What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Wonder Woman: Here to save the DC Universe

Posted June 1
Updated June 2

— Follow my logic here, because this is going to get a little convoluted.

There is a lot that is wrong with Wonder Woman, but there isn’t anything wrong with the movie that you wouldn’t know about if you have been watching and paying attention to the DC universe under Zack Snyder’s control. So, in that way, there isn’t much to complain about with Wonder Woman, and overall it’s a good movie that occasionally slips into the realm of goofy.

The movie stars Gal Gadot (from the Fast and Furious franchise) as Diana, the Princess of the Amazons, but her friends call her Wonder Woman. After a spy named Steve Trevor (Star Trek’s Chris Pine) crashes off the coast of her island, she nurses him back to health and realizes she has to return with him to, I don’t know, the muggle world I guess, to stop World War I.

See, Diana has one purpose in life, and that is to defeat the god of war, Aries. By doing this, she hopes to bring everlasting peace to humans.

Steve and his United Colors of Benetton ad of a crew take Diana under their wing. Together, their mission is to kill the German general (American Horror Story’s Danny Huston) Diana believes is Aries in disguise and destroy the mustard gas he and his chemist (the incredibly stupidly named Dr. Poison) made.

I don’t want to give too much away, so rather than do a big recap, I’ll just mention a few things that stood out. If you are not familiar with Zack Snyder, who is only a producer on this film and not the director, you need to know a few things going in.

First, the man doesn’t believe in distinct backgrounds. Every scene is set on a grey and brown backdrop with hints of orange and yellow around. It could be the sun. Nine time out of ten, it is a fire. Snyder also loves for his heroes to strike a Jesus Christ pose (RIP Chris Cornell) right before they realize they are humanity's only hope. And finally, Snyder has never met a slow motion fight sequence he doesn’t like.

I don’t know if director Patty Jenkins buys into this nonsense too or if she was contractually obligated to include these things in her movie, but brother, they are there in droves!

As for what was good about Wonder Woman, let’s start with the casting.

Gal Gadot is perfect for this role. She plays the perfect line between innocence and noble. Wonder Woman has principles that she is willing to fight for, because she can’t believe that not everyone else is. She’s also more than a tad easy on the eyes, which, if we’re being honest, was established long ago as a must for Wonder Woman.

And that kind of leads into something that irked me about this movie. It’s 2017. Shouldn’t we be over the gratuitous butt shots of female heroes?

While I was glad that the Wonder Woman costume isn’t just a cleavage display case, I was a little shocked that the climatic battle scene ends with a whole lotta booty. I’m not so dishonest as to say I didn’t appreciate a glimpse of Gadot’s Gadonk, but I am wondering when a girl power movie won’t be undercut with casual sexism.

Speaking of casting, Robin Wright shows up as Diana’s aunt and mentor Antiope, and it is perfect. Maybe I have just become too used to her as Claire on House of Cards, but I cannot think of a recognizable actress that is the right age for that role that conveys that kind of power.

Dr. Poison (Van Helsing’s Elena Anaya) wears a jaw plate to hide a slash across her mouth. I get that we are going for period appropriate technology here, but this faceplate or mask or whatever makes Dr. Poison look like Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes (the movie, not the planet).

I really liked Wonder Woman for what it was.

Even though, at one point, we go close to 40 minutes without Diana being Wonder Woman, the movie still did enough to keep me invested. The movie is going to be compared to the first Captain America a lot because of their wartime settings, but I think the more appropriate comparison would be to the second Captain America, The Winter Soldier.

Both movies are less superhero movies and more spy movies set in the superhero world. I just wish literally anyone else had the creative controls of this movie. Zack Snyder is just so predictable and boring as a filmmaker. And, again, it bears repeating that he did not direct this movie, but his visual style is so evident that it makes me want to puke.

Is Wonder Woman the spark the DC universe needs to turn the tide of bad movies? I mean think about it. Since the Dark Knight trilogy came to an end, have you liked anything the company has put out? I don’t know if I have that much faith.

What I do know is that, on its own, Wonder Woman is a solid film and I kind of hate that they are going to ruin the character by tying her into the much less interesting Justice League.

Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network.

1 Comment

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  • Clif Bardwell Jun 1, 9:36 a.m.
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    First off, it's "Ares" not "Aries". Ares is the Greek god of war (and, presumably, one of the villains of the movie), Aries is a zodiac sign (of the ram).

    More importantly, it would seem that you are conflicted between your (previously admitted) hatred of fantasy action movies and your reservations of giving a negative review of a movie starring an empowering woman.

    I'm sure, for movie genres you approve of, you're a great reviewer. But your attempts to review fantasy-action movies is tantamount to David Duke reviewing the latest act at The Apollo or Bobby Riggs rating female athletes. You simply cannot give an honest review of a genre you hate (or, more accurately, don't understand or appreciate).

    I really wish WRAL would give review assignments for fantasy-action movies to someone who isn't as jaded as your reviews prove you to be.