Wonder Woman - movie review
When you compare the fortunes of the studios that base their movies on Marvel versus DC comics, you see a rather different series of outcomes.
Barring a couple of less than sterling box office outings by the Wolverine / X Men series, the Marvel Universe has been consistently making good money, and they have been garnering some good reviews in the process.
However, on the other side, in the DC Universe, the last movie that had good reviews was the Dark Knight, and that was a long time back in the movie making world.
You would think that Superman and Batman are sure bets, given their popularity with comic readers. So it was a surprise that the movies based on these superheroes fared rather poorly, especially the newer Batman vs Superman outing. The common theme is Zack Snyder. He made 300 and Watchmen, and that made him famous enough for the studios to handle the responsibility of bringing Batman and Superman to life. However his directing has been dark, onerous and it does not help that Ben Affleck is a bulky but slow Batman, and the angst filled stories have been difficult hard to digest.
So it was with a great relief when I read that the studios were going with a different director for Wonder Woman (WW). Patty Jenkins did Monster, and that effort garnered Charlize Theron an Oscar. So we know she can do complex shows with lots of emotion. But can she handle one of the most iconic superheroes, and probably the most popular woman in pop culture?
Firstly the casting has been perfect. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. As much as Christopher Reeve was the definitive Superman, Gal has done something which many women could not: she has managed to persuade us that someone other than Lynda Carter could step into that outfit and make us believe a princess of the Amazonian tribe lives amongst us. No doubt, her experiences as an instructor in the Israeli Army made her quite believable as a soldier. She wields the sword and shield with great aplomb, and the physical training has paid off.
Now make no mistake, we do not have a MMA champ trying to look lady-like. Here is a Miss Universe, who can kick ass, whilst looking fabulous in an evening gown, even one with a sword sticking out of the back.
She is at once tough, caring and yet vulnerable and innocent. You can see the guys all watching with great interest as she first steps onto the WWI battlefield and fends off the Krauts, inspiring the Allied forces to win on a battlefield which has been at a stalemate for a year, costing millions of lives. Yet in the final scene, she can look vulnerable, and I am sure there was a tear or two amongst both men and women in the audience during the final farewell.
Not often will a female superstar, who looks good, and fights well, will appeal to both members of the sex in the viewing public.
But a great Wonder Woman also needs a man who can match her on screen. Honestly I thought George Clooney in his younger days or a Gregory Peck might have made a good match, and I wonder if Chris 'Star Trek' Pine could do the same. But he surprised me and did well as the romantic interest, who only locked lips with Miss Israel, but added a certain dimension to the show, making us think about what we think of war and mankind. Not bad for a superhero flick.
As for the plot, well it could have been tighter, and the 141 minute runtime was a tad long if you ask me. There is plenty of action, with humor interspersed in between, giving a certain lightness missing from the past DC outings. The leads have excellent chemistry and the setting helps.
Are there things I didn't like? YES! Firstly the CGI was disappointing for such an expensive production. Come one, the CGI from the 1996 Jurassic Park looked better. It didn't help that there was a trailer from the latest Transformer just before the show began. That movie franchise showcases how good CGI can make the interaction between humans and CGI objects look seamless, even in daylight. Here, in the fight sequences, especially those at night at the airport, look really fake, especially the movements of Wonder Woman. Certain scenes felt forced, like the attempt at her cuddling a baby, the woman's rights parts and the fish out of water stuff.
Surround and action fans will be pleased. The surrounds and bass are active throughout the movie and this should be a solid demo disc when the Blu Ray comes out.
But all in all, a solid outing and I hope this effort persuades DC to ditch Zack.