Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017)

Let's talk about the Wonder Woman movie, shall we?

Obviously, there be SPOILERS here. So, if you haven't seen the movie for some reason, get off your hinders and go see it now, because it's pretty damn good. You can come back and read these pathetic ramblings later.

SPOILERS commence after the 5 pictures of Diana...

I come not to praise Wonder Woman, because I don't have much to add to all the superlatives that have been (deservedly) heaped upon the film.

But it's not a perfect movie, and there are a couple of things that really bugged me.

**THE LASSO--I have to be honest, the ability of Wonder Woman's magic rope to compel honestly has always sat a bit uneasily with me. It comes just a tiny bit too close to robbing people of their free wills, not unlike the "Jedi mind tricks" that force people to act against their interests in the Star Wars movies.

But this movie goes one step farther, and makes the lasso an actual torture device.

Now, the lasso doesn't merely compel you to tell the truth--according to the film, it causes actual physical pain if you don't tell the truth. And that is the literal definition of torture.

Yeah, it's just one scene, and some clumsily-written dialogue that perhaps doesn't accurately present what the creators intended.

But when Steve Trevor was burning up because he refused to divulge classified information to the Amazons, some in the audience actually laughed. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have been so amused had a bad guy been doing the exact same thing to one to of our heroes. So we probably shouldn't be comfortable with it when the "good guys" do it.

**HIPPOLYTA--Man, she is a terrible mother, and a terrible queen.

Hippolyta joins a growing list of recent movie parents who believe that their children should hide their lights beneath a bushel. See Man Of Steel and Frozen for other examples. What the hell is going on with movie parents?

At least in those earlier movies, the children already knew about their origins and powers. But Diana did not, and was not given the choice whether or not to keep the secret herself. And Hippolyta's hiding the truth from Diana not only didn't help her (Ares found her about 5 minutes after she entered man's world), it actually endangered her! Leaving it to Ares to reveal the truth to her was pretty, well, stupid (see Empire Strikes Back for another example of how stupidly lying about true origins backfires...)

Meanwhile, the Amazons had one job, and Hippolyta pretty much refused to do it. Amazons trained hard, but she wouldn't allow their potentially greatest warrior be trained, until being forced/shamed into it. When their island was actually invaded, and they knew for certainty that the world was engulfed in war, again she refused to act, even though their mission was to protect mankind and prevent war. Hippolyta would thank the gods for their gifts, but denied the duties that the Amazons had been given in exchange for them. She's committed to sitting on the sidelines and letting the world burn.

Obviously, Hippolyta loved her daughter, and wanted to protect her. But at the price of endangering the rest of the Amazons, and the world? Almost letting Ares wipe out humanity, because she didn't want to risk sending any Amazons? A ruler has to be better than that.

In fairness, I get the feeling some stuff may have been left on the cutting room floor. During her bedtime story to Diana, Hippolyta goes from Amazons being created to rescue man to freeing themselves from slavery in the very next sentence! It sure seems something is missing there, right? Explaining how the Amazons had been enslaved, and by whom, might have gone a long way towards explaining Hippolyta's actions (or lack thereof).

Still, Hippolyta--bad ruler, bad mom.

**TOO DAMN POWERFUL--I dig the need for a big confrontation at the end. And I grok that Diana was fighting an actual god.

But at the end of the film, she's literally projecting force fields to prevent projectiles from even reaching her, moving as fast as the Flash, projecting exploding energy bubbles, and putting out enough watts to fry a god.

Which, c'mon, you have too admit, is too damn powerful. How could the Cheetah or Angle Man last even three seconds against her?

It's the same problem that we had with Batman Vs. Superman--a Bruce Wayne who can invent exo-skeletons powerful enough to take out a Kryptonian should not have to work up the tiniest sweat against Killer Croc or the Penguin. When you have your hero go to maximum impossible power in the first movie, where do you go from there? How do you make any future threat credible?

Of course, in BvS, Diana didn't show anywhere near this level of power, so maybe over the intervening century she lost some of those powers? With Ares, the last of the Olympian gods dead, maybe she's somehow cut off from the power source? Maybe staying away from Themyscira weakens her? Something else? Is she still (or even actually) a god, or not?

So next movie, they either have to explain why Diana's not that powerful anymore, or come up with someone tougher than Aries to fight. that's why you don't turn it up to 11 in the very first movie.

**WHERE THE HELL IS THE DAMN BOAT?!?--In the invasion of Themyscira, the German ship accompanied it's boats through the "cloak"--we saw it there, in sunshine and glorious color, no longer in Snyder's Diluted-Palette-Vision. There were what looked like a couple of explosions on the beach during the fight, as if the ship had been launching shells.

But at the end of the battle, the ship was nowhere to be seen.

Did it escape back through the cloak? So now everyone knows about Paradise Island? Or did the Amazons take it and scuttle it after the battle? What about the crew that had been left behind--surely the Germans didn't send every single crewman onto the shore...what happened to the engineer and cook and whatever officer was left in charge?!? Did the Amazons capture them? kill them?!?!

Yes, a tiny point, but it shows a certain carelessness in filmmaking...

**ARES WAS WHO NOW?--Wait a minute. Was there ever a real Sir Patrick? Was he replaced by Ares at some point? If so, is he dead? Or did Ares simply create an entirely fictitious personna who rose to relative power in the British government over years, knowing there would be a Great War in a few decades? That's playing the long game...How would Sir Patrick's sudden absence be explained after the war?

That's pretty much all I've got. Tiny, nitpicky things. Great movie. No, not the best super-hero movie ever. But pretty damn good.

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