubt that many can argue the strength of their properties, even when compared to their main rivals, and what had previously made for campy fun in film iterations had now found success through detailed world creation and layered character motivation, before rapidly losing its way through self-seriousness without justification.
Is it possible that this recent downward trajectory of quality output was all some masterful plan for long-term Marvel style success? With the objective being to make some truly insipid films, in order for subsequent better efforts to look truly masterful by comparison? When contemplating the many problems with Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman looks like Citizen Kane. Compared to great films however, it looks exactly as it should; a fanciful tale about a superhero born from Greek Mythology whose lasso is the very incarnation of a plot device, and whose battle against evil culminates in a battle of brute strength with our hero having gained inspiration from the selflessness of someone she loves.
Viewing it critically in isolation, for all its perceptive screenwriting, newly iconic musical cues and satisfying action, two things persistently nagged me during Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman; it’s silliness (not necessarily a bad thing in this genre) and haphazard plotting (usually a bad thing in any genre). It’s entertaining, but it’s also proof that what works on the pulpy pages of a comic book or in the animated format, can sometimes be harder to embrace when the politics of studio film-making intervenes. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Wonder Woman is the excess of importance placed on Chris Pine’s WW2 spy Steve Trevor, who, in a product praised for progressiveness thanks to its star and director (as well as some pleasing, though on-the-nose moments of dialogue), is actually more vital to the narrative than his powerful new acquaintance. He is also, of course, a love interest, because what we’ve come to learn is that there’s just no way he couldn’t be.
As the titular, determined character, Gal Gadot shines. She plays the role with earnestness and subtle comedic timing, and scarcely anyone would argue she doesn’t look the part. Her effort is worthy of a film that embraced a brave approach, and not one with editing that lacks a greater tactic than hurrying through scenes and offering no sense of time and place other than the bland aesthetic. The story moves from the paradise of the Amazonians, to gloomy London, to somewhere in particular where Steve meets up with his Native American sidekick (this was the most out-of-place scene I’ve seen in some time) and then a French village on the outskirts of the heart of the war with the attention to detail of a pre-school finger painting class.
Undue praise can stem from a gradual lowering of expectations. Wonder Woman does have moments of excitement, brevity and drama, but at its conclusion it truly hasn’t offered anything demanding of lasting appreciation, and it’s a reminder that perhaps it’s time we start differentiating competence to excellence.