Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Wonder Woman Review

It didn't suck. Which was, I think, a relief. Its a good superhero film, elevated to really good in places by a strong performance from some actors.

The thing about Wonder Woman is that, for me at least,its actually quite a tough sell turning it into a movie franchise. Its not about the character herself - while conceptually weird from the outset she's great. Its more that in the  DC mythos a hero is very much defined by her or his villains. Batman and Joker, Catwoman, Bane, etc. Superman and Lex Luthor or General Zod. Green Lantern and Sinestro or Black Hand. Wonder Woman and... errm... Well who? 

Superman and Batman have been done both well and badly on screen and, as much as anything else, the quality of the villain is a key part of that. Perhaps the best hero performance was by Christopher Reeve - in his first two outings facing Lex Luthor and General Zod in perhaps the most iconic superhero films of 70's and 80s, where he defines not only how Superman will be on screen but gives us the most convincing Clark Kent we've ever seen. Batman villains on screen are as iconic as the hero himself - with legendary Joker performances by Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger cementing for each a place in the superhero film history. Each of the heroes has a catalogue of iconic villains that can tap in and out between stories. But if you ask anyone but a true comic book nerd to name Wonder Womans arch nemeses, they'll struggle. Cheetah?  Morgan le Fey? Not really tripping over themselves as names to get out are they?

So as a franchise its a hard sell. The choice to start with Ares as a foe in this film is solid though, and his portrayal (I shan't spoil the film by saying who by) was solid, if uninspiring. 

I must say Gal Gadot looked and sounded the part of Wonder Woman and she's a tremendous choice for the role - and her action scenes were well choreographed, reasonably well shot and a real spectacle. I'd say that the problem was that in terms of superhero action they were all a bit 10 years ago - it didn't cover any new ground, it didn't really do anything not already done in a range of other films. Other than (perhaps) the 'over the top' from the trenches scene (that you've all seen in the trailers anyway) there's not an action sequence that sets it above other superhero films - and none of cast from leading protagonists through to the villain really set the world on fire with their performances. Thats not to say there were no strong performances - Gadot, Chris Pine and, for my money the pick of the crop Robin Wright were all good. But no one raised the bar further than that. The story didn't call upon any of the cast to take things up a notch.

Critics have been talking about this being the movie that saves the DC Extended Universe. The truth is that said universe didn't need saving, as for all the critical panning we saw Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad were profitable and sufficiently popular with fans to justify a continuation thereof. But the DE-EU is still safe - this film worked.

I feel I've got to touch on the 'female lead' thing thats often discussed - yes, this film is a reminder (if such was necessary) that it can be done. But it always could be done, its not such a new idea. Its more a question of what kind of action film that will be and how audiences respond to different kinds of action. Is this the 'right' kind of woman action hero for today? Maybe. I think that the time is right for Wonder Woman to be on the big screen now, and its accomplished without asking the audience to endure anything that might make large sections thereof uncomfortable (such as the 'Long Kiss Goodnight' did) in any way.

Go and see it. Don't expect your world to be rocked, expect an enjoyable flick without the hidden depths of the Dark Knight trilogy but also without the endless wasted opportunities of Batman vs. Superman. 7/10. Enjoyable.

No comments:

Post a Comment