Louise Beuvink and Lucy Noonan went to the New Zealand premiere of Wonder Woman. Lucy is a comic book nerd and Louise is a filthy casual. Here is their review.
Lucy: So… that was amazing. I don’t even know where to begin.
Louise: I’ll start with a background. Wonder Woman is the first live-action feature film in the franchise, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the leading lady, Diana a.k.a. Wonder Woman.
The film introduces Diana from her origins as the princess of the island paradise Themyscira, home of the Amazons, a mythical tribe of warrior women. The peace is disturbed by an Allied spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash landing on the coast. Steve is the first man Diana has ever laid eyes on, and when he tells her about the great war (WWI) raging in the world of men, Diana feels compelled to leave her home to seek out and defeat Ares, god of war, to end mankind’s suffering.
Lucy: So I have to say, there is always a lot of conversation surrounding the Diana’s costume but personally I have always loved the original and was so happy when I found out they were using it. And the costumes were handled so well! While their clothing was minimal, the shots used of the Amazons never sexualised them, only emphasized their incredible strength. The shots of Diana’s body could have been objectifying if it wasn’t Wonder Woman. When we were given a shot of her legs, the focus is her boots. When we are given a shot of her hips, the focus is her lasso. We are constantly reminded how powerful she is. She is a warrior, not someone for you to objectify.
Louise: I think that’s the result of having a female director. The shots were never created from the male gaze.
Lucy: Definitely! In fact we had the complete opposite with Steve Trevor being the subject of the female gaze, which is rarely used.
Louise: That scene where he gets out of the bath and is completely naked and vulnerable while being looked up and down by Diana = A+++++. You always see that kind of scene with a vulnerable woman, it’s so refreshing to see the roles reversed.
By the way, I really enjoyed the relationship between Steve and Diana, where Steve was the damsel in distress and Diana the hero. It was so satisfying to watch. There was a great moment at the beginning of the film when they’ve just met, and they get in a skirmish with some bad guys. As Steve gets into the fray he yells “Stay back!” to fucking WONDER WOMAN. And she’s just like fuck that, and slays the bad guys. He doesn’t know about her powers yet, but dude, she just dived off an enormous cliff and pulled you from a plane wreck in the ocean. She can handle herself. It was such a great pointed jab at the weak, helpless woman trope in superhero movies, which this film completely obliterates.
Lucy: I love how quickly Steve accepts that Diana is the greater warrior and then yields to her. Then every time he doesn’t, he learns his lesson again.
Louise: What was your favourite scene in the movie?
Lucy: Oh that’s easy, the No Man’s Land scene. It was glorious.
Louise: Yep, me too. Hands down. I looked over and saw you crying tears of joy during that scene.
Lucy: And not for the first or last time. I have waited my whole life for this movie and it surpassed all expectations. Speaking of, Gal Gadot. Holy crap. She captured Diana so perfectly. Switching from innocent awe at the modern world (and babies!) to firm resolve to compassion in the most wonderfully Diana way. When I think of Wonder Woman I think of her as both diplomat and warrior. Someone who is kind and selfless but at the end of the day isn’t afraid to get shit done. I think of the woman who is willing to kill if it will save innocent lives (not lock up a bad guy for him to break out and kill people every five minutes *cough*batman*cough*) and Gal captured this perfectly.
Louise: What didn’t you like about the film?
Lucy: Okay, so I knew this going in and though it was handled pretty well, I still don’t like the origin story they chose. I won’t discuss this much as it is a spoiler but I think most people know what I am talking about. Other than that, I think just the bookending of the film, with those present day scenes. I know it was to tie the film into the Justice League franchise but I thought it was unnecessary and didn’t add to the film at all. What about you?
Louise: Agreed on the bookending scenes, but I didn’t mind the origin story. That’s coming from a perspective of not having read the comics though. Also I’m a bit of a Greek mythology nerd so that would influence me.
For me, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the conclusion of the film, but I still can’t really put my finger on why. I enjoyed the journey to get there much more than the destination. Maybe I just was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to end. But I did actually because I needed to pee.
Here’s something that annoyed me. The least realistic thing in a bloody superhero movie was the WWI German military officers speaking to each other in English. That spoiled the illusion for me! Like come on, use subtitles or something. It made it hard to suspend disbelief.
Lucy: Ugh, agreeeed! Like, does Steve Trevor even speak German or can he trick Germans into thinking he’s German by speaking English with a German accent? It’s ridiculous.
Also, more representation. They touched on it at one point with a character briefly discussing racism and it was cool to see that not all Amazons were white but surely they deserved more than one line between them?
Louise: Agreed. While we’re on Themyscira, can we talk about how amazing Robin Wright was as the Amazon general Antiope? She wasn’t a major character, but she was definitely one of my favourites. She’s an actor who absolutely nails strong female roles (e.g. Claire Underwood in House of Cards).
Also, Robin Wright is 51 years old. Hollywood is notorious for not valuing women who are “past their prime” (ewww I felt gross typing that), but Antiope is such a beautiful, powerful, badass character. It’s a rare moment where a filmmaker has treated a middle aged female character like they would a male, by giving her more status rather than less. She shows that age is not a flaw or something to hide; it is the source of her wisdom and beauty.
Lucy: She was fantastic! Wright really commands any screen she is and I would totally believe that she was an Amazon any day. Also on Themyscira, the artwork that is used to tell the origin story of the island was stunning and so reminiscent of various religious artwork but with badass women (so, better).
So, out of five?
Louise: 4.5. The English-speaking Germans lose half a point.
Lucy: I agree. My Wonder Woman fangirl heart says 5/5 but since there are things I would change (representation guys!) it has to be 4.5. Can we go again now?
Louise: Yes. But I’m trying to save money so can we wait til it comes out on DVD/Netflix and have a Wonder Woman sleepover?
Lucy: Definitely, though can’t promise I’ll wait until then!