Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman -- A Rant within A Movie Review

Yes, I am a grown man who went to see Wonder Woman Sunday night with my better half. I'm okay with this, for a lot of reasons. I liked it a lot, and I'm going to buy it when I can. Loved, loved, loved this movie. Here's a rant within a review (and here's another, quieter one from Time Magazine, at to explain why: 

I was a little concerned about the hoopla about the movie being shown first to a female-only audience. Notice I'm saying I was concerned about the negative reaction given to the female-only showing, not about the movie itself, nor about the female-only showing. One: the moviemakers can do whatever they want with their own movie. Two: It sort of makes sense that a movie based on a television show (and comic) geared towards the theme of female empowerment should be shown to an audience of females. Three: I'm a little concerned, and tired, of men acting the victim. This is insulting and offensive not only to women, but to common sense and common decency. Men, of course, have been victimizing women since time immemorial, physically, emotionally, psychologically, culturally, and financially, in America and elsewhere; in the workplace, in the paychecks at the workplace, at home, at a debate while literally stalking them on a political stage, and, lately, on a tape with Billy Bush that was heard all around the world before the man speaking on the tape became President because he appealed to hate groups, hateful people, and powerful and computer-savvy Russians. I'm sorry, did I say all that out loud? I did. But enough of that shit, waddaya say? He gropes women, he's obviously assaulted women, he brags on tape about groping women and assaulting women, and occasionally he procreates with women, while insinuating that he'd like to do so with his own daughter, but let's not pretend for a second that he actually likes and respects women, okay? Had enough of that. He wants blatant truth and not political correctness? Well, there it is. Wonder Woman sort of gives an innocent little finger to all that, and it's about time.

Photo: Wonder Woman is not complacent, she's not weak, and she's not French. (Sorry.)

Women have gotten the short end of the political stick lately, so how about we all just shut up as they watch a damn movie, huh? And, funny how even a movie review becomes a sign of these political times, but that's how screwed up and Alice in An Effed-Up Misogynistic Wonderland these times are. 

Wonder Woman is a good action movie that, despite itself, says a lot of things, all of them well. And one of the things it says well is that women can be themselves without any shame. (Wonder Woman, unlike all of the other women from her enchanted isle, is not exactly a fish without a bicycle, per se, but she understands that she could be, that loving a man is a choice, not a mandate. [And shame on you if you don't get the reference.]) One of the things I noticed in this action movie--very different from the thousands of action movies I've seen--is that no man in the movie grabs the woman's hand as they run away from something. (Remember how Daisy Ridley correctly griped about this in the latest Star Wars franchise film?) Wonder Woman doesn't have to withdraw her hand from the guy who grabbed it, because no guy keeps up with her and grabs it. She kicks ass (apparently with a hairstylist on immediate standby) and the men have to follow her. She doesn't stop for them. She doesn't wait for them to act. She doesn't wait for them to save her. She doesn't wait for them to save others. She doesn't wait for them to solve ills or even to stop the war. She takes the lead. That they are willing to follow her, literally and figuratively, without any sexist misgivings (these are all incredibly good, well-behaved guys), is a victory in its own right. Yes, she looks better than Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich and Angelina Jolie and Pamela Anderson (showing my age with that last reference) as they're kicking ass in their painfully tight black leather outfits, but that's not why the guys follow her into battle. You'll have to watch the movie to see why, but trust me on this. They follow because of who she is, not because of what she looks like. She is not a What. Perhaps that's a lesson there.

Photo: The picture referenced below, from Wonder Woman and another movie, best not referred to.

Having said all that, Wonder Woman is not a political movie. It doesn't try very hard (it does maybe a little tiny bit) to teach this lesson, or any lesson at all. It's actually a very good action movie. It's directed very, very well. The production design is very good. The script is reasonably intelligent (there's a tiny bit of emotional lovey-dovey crap at the end, which threatened to connect to my one or two feelings, but it gets a pass with me) and it even has a frame story technique. In fact, that involves the one thing--the only one thing--I liked about the last Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman movie monstrosity mess: the picture of her in WWI that Bruce Wayne finds. That picture was the best part of that movie, and I was looking forward to knowing the story behind it. This is it. I wish I could prove this, but I actually said that to my better half, that the picture was the best part of that movie. It's the starting point, and the finishing point, here, and that works very, very well. As I've said to people before: good writing is a frame story, a book-ending, a wrap-around. Good technique. Simple, but effective.

So, anyway, this movie doesn't try to be political. That it is, anyway, is yet another indicator of these incredibly, jaw-droppingly, Can't Believe People Voted for A Guy who Mocked A Handicapped Reporter on Worldwide Television and then Tweets more than a 12-year old black hole we're in.

This movie says we can be ourselves, anyway, even when our immediate environment is going to hell. Be yourself, fight against wrongs, and be strong, and don't wait for someone else to do it. This was an effective, stirring, moving, meaningful action film that looked and sounded great, that guys can enjoy, that, by God, may actually be saying something beyond itself that is true and worthwhile.

Wonder Woman, and Gal Gadot, who plays her, are immigrants, by the way. See what I did there?

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