Wonder Woman by Warner Brothers
Genres: Military Fantasy, Greek Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Comic Book Movie, WWI Fiction
Themiscarra has been invaded by German troops under the command of General Ludendorf. Diana must save the world from World War 1, and the God of War Ares.
I came into this movie wanting to like it. Lo and behold, I did. Since the review gravy train for this movie has long since passed, I will focus less on the the obvious ‘first successful female superhero movie’ and ‘most successful movie directed by a female director ever,’ because I’m more interested about talking about the script and the WWI setting.
Let’s start by talking about things I really liked.
All of the actors did fantastic jobs. Diana did a great job of seeming simultaneously innocent and noble. Steve did a great job of threading the needle between earnest and deceitful. The Amazons were all either buff or demonstrably athletic, aka looking the role, which was something I appreciated as a semi-athlete myself.
The cinematography was mostly good, with only the occasional questionable shot. I liked the use of colors (Greece was bright and shiny, while Belgium was soulless and mud-grey). The special effects were a bit touch and go. The director did a great job of creating a final product with a distinct and cohesive vision.
WWI was ‘accurately’ represented. To be clear there weren’t any gods running around the battlefields of France and Belgium one hundred years ago, but I thought that the production team did a great job of capturing the depressed mystique of the location and era. Charlie’s PTSD reactions in particular seemed realistic given what I’ve read.
Okay, moving on into the bits I didn’t like.
The villains just sucked.
Dr. Poison could have been a better character if, for example, we learned that she works so hard to develop poisons because the Allies caused her horrific facial scars and she wants revenge. Bonus points if the Ally attack which scarred her face also killed her family, and she’s now working hard to prevent other people from losing their families too.
Dr. Poison is just unlikable, which makes her not a compelling villain. What I’m trying to say is that I wanted Dr. Poison to be more like Cercei Lannister and not Heinrich Himler. If Poison were a deeper character, then at the end when Diana and Aries use Poison as a proxy for all humanity, we see something redeemable in Dr. Poison and therefore humanity.
Ludendorf could have been better if they left him out entirely. I don’t know how to make him a better character, barring re-writing him entirely. I don’t know if there’s a more devastating lampooning of a character than ‘start over from the beginning,’ but it’s deserved here.
And Aries. Hooo boy, Aries. Where do I even start? The Greek god who has the most floofy mustache which ever existed, taking him seriously from the start was always difficult. And that, perhaps, could have been his major strength- the writers tried to convince you that Ludendorf was Aries, while the real Aries was Sir Patrick Morgan.
It was a Snape/Professor Quirrel situation, where Snape is the obvious bad guy(aka Ludendorf) so no one suspects ineffectual Quirrel (aka Sir Morgan). With Quirrel when the chips hit the table Lord Voldemort comes out and tries his best to kill the protagonist. In theory that could have worked.
Only thing was, I never got the feeling that Aries was trying very hard to kill Diana. He blabbered too much, which is something the God of War shouldn’t do. The God of War should solve his problems with swords, not words. Quirrel made multiple attempts to kill Harry throughout the book/movie, while Aries just ignored Diana until the climax.
Honestly the whole climax of the film was a mess. I have a lot of small complaints about the climax, any one of which I could forgive. But I have a LOT of them, and they add up.
Did I enjoy this movie? Most certainly. I’d give it 8.5 out of 10 in terms of fun. But it would have easily been a 9.5 if the villains didn’t suck.