Monday, June 26, 2017

WONDER WOMAN: My review

No SPOILER ALERT necessary. You know what you’re going to see.

The first half-hour (or maybe hour) of WONDER WOMAN was startling. It took place on Xanadu or Shangri-La or Lesbo or Neverland or Young Boys’ Fantasy Island – whatever it was called and it was shocking. Why?

Because the sun was shining.

Ohmygod, there was a blue sky, and shadows, and everything. The fight scenes (girl on girl so that’s an extra $100mil at the boxoffice right there) were, dare I say it, bright. Pleasant to look at even.

But once Wonder Woman crosses into the real world everything goes typically grey and stays that way. Can DC superheroes only use their powers when there’s a cloud cover? Okay, London I can buy. But Belgium has Seattle weather?

DC must stand for Dreary Cinema.

Still, Gal Gadot was so luminous and radiant that even the DC Universe couldn’t darken this movie. Yes, she was hot in the Wonder Woman costume. But she also rocked that blue ballroom gown with the giant sword tastefully semi-hidden behind her back.
Sidenote: Robin Wright in Amazon armor was a nice look too. I can see President Underwood asking her to put that on one night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Sidenote 2: All the women on the island speak in clunky Israeli accents to justify why Wonder Woman speaks that way. The Amazon women supposedly speak thousands of languages. All with slight accents?

WONDER WOMAN is a fun ride. Great action sequences, ridiculous story that at least you can follow some of the time. And when Gal is crushing the entire German army if you’re asking logic questions you’re in the wrong theater.

Chris Pine is the co-star basically playing Captain Kirk. As much cash as WONDER WOMAN is going to bring in, it could make even more if it was billed as a crossover with the STAR TREK franchise.

My only problem with the movie was that it was waaaaaay too long. You could cut forty-five minutes EASY. There’s no reason a summer popcorn movie should be 2:21. Yes, they needed to show the origin, but it was done with shameless exposition. “Come here Diana, and let me explain jumbled mythology for ten minutes.”

But these are quibbles. The bottom line is Wonder Woman may not save the world, but she sure is saving Hollywood this summer. And she can save me any day.  (Please bring the lasso.) 

28 comments :

Brian said...

Men in Black - 98 minutes long. Said what it needed to say and got out. I wish more movies would take that lead. By the same token, 2001: A Space Odyssey could have shaved a few minutes by cutting out the loooong views of the ship exterior, so the penchant for long running times is not necessarily a new conceit.

Ben said...

Gal Gadot is not so hot. Long nose and all. Angelina would have been hot.

Stoney said...

There's a guy currently living in Washington who needs the Lasso of Truth more than you do!

Stoney said...

Any chance this could spark interest in a reboot of "Elektra"? Jennifer Garner rocks my ballroom!

Elf said...

I don't always agree with the "shorter is better" movement, especially when Wonder Woman kept my attention the entire time. When a movie ticket runs around $18, I want more movie, not less.

McAlvie said...

Well, there was that nasty war going on. It was no different than all those scifi movies in which the worse problem humanity seems to be facing is a serious light bulb shortage. And, actually, the London scenes were probably realistic as well. The 19th Century was still visible in the rear view mirror, after all. Even today, compare the average weather in London with any of the Greek isles. Back then? Rain and serious pea souper pollution levels were the norm.

I rather liked the accents. Made more sense than a group of people on the other side of the world all speaking with American English accents. To be authentic, though, Chris Pine should have used an accent, as well, and less modern speech in general. It was WWI, literally a hundred years ago. AE wasn't so homogenized yet. There were definite regional accents. Although I do find it amusing to watch a BBC show, where Americans are always portrayed as having broad Chicago accents. Never a southerner, or anywhere on the mid Atlantic coast.

Diego Rhoenisch said...

"Okay, London I can buy. But Belgium has Seattle weather?" I appreciate the fact that you were riffing here but, Seattle's weather isn't nearly as bad as (e.g. the weather in Portland, Oregon) and Belgium is notorious for fantastically crappy weather far worse than most of what London receives much less Seattle . Do your research.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

YEKIMI said...

Transformers: The Last Knight: 2 1/2 hours long. What a fucked up mess of a movie that piece of shit is. The only good thing about that was Anthony Hopkins. Other than that, I don't think my open heart surgery took that long. And at the very end....they threaten to make MORE sequels! Can't Trump lock up Michael Bay for terrorism?

Rashad Khan said...

Yes, bring the lasso, but please leave the invisible plane at the hangar.

Pete Grossman said...

"All the women on the island speak in clunky Israeli accents to justify why Wonder Woman speaks that way." Jewish women save the world. Hadassah on steroids!

Charles H. Bryan said...

I'm looking forward to your review of Netflix's GLOW. I was glad that I watched it.

I can't say anything about WONDER WOMAN until after the Blu-ray comes out. That's just how I watch movies now; theaters bring out my misanthropy. Besides, after the ticket, popcorn, and soda, I've spent the same as I would on a Blu-ray from Amazon.

Paul Gottlieb said...

Yes, Ken, Belgium does have Seattle-like weather--at best. I lived in Brussels in the 1980's and we used to call summer "graylight savings time." Wonderful country, lovely people, fabulous food, but cloudy!

jcs said...

FRIDAY QUESTION

A media journalist and I were having a discussion about the audience laughter to laugh track ratio on multicam sitcoms. Given your long experience in this business would it be possible for you to give a rough percentage? Has the use of laugh tracks changed over the past four decades on multicam sitcoms (We were discussing THE GOLDEN GIRLS.)?

Thanks,
jcs

Earl Boebert said...

Did a lot of business trips to Brussels. Brussels weather is not like Seattle, it's worse. 199 days of precipitation a year to Seattle's 152. Where do you think all that mud in WWI pictures came from?

Peter said...

Yekimi

No offence but if you saw the previous four Transformers movies, were you seriously expecting the fifth to be different? It's like somebody sitting through six Police Academy films and then complaining that the seventh is garbage.

Peter said...

It's a guess but I have a feeling that in future years Anthony Hopkins will say something similar to what Michael Caine famously said of Jaws The Revenge: "I've never seen it, but I have seen the house it bought me".

Andy Rose said...

@McAlvie: If you want to see a bizarre BBC "American" accent, check out the episode of Red Dwarf where Craig Ferguson is a guest star. He attempts an American accent that he seems to have learned from Andrew "Dice" Clay. And the episode was taped during the brief period of his life when Craig was fat, making it even more surreal.

Many years ago, I caught an episode of a Spanish language sitcom on Univision (or one of the other -visions). It was about a Latino family that lived in a trailer park outside Las Vegas. The wacky next door neighbor was an American woman with conversational understanding of Spanish (her malapropisms apparently were a running gag in the show). Even though it was set in Nevada, she spoke with a Southern accent so broad it would have embarrassed Polly Holliday.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Wonder Woman using the lasso on you Ken, is one thing; Mrs. Levine so using it - that's another thing altogether!

Somewhat peripheral, but your Robin Wright reference triggers an observation.

I noticed that not only did Wright and Spacey get (supposedly titular) credit for Executive Producer, but Wright herself got credit for directing several season four episodes of House of Cards.

As a sometime director you would have better insight than me, but it seemed that the camera work was pretty darn good in at least one of those episodes - perhaps we should praise the DP instead?

(Wikipedia indicates that, to date. she has directed eight shows, one each in seasons 2 and 3, four in four, and two in season five)

John Slattery, and especially Jon Hamm (and perhaps Bill Russell) will attest that acting and directing the same show is a daunting challenge.


Brian said...

Thanks for the review (and not spoiling it). Looking forward to seeing it, it although I don't mind waiting for the rental period. I like Chris Pine and I think he would have been great in The Martian. Still enjoying the podcasts, although I haven't bought any wine or food. Appreciate all you do. I know its a lot of work putting writing the blog every day and doing the podcast every week.

Bladerunner said...

After living in both cities, I'd say that I saw more "sun sightings" in the Rose City than the Emerald. Dare I say that summers in PDX can be downright hot and dry, while Seatown seems to always be incased in some kind of drizzle. The pacific NW morning clouds seem to burn off a little quicker in Portland as well. One big difference is that the tallest hill in Seattle is about 400 feet, while Portland's is about 3 times that. This does give you more micro climates and slushy snow above 1000 feet. Go up to Pittock Mansion in Portland's west hills and you'll get a view that's more than twice as high as the Queen's.

Cap'n Bob said...

I had no idea WW was that long. I could have watched another two hours happily. Gal Gadot is enchanting.

B Smith said...

When she's not busy starring in Wonder Woman films, Ms Gadot would make a great Modesty Blaise.

Pat Reeder said...

I don't care for superhero/comic book movies, so I rarely go to the theaters these days (last two films I saw in theaters were "The Circle" and "Hidden Figures.") But I was recently waiting at a multiplex for my wife to come out of the ladies' room so I slipped into a theater and watched about two minutes of the middle of a "Transformers" movie (I don't know which one, but I recognized the voiceover of the once-great John Goodman). My wife asked how it was, and I said, in a stunned and shaken tone, "Terrible! Just...awful!" And I really meant that. I was honestly impressed that the filmmakers were able to create that horrible an impression from just a random, two-minute excerpt. It was like intense movie badness in concentrated syrup form. I couldn't imagine the torture of actually sitting through over two straight hours of that putrescent mind rot.

Johnny Walker said...

The best thing about WONDER WOMAN was that WE (the audience) were the villain. She's naively sets out to save us from mind control, and along the way slowly learns about all the terrible things we've done to each other throughout the ages. Her blind faith in seeing us all as innocents, while she fights our war, put us in an interesting spot as an audience. We want her to win, to save us, while we also feel guilty, knowing that maybe we don't deserve it. The sad thing was that this complex dichotomy was resolved with a bland and simple, "love conquers all" speech. I'd love to have seen a more complex resolution.

Say what you will about Zack Synder's (extremely dreary) Superman movie, it at least had Superman acknowledging our faults, but making a conscious decision to try and makes thing better, regardless. All WW seems to say is, "sometimes they're not COMPLETE bastards, so therefore I'll save them".

Greg Ehrbar said...

Gal Gadot is a breakout star, true to the iconic Lynda Carter version, but very much making Wonder Woman her own. The experience was very much like 1978, seeing Christopher Reeve earning the role of Superman when George Reeves seemed to still own it in the minds of many.

Gadot has a riveting presence. One can't take one's eye off her. She looks as striking in the trenchcoat and glasses--if not more so--as in the costume, which BTW is a fine design compromise between the superhero look of today and the more garish ones of yesterday.

Diana's strength came through her compassion, her intense sense of what was right, not just through her ability to kick butt (though no complaints there either). Sometimes in films and TV there's a tendency to endlessly overstate "strength" than effectively exemplify it through character. This film does it beautifully -- better than many recent films with the same message.

When Diana sees the suffering of the people in no man's land and can't move on, I know it's clich├ęd a bit, but the way she decides she's mad as hell and not going to take it is indicative of how we all feel at this point in our history and why these movies are so popular. What the heck can we do? We can't help everybody, and we can barely help ourselves sometimes, but we want to believe in something better than ourselves. DC finally figured out what Marvel knew all along, and in some ways, humanized in a way unlike any previous superhero film because it hit on a more personal level.

As to the whole "love conquers all" thing, it was a simplistic way of explaining the concept of grace. In religious terms (and the movie was using tons of iconography) it's the idea that we are given things we don't deserve by through grace, through love. On a secular level, a parent or loved one gives without expectation of thanks or reward for the same reason. You don't see that in ANY form of modern entertainment nowadays (cough-cough Kardashians).

But by gosh and gum, Gadot was super great. I just wish they'd put a little of Charles Fox's TV theme song in there during the credits, just as an homage, like they did in the first Spiderman movie, even if it was an updated version.

Johnny Walker said...

Interesting points, Greg. Totally agree about Gadot. If I get around to watching it again, I'll bear in mind your interpretation about the conclusion.

ADmin said...

Agree on all points!

Tracy M said...

Men's comments on the film are often different than women's. The men usually enjoy the film for the action and how badass WW is, which is great, but over and over again I hear women talk about how inspiring it was. There have been other superhero or action star women in film, but this one is different.

I loved that "older" women like Robin Wright (around my age) were warriors. I loved that gender and sexism come up (in the London scenes) but weren't the focus of the film. The men who follow WW don't make a big deal about a woman being in charge, they just respect her abilities. I loved how she was so intelligent, but not immune to mistakes. And as beautiful as she was, another woman character who was frumpier was respected for her own contributions. Usually a less attractive woman is the butt of jokes.

One of the best things about WW was her passion. She wasn't just good at defending herself or kicking bad guy butt, like with some action heroes, she ran staight toward danger with fierce determination because lives were at stake. She fearlessly acted on her beliefs.

A lot of women I know - me included - got choked up at times during the film. It is so rare for us to see women like Wonder Women onscreen that we were deeply moved. (Sexism is still so bad that even animated children's movies about animals have only one or two female characters, for pete's sake, ignoring basics of nature.) I keep hearing the same comments from women about how the film reminded us of how things can and should be. And we've all been thrilled to take our daughters to see this.

After years of princesses, I can't wait to see lots of pint sized Wonder Women running around for Halloween. I hope they egg Anonymous Ben's house.