Saturday, 17 June 2017

Wonder Woman - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Lame, voiceless direction sinks WW solo effort

I am Wonder Woman! I kill to bring peace to mankind.

Wonder Woman (2017)
Dir. Patty Jenkins
Scr. Allan Heinberg
Starring: Gal Godot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Robin Wright,
Ewan Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock
Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Though I refused to read any reviews of Wonder Woman before seeing it, I was unable to avoid knowing that "critics" (I use the word loosely these days) have enthusiastically raved about the film. That the picture is such a huge hit, another fact I was unable to avoid knowing, adds insult to injury. Granted, the injury afflicted is to me (and seemingly me and me alone), but it is an injury nonetheless.

Watching the loathsome Wonder Woman was one of the more painful acts of self-flagellation I've recently engaged in. Let me assure you, my flesh is now mighty raw from that scourging. My soul is empty and again I felt bereft of hope for the future of movies. (Luckily, hope was restored one day after suffering through the dross by watching Jean-Pierre Melville's Two Men in Manhattan and David Miller's Sudden Fear - both made when people made real movies.)

I made a point of seeing Wonder Woman in 70mm. Though preferable to unwatchable 3-D, the glorious widescreen film-format ultimately added nothing to the experience. I found myself limping out of the movie theatre after having to yank the nails from my feet, which I was forced to use in order to affix myself in place for the entirety of the loathsome 141 minutes of Patty Jenkins's interminable miserably directed sewage tank of wasted celluloid.

If you must know, Wonder Woman retches up the origin of Diana Prince (Gal Godot), D.C. Comics' lithe raven-haired superhero. We're forced to endure her childhood, adolescence and early adulthood on the all-female-populated island of Themyscira, a kind of Isle of Lesbos without the lesbo action (not even submerged). Here a race of powerful Amazons created by the Gods of Mt. Olympus, endlessly train in the art of killing in order to eventually bring peace to the world.

When an insufferably handsome American pilot, Captain Steve Trevor (the sickeningly smirking Chris Pine), crashes his plane, he's rescued by our heroine. She learns that World War I is raging and as it's her birthright to restore peace to humankind, she joins him on a pilgrimage to Dear Old Blighty. She's convinced the war is not the fault of Kaiser Wilhelm and the Germans, but rather, by Ares, the nasty nemesis of Zeus who has supplanted himself in the body of British politician Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis). (Some might consider this a "spoiler", but if you can't figure it out from the moment you first lay eyes on him, then I suspect you might require a brain transplant.)

Morgan is in cahoots with General Erich Ludendorff (the vaguely amusing, scenery-chewing Danny Huston) and his facially-deformed chief mad-scientist Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) who are concocting a super-deadly cocktail of mustard gas in the hopes that Germany will bring the world to its knees.

Wonder Woman and the annoying American join forces with a dog's breakfast of wily rascals to kill a whole mess of Germans to bring peace to the world.


I first read the D.C. comic "Wonder Woman" when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. Unlike the critically-maligned (and boneheadedly so) Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman movies, Patty Jenkins has no feel for the essence of these grand comic books of yore, but even worse, she clearly has no idea where the camera needs to be placed during action scenes. They are the typical contemporary hodgepodge of poorly composed multiple camera setups that the editors are forced to breathe life into (and mostly in vain) by creating sound-based cut-points instead of dramatic "action" cut-points.

The jury is out on whether Jenkins has any genuine talent. Her first film was the competent, decently acted Monster which dramatized the tale of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos (who was the focus of two great documentaries by a real filmmaker, Nick Broomfield). On the basis of Monster and now Wonder Woman, I see no evidence of a genuine directorial vision. It's little more than a (mostly) badly acted catalogue of dull action scenes. I simply don't understand why the studios keep hiring directors with no feel for action (I'm looking at YOU: Christopher "One Idea" Nolan and Sam "I'm from the thay-uh-tuh" Mendes). When you think of the Zack Snyder DC films, one can at least marvel at the painterly compositions of every shot and even though the cutting is rapid fire, he has actually put thought into creating action set pieces as units of dramatic action, not merely "action".

Just because they gave a woman a shot at directing means nothing. They should have thought of hiring a woman who knows how to direct with some panache. Much as I hate all of the Twilight movies, the very first film in the franchise was at least directed by a woman who has obvious directorial talent/vision. Catherine Hardwicke's distinctive voice as a filmmaker is what raised the level of the 2008 vampire soap opera from a simple "event" movie to that of a genuine work of first-rate pop-art.

Audiences don't care about "voice" or "skill" anymore. They've been systematically indoctrinated into not caring about much of anything other than ADHD-infused pyrotechnics, which Wonder Woman is over-stuffed with.

Also, that the movie threw away an opportunity in the first section with the Amazons by avoiding a healthy infusion of lesbian subtext is beyond the pale.


Wonder Woman is in wide release via Warner Brothers.