I’m not a big fan of the Snyderverse or anything DC these days. But since one of my viewers wanted me to take a look at the film I caught it at the Magic Johnson before it left the theater there. After watching Wonder Woman I can honestly say the film had the potential to be a classic piece of superhero cinema like 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1989’s Batman. While Patty Jenkins vision of Wonder Woman is the best cinematic adaptation of the character and one of the best DC Superhero films to date it never actualizes its potential to become the great film it should have been.
What prevents Wonder Woman from becoming a great film are two things. The first is the foundation established by Zack Snyder’s dreadful Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The dreary dark story model from those two horrible films really prevented this film from being the best it could be. From the opening scene of the Wayne Enterprises truck, this film got an anchor tied around its ankle and sank due to being chained to the Snyderverse. I believe if Patty Jenkins didn’t have to deal with Zack Snyder’s baggage she could have made a classic on the level of Richard Donner and Tim Burton.
The second thing that impedes Wonder Woman’s potential is the absolutely dreadful script. The screenplay for Wonder Woman it just never comes together as a complete story. While it has its moments like the scenes on Paradise Island and the battle in No Man’s Land, the story the story has no heart, no soul and no spark to make things come to life. Everything feels so DEAD onscreen.
Yeah, there’s a superhero named Wonder Woman onscreen and she’s got on a costume similar to the iconic DC Superheroine. But you never get a reason to CARE about her due to the flat uninspired way the story is written. As I watched the Wonder Woman movie all the problems that Wonder Woman has struggled with as a comic book character were presented to me onscreen. Onscreen I saw a one-dimensional character with no personality and no “voice” of her own. Yeah she had the strength to lift a tank or demolish a bell tower, but she didn’t have the substance to make you relate to her or identify with her. It’s sad that many of the supporting characters like the Algerian and the Scotsman had more personality and “voice” than Wonder Woman and had more depth than she had.
And that lack of depth was due to the other big problem with super heroines surface, the lack of a character transformation arc. We’re told Diana is special. We see her get special training. But we never see what she learns from the experience. In most scenes Diana shows up and is a badass, and that’s the biggest problem with Wonder Woman. She never really learns anything or grows from the experience in a way that changes her. That’s because Steve Trevor or someone else does almost everything for her and explains everything to her. And that’s what prevents the story from really connecting with the viewer the way that Captain America: The First Avenger did.
The third big problem has to do with superheroines again, and that’s the bad guy. In Wonder Woman we get Ares established as a bad guy, but just like most stories featuring female heroines, there’s no reason to care because the writers are too afraid to form a relationship between the heroine and the bad guy. Ares is just in the background while his lieutenants the general and Dr Poison do all the dirty work. And Diana’s motivation to stop him has no personal or emotional impact. Diana is told her mission is to kill Ares, but that’s not enough story wise. Due to the lack of chemistry and tension in Diana and Ares relationship it really prevents the film from being as strong as it could be.
The visual effects in this movie really don’t add to the experience. Again, the stink of Zack Snyder impedes this film’s ability to actualize its potential. Snyder’s signature slow-mo-then fast fight scenes really suck the energy out of many action sequences in Wonder Woman. I believe if you played those scenes straight they would have had more emotional impact. But the hand of Zack Snyder chokes the life out of this film.
While I was indifferent to this adaptation of Wonder Woman there were some things I did like seeing. And it’s those little touches that made me smile. Things like seeing the Silver Age Wonder Girl symbol cut into Hippoltya’s top and slight nods to Artemis and Nubia in the Amazon warriors were great. The first 30 minutes of the movie on Paradise Island were top notch. It was as close to a DC Comic as you could get visually.
It’s just once the film leaves England it falls completely apart. That’s when it stops being a Wonder Woman movie and starts turning into Zack Snyder’s version of Xena: Warrior Princess. And the last 15 minutes of the film…
Damn. Just Damn. That was the shit icing on top of a turd cupcake.
Patty Jenkins does an amazing job with Wonder Woman’s visuals. Her camerawork is top notch here. And her directing is what elevates the weak screenplay, uninspired special effects and average acting to a level of passable. She’s the one to watch. While this film is her breakthrough, I think her next film will be the one to watch. She’s got the craft and the skill, all she needs is the right story to take her career to the next level.
Still not a fan of this Wonder Woman film, but it’s worth a watch if you get the chance. If you catch it on a Matinee or on DVD, it won’t be a waste of your time. It’s entertaining. But nowhere near the classic it should have been.