I was in two minds about going to see Wonder Woman. When I was younger I loved comic books, including Wonder Woman when George Perez was illustrating it in the late 80s, but now, while I have enjoyed going to see some of the super hero pictures, I no longer have the same emotional tie to them as before.
As I result, when I saw The Guardian‘s review of the film, which was not only negative but went so far as to describe Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as no more than a ‘weaponised smurfette’ I thought I wouldn’t bother. That’s the kind of language I’d expect to see in The Telegraph, not Britain’s leading liberal-left newspaper.
However, the word on social media was very positive indeed, as was, believe it or not, The Telegraph’s review; so, last Saturday I took a stroll to my local cinema, bought a glass of wine and sat down to the picture.
I am glad I did. Wonder Woman is a very enjoyable film. Narratively speaking, it suffers from the usual flaws of Hollywood pictures; namely, a flawed script, but the story holds together and the actors – particularly Gadot in the title role – are all very convincing. The Guardian‘s description of her Wonder Woman is far, far from the mark.
Wonder Woman has received effusive praise on social media. Certainly, the film is a superior example of the super-her0 genre but it is a long way off the best in that category; the best, for me, is The Dark Knight. That film not only had great acting but a story of depth and substance; it posed serious moral dilemmas for the characters and viewers alike.
Wonder Woman doesn’t do this. The closest the picture comes to being as thoughtful as Christopher Nolan’s second Batman outing is in its summation, when Diana, princess of the Amazons, comes to the realisation that love is what matters. She’s right, of course, but its a shame that this idea is not explored more throughout the film. Instead, the film commits itself to the service of its most immediate concern – Wonder Woman’s and Steve Trevor’s effort to stop the evil German officer/Ares from using a deadly new gas agent.
That Wonder Woman is not The Dark Knight 4, however, cannot be a criticism of it. The film has to be itself not a copy of someone else’s artistic vision. It still feels a shame, though, that the film’s various writers and director, Patty Jenkins, didn’t give it that special something that would distinguish the film from so many other super hero pictures. Instead, we just got super hero, friends, villain, action, end.
Having said that, if there was not something that made the film different, there was someone – Gal Gadot. I can’t account for the veracity of this (though its truth wouldn’t surprise me) but apparently of the many super hero films to be released in the last few years, Wonder Woman is the first to have a female lead.
If we are still talking about Wonder Woman in ten years, therefore, it won’t be for the story but for the fact that it represents a representational milestone in the super hero genre. That is certainly something that the film makers can be very proud of.
In the whole picture, there was only thing that I did not like at all – the fact that after leaving Themyscyra – Diana became, but of course, the ingenue abroad. I would have much preferred to see her leave the island in power; to enter London or wherever on her own terms; to have had people come to her rather than her going to them, especially as a naif outsider. This type of narrative is so well used and unimaginative. I am grateful that as the film progressed, Diana found her feet and her strength.
Let’s not end on a bad note, though. My rating for Wonder Woman is a tough 7.7. Perhaps appropriately enough the film is a good beginning but I felt it could have gone further than it did in respect of its narrative. Definitely recommended, though.