After watching Wonder Woman (2017) within the last hour I came back home feeling disappointed. A good film marred by a bad ending. Gal Gadot was perfectly cast. The supporting cast of Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis and so on were fine. And even the villain Ares played by David Thewlis was fine–though, I think they could have done better in creating a more formidable enemy. I like David Thewlis as an actor so I don’t want to be a dick about it. It’s just that Gal Gadot was bigger than life and the villain was not.
But I had hoped the film, under the direction of Patty Jenkins, would not suffer the Snyder effect such as Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Basically a nonsensical CGI shitstorm ending that goes on far too long destroying all the work done to build on the plot and characters. Yes, that still happened (sigh). Not as badly as the predecessors in the DC series. …Still.
Patty Jenkins direction was more than competent too. However, I could have done without the slow motion CGI videogame kicks and again, the ending–was that her decision or was it Zack Snyder’s doing? Jenkins says she was influenced by Richard Donner who ended his first film with an interesting if not silly pseudoscientific idea of turning back time by flying around the world. Jenkins ending didn’t work. It’s also interesting to note that Superman saves his love Lois Lane from death and Wonder Woman does nothing and her love Steve Trevor is disposable (of course, in comic books no one is truly ever dead).
The reason I bother even mentioning a review of Wonder Woman on Freethunk is the feminist hype and the prior online battle of the sexes about all female screenings with all female staffing. Wonder Woman has been made out to be the first true female hero film. This is not a “smart” film for women. It is mainstream action fluff. The kind men usually like while their wives and girlfriends roll their eyes. It is not on par with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy or as good as the classic Richard Donner Superman, nor does it explore social/political ideas such as the recent Marvel entries for Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War (admittedly clunky due to time limits as Civil War packs in a lot of material). There’s very little feminism in the film except female dominance–Amazons in the beginning and Wonder Woman winning WW1 and apparently killing the god of war in the name of love. Oh, and Diana can speak Sumerian showing she has a brain to go with her looks.
And what the hell was that ending? After going on a rampage against Ares, Diana has some sort of epiphany about love and humanity and then zaps Ares with yet another violent act? If Ares had suddenly died on his own (exploded or something) as a reaction to her realization that love conquers all maybe it would have made some sense (cheesy, but still). Instead, after already killing countless soldiers she suddenly puts her faith in love and then uses that knowledge to kill her brother? Yes, I can hear the reader groans of me nitpicking, but Ares is supposed to be a literal figure in this superhero play, not just an idea. So if you’re going to extol female values with “love conquers all” and then turn around and kill someone it defeats the message. There was a chance to be clever here or at least consistent with a message of love and peace and the dumbed down road was taken. I would say lazy writing was the culprit. Because to seek to kill a god can write you into a corner (how do you kill a god?) and so the ending needed special treatment. As I saw one reviewer note, maybe there will be a director’s cut where this is fixed. I really hope so.
For the little girls (and little boys), the film is first rate fun. For adult women looking for female empowerment, it’s simplistic. Suspend your intellect, embrace your emotions and you’ll enjoy it. I have given a pass to many a “guy film” that has script flaws so I’m not saying Wonder Woman fails as a popcorn seller. I enjoyed most of it. For men, it’s a lot like we would expect from a DC superhero film with Gal Gadot saving the film from the Zack Snyder curse.
…However, if feminists want a smart feminist hero, they should demand better. And they should demand it from Marvel which will be releasing Captain Marvel (2019). I would like to see the energy of Wonder Woman combined with the smarter writing we’ve seen in the Marvel line up of films. Then we would have some entertainment feminists can rub in our faces, er, share with their male counterparts.
BTW, did anyone else experience deja vu watching Wonder Woman? It felt like Xena, Princess Warrior? I wish back in the day they had made a Wonder Woman movie starring Lucy Lawless.