Wonder Woman

As a DCEU film, Wonder Woman was definitely less dour and more lighthearted than the other Zack Synder entries, but Patty Jenkins still managed to make it take itself a bit too seriously and all amidst DCEU's usual gloomy palette; as a superhero-origins film, it delivered the heroics, the awe of self-discovery and also the extravagantly megalomaniac villain; but as a film in itself, it lacked a strong thematic cohesion, was saddled with a rambling narrative that could be at least 20-30 minutes shorter, multiple poor script choices with plot holes and contrivances, and beats telegraphed miles away, lackluster and often uninteresting - to the point of bland/boring - action sequences that relied on too much (bad) CGI, and bad banter. However, through it all, Gal Gadot was the absolute star and saving grace of the film and proved that her appearance in Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice was no fluke.

With Jenkins at the helm, Wonder Woman definitely felt unlike any other previous DCEU films but it was a shame that she could not instill her voice definitively into the film. Synder's fingerprints were clearly visible in almost every scene. It was also a shame that this film was not used to explore deeper into the potential thematic quagmire of patrimony, unlike its comic books source. Furthermore, as the ending showed, Diana Prince ultimately fell prey to a chauvinistic view of the the world and heroism.

Kudos to DCEU for getting Jenkins to direct Wonder Woman, but maybe it would have been better if female writers had been writing for it too. Writer Allan Heinberg had ideas but a lot of it were not completely realised and his bantering was weak which seemed to suggest that his characters were not as well thought out as could be. In all, perhaps this is where MCU's Captain Marvel can improve on, with a all-female writing team and a female co-director. Then again, we do have Joss Whedon taking over the Justice League film (banter galore!) and his take on Batgirl to look forward to.

Other than the plodding narrative, the action sequences also left much to be desired. For one, the action sequences kept getting interrupted and Jenkins never really managed to reach a climatic adrenaline surge in any of the scenes. The action choreography was also sloppy with an over-reliance on rapid cut edits and poor CGI resulting in inorganic fight scenes especially in a film that relied much on hand-to-hand combat. The end result were action sequences that lacked the kinetic energy and adrenaline charge of more accomplished/confident action directors.

Lastly we had the villain. Without spoiling anything, the villain felt too generic and many times conjured up images of the way scarier Voldermort. That climatic fight scene could also have been longer and victory more hard-earned.

For all its faults, at least there was Gadot to save the day. She could be the Robert Downey Jr of the DCEU, in that I do not think anybody else could have played the role as well as she did. Gadot had charisma and charm. She could do humour effortlessly - that single eyebrow raise! - but yet also exuded a strong and fierce determination for justice that did not appear faked or false. Her solo, non CGI-ed, fight scenes were believable and should have been utilised more. With a better script, Gadot could really banter with the best of them. The only weak spot - which is more due to script issues - were the emotional beats between her and Chris Pine. Jenkins and co should have either left that out or just plainly allude to it.

Part of the problem above was the chemistry between Gadot and Pine. There were moments between them but much of it fleeting. Pine may be the superhero girlfriend-equivalent in the film but he definitely was not subjected to the usual feminist constrictions in a male superhero film. At times, his character seemed to overshadowed the more passive Diana. On his own, Pine was engaging and did imbue in his character a sense of righteousness and justice on par with Gadot's Diana Prince.

For the rest of the cast, only Lucy Davis was a stand out and a scene stealer as Steve Trevor's secretary. David Thewlis was a lot creepier and scarier in the current season of Fargo. Similarly, Robin Wright exuded more strength and commanded the screen more as Claire Underwood in House of Cards than as General Antiope. Ewen Bremner, Said Tagyhmaoui and Eugene Brave Rock were there simply as comedic relief and even then were barely effectively used.

Other than the main Wonder Woman theme, the rest of the score by Rupert Gregson-Williams et al (4 other credited writers!) was unmemorable and generic. Lensing by Matthew Jensen was also similarly unmemorable.

Wonder Woman was an entertaining film. It was fun for what it was, and a definite step-up from all the other non-Christopher Nolan DCEU films. However, for all its feminist leanings, Wonder Woman still remained a decidedly chauvinistic film and that is a shame.


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