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[personal profile] cashew
Finally watched Wonder Woman. Let's get the final verdict out of the way first, then I'll give my very spoilery review.

Final Verdict: Worth watching in the theaters. A good movie that is unfortunately held back from being great by the Zack Snyder grime clinging still to the entire production. (Zack Snyder is credited as one of the screen writers and also p.g.a.)


Make no mistake, Wonder Woman is a good movie. I liked a lot about the movie and the fact that it's rated as 92% fresh at RottenTomatoes (91% by viewers) after over 40 days in theaters indicates that my liking of Wonder Woman is very much in-line with critics and audiences alike. This is, undoubtedly, a good movie. However, this movie unfortunately is also a problematic movie. And the problems holds the movie back from being great. So, while I do like the movie, I'm also infuriated that it wasn't better, because I can see how this movie could have been great if only DC would let the women do their work and get rid of Zack Snyder and his toxic masculine default bullshit.

*deep breaths*

The Good:
  1. The Acting - The acting is good. I genuinely enjoyed the the acting by all the characters from Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman to Chris Pine as Steve Trevor to Eugene Brave Rock as Chief. Unlike previous DC movies where it's all about the big emotions, subtle and micro expressions did a lot of the work here. Yeah, sure, there's plenty of big emotions, too, but it's the subtle moments with layers and layers and layers of emotional complexity that really made this movie good.

  2. Wonder Woman - Unlike previous DC movies that left me going "WHO is this person?" when our titular superhero came onscreen, I actually could feel the love that went into the making of Wonder Woman. She is Diana, Princess of Themyscira, and you will be in awe of her! Diana's major character trait, Compassion (and yes, that deserves a capital C), is thoroughly explored and expressed. Unlike Superman who saves the world due to a sense of responsibility (he's stronger than his fellow humans, of course it's going to fall on his shoulders to save the world), or Batman who acts out of vengeance and need for justice (he is vengeance, he is the night, blah blah blah), Diana acts because she just wants to save people. She loves humans, flaws and all, and she wants to keep them safe. Her extreme ability to empathize with those who are suffering is the reason that she leaves her paradise island to come into the shitty world of man, because she just gives a shit. Essentially, her becoming a hero is the same as any regular old human's, Empathy.

  3. Supporting Cast - Honestly, I felt the entire supporting cast of Wonder Woman was very well done. While there might have been one case where I felt the character might have been wasted (will talk about it later), for the most part, the cast balance was handled very well, and almost all of the good guys were likeable and all the bad guys were despicable. Of surprise was how much I genuinely liked Steve Trevor. He was kind, respectful, and clearly in awe of Diana - as he should be. The rest of the Band of Brothers were fun characters who actually got character development (unlike the Howling Commandos in Captain America TFA) and whose inclusion had a very story driven reason. It wasn't just so that you can have a gang, but rather through this gang some very important concepts where brought up. I especially like the touch of bringing up that Native Americans lost their land to the white Americans via the character of Chief. Yet, there's nothing any single one person can do. This is especially fitting given the setting of WWI, which was a confused mess of politics and self interest, with no one who can be really blamed (unlike the much more clear cut causes of WWII). And speaking of...

  4. The Setting - Despite the obvious aping of Captain America TFA, the WWI setting was handled well. One of the central themes of Wonder Woman was actually about the complicated mess that is the human world, and that she loves humans despite the fact that it's so messy and bad and horrible. World War I, the Great War, was a good fit for the theme. As I mentioned earlier, unlike WWII which had a very clear cut BAD GUY (fascists), World War I was a much more murky, confused time. Some Duke got shot and suddenly everyone got dragged into a war and no one really knew why they were entering into it, only that they must fight. I like that the movie acknowledged that no side in WWI was exactly doing that well, that every side was confused and the fighting was just dirty and horrible. Trench warfare mixed with chemical warfare was a terrible, terrible time. For all that WWII had more deaths and casualties and even the horror that is the Holocaust, WWI's actual frontlines was far more fucked up. Hell, the ban of chemical warfar (and the fact that only Japan used biochemical weapons on the Asian front) in WWII was the direct result of the body horror bonanza that was WWI. WWI was definitely the more gruesome of the world wars, and the movie didn't shy away from that. The fucked up, messy, gruesome battle front fits well with the message that all the problems in the world can't be pinned on a single person. That saving the world isn't about defeating some threat and suddenly the world is hunky dory. That the problem with the world is people and that isn't something Diana can just punch away and all the more reason why her compassion for human kind is so very importnat.

  5. Diana and Steve - I love the relationship. I love the dynamic between these two characters, I love the genuine respect they have for each other, I love how ridiculously healthy the two of them approach their romance. I love that their romance and love for each other is what allows them to triumph in the really shitty world they live in. I love that Diana is forward, sex-aware, sex-positive, and has agency in her romance. I love that Steve respects Diana for her abilities as a warrior, is genuinely kind, and flawed but willing to work at getting better. I love that it's not perfect, they aren't soul mates, but they work hard to make the relationship work and that there is a constant learning curve. I love that the romantic conflict is non-existent and that Diana is clearly just as motivated to get into this relationship as Steve is. And I love that the romance isn't something tacked on because our hero needs a love interest, but because this is just how these characters are and therefore naturally fall into such a relationship. (I mean, yes, I understand the reason the romance is there is because "our hero must be romantically involved, because", but execution felt natural instead of forced or tacked on and genuine thought was taken to make the romance both fitting and meaningful.)

  6. Cinematography - I'm not usually one to actually notice these things, but damn but the cinematography of this movie was good. Like...just it's so fucking good. The movie contrasts the colorful, bright, idyllic Themyscira with the grey, grim, mess that is WWI. And the thing is, grim-dark works in this movie, because, again, the setting called for it. I love that outside of the WWI setting, the world is colorful and bright, the way it usually is in real life. That contrast worked to accentuate Diana's emotional and physical transition.

  7. Music - I will say that the music in this movie is probably some of the best music I've heard in any superhero film, Marvel and DC combined. Musically, it was extremely distinct, not like the slew of generic "Super" music that tends to appear in these movies. It was also memorable and catchy, while extremely fitting to Diana's character. Every time Diana's leit motif started, I could feel myself getting amped up and excited. It was music fit for a warrior and gets the blood pounding every time. I came out of the movie thinking "damn, I want that for my ringtone, that was epic". And I should be feeling that for every superhero movie.

  8. Girl Power - Although the movie had a couple of missteps here and there, over all, I think it did a good job of portraying girl power, as the original canon intended. There's three main women in this movie, but they make all the difference. First, there's Diana, our hero, who takes no orders from men, does what she wants, and does not regret her choices. Her mistakes are not because of not listening to some man, but because of circumstance. At the same time, she is not unable to learn from the world of man and she doesn't need man to teach her. She will figure out the rotating door by herself, thank you very much. Then there's the ally, Etta Candy. She's the human world counterpart, someone who was raised and lives in a world of patriarchal suppression, who has to deal with it and doesn't have the luxury to break out of it without severe consequences. And yet, it's made clear that even so, she is extremely competent, trustworthy, and can still kick a certain amount of ass. She works with what she's got and she will not bow to the oppression and continues to trudge on with all the sass. Then we have the villain, Dr. Maru, who is just as much a victim as she is a villain. The men around her don't see her brilliance, or at least can't see past her pretty exterior, and is continuously the subject of benign sexism. It is also through her that we see the contrast of the male baddie (constant sexualized praise) to our male good guy (praise of her work in an attempt to get her to turn sides). And through her, we establish that women are just as capable of being bad as men, that's what it means to be equal.

  9. No T&A - This deserves special mention. Despite all the women in leather armor, boob chest plate, and short, short skirts, the movie was shot without a single T&A pose. Everything was shot to emphasize the power of the Amazons, the fighting prowess, and the sheer amount of awe. These are powerful women and you will see them as such. They are not your eye candy, they are your heroes. It's pretty obvious that this movie was directed by a woman.

  10. The Amazons - On the whole, the Amazons are well done. It's especially important to have the Amazons because they explain why Diana was a hero. The other Amazons are also powerful warriors who can fight well, but they lacked Diana's compassion. This is especially important, because of the benign sexism mentioned earlier. It would be problematic if Diana, the only female superhero in DC's big three, is classified as the compassionate one without all the other powerful female characters who aren't compassionate to contrast her. By having the Amazons, the story establishes that it is not Diana's femaleness that makes her compassionate, but rather, her hero-ness. On a more specific note, the fight between the Amazon and invading human army was extremely well done. It sold the fantasy of how a bunch of horse-riding, bow wielding warriors could still win in a fight against gun-toting modernized army. The Amazon's sheer speed, strength, reflexes, and bravery allows them to triumph, but not without significant losses. That the technological difference was only overcome through experience and dominating battle aura and had the invading troops been larger, better organized, or even less disoriented, they may have still lost the battle. Because of the well designed battle cinematography, my suspension of disbelief held.


The Bad:
  1. Diana as Zeus's daughter - Some people praised this as a more mature feminist take on Diana's origin, because man was not excised from the reproductive process. But here's the problem, men have been excising women from the reproductive process in myths ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Athena popped out of Zeus's head/thigh. Aphrodite arose from sea foam. The homunculus theory literally stated the embryo was in the sperm and women were just an incubation chamber. So, you know what? I think it's about fucking time for some turn around. Why does man have to be involved in Diana's creation? Huh? Especially since the movie is willing to go out and straight up make Diana a goddess, she certainly doesn't need a man in her creation anymore. Why can't she be the daughter of Hera? The fact that her divine origin came from Zeus mean that no, her powers were not just gifted to her by the gods (goddesses really), but rather came from Zeus, so how is that a more feminist reading? She still needed a male god to become powerful and that is just SO MUCH BULLSHIT in the face of the message that this movie tried to deliver.

  2. Male Default - This trope rears its ugly head once more. I'll talk more about this later, as it's part of a much bigger problem, but it needed to be brought up. This male is default thing is especially offensive in what is supposed to be a movie about empowering women.

  3. Cribbing from Captain America TFA - Even as early as the trailers, it was pretty clear that the movie was taking cues from Captain America. Cap was set in WWII? Let's set this movie in WWI. Cap has a shield? Let's give Diana a shield. Cap had a rag-tag bunch of misfits? Let's give Diana a rag-tag bunch of misfits. Cap had a blond Steve who rode a motorcycle and crashed a plane? Let's have a blond Steve who rides a motorcycle and crashes a plane. Cap had an evil German dude that shoots people as an example and killed German high command? Let's have an evil German dude that shoots people as an example and kills German high command. Cap survived all his contemporaries and is alone in the world? Let's have Diana survive all her contemporaries and be alone in this world. So. Much. Cribbing.

  4. Pointless Character Death - Despite the rather good work done with the Amazons over all, there was an unfortunate misstep. Here is where the previously mentioned point of wasted character comes in. Diana's fighting teacher/mentor, Antiope, was kind of a waste. She died shielding Diana from a bullet, but her death was unnecessary. Plot-wise, Diana can shield herself from bullets, thus making the sacrifice unnecessary. Emotion-wise, Diana would have fought for humans even without Antiope's death, because Diana gives a shit and doesn't want people to die. Antiope also didn't give her any dying message to spur her onto to becoming a hero, as is the usual case with these mentor deaths, since, again, Diana already wants to help. So what story/emotional purposes does Antiope's death actually serve? Nothing. Nothing at all.


The UGLY:
There's only one really, glaringly big ugly black spot for this movie that unfortunately also is literally the main plot point thus ruining the entire thing with its existence.

The Christianization of Greek mythology.

Zeus made humans (to be good and wise).

Ares fell from grace.

Ares apparently "whispered into the hearts of men" and they acted on those evil thoughts.

Zeus and Ares fight over the souls of men.

Amazons were created by Zeus to save man from Ares' corruption.

Diana is Girl Jesus.

Goddesses apparently do not exist. (Male is default raises its ugly head.)

Just...

FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU AND YOUR COMPLETE UTTER BULLSHIT CHRISTIANIZATION OF OTHER RELIGIONS.

And the biggest problem is that this is literally the fucking main plot. Ares' corruption of man into war is literally everything that the movie is hinging on. All the set up surrounds this particular central plot point. Just...FUCK YOU ZACK SNYDER AND YOUR BULLSHIT. No amount of directorial input can change the distaste that this main conceit leaves.

So, when it comes down to it, the movie could have been so, so much better. But Zack Snyder, as always, ruins everything. Wonder Woman is still a good movie, but it could have been great, and that leaves me furious.
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