Sunday, June 04, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017)

Agreed. Wonder Woman is the best DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie to date. Although I am not really sure being compared to Captain America: The First Avenger is a good thing. There are indeed comparisons but Wonder Woman is better. What does that even say; the best of DCEU is equal to whatever The First Avenger is to Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Before moving on, spoiler warnings. I am at a loss why readers would still need warning because any review is a potential spoiler however vague they try to be. Anyways.

The story starts sometime after Batman vs Superman; a continuance of that electronic conversation between Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). Diana had just received via special delivery from Bruce her long lost picture and this had driven her into reminiscence back into her island of Themyscira and the man who started it all. 

Her story, this movie, is the explanation why she has stayed in the world of man.

As child Diana was unique because she was the only child on the island as well as being Queen Hippolyta’s (Connie Nielsen) daughter. She’s a playful child, always wandering, eager to be one of amazons and enter into a warrior’s life. Her mother would have none of it, refused Diana the training, but her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), General of the Army, trained her in secret. Soon the sister would convince the Queen to train the princess above ground.

Unknown years passed Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into Themyscira’s shores with a German ship in hot pursuit. News of a world at war awakens the desire in Diana. Like many an Amazon she’s grew up hearing stories of their ancient enemy, the God of War Ares. Thinking that this war was Ares’ final move to destroy man she went with Steve against the Queen’s orders. And thus Diana ended up in World War I; a search and destroy mission for the God of War.

Of all the cast I really love Robin Wright as Antiope because I was not expecting her to look so fierce. Connie Nielsen is a good fit as well looking more regal a warrior. Unfortunately the Amazons didn’t have a lot of screen time so the other worldly atmosphere is a fleeting one. 

Plus Themyscira is the only place in full live color so I was missing that because I am not a fan of the dark and bluish palate thereafter. 

It’s like Diana is the only focus of the story so they just dumped her in the middle of a war torn earth and the Amazon’s just stayed out of the way. Harsh that Diana and Hippolyta don’t see each other again at the end. Not even for a goodbye and proudly proclaim the ancient enemy is dead or at least explain why she had to stay on earth even after the war.

I’ve always loved Chris Pine from Star Trek. Ironically I think he, the man, carries the dramatic weight much more than Gal Gadot does. Diana moves around World War I torn Europe like a fish out of water hence the urgency comes more from the local which in this case is Steve Trevor. First time out of the island and excited with the prospect that she alone, carrying the god killer sword, Diana had more misplace optimism than the situation requires.

I’ve grown tired of the slowmotion action sequences. Is this a natural Patty Jenkins decision or a Zack Snyder (who is still in the credits albeit not as director) one? Had it not been a beautiful Amazon I might have grown tired just at the beginning of the movie.

Wonder Woman herself in slow motion and in CGI sometimes can be disappointing. There’s proper use of CGI like how Wonder Woman uses her rope in the middle of combat or lifting a tank. CGI just gives that extra lift into looking like a superhero. 

Up close with just a few enemies going CGI and in slow motion is disappointing because I know a trained member of Israeli Defense Forces don’t use the same neutralizing enemy forces. I'm sure Gal can handle a choreographed fight scene. But when both CGI and slow motion are off the camera goes into a half body shot and long ones. I guess what I'm saying is I was expecting something in the lines of Black Widow in Iron Man II or Steve Rogers versus the Winter Soldier, I didn't have that.

Maybe Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot deserve a pass though because Gal was pregnant during the shoot. In interviews Gal said that beyond her regular costume her tummy covered in green to allow for effects to come in. I don’t know if any fight scenes happened during her pregnancy.

The emotional note the movie was going for can be described with what Hippolyta said, “they do not deserve you”. With her experience the Queen has grown cynical of man, Diana was meant to hit the mark too. If not for ratings concerns I think the movie should have gone darker and bloodier for the war scenes just to make Diana’s disillusionment more believable; maybe a straight out betrayal just to make man more despicable.

That is until Steve Trevor with all his meager gifts shows the way. It is not what the world deserves, if you love it then the rest will follow which is a complicated way of saying “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In spite of Diana offering her power to the dangerous parts of the missions, Steve dies flying a plane full of gas far away. 

I disagree with Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider that it was all guts that made DC kill off Steve. It could be because DC didn’t have sequel concerns since the movie is set in World War I and Justice League which is meant to follow is in the present. With superhero movies left and right, Hollywood is only about money now. Love can sell if the filmmakers can actually use it; in this case they can't.

I like Gal Gadot if only because she is capable of killing me in real life should she want it. The fact that a trained soldier was cast as Wonder Woman has always intrigued me. She’s perfect for the role.

To finish I am not in full agreement with the hype. There are still ways to go especially with the First Avenger comparison. I am just hopeful that DCEU has finally made a respectable movie. Maybe less Zack Snyder is a good thing.

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