Wonder Woman – Review

This might seem an odd thing to open with, but Chris Pine has got very small ears. I wouldn’t mention it, but there’s several points throughout Wonder Woman when Captain Kirk is face to face with the protagonist apparently about to bury his nose in her admittedly lovely hair, and the camera just lingers on his lobes a just a little too long for me to ignore them. Not that Wonder Woman didn’t manage to hold my attention or anything. More an issue of camera work I think.

Anyway I found myself both pleasantly surprised and somewhat disappointed by Wonder Woman, the latter sentiment being induced by the fact that the film is genuinely entertaining and renders me unable to slag it off. It shares a similar problem to King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword in that classical scholars will find the whole Greek mythology element taking liberties on a frankly Olympian scale, but one has to remember that this is DC Comics version of mythology, which does what Marvel did with the Norse pantheon and just uses it as a free ideas barrel. This goes part of the way to explaining why the Amazon’s idea of saving the world is to sit about on their little island paradise doing essential fuck all. Having said that, the opening scenes when the young Diana first acquires her misplaced taste for blood are among the most entertaining, with some truly jaw-dropping locations and the Amazon warriors pulling of extremely impressive stunt work. In fact these scenes are probably the most noteworthy from a feminist point of view, as it’s one of the few instances of female superhero costumes being designed for practicality rather than sexual appeal. Yes there’s a fair bit of potentially gratuitous leg on show, but it goes hand in hand the Ancient Greek aesthetic and more importantly makes practical sense when these women are leaping from horses firing bows and hurling spears.

From there the film moves at a rather breakneck pace towards the London and thence the Western Front, after a pointless session of arguing with British high command and an even more pointless, if rather hilarious, trip to Selfridges. This is the point where the main plot finally hits the road, and I suppose one of the bigger problems I have with it is that it smacks more than a little of Captain America: The First Avenger. Listen to this: a ragtag group of mercenaries of varying nationalities and criminal backgrounds are led by a chiseled blonde-haired American captain called Steve in a dangerous mission behind enemy lines in order to thwart the creation/deployment of a German doomsday weapon. The finale even involves the aforementioned Aryan flying the McGuffin-loaded plane out of harms way ala Steve Rogers, although this time the bloke has the sense to blow the plane up which makes way more sense than what the other Chris does.

I guess the main reason I’m ragging on poor old Piney so much is that he and his little Scooby Gang of murderers keep falling foul of the German war machine and end up being saved by Wonder Woman, which makes for a refreshing change of circumstance. The action scenes in the trenches are genuinely exciting, with Wonder Woman’s balletic bullet deflections and sword swings flowing effortlessly into a barrage of machine-gun fire and mortar rounds. And at no point does she need rescuing, even from the token moustached French lothario who smarms for comic effect. I can’t say I blame the man, seeing as Gal Gadot’s beauty is placed front and centre throughout, but it’s made all the more refreshing by the fact that this is by no means a bad thing. There is an innocence behind the Gadot’s heart-melting smile, born in this film of her island upbringing and weird pseudo-religious leanings. The slow realisation of the horrors of her trade is a implemented quite well with the scenes on the Western Front, with the noble Tommies up to their eyes in sludge and screaming for loss of limb. This brings me, however, to my final and probably the most morally questionable element of the plot is this ludicrous tie-in that the First World War and its 39 million casualties was not the result of a build-up European superpowers, social Darwinism, or mankind’s inherent capacity for violence, but rather the fault of some bastard called Ares because that’s just what he does. I know that he explains that what he’s actually doing is just giving men the tools of the trade and letting them end themselves, and I know that this is a comic book movie and that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously, but what with the centenary of the Somme coming up it just seems a bit tasteless, especially when Ares dies or dematerialises or whatever and everyone suddenly just lays down their arms. What makes it worse is that I’m certain the producers wanted to set it in World War II, but Captain America had already claimed that conflict for his own origin story, and there was too much of a waiting list.

I close this view with the summary that Wonder Woman is a step forward for the superhero genre and all in all a very enjoyable experience. The writing is pretty woeful in places, which is par for the course, and it lacks the teeth to get to grips with some of the more moral ideas that tie in with a First World War setting, but I shouldn’t really expect anything more from a 12A, let alone a DC job. It’s remarkably good viewing by current standards, and it stands head and shoulders above the shitshow that constituted Batman vs Superman, but it’s not fully polished in the story department. Maybe my standards are just too high for this sort of thing, and for what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, warts and all. Not that you’ll see any warts mind. Just mind boggling female beauty and a scene where we get to laugh at Captain Kirk’s nob.

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