AKA: the actually good DCMU movie (sorry got truth lassoed)
Reviewing Wonder Woman is actually a little odd. Its one of the few movies I entered with accurate expectations, which were the movie reviews well but my friends are saying its ‘okay’ which lead to a general assumption that it would be fun, cool and action packed but perhaps lack a little depth. Personally that is how I found the movie.
Just to clarify the good bits of this film were really good the action was phenomenal and well supported by the soundtrack. The visuals were completely on point and much of the time I just really just sat back and enjoyed the amazing set pieces.
The movie was funny too, with a good range of humour ranging between sarcasm, quips and a few slapstick moments (i.e. what happens when an Amazon Princess tries on uptight turn of the century clothes.)
So why am I saying there was an element of ‘Okayness’ to Wonder Woman? Well to put it bluntly the plot felt pretty flat. To be fair overall it was a fun movie and it’s hardly the only action movie in the world with an average storyline, I guess the reason the plotting stood out is that it was so close to being something a bit more powerful!
SPOILERS AHEAD YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
The crux of Wonder Woman was a tension between Diana’s belief that if she found and killed Ares God of War mankind would be uncorrupted and return to goodness, and the reality that mankind doesn’t need a God of War corrupting them to wage it. This was largely shown in dialogue between Steve (the above average male) and Diana as they went about a mission together to stop a German chemical attack.
This was a great tension in my opinion, whether or not Ares existed was hidden from the audience and the question of how Diana’s naive beliefs about The Great War would play out was a compelling one.
My issue is that the ultimate question ultimately fizzled. The tension between the two world views mostly just made the characters feel bad rather than impacting the plot in any meaningful way. For example after Diana kills who she thinks is Ares, she discovers her mistake and realizes the world isn’t a better place. Somewhat stunned she stands around watching Steve’s squad do the hard work against the Germans. The problem with the tension here is that Diana had already decided not to help them (i.e. it would have been more shocking if she was helping and decided to suddenly stop) the squad did an amazing job on their own, and finally Ares literally showed up moments latter turning Diana’s quandary into a moot point.
The final battle while visually appealing was intended to be a battle of belief between two Gods – are humans worth saving or should they perish for their evils? While the movie did a great attempt to set this up with Diana’s naivety and struggle to accept mankind’s dark side one never even got an inkling that she might ever side with Ares and not save everyone. It might have been more powerful if it had been setup so her choices were not so obvious or had more of a reason to doubt mankind (beyond colonization which granted was terrible but Diana did not witness it directly).
Also it irked me somewhat that a major theme of the film was that human beings are capable of good and evil and should not be considered one or the other but judged for their beliefs and efforts. Yet German’s were almost 100% still portrayed as ‘bad guys’ who were appropriate for Diana to slaughter to advance the Allies missions etc. I will give directer Patty Jenkins props for having what few German soldiers survived the final scene for showing solidarity and humanity by getting a manly hug from ‘Chief.’
Not to mention there were just so many cliche’s littered throughout the story – the older mentor sacrificing herself to save the hero and delivering an ambiguous death speech, the heroes being refused by those in charge to go on their mission, so putting together a rag-tag group of misfits with various emotional backstories to carry the plot, and finally the bad guy being someone YOU NEVER SUSPECTED, because there was zero reason to or any sort of satisfaction in the reveal as again it was a plot point that made little to no difference to the story, Diana was going to kick Ares ass whoever he was.
I guess to summarize I loved the juxtaposed theme of multiple truths a lot. The tension between the ideals of humanity being corrupted by an evil being that needed to be killed, and humanity actually being ambiguous in morality without help was worth exploring. I just felt like the payoff was weakened somewhat by the inevitability of the action. Both Steve and Diana were heroes through and through and both of them had their beliefs vindicated and synthesized with little more than a stuttery weird conversation.
Not wanting to be too arrogant but if I were to take a r/fixingmovies approach I would have liked to see Diana take more of a stance, perhaps refusing to fight against the Germans, believing them to be corrupted, forcing Steve to manipulate her to help the mission (which he sort of does initially but kinda low-key) the point being this would create more of a question of what will Diana do next if she discovered Steve manipulated her it might have made a more believable conflict where Diana would have questioned saving mankind.
All in all Wonder Woman was indeed wonderful. It’s actually kind of exciting to see DC pull its socks up, while I like the niche they have been filling of movies everyone loves to hate its nice to have more good options out there. Although I will say with Whedon taking over Justice League, and Wonder Woman feeling a little ‘Marvelized’ I’m worried DC movies will just become Marvel movies with different characters.
Thanks for reading, what did you think of Wonder Woman?