Wonder Woman is a very good mainstream movie. And I add that “mainstream” tag in because it’s part of why I didn’t personally love the movie, even though I think it’s quite good; which is a hard position to parse.
So let’s start with what I really liked. Gal Gadot is fucking incredible as Wonder Woman, she’s great. As she was in Batman v Superman. She’s just at a 10/10 in this role, could not ask for more. She puts everyone else in the movie to shame as well she should. And she gets to do some really cool shit. That’s what I wanted, and the movie delivered on it. Good job. Thumbs up.
So it’s good, I recommend it to people who were looking forward to it.
Ok? We good?
Alright let’s get to why I don’t actually love the movie.
Part of it is just an aesthetics thing; I don’t love how the action in this movie looks. There’s too much slo-mo for my tastes. It’s hard for me to put my finger on, but I just know that within the context of the movie I didn’t love the action shots they focused on as much as I liked them in the stylized version presented in the end credits sequence. I still prefer this to overused shaky-cam combined with a billion cuts. This at least sticks in the mind, but it also feels ephemeral and fake. It doesn’t have the impact of the violence in something like Logan or John Wick 2 or Alien: Covenant even. And like, of course it doesn’t, why would it? I’m just saying… I don’t love it and it’s in principle something I should love.
Like, if it were just a panel in a comic (y’know by an artist I like) I’d love it. Instead my brain is saying “that’s really good” but my heart is like “meh.”
The bigger issue is that I don’t think the World War I stuff does this movie any favors. Part of that is because the violence lacks teeth and the horrors of World War I aren’t particularly cinematic (or they aren’t here at least). I kind feel like this movie has to stop during it’s Superhero fun to bring you a special message about the horrors of Gas warfare. There’s a reason we usually use World War II for these kind of stories, the heightened theatrically of Nazism is more in line with the ridiculous scale that Superheroes work on.
The part that these big corporations want to avoid though is talking about the Holocaust. With World War I we get the horrors of people getting gassed without needing it to be about Jews. Instead it’s about EVERYBODY. *wank wank wank* To be fair Captain America: The First Avenger basically does the same thing by making it all about Hydra instead of Nazis. But at least hydra has some style to it, which makes for a more interesting movie to look at. I just think the Red Skull is a more interesting visual than Danny Huston’s face, and if you’re gonna spend so much time on being sad about people getting gassed anyway…
And yes I do have a problem that this movie spends time on the characters being sad about people getting gassed. I would have preferred a movie set in modern day that was just fun. I didn’t need an origin story movie. (Batman v Superman did a great job introducing Wonder Woman, in that it allowed her to just show up and show legitimate joy in fighting. The thing it did wrong was being a terrible messy shit all around that joyous simplicity.) And I didn’t need all this sentimentality.
But that’s just par for the course with these movies. Comic Book movies are mainstream big budget movies, and their problems are the problems of big budget Hollywood films. And there’s a pretense of respectability that comes with that, that I’m just not into. There’s an essential aspect to comic books and why I love them, and it’s that they’re garbage.
I don’t necessarily mean garbage in terms of bad quality always necessarily (though that can be part of it) I mean they’re the kind of thing your mom would throw out. It’s underground, cult art, meant to titillate and I don’t necessarily mean that sexually (though that can be part of it). I mean like the way Hook Jaw titillates. (He’s a shark with a hook in his jaw. Look it up.)
Wonder Woman just doesn’t feel that way to me. It’s bullshit isn’t some weird nightmare, it’s just classic Hollywood bullshit. (There is nothing more classic Hollywood bullshit than the wise Native American tracker which Wonder Woman totally has) Which is the same problem I have with most comic book movies. Batman v Superman is a more unlikeable, unpleasant movie that I hate, but it’s also kind of more interesting to me than Wonder Woman because it’s insane garbage instead of just being y’know, good.
Wonder Woman is on par with other good comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Lego Batman. But Guardians 2 goes into crazy space Marvel Comics shit that I love and when people shoot lasers in Lego Batman they go “pew pew pew” and Wonder Woman has weak World War I misery shit (and the best protagonist). So I think those other movies would just edge it out for me.
So yes, I’m saying I liked Kong: Skull Island more than Wonder Woman. I’m sorry.
Again though, Gal Gadot is fucking killing it. I look forward to more movies with her as Wonder Woman.