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Movie Review with Brandon Yechout: Wonder Woman

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Graphic by: Kennedy Homan

Up until this point, the DC extended universe has been in pretty rough shape, having been through such incredibly hyped yet poorly received films such as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad”. “Wonder Woman”, on the other hand, has been subject to a staggering amount of praise ever since its release, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed to report that it completely failed to live up to my expectations; moreso, I am actually completely baffled as to why the film is as well-received as it is.

 

Let me preface this by saying that I’m actually very interested in the First World War; indeed, that is actually the only reason I ended up watching the film. Some of my complaints in that regard, then, may not mean as much to the average moviegoer. In spite of this, I still feel that many of my criticisms will remain valid, even to those who have little knowledge of WW1.

 

If you’ve yet to see the film, here’s a brief summary: An Allied aircraft crash lands off the coast of the island of Themyscira, where Princess Diana (soon to become Wonder Woman) and a clan of Amazon women reside. The pilot tells Diana of a war so catastrophic that it may be the war to end all wars. Diana, believing this war to be the work of Ares, the god of war, travels with the pilot back to Europe in order to aid Allied forces in the First World War.

 

Now, I understand that this is a comic book movie, and isn’t meant to be some sort of uber-realistic war drama. So nevermind the fact that they use WW2-era gas masks towards the end of the film; I’m going to avoid nitpicking the film’s more minor inaccuracies. What I do have a problem with, though, is how the film portrays the Germans. Now, this isn’t WW2; WW1 was a very morally ambiguous war. Despite this, the film constantly tells us that the Germans are the ‘bad guys’. Let’s start with one of the primary antagonists: General Ludendorff. Now, Ludendorff was a real person. He was one of the most powerful men in Germany, in fact. Here, he’s portrayed as a straight-up supervillain. The actor who plays him is constantly hamming it up. There’s a scene where he shoots one of his own men for literally no reason at all (I suppose it could be to show the audience how ‘evil’ he is), and he even gasses a room of German officials, just so the war can continue. Now, one could argue that scenes like the one where he gasses the officials are meant to represent Ludendorff’s ‘Totale Krieg’ philosophies, which describe a constant state of war; peace acting only as a break in a continuous stream of warfare. Still, it doesn’t make his portrayal in the film any less ridiculous, and I highly doubt that the filmmakers put that much foresight into his character when very little of anything else in the film is true to history.

 

I’ve not even mentioned the most hilarious part yet. There is a specific scene towards the end of the film wherein Wonder Woman confronts Ludendorff, believing him to be Ares, and Ludendorff produces a sort of experimental drug from his coat and snorts it, giving himself superhuman strength. At this point in the film, I was laughing furiously. The sight of a fifty-something-year-old German general fighting Wonder Woman in hand-to-hand combat after snorting a superdrug was simply too much for me.

 

So, that’s Ludendorff. I’ve not much to say of the other two villains: one is forgettable and the other is unintentionally hilarious (though explaining exactly why this is would spoil the film). Even forgetting about Ludendorff, the film still falls flat in its portrayal of the German struggle. The only face the Germans are given in the film is that of supervillains. With or without characters like Ludendorff, the film absolutely fails to show the war from an objective standpoint.

 

Wonder Woman, somewhat obnoxiously, comments throughout the film on the horrors she witnesses. “Why is nobody helping that woman?”, or “Why is nobody attacking? Why isn’t anybody doing anything?”. The redundancy of this grew quickly on me, and I soon found myself annoyed any time she commented on anything. Now, that sounds bad, but her role as the vessel of innocence in a war-torn world may have come across as more endearing and sympathetic, had the character of the pilot not been there to literally explain to her exactly why she shouldn’t just run across no-man’s-land by herself or assassinate a German official whilst a peace treaty is being negotiated. In both of the instances I mentioned, she does it anyways. The pilot serves as the voice of reason throughout most of the film, further highlighting that of Wonder Woman’s to be a kind of well-meaning idiocy. Though I’m supposed to side with her and find her actions to be heroic, I often found myself frustrated with how often she simply acted of her own accord (it didn’t help that the film would often reward her reckless behavior). Overall, though Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman is strong, the material she was given to work with makes her come across as a nuisance for most of the film.

 

The pilot, although well-acted by Chris Pine, is forgettable. None of the other characters in the film are worth noting. And of course, though this may be a bit of a spoiler (it’s nothing you couldn’t predict), the war ends. Wait, what? The war is over? Wonder Woman straight-up kills one of the most powerful men in Germany, and the war’s over, just like that? To be fair, Ludendorff was planning to continue the war and had even gassed that group of German officials, but nobody else knew about that. Something tells me that the assassination of one of the most powerful men in the country would have hindered peace negotiations just a little bit. Isn’t that how the war started (Ferdinand was Austrian, close enough)? Even then, Hindenburg would have still been alive to assume control of Ludendorff’s previous obligations. Of course, now I’m just speculating. The point is, nothing in the film is particularly well-written or thought out.

 

What did I like about the film, then? Well, as I said earlier, Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are both competent in their roles. The action is alright, but a little too heavy on the slow motion shots. The soundtrack? Can’t remember it in the slightest. The look of the film? Sure. The film has some pretty cool depictions of the hellish quagmire that was the Western Front, and the island of Themyscira looks beautiful as well. That’s about it for me, though. The film is entertaining at times, but often for all the wrong reasons. Brando’s rating? One-and-a-half out of four stars.

6 Comments

6 Responses to “Movie Review with Brandon Yechout: Wonder Woman”

  1. Teh Epic Duck of Doom on September 6th, 2017 7:48 am

    I think we need a graphic for the brando rating, maybe a certain cheeseburger picture of the yechster himself holding a thumbs up?

    [Reply]

  2. Esme on September 6th, 2017 9:15 am

    Though I respect your opinion, most of your criticisms are on the historical accuracy of the movie. Maybe you haven’t read enough comic books to know, but almost none of them are historically accurate. If you know anything about Norse myths watching the Thor movies can be a little cringe inducing, but I find if I suspend disbelief I can enjoy them thoroughly. The reason comics are often set in historic scenarios (usually WW2) is so people can see a clear bad guy. Though there wasn’t one in WW1, they needed one for the movie, so they chose the Germans hoping people wouldn’t look too much into it. I understand as a history buff it can be a little ridiculous to paint the Germans as evil masterminds, but comics are ridiculous and that’s why I love them. If you just take the movie for what it is I think you will find you might enjoy it more.

    [Reply]

  3. Nostolgia Critic on September 8th, 2017 4:44 pm

    While I respect your opinion, I disagree with most of what you said. Wonder Women is a good film with solid performances, good action and plenty of great emotional moments. You say that Steve Trevor is forgettable and I don’t how why you believe that! His sacrifice at the end of the movie(Spoilers) is great and it shows how far he will go to save millions of lives and it’s very noble of him. if you are talking about forgettable characters, Chief is the one who audiences would forget as he is not very interesting. Gal Gadot is wonderful, no pun intended as the Amazonian Princess as she not only has the acting chops to pull it off, she also looks bad-ass in the fight scenes. While they do have too many slow-mo shots, it is well shot and shows off Diana’s fighting prowess to the fullest. Batman v Superman is the film worthy of a 1.5 out of 4 starts with a muddled plot, bizarre take from Jesse Isenberg on Lex Luthor and the climatic battle between heroes only lasting 10 minutes of a movie with their names in the title. Back to Wonder Women, I also believe that Patty Jenkins did a great job of capturing the hero Diana is through the script. The film is a 3 out of 4 stars not a 1.5 out of 4.

    [Reply]

    FAAKKKEE Reply:

    What my name above said.

    [Reply]

  4. Wonder Student on September 14th, 2017 1:24 pm

    While I respect your opinions completely, I think you are remiss in not discussing the huge strides it makes for women in movies (especially superhero ones), both on and off screen. My two points here are that 1) it’s a movie about a strong female hero who was written to inspire young girls and women alike, and 2) it is a superhero movie, not a war movie- based on comic books, not historical facts.
    First off, as a girl, this movie might mean more to me because a lot of times we aren’t represented on screen, especially as a hero, not as a love interest. Both Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot never compromised when it came to Diana’s strength, literally and figuratively. That deserves a mention! You call her naive, I see it as an extra effort to keep her innocence alive. She lived on a freaking island! They don’t want to turn her into a man in a woman’s body, stereo-typically war-torn and brooding. they want to preserve this more traditionally feminine quality that she developed from living on Themyscira. She really represents a 21st century feminist.
    Next, while I understand and appreciate the research you put into pointing out the historical inaccuracies, you should understand it was never intended to represent an actual historical event, rather establish a backstory for a revolutionary type of hero (a female one). Superhero movies and TV shows aren’t supposed to be historically or scientifically accurate; looking into them too much can ruin the story. And this was Diana’s story, not the story of World War I. I agree that the one villain (Dr. Poison?) is forgettable, but all the villains featured in the movie aren’t supposed to represent real people, they are literally supervillains.
    Overall I found the visuals stunning, and full of well-choreographed action. And the soundtrack! I got goosebumps when I first heard her theme in Batman v Superman. Overall, the production value matched the level of storytelling. If you let the movie be fantastic (meaning full of fantasy), then you will better be able to appreciate how truly groundbreaking Wonder Woman is for the superhero and action genre.

    [Reply]

    Teh Epic Duck of Doom Reply:

    While I believe it’s great that you put your time and effort into making this comment, I have some qualms with your critiques of the film. While yes, the main focus of the story is on the superhero and their fight, that doesn’t necessarily make it right to turn all of Germany into a war driven evil country, especially in the morally ambiguous World War I. When using a historical background for your story, the common practice is to respect the historical events enough and not dress them up to the point where it’s hard to truly identify with the original event. In the case of your argument that they weren’t meant to portray real people as the super villains, I’ll give you Doctor Poison, she has her origins in the comics as a diabolic character, but you can’t make Ludendorff a cut out caricature of a villain. You can’t just make a German general a straight super villain who does god cocaine to fight the protagonist just for the sake of it. Also in the case of Wonder Woman as a strong feminine character, at many points in the film she honestly back peddles any respect I’d gained for her. Especially in the cases with the repetitive lines about saving the people from the Germans, and her “innocence” in believing that if she were to kill Ludendorff the war would just end. While the killing of Ares is justified, there’s so little evidence for Diana to believe Ludendorff to be Ares, and when Steve Trevor asks her to not just rush out into no man’s land, or to not kill Ludendorff, it’s not entirely because he doesn’t believe she’s capable. He knows she’s capable of killing Ludendorff, especially after the scene where she rushed out into no mans land showing her “independence” or “I can do anything attitude”. But for Steve, who obviously has begun to develop feelings for her by this point in the film, he doesn’t know if she can do that, so he’s worried for a loved one, not trying to put her down for her gender. Her constant disregard for the safety of herself and the consequences of her actions makes her seem entirely idiotic at times, and just makes for a weaker 2 dimensional character. And in the case of suspending disbelief for an action movie, that doesn’t mean you can entirely disregard the characters motivations and basis just because it’s a fictitious telling of an actual event yes, but that doesn’t excuse entirely disregarding a major point of the event it was based on.

    [Reply]

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