The idea of an objective balanced review is almost a far cry from what we, the passion bloggers write. This type of critique is more reflective of the love and adoration of the people we write for. We are fans that write for other fans about things we both love. So why am I so reluctant to tell anyone my views on this film? Why am I nervous about appearing on my regular podcast and discussing it? Because everyone I know and care about loved it. And I didn’t.
*There be spoilers*
Wonder Woman is built from the ground up with thorough research and a deep understanding of the character of Diana. Not only that but the true surprising joy of the movie is that Gal Gadot does too, and her performance is worthy of the Wonder Woman legacy. It is always incredible and amazing to see the origins of superheroes played out in any form but to see a real world Themiscera for first time brings the biggest smile. The females of this movie are a rarity in cinema and they were portrayed with a focus on their most important traits of strength, fearlessness and compassion. Gal Gadot’s appearance captures the essence of the hero without overt sexualisation and the colours are textured and rendered enough to keep the red blue and gold from appearing garish. Those details pale in insignificance compared to the way Gal carries herself as an example of nobility, honour and morality. Her fascination and wonderment at walking through London is naïve, emotional and gorgeous. Gal depicts the compassionate God that Diana is, all through the way in which she moves. Even her diction is enigmatic and charismatic and delivered with poise and passion. That is a larger compliment that you would realise given how average the dialogue actually is. When it comes to the action sequences, there is a compassion sensibility, at least to begin with. She deliberates her choices and then takes on her foes who she believes at not able to truly understand their actions. This is shown incredibly with a trip over the trenches into no mans land. Chris Pine is cast perfectly as Steve Trevor who delivers a decent performance as the resolute and determined saviour of the war. His confidence and sheer determination is testament to any hero movie, in keeping with the adage that a hero is not the sum of their powers, but how they choose to wield them. It is Steve and Trevor’s relationship that is probably the most enjoyable part of the movie, because together they are charming, unified and fearless with a deeper romantic narrative hidden beneath their actions. When the protagonists are set up so perfectly, how do you create any opposition, even during the first world war? Therein lies the problem with this movie.
The final act fails where the first two succeeded. Not only were there compelling characters and relationships, there is a ready made premise with so much source material that you don’t even have to try: War. In a wonderfully artistic history of the Gods, Hippolyta describes the fall of man and their self imposed isolation. The stage is set and the script could even write itself because the fallibility of man is painful notion to understand and manage and I have always thought of Wonder Woman as an example of how to be better as a person. Her empathy and love shines over everything else she does, her power does not lie in her strength, ability to fight or weapons she wields. This is even alluded to during her interactions with her mother. Instead of slowly crafting this revelation and using it to develop Diana as a hero, the film decided to unashamedly confuse these ideas and conflate them into a single over CGI’d finale. Her stubborn views that the world is tormented by Ares and that humanity is under his influence, are not addressed to a significant enough depth for her or us to come to any real thematic conclusion. Even to the point where Steve fails to really change her thinking in his martyrdom. The film produces a twist that not only has no bearing on the actual war, but just confuses Diana further. Is Ares responsible for it all? Is the human race fickle beings that can produce great evil and good? Should she fight for them? Steve Trevor is the shining example of that notion throughout the film and is the example Diana needs of how amazing humanity can be. Man will fail and man will succeed, the people fighting on the trenches are not good or bad in their actions but fight under the influence of the corrupted and the just. The pacing of the movie is ramped up to its detriment, especially as the rest of it is so incredibly well thought through. The presence of Ares is so damaging to the movie because not only does it stifle Diana’s character transition, but it distracts from the real story.
It is so incredibly important to not let the finale distract from the rest of the movie, and it has taken me a few days to realise that. I initially wrote this with great upset to how the film concluded but more importantly how Diana was treated. I felt her character appeared quite foolish and to a degree I still do. After some reflection, I decided that on the whole it was an enjoyable watch, and I take exception to how many reviewers judge it based on the merits of the DC movies. Aside from the ending, it is anything but married to them and, in and of itself, it is an momentous and courageous effort from all involved. It exceeds many of its superhero predecessors and breaks ground that this industry has not tried hard enough to break. Unfortunately Diana will head back to join the holy trinity of DC and her loving voice will be set against angst and arrogance, but I am sure it will be heard. Because Wonder Woman isn’t the hero we deserve but the one we need.