Monday Movie Review: Wonder Woman
With all of the substance of an invisible jet, Wonder Woman launched last weekend. Much to the delight of those with low expectations and to the chagrin of those with high expectations, it cruised in just below the “mediocre” line. Well-intentioned with the occasional flash of extraordinary, Wonder Woman is mostly filled with amateur mistakes and illogical character motives suggesting a heavily rushed job by the director and writers.
Wonder Woman fighting in WWI may have been what initially launched the iconic character, and while it sounds like a cinematic concept, the writers seemed to have trouble fitting the story into the two hour and twenty minute frame. This is evidenced by the shaky script. More times than I was willing to count, there were characters who made 180 degree flips with little to no reasoning behind it, other than it furthered the story. It’s even more offensive that it is such an easily correctable mistake. No more than 45 collective seconds of subtle exposition would have gone a long way here, but the creators were either incapable or unwilling to cross their t’s and dot their i’s, forcing their audience to just accept what’s happening on the screen as opposed to letting them follow a story (and there was certainly more than 45 seconds of deletable material to accommodate).
Action films have a history of not placing as much emphasis on story. While this is not an excuse, it could be a justification if the film focused its attention elsewhere. In this case, however, it was not in the action. As exciting as it was to see Wonder Woman in the center of the action, it was difficult to make out exactly what was going on. During any fight scene there were more cuts than there were blows landed, leaving the scenes more shredded than even Gal Gadot.
The action scenes weren’t the only jumbled part of the movie. The narrative in general was unnecessarily excessively layered. Needless flashbacks and story jumps are the cinematic equivalent of the past perfect tense: not always incorrect, but definitely overused. Not only did the way their storytelling eat up a chunk of screen time that could have been recycled into fixing their missing pieces of story, but it also left bigger holes in the time gaps it left.
As frustrating as these blatant flaws were, they were made even more glaring by the rays of brilliance that were also present in the movie. The brightest of those rays was, as most predicted, the flawless performance of Gal Gadot. In a role never before played on the big screen, she set the bar vertigo-inducingly high. The perfect combination of fierce, intense, and enigmatic she embodied Wonder Woman. Her dialogue and chemistry with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor was also notable. With all of the practice of a married couple, they gave hope to the audience of the rest of the story being as well written as their one-on-ones (a hope that went unfulfilled).
With a title like “Wonder Woman”, one would hope it would fill the audience with wonder and not mediocrity. If the creators can’t take the time to fix basic mistakes before they make it to the final product, then it hardly seems that we the audience shouldn’t take the time to go see it. We’re much better off going to see the other Wonder Woman movies instead… Oh, right…