“It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.” – Diana Prince, Wonder Woman (2017).
You can probably get one of two insights from that quote above. Either you’ll love the poetry of it like the mass audience, or you’ll have the reaction I did. Which was to sit stone faced for two hours and twenty minutes as I watched a barely sufficient superhero flick pass across my screen. Now I am going to get through this review without commenting on the feminist part of the public reaction. That’s for a separate article that will of course be up in due time. For now, let’s focus on the subject at hand, my Wonder Woman review.
The plot is going to be known to pretty much all of you by now, but I best go through it just in case. When an undercover spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the Amazonian Island of Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) people, she uncovers the horrors of the first world war. The two embark on a mission to kill Ares and stop the war once and for all, aided by Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) and a merry band of other characters.
The most important part about this film is of course going to be the performance of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. What did I think? Sure, yeah, she was fine. But nothing more than that. She didn’t blow me away like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008) nor did she disappoint like Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Gadot was sort of just there, mulling about in the background or punching them up in the forgettable fight scenes. So no, I guess you could say Gadot isn’t good in this film, but she’s also not bad either. A lukewarm main star is never good, and it really drags Wonder Woman down.
As for the supporting cast, they’re forgettable at best. Their performances never go as far to make us connect with them or have an opinion on them. I genuinely cannot remember any of the names from this film. There’s the Captain America rip off with Steve Trevor, and then he brings along three of his mates. Together they band as one to go off and, I don’t really know, destroy a poison before it’s too late? Then it’s too late, and then they’re at an airfield. Honestly, the actors in this film genuinely do look bored to be there. Thewlis doesn’t even bring his A-Game like he did with Harry Potter. It’s not that the character doesn’t suit him, but the portrayal he tries just doesn’t work.
There’s a bit at the end of this film where Ares tells Wonder Woman to kill Doctor Poison, almost as if to test her will. But, the problem is, it’s meant to foreshadow the events of the film. What is there to foreshadow though? There hasn’t been any event in the previous part of the film that would have us think Wonder Woman would in fact kill her. She’s been nothing but the goody two shoes the fans were expecting, so telling them to believe she may go through with this action was ineffective at best. You’d think in the ten to fifteen minutes of opening exposition they’d at least explain a few bits and pieces of what would make us doubt her decision to kill.
I was of course expecting that the mentor character would be killed off. I wrote in my notes that if this happened then I’d simply stop watching the film. It happened, the mentor character died before I could even learn her name. But I didn’t stop watching the film, that would have been rather petty. Come on, there must be some other way of making us connect with characters other than “oh no, the hero figure I never had is dead”. Hell, even the Queen of the Island is never seen again after the half hour mark, she doesn’t even die she just sticks around on that CGI island.
Now as it’s 2017, I was expecting a beefy amount of CGI. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was also expecting it to be a great look to the CGI. Well, Wonder Woman flicks between one or two choices of CGI. The opening CGI of the island wasn’t impressive to me at first. Sure, it looked alright, but that’s the purpose of CGI nowadays isn’t it. I would have been shocked if it had looked terrible, and slightly bemused if it had looked any good. There’s a lot of CGI in this film, but to be fair that was expected. I wasn’t expecting such a wide mix of it though.
Some of it was genuinely horrible, early on in the film we see a small child jump from a staircase of some sort. The green screen was noticeable and it genuinely did look laughably bad. However of course other times the film did do stunningly well with its CGI. The final fight with Ares did have parts that looked like fun, but the overall feel of this CGI was poor to me. If you’re gonna have CGI then make sure it is all looking good, not just every now and then. For the bulk of the film, the CGI looks unimpressive, that’s just my take on it.
I suppose the set design can excuse a few bits of the CGI. Without the CGI and when the film is focusing on the set design, it does look very good. The collapse of that church tower looked impressive, and so did the dance towards the end of the film. But other than that there’s nothing to really comment on. The trenches of the First World War look muddy, that’s to be expected I suppose.
What I wasn’t expecting though was forgettable and, well, poor choreography. There’s something about this film that just goes so wrong. It’s got a lot of choppy cuts, much like Assassin’s Creed (2016) had. That was its main problem too, the fact that it had so many cuts in the fighting made it difficult to follow. I’m not making this up, there was a fight scene with a cut to a different camera every second. This does not make combat interesting to watch, it is simply bad direction. I’d go as far to say it was worse choreography than Assassin’s Creed had.
Aside from the horrid amount of cuts, there was one other big problem this film had. The fact that they pretty much abused slow motion. Look, I have nothing wrong with slow motion, but when it’s quite literally every other scene, that’s when it becomes overbearing. A fight scene with Ludendorff (Danny Huston) was going well, and then there were two or three bits of slow motion and the film lost me. See, the brilliance of other fight scenes in DC films such as The Dark Knight Rises is that the choreography relies on the actual characters, not special effects like this film.
My main problem with this film is that the overall message is that love can win. Get that hippy bullshit out of here, no it can’t. Love isn’t going to stop a bomb, or the impending doom of humanity, so why should I believe it can stop a war? I think you’ll find that firing a lightning bolt through Ares chest won this fight, not love. Soppy bastards, it’s a cheap action flick that failed to be on the same level as every other superhero film available. A lukewarm but competent performance from Gal Gadot really is nowhere near enough to make this film watchable. Not even David Thewlis, one of my favourite actors, can save this film.
No, forget what all of the other critics are saying. Wonder Woman is most certainly not the best superhero film to release this year. It’s run of the mill DC drivel, and should be treated as such. A nonsensical plot paired with some genuinely embarrassing writing is something to be held accountable. This is the film that has now broken my faith in the DCEU. One more chance, Justice League (2017) better impress, and it better be the best damn film I’ve seen since Guest House Paradiso (1999). Was it a good film? Or are people just really happy it wasn’t disgracefully bad.