This post may take a couple of days to create, as I want to do this movie justice, so I’ll endeavour to keep the normal posts going and just backdate this one, but we all know my resolve has the structural integrity of a house of cards.
So my first thought when I saw that The AV Club’s Alex Dowd was reviewing Wonder Woman were “well, here we go”. There are two possible explanations for the fact that within the last three to six months, A.A. Dowd has provided just one film a grade higher than a B+, and I don’t think the most plausible is that “he is provided with the shitty movies”.
But don’t get me wrong, I understand the compulsion to nitpick, it’s a more valid and clinical way to treat reviews, right? You emphasise what you hate in order to elevate the status of your approval. Because if you abhor everything, then simply by approving, your respect is more profound. Of course, I get it, I’m hip to the groove of young white boys on the internet. I know how this works.
Largest eye-roll ever.
Of course this review is not about Alex Dowd, it’s about Wonder Woman, but as the premise of the film is built on a trusting and optimistic disposition, I believe it benefits the viewer to also be a little open minded. Although I also really don’t believe you need to be to be impressed by this film.
One final note about reviewers and not this review: I have not found a single female-written review of this movie, although admittedly so far my search has been confined to preferred media discussion providers (holla AV Club, New Yorker and Isolated Nation). While this would not normally bother me, and I prefer the unbiased account of film for equality’s sake, I feel that taking into consideration the importance of the first high grossing comic-book movie starring a female protagonist, as well as the impact of Patty Jenkins as the first female director, is a significant step in discussing this film, because while it was not made primarily FOR women, it’s sure as hell going to help us.
So, I don’t pretend to be on a similar level to any aforementioned reviewers because I am brand new at this and there’s a high chance I don’t know what I’m talking about. But if you wanted a girl’s opinion, you’re gonna get it.
EDIT: I have since found a review by The Guardian’s Wendy Ide, which is well written and unspecific on gender politics but does address that this film is great for further female protagonists. You can read that review here at The Guardian’s film review.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Released 2 June 2017
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, DC Universe
Starring Gal Gadot & Chris Pine
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Written by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg
& Jason Fuchs
Based on the Original DC Universe
Comic by William Moulton Marston
I want to start this review by talking about the negatives, partly because they are the minority, but essentially because I want this post to culminate in positivity and optimism, just as I believe the film does.
The stylistic approach to special effects in this movie, in particular the pacing changes throughout fight scenes, seemed gratuitous and distracting. It’s not a novel approach, but in this case it was poorly rendered, and reminded me of pumping power-up bars to build for a boost in video games. The fighting itself also seemed inefficient and clunky, however I could be projecting because I don’t “get” fight scenes. Like, honestly, Game of Thrones could be so much shorter??
With the possible exception of Captain America, Diana of Themyscira is our first superhero with something more important than physical strength or expensive weaponry, she has empathy. It is that, more than any other characteristic which will make this DC Universe movie stand-out above all others, especially among women. Patty Jenkins et al. have provided the world with not only our first significant female superhero, capable, strong and feminine, but the first superhero with primitive humanitarian instincts. To put it another way, they have provided us with a mother.
Rhys Tarling, of Isolated Nation, put it best when he said: “Part of what makes Wonder Woman the best, most distinguished DCEU film yet, is that its protagonist, unlike say Ben Affleck‘s Batman or Henry Cavill‘s Superman, is somebody who’s not an angry boring dickhead.”
Now, I can talk about how the colouration and costuming during the “the war is that way” scene was perfectly created to convey a sense of depression and anxiety, that grey is used to inform the audience that the characters on screen are experiencing a bad time. I can describe a multitude of ways that pacing and camera angles are used to connote and impress certain notions and feelings into an audience. I can use words and pictures to explain film techniques until the cows come home.
But that’s not what this blog has ever been, it’s not who I am and I have no interest in convincing someone to watch a movie because the white balance is on point.
My posts have always been about stories, either those told by someone else, or myself, and I believe that Wonder Woman is a story that we needed to see. She’s not “an angry boring dickhead”, she’s the first superhero to, however naively, care about the inherent good in humanity. In a time when we see and experience so much negative press, in a time when it’s entirely conceivable that maybe humans are the root of all evil, we were given a feminist movie that portrays the necessity and sincerity of synergy between the genders.
While moviemaking involves a myriad of technical skills, storytelling is about making people feel a certain way, and Wonder Woman did just fine at that. It is a movie that made me feel empowered, strong and just maybe as though hoping for more strong female leads was not a hopeless task.
x The Girl Who Loves Stories
PS: in case this review is not technical enough for you, or if it seems disjointed – which it is because I wrote it across two nights and completely lost my train of thought – here’s what my friend Mick had to say about it:
“My first sentence last night was ‘It’s easily the best DC film since The Dark Knight Rises, if not since The Dark Knight.’ I really like the period setting and the fact that it’s not as cheesy as Captain America’s scenes around the same era. The length of the movie isn’t for everyone, but I liked how there was time for plenty of character development, it covers so much at a good depth compared to so many other superhero films, that spread it over a series of films and crossovers.”
– the ever logical, Mick Hawkins