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Wonder Woman

June 6, 2017

What’s there to like?

I guess I’ll come right out and admit it. I just don’t get the hype. I feel like I’m going to come off as a serious crank here, but I don’t relate to the gushing acclaim I see from so many people. I mean, it’s not a terrible movie, just ordinary, and lacking in some key elements.

But this is the pros section. So: Yes, Gal Gadot performs some cool fight choreography, and she’s got a vaguely superman-esque commitment to goodness. The world-building is okay–the island of Themyscira is appealing, even if I’d love to see more of how that place operates and exists. (But all that is the obligatory, boringgggg part of superhero movies, isn’t it? They don’t get interesting until . . . well, I’ll get to that in the next section, I suppose.)

Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince does have nice idealistic, confident, if occasionally naive, aura about her. She’s got a certain charisma, a gleam in her eye, that a lot of super hero actors don’t. And I should say Chris Pine delivers a truly great performance as Steve Trevor. He’s got all the complexity and richness and charm you could want. And the two of them together do have some solid chemistry, even if the romance–if that’s what it is–is rather subdued.

What’s not to like?

My main disappointment with Wonder Woman is that we don’t get see any significant weaknesses or obstacles or risks of failure on her journey. She’s got these godlike powers, and there’s no reason to think she won’t eventually win. And I don’t just mean that in the way the heroes almost always win. Not even kryptonite or a code of honor or personal demons or anything else gives us any reason to even pretend to believe she’s not invincible. If you’ve followed my movie reviews through the years, you know I’m skeptical of super hero movies by default. I need them to be relatable, even if it’s in a metaphorical, archetypal way. I don’t relate to invincibility with no meaningful obstacles to overcome.

There’s just no dramatic tension. Did she even grow as a person? Did she learn something new about herself–other than just how powerful she is? Not that I could tell. I mean, I’m not really a comic books expert, but if this is all the inherent complexity in the Wonder Woman character, I sort of get why we haven’t seen a movie about her before now in the current superhero-rich movie environment.

So here’s my bombshell, the part that definitely makes me an asshole. There seems to be a lot of woman-power acclaim around this movie. But isn’t it kind of condescending to call this a feminist triumph just because it didn’t fall on its face? Aren’t we holding women-led movies to a lower standard by not expecting them to be good, just . . . adequate?

The Verdict

A fairly ordinary super hero movie, which makes it rather mediocre as a movie movie.

Didn’t like it

[cross posted at]

From → Movies

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