Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

There are so many things I could say about women, and their portrayal in movies and television!  But as a guy, I'm extremely unqualified to write anything about it, and just barely smart enough to know that I shouldn't even try.

And I really can't say I'm an expert on Wonder Woman either, because I've never followed the comics.  But, I loved the Lynda Carter 1975-1979 series!  She's always been the perfect embodiment of what I felt Wonder Woman should be.  If you're interested, I recommend watching season two and three when the show was moved to a new network and took place in modern times. Even as a kid watching, I remember thinking the World War II stories in season one were cheesy. 

I'd also suggest the Justice League animated series from 2001 which often featured Wonder Woman, as well as her solo animated movie from 2009.  For a long time, I kept shouting, "Why don't they make a live action version of this!"  

But nobody ever listens to me.  Instead, we get:

Is it wrong for me to ask how this version of Wonder Woman... stacks up to others?   I have a feeling I will be apologizing a lot after writing this...

Traditionally, Wonder Woman was associated with World War II.  However, someone at DC/WB decided to move her origin story a bit further back to begin in World War I.  This way nobody would try to confuse/compare it with Marvel/Disney's Captain America: The First Avenger.  But in the world of 2017, I don't think people notice the difference.  It's still a war against Germans.

And the Amazon women on the island of Themyscira don't know the difference either, because they are hidden and completely isolated from the world of men (which could be for the best).  Until Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) shows up accidentally, bringing the war with him.  Typical. 

Yes, this is an origin story.  And as far as theatrical superhero/heroine origins go, this was awesome!  After so many misses from DC/WB, it's nice to finally see them do it right.  They created a fun and cohesive story that kept me entertained from beginning to end.  In my (simple) mind, I don't think they made a movie for women or for men.  They just made a movie that everyone could enjoy.  And if someone tries to tell you it's just a rip-off of Captain America... they're an idiot!  Other than fighting Germans in a war, there are soooo many differences.   

And yes, I know casting Gal Gadot as Diana was not anyone's first choice (or second... or third choice).  But she did fine.  I sort of accepted her accent since she was far removed from America.  I could even accept her physicality for the role.  I know prior to filming, she had been training hard to appear less frail, and it showed.  She had the intensity when needed, but remained feminine as well.  She also played a great fish out of water character, but still appeared emotionally invested during key moments.  I didn't see her (or anyone in the cast) delivering an Oscar winning performance, but none of the acting took me out of the movie either.  I did appreciate all the key characters.  Everyone in their final ensemble were well crafted and interesting, creating a lot of depth to the story.

But all hail the real Wonder Woman here:  Director Patty Jenkins.  I could see the action, and I loved her use of colors!  *gasp*  I don't think DC/WB has accepted color since Christopher Nolan banned them in Batman Begins from 2005.  To me, this has always been the biggest difference between the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC.  Marvel knew how to make things colorful.  DC seemed to film everything in mud... in the dark.  After seeing how well Wonder Woman worked visually, I sincerely hope that DC/WB producers can finally understand that sharp reds, blues, and well lit scenes will not terrify audiences.

And I know, a lot of people have said that Patty's use of slow motion during fight scenes was overused, and most likely stolen from Zack Snyder.  To this I say Bah!  I always loved the slow motion fights from Zack!  But I don't think she borrowed/stole this idea from him.  Maybe producers heavily suggested it to her, but I clearly remember watching awesome fight scenes on television from the Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Incredible Hulk, AND Wonder Woman, where they often fought in slow motion.  Those were fun!  Okay, sure it's always nice if a movie has impressive fight choreography, but to me, I want to see the camera pulled back so I can watch it.  Sadly, too often you can't see it because the camera is so close, or the scene is edited too quickly.  If those are my options, I'll take slow mo any day.   

So yes, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable Wonder Woman was.  Maybe if you're not into fantasy/comic book stories, this isn't really for you.  But if you are, it's a very well directed movie, with some interesting characters, while making some very powerful statements about war, and gender differences, without being preachy.

But I still think they created the worst theme song ever (which originated in Batman vs Superman).  That annoying guitar riff seemed a bit more buried in orchestration here, but it was still there, grinding painfully into my brain.  Maybe they should have let a woman create her theme song.

Okay, I think I've done enough mansplaining for now.


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