Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
aox
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:02 pm
Location: nYc

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#151 Post by aox » Sun Dec 27, 2020 5:47 pm

RitrovataBlue wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 4:20 pm
R0lf wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:47 am
The backlash here is that this is a movie made, sincerely, for little girls. The adults in their 30s/40s watching it don’t want it pointed out to them that for 20 years now their viewing habits have never progressed beyond watching movies made for children.

Jenkins completely understands and commands this genre and as an adult has made a wonderful movie for children.
I would love to share this kind of entertainment with my 6 and 9-year-old daughters, but almost inevitably can't because modern superhero movies are inevitably extremely right-wing. We'll be passing on this one due to its brazen misrepresentation of Egyptians/Arabs. The film apparently posits that Egypt had a king in 1984? Yeah, I'm not subjecting my kids to more Islamophobia than they already absorb from our culture.

On an unrelated note, I wonder whether the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this will cost Patty Jenkins her Star Wars picture. That would make hers something like the ninth Star Wars film prematurely abandoned after its announced creator produced something with a negative public reception. Burn, Hollywood, burn.
I have heard that this film is indeed racist, but also she rapes Chris Pine? Or is that sensationalist internet drivel?

black&huge
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:35 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#152 Post by black&huge » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:16 pm

aox wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 5:47 pm
I have heard that this film is indeed racist, but also she rapes Chris Pine? Or is that sensationalist internet drivel?
well...
SpoilerShow
she wishes for Steve Trevor to come back with the stone that is the main evil force of the movie. He does come back but only his spirit/soul for lack of better words and it's put into a random guy. To everyone in the film they will see this random guy, Diana either chooses to see him or in fact does see him as Steve after she figures out he's inhabitating this dude. Well they end up having consensual sex except it's with the body of this whoever so basically if you wanna go this route: Wonder Woman rapes a random guy.

make of that what you will.

User avatar
soundchaser
Leave Her to Beaver
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:32 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#153 Post by soundchaser » Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:34 pm

Calling that “rape” seems disingenuous and even a little gross given the mythical circumstances around the situation, but maybe it does come across that way in the movie.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#154 Post by tenia » Mon Dec 28, 2020 6:12 am

Warner Brothers wrote: “‘Wonder Woman 1984’ broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we’re seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend,” said Andy Forssell, head of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer business."
Yeah well, their early Tenet PR was overwhemingly positive too and then, basic stats caught at their obvious marketing discourse.
I never expected Warner's early response for WW84 to be any different but also less generic, expecially since "expectations" can mean any kind of numbers and that 24h isn't enough to be sure of the movie momentum (do we have any viewership figure, btw?).

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#155 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:52 pm

If anything, it’s looking like WB dodged two bullets by being able to push the blame for mediocre box office onto the pandemic for tentpoles (this and Tenet) that would have likely underperformed expectations in a non-Covid 2020

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#156 Post by swo17 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:03 pm

Can't trust the numbers anyway, I heard the government pays them more if they code Wonder Woman sales as something else

User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#157 Post by R0lf » Mon Dec 28, 2020 5:41 pm

aox wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 5:47 pm
I have heard that this film is indeed racist, but also she rapes Chris Pine? Or is that sensationalist internet drivel?
I don’t think that’s a sincere concern from the people who have raised it.

To put things in perspective: WW84 has joined the auspicious list of threads that are permanently locked on blu-ray.com with previous entries including (the all female) GHOSTBUSTERS, OCEANS 8, and CAPTAIN MARVEL.

See the trend?

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#158 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:20 pm

Simpsons writer and famous foodie Bill Oakley shared this last night and I cannot help but find it hilarious despite seeing neither film.


User avatar
captveg
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:28 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#160 Post by captveg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:09 am

soundchaser wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:34 pm
Calling that “rape” seems disingenuous and even a little gross given the mythical circumstances around the situation, but maybe it does come across that way in the movie.
It's a stretch to be upset about it, IMO. Technically the guy Steve is embodying isn't able to consent, but it's no worse than any other fantasy body switch scenario in several other movies. What's going on, for the most part, are guys who often roll their eyes at complaints about depictions in films/TV where women aren't written as characters who consent are seeing a minor version of the reverse in WW84, and these guys are using this film to poke the bear and say "Look at me, I can make petty complaints, too!"

Guys who don't know how to either critically evaluate a movie based on its merits (or lack thereof) or aren't able to accept their tastes aren't aligned with the film are using the "rape" as a talking point crutch.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#161 Post by tenia » Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:19 am

There's probably part of that, but also that a movie that supposedly is part of the lead in progressism is allowing itself to such debatable tropes. Of course it's going to be scrutinised by people who's only looking for such things, but just like I had my share of "similar" issues with Black Panther, it makes WW84 looking like "do what I say, not what I do" movie (though to be fair with WW84, it's merely, at least to me, a thing that raised my eyebrows for a few seconds, not something more problematic).

This being written, WW84 has many much bigger other issues, but this probably just piles upon all these, which isn't helping the movie looking thoroughly thought (and made).

User avatar
captveg
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:28 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#162 Post by captveg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:24 am

Definitely agree with that. Even if not thought out as well as it could have been it struck me as more of an innocent oversight than some cruel intended slight some are framing it as. Our society has little room for benefit of the doubt in online discourse, so the pile on became deafening on blu-ray.com. Let's just say I was glad to have the real world of my family to keep me offline more than not this past week, so I read little of what got that thread locked on the other forum until after the fact.

User avatar
captveg
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:28 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#163 Post by captveg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:29 am

On another related topic, this idea that Jenkins' Star Wars movie is now in jeopardy due to the WW84 reception is sad. Why does there have to be an instant reaction when that film isn't even due to be out for nearly three years? Far worse filmmakers have had misfires and have not had it derail their projects, and far better directors have made worse tentpole films than WW84. Give her a mulligan and see what she has next. She has earned that.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#164 Post by tenia » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:17 am

captveg wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:24 am
Even if not thought out as well as it could have been it struck me as more of an innocent oversight than some cruel intended slight some are framing it as.
It most certainly is an innocent oversight, but I think it's simply particularly misplaced in a movie like WW84, so it sticks out even more so.
captveg wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:29 am
On another related topic, this idea that Jenkins' Star Wars movie is now in jeopardy due to the WW84 reception is sad.
She has been confirmed for WW 3, so I'm unsure about exactly how she'll do as a director next once the hot takes settle.

User avatar
Dr Amicus
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:20 am
Location: Guernsey

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#165 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:25 am

Went to see this at the cinema yesterday with Mrs Amicus and our 12 year old son and we all enjoyed it. It's not as strong as the original, the big action set piece is not quite up to the standard of the No Man's Land sequence but is still impressive, is overlong and has some misfiring charactaer issues - as noted, the Steve-Trevor-in-another-body is badly explained and thought out, if this was to be important than MAKE IT SO. Mrs Amicus said she enjoyed it apart from the villain and the plot (?) and I can see where she's coming from - the main villain is just too remote from WW / Diana to make the contest into something more than conceptual (greed and lies vs truth), whereas
SpoilerShow
the Kristen Wiig character is much more interesting and has the relationship with the main character to make it work. It's just a shame her character arc is left dangling - I was half expecting a mid/post credits scene showing her, but no.
The point re treatment of Arabs / Egyptians didn't bother me too much - I still remember one of the TekWar TV movies where it was stated that the King of England wields Excalibur. Still, not being either Arab or Egyptian I'm not going to argue strongly either way - plot wise they needed somewhere (a) with access to Oil and (b) with various land rights issues (or al least could plausibly have them) and chose Egypt. It was also an excuse to travel - which leads to an amusing shout out to the character's past. Also, we didn't find it overly fetishistic about the 80s - it really could have been a LOT worse. And finally, yes there is a big one-on-one fight - but this has the advantage of not being the film's climax. It's a grudge match which precedes the final confrontation and not the bigger, bashier fights that are so often a climax in superhero films (Man of Steel is possibly the most egregious example).It's a generic convention that it's there - it's a nice change it's not the (sole) climax.

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#166 Post by tenia » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:05 pm

I wasn't a fan of the first movie, which I found tedious and mediocre overall, and vastly inferior to its obvious ambitions but WW84 felt even worse, as some kind of "same mediocrity, but just worse". Clocking at 2h30, it goes at an awfully sluggish pace, with not enough action to fill the movie and a lack of originality as a follow up (at some point, it's hard not to think the screenwriters chose the Dreamstone solely because it allowed to have Chris Pine back somehow). It also a cruel movie towards Gadot's more-obvious-than-ever limited acting skills, only reinforced by Pedro Pascal's misfire in here. Wiig tries to do what she can with a not very fascinating character, but also some quite bad CGI in the end.

Jenkins' direction probably is the worst offender though, turning what could be a 150 min epic into a flat slog, with boring villains with poor visual designs, flat acting and and unispired direction.

User avatar
Toland's Mitchell
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:42 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#167 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:59 pm

I wasn't a fan of the first WW either, and only watched the second one because I felt roped in by my household. I didn't care for WW84 either but I actually didn't find it was overlong. Instead I found it was another case of a comic-book adaption trying to cram too much into one film (e.g. Spider-Man 3, and the latter three Avengers movies, among others). I somewhat appreciated WW84's attempt to spend time building a narrative and developing characters. Unfortunately, the film did a poor job in those departments, creating story and character arcs that felt disjointed, unmotivated, and cliched. To make matters worse, it also delayed the action to around the 70-minute mark, which, as has been already mentioned, didn't always look good. So it failed in both the story and action categories. In regards to the Chris Pine "rape" scene, I don't have much to add. There are many negatives here, and that one is far down the list.

User avatar
feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#168 Post by feihong » Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:16 am

Note: gonna just go ahead and get a little political here––just a little––because the film did it first. If you're an admirer of Trump, or Ayn Rand, or even Francis Fukuyama, I'm sorry if this displeases you––my intent is just to detail my own position vis a vis what I think are the somewhat surprising politics of this movie. I also talk about the acting, but honestly, if it's not your cup of tea for political reasons, just feel free to skip everything I'm writing.

The politics of this movie were at the same time incessant and totally garbled, but it did remind me of what I think is the most perceptive and far-reaching line I ever read from David Denby. In reviewing the original Iron Man movie, he describes being enraged to see the all-purpose Arab terrorist villains waterboarding Tony Stark. "Such are the ways of pop;" Denby writes; "we cast our sins onto others." To take it a step further, you might say that we cast our sins onto those we sin against, thus the endless cavalcade of movies which feature native Americans scalping settlers, instead of showing frontiersmen being paid bounties by the colonies and later by the American government for native Americans' scalps. This movie gives us a latino Donald Trump, who gets somehow manipulated into building a wall in the middle East. I suppose in Jenkins' or Johns' mind, it might seem a fitting form of artistic revenge to recast a president who calls Mexicans rapists––who attempted to build a wall to shut them out––as a member of the group he enacted racism against, but it just seems insulting to me and dangerous in the way Denby speaks of to make a man who made a career out of demonizing latinx people latino for the purposes of your flimsy fiction. The film consistently goes out of its way to criticize Donald Trump through the figure of Maxwell Lord, but the film is much more preoccupied with mimicking Trump's mannerisms and hollow rhetoric than delivering the more devastating critique of what Trump has actually done. Of course, Maxwell Lord's scheme creates a kind of anarchy, but the film depicts this breakdown of society in a rather vague way. There's a couple of fender-benders, an old man suddenly has some cows grazing in the grass in front of his apartment...the strangest part is the middle-East water-hoarding wall, which is redolent of current mid-East politics, but in the real world it's the Israeli government cutting off water to the Palestineans in the West Bank and Gaza, walling in and further segregating communities and laying siege to them; in the movie, it's the Arabs doing this, presumably to Israel?––the movie isn't clear on who is being persecuted by the anachronistic "emir" of Egypt, to be fair. But he's talking about nearby infidels, so I don't know who else he can be implied to mean. The Israelis are most likely the unnamed beneficiaries of the this film's racism against Arabs––and the film goes to some lengths to identify this made-up leader of Egypt as Arab and Muslim, regardless of the Egyptians own more nuanced sense of national and cultural identity. The international politics of this movie are made brittle and strained by this soft-pedaling of the mid-East conflicts of the day, and by the pointless inaccuracies presented in the scenes with the "emir"––assuming these moves to make the Egyptian leader look like a Saudi Prince were the result of ignorance rather than the result of some deliberate conflation. Either way, the emir's wish is shot and presented in absolutely psychopathic terms, which are qualitatively different than the way the American president's wish for more nukes is, for instance. The mis en scene implies we are to pity the American president his desire to inject the arms race with a nitro boost. The emir is simply a callous, tricky man, who is stripped of his protection and left, as the film implies for us, praying for mercy from a god that will not hear his pleas. The American president, however, was wayward and disoriented when he made his wish. It is not spoken, but I think we can assume that by the time chaos is restored to order at the end of the film, the president is once again sound––in spite of the fact that we just had a second Cuban Missile Crisis.

When the movie starts talking about the domestic American 80s, things get very strange. The film aspires to portray a "Gordon Gekko" world where people's wishes are interpreted as greed (it also has to be said that the deep wishes and dreams people reveal to Maxwell Lord are more than a little superficial in a lot of cases––one can imagine that if led to understand the potential of the wishing stone––and given a more generous reading of his character––that the "emir" might just as well want prosperity for his people without resort to the despoiling of other nations around his own––but the film doesn't pursue this much; the "I wish you Irish would go on home" and "I wish you'd drop dead" wishes are not deep desires at all, but superficial responses to immediate circumstances of unhappiness, generalized complaints of despair focused without reason upon particular people standing in front of characters at that exact moment). In the introductory scenes of the film, it sounds initially like there could be the beginnings of a fairly left-wing critique of late-stage capitalism, but immediately the film veers extremely libertarian by robbing the 80s of its most potent and important consumer flashpoint, advertising. An early scene takes place in a mall, which is remarkably devoid of advertising paraphernalia (the mall also doesn't look period accurate to 1984, but that's a gripe I'm saving for later), and later scenes of the D.C. streets have no prominent billboards, no flyers pasted to light posts or walls, and except for Lord appearing on television early on there are no garish commercials to send home the consumerist messages so prevalent in the times––messages which played an integral part in the supercharged consumerism of the era. You could say that the Maxwell Lord commercial stands in for other commercials of the day, but in other movies, like Robocop and Repo Man, artists behind the film recognized that advertising is the texture of consumerism, and needs to be presented as such––the Maxwell Lord commercial is not a stand-in for all commercial advertising of the era. There are so many sales techniques on display in varied advertising, it shouldn't just be boiled down to Maxwell Lord asking people to be greedy. Essentially, what the movie does is detach consumerism from commercialism, making it seem as if all these wishing, greedy people are individually to blame for the blight of consumerism that is the 80s. True, Maxwell Lord is telling them to take what they want on television, but the people of this 1984 are not portrayed as being surrounded by the kind of consumer messaging which they would have been in the era, prompting them to center personal lifestyle over generalized quality of life. The movie suggests that individual people all got to that bleak point of consumer isolation on their own. Jenkins' and Johns' interpretation of the 80s has no political awareness nor any kind of economic understanding, and that hurts a film whose story essentially lives in the realms of politics and economics for most of its runtime. The writers' theories of how these things worked in the era are as thoroughly researched and supported as their "emir" of Egypt, with his wacko scheme to sell his oil to the already oil-rich Saudis.

I found the politics of the film dismaying, but ultimately so confused I just figured the people who wrote the movie were similarly confused when it came to that stuff––though there is a kind of sinister subtext to a lot of the political elements of the movie, and Jenkins has expanded on why she set the film in 1984 in some terms which sound eerily redolent of Francis Fukuyama. But the huge failure of imagination in this movie for me is the filmmakers' inability to create a vibrant period setting. With a movie pointedly presenting us with the 80s, there is hardly any 80s flavor, texture, or detail on display. Even the fashions Diana and Steve wear are remarkably restrained and un-fun. The mall to me seemed very off, with too–white walls and too many skylights, too much daylight, and more open-air spaces than Brutalist mall architects of the period favored. It looks like a mall from the early aughts more than one from the early 80s. There's no graffiti or punks or new-wavers, no cassette tapes, no Cuisinarts, no Braun coffeemakers. Nobody is selling day-glo sunset paintings of a stroll on the beach. The color palette of the film is shockingly reserved for the era, and the music and personalities which so defined the time are not present. It was a massive shame that a Wonder Woman set in this era couldn't have a big synth score, or a hair-metal remix of the Wonder Woman theme. The atmosphere looks remarkably clear for 1984––there is no rusty, smoggy sky (this bothers me about a lot of recent period recreation movies––Argo does the same thing, cutting to a modern L.A. skyline with a blue complexion––but with all their sky replacement technology today, couldn't they work a period-accurate rust belt along the horizon of some of these outdoor scenes?). There's no prominent personal computers, no MTV. The phones are of the touch-tone variety much more popular in the later 80s––in 84 most people––including those in films made in the period––are still rotary dialing each other. There are no prominent phone booths on street corners. The streets are clean, and there are no signs of any subcultures to be seen. No one seems to wear a branded t-shirt. The fashion show Steve does for Diana is a very grim scene, where Trevor models look after look out of a JC Penny's catalog––outfits hardly anybody would wear outside at the time (by which I mean that yuppies would buy individual items from an ensemble and generally mix their own look). The parade of fashions is all so conservative, whereas the engine of fun in fashion montages is showing radically different looks, teasing a total transformation of self. Each outfit is kind of in the same range as the last––none of them stick out in your mind, and it's not clear that Trevor is trying out different possible versions of himself for the 80s––which he really should be doing.

Since there is no strong thematic "take" on the 80s, not a lot of exciting action, and since the politics, while disturbing, are perhaps purposefully vague, the film lives or dies––I would say mostly it dies––by its central performances. Gal Gadot is quite unsatisfactory as Wonder Woman. People have mocked her accent a lot, but I think the accent hides the real deficiencies of action and reaction on display. She seems quite low-energy throughout, and she reacts to the people around her like a somnambulist. She reads a lot of lines in a way that feels "required" rather than "embodied." And while expository dialogue is clearly her Kryptonite, Gadot does not look good in the action scenes, either. It's not just that the special effects for her speedrunning and flailing about on the lasso look garishly fake––they do, boy, do they ever––it's that Gadot doesn't communicate much sense of intent behind them. Some of the time the trouble she apparently has simply doing the action required of her for the scene is what's communicated on her face. The truck scene, with its leaden homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, only underlines how much visceral conviction Harrison Ford brought to the Indiana Jones character (in the first three movies––perhaps an unremarked-upon reason the 4th movie seems so much worse is Ford's diminished capacity to communicate that sense of physical conviction in the action), and how Gadot's sense of purpose in her action moments has so much less clarity than Ford's does in the Indy movies. It's not simply a question of one actor's physique or another's, either. I watched a little bit of Shadow in the Clouds last night, and tiny Chloe Grace Moretz demonstrates so much more commitment to acting her way through her crazy action scenes. You can always tell what she's intending to do, and how she reacts to crises in executing her combat strategies. Gadot does not do this; in some of the scenes she appears completely checked-out, and in none of them does she communicate any strong sense of where the scene is going. Of course, Jenkins' visualization of these scenes is also not very fully imagined, either; it's hard to determine characters' objectives in the scenes of combat. The convoy scene and the scene in the white house are the most demonstrative action scenes (past the obstacle course in the beginning, which works just fine, but which could have been cut out of the movie without really changing the film any), but the convoy scene is very lackluster because it's not exceptionally clear why any of this is happening. Max Lord is thrilled when Wonder Woman lands on the hood of his car; he's into granting everyone wishes. Why wouldn't he just pull over and see what Diana has to say? In the final fight with Cheetah, it isn't immediately clear that Cheetah is guarding Max Lord (honestly, a movie just about Cheetah, with a few more confrontations and some decent choreography would have been more entertaining). Anyways, Gadot is a mess. She reads lines without conviction, she doesn't appear to be listening to other actors or reacting to what they've said. It makes for the feeling that Wonder Woman is in a separate, solo movie, with no other actors. And nothing she does is terribly convincing. When she says she wasn't talking to Lord, but to the people watching TV at the end of the film, it's not obvious to us she isn't talking to Lord. Of course, if Gadot had changed her tone to self-consciously address the people watching television, the fact that Maxwell Lord doesn't realize she isn't talking to him anymore would be underlined, and Wonder Woman's strategy would be far more clear. From what I can see, Gadot is just not a very nimble actor.

Chris Pine's "whoa, things are different" act goes through the whole middle of the movie. He doesn't have much of an arc; he is going along with Wonder Woman and being dazzled by stuff. But he is never gripped with any great excitement at suddenly being alive again. The filmmakers seem very nervous about the morbid nature of the story they've invented for him. So Chris Pine is pleasingly light-footed and easygoing, but he is never gripped by, say a mania at being snatched from the jaws of death. I think the easygoing nature of the performance is designed to make this creepy storyline palatable to children, but this is really something out of a horror movie or a dark fantasy. So the range of things Steve can express about life and death are deliberately reigned in.

Kristen Wig is glamorous and funny enough to be captivating in small doses, but she also does not seem very physically committed to an extremely physical role. When she is standing in the white house, confronting Wonder Woman, she hardly looks like she's ready to fight. Like a lot of "Saturday Night Live" comedians, Wig is not very good at illuminating an inner life in her characters, and I think it's very jarring to watch as Barbara Minerva changes from nerdy dolt into rage-fueled avenger. There are no real stops along the way, and the avenger character is one Wig never teases out with any credibility. She is not aided by the writing and editing, which give her very little screen time in which to do this transformation, but Michelle Pfeiffer does the transition in a couple of scenes with a kind of skill and focus and a communication of deep feelings and motivations that Wig just doesn't communicate. She has a chance here to embody Cheetah, and she never seems like anyone but Kristen Wig throughout the movie.

Pedro Pascal is certainly very intense. Perhaps he is over-the-top in this role, but I do get a clear sense of who Max Lord is from this performance––and I don't get that solid sense of identity from any of the other major players. It also has to be said that he doesn't drown out other actors when he acts with them; the early scenes where Lord is trying to charm Barbara and Diana are full of giving moments from Pascal. Lord is not all flash; it is clear he is listening to people, and that he wants to be liked by them. Additionally, it's clear that he wants to be liked for his innate qualities, for his own identity, and that he is uncomfortable with the put-on he is presenting to the world. All this is pretty well-realized by the actor; what isn't clear is why the filmmakers are going in the direction of humanizing Max Lord. He is the ostensible villain of the piece; all the battles in the movie after the opening are about apprehending him and stopping him doing something disastrous. But Lord is probably the most sympathetic of the main characters in this movie, and it seems off that the filmmakers go out of their way to critique him as a Donald Trump stand-in, when they are also willing to humanize him more than any other character. Do the reasons Trump does terrible things to people matter so much as the damage he does? When you start to humanize your villain to this extent, you run the risk of making him too easy to identify with; Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, for instance; tellingly, in neither Wolf of Wall Street or WW84 do we see real, deep effects of the villains' delicious embrace of greed on other people. In the case of both movies, the villains are thoroughly glamorized (so that even their stupidest moves––like the quaalude scene in WoWS––charm us with their adroit humor) simply by being the most human characters in their respective films, and the message that what they're doing is hurtful to other people they clearly don't care about is made to seem a dull scold. I don't think this is purposeful on either Jenkins' or Scorcese's parts; but it is a blind spot of a lot of filmmakers reaching for a moral message––condemning a public behavior––when the character doing it is the most relatable and charming character in the movie. It may be the case of casting a far better actor in the villain slot, but the last resort there, I think, would be to downplay Lord's storyline and his onscreen exposure and play up Cheetah's grudge match with Wonder Woman. A lot of the audience would probably prefer that more focused conflict to the fairy story of the man who can grant everyone wishes, and why that's such a bad thing.

Now, the neoliberal politics of getting people to renounce their deepest desires is something the film does not analyze––but when you think about it, why is Lord the villain? What makes Wonder Woman the hero of this story is her own perseverance in remaining miserable and alone, and her desire for everybody else to have that unrewarding stoicism, as well. It's not an especially noble stance, and the moment where Wonder Woman breaks down and cries (Oscar bait?) because she helps people all the time, and yet she just can't have this one thing she wants, which is to bring someone back from the dead, really falls on deaf ears. There is the suggestion in the opening scene that a shortcut to success is against the rules––and we're meant to apply that lesson to the wishing everyone does later on in the movie––but it's interesting what the movie defines as working for success and not working for it. Certainly Lord's wish granting is a labor, which tremendously risks his health and which nearly costs him his son. So does he pay for what he's doing? Of course, at the end of the movie no one pays and everything goes back to normal. What is the real nature of the shortcut the wishing stone offers? And who, in the film, gets anything through hard work, for that matter? Diana works more selflessly than anyone besides maybe Steve; well, he goes back to being dead, and she goes back to being alone. I suppose you could say they have a last adventure together, and he tells her to move on and all...This line of thinking is not too conclusive on my end, but the more the movie dwelt upon wishing and the dangers of having deep desires at all, the more I felt pressure to pursue this reasoning at least a little.

That said, while I don't appreciate the politics the film vaguely expresses in its most coherent moments, I didn't find the movie unwatchable at all, and I actually liked the whole wishing storyline––as wacko as it turns out to be––just as a matter of storytelling aesthetics. It seems a very silver-age DC story, and I liked the simplicity of it, and how different it was from most of these superhero movies. I was kind of ready to forgive the film it's logical leaps, but then the politics and the bad acting and the general dullness of the experience still overwhelmed a bit. There were individual moments that stood out to me: I really liked the circular tracking shot and how Steve Trevor just walks into the movie without some laser-light reincarnation spectacular––and I liked how he vanishes near the end, his voice trailing after Diana. It seemed a surprisingly classy way to depict magic––the total obverse of the invisible jet and the weird magical behavior of Diana's lasso, which I used to think, at least from my reading of the comics, behaved like an actual, physical lasso, but just had some magical properties in precise conditions (She Ra's use of her sword as a lasso in the Netflix remake is the way I would envision the lasso to work––She ra has to do rope tricks to use it in combat––it doesn't act like a sentient snake). I thought the action was overall pretty dull, except for the little part at the beginning of the White House sequence where Wonder Woman is for once doing actually cool rope tricks and Trevor is frantically knocking out Secret Service agents with a silver platter. Pine, I thought, brought some energy to the fights, making them seem like life-or-death struggles. Gadot really doesn't do it; even as she gets progressively more injured in the fight sequences, you never feel like she feels she's in danger. Aside from the wacko politics, I thought the movie was kind of not-unpleasantly dull.

But what I really wish is that there had been some imagination put into the setting––like if there had been a real reason to set the movie in 1984, instead of just the dubious and superficial suggestion by Jenkins that setting the film at the height of a kind of euphoric capitalism meant something in relation to the first movie, which I suppose showed humanity at its lowest point? I would have liked to see details of the time period, and a comment on the period that placed some responsibility for a "greed is good" ethos in the hands of the commercial systems that spearheaded and sold that view of the world, rather than placing the onus of greed entirely on individuals in a barely–differentiated mass. I guess my primary complaint is that the setting is too detachable from the story. I think that Tavernier's Life and Nothing But is a more necessary story of WWI, for instance, than the first WW film, and maybe Desperately Seeking Susan is a more relevant story about the mid-80s than WW84. But the passel of 80s films this movie superficially references doesn't include anything so imaginative or self-aware as either of those films. I know it's unrealistic to expect that level of quality out of a big-budget superhero movie, but if you plan to make your period setting relevant to your story, I would expect you might at least aspire to equalling a film like one of those. But the film this movie cribs from most frequently seems to be Freaky Friday.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#169 Post by knives » Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:05 am

I’m not sure if you should never again see dumb action blockbusters or only be allowed to see them.

User avatar
feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#170 Post by feihong » Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:38 pm

I didn't think it was getting so long as I was writing. : ) Between this, Tenet and The Shadow in the Cloud, these have been the most action blockbusters I've watched in a single year that I can recall.

User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#171 Post by R0lf » Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:38 pm

They did a much better job of getting a “real” 1980s look in this movie. If you go back to things from the 1980s like Schrader, Woody Allen, or even SUPERGIRL then you’ll see that WW84 just completely nailed the design, set dressing, and feel of films from that period. Even with the mall scene the thing it absolutely did right was present a shopping centre that had been built in the 1970s and then fitted for the 1980s.

User avatar
feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#172 Post by feihong » Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:34 am

Well, as someone alive and sentient during the whole of the 1980s and who remembers the era quite well, my personal experience leads me to disagree. And I still very much believe that the mall looks too modern. The colors of the walls, the materials used in the construction, the shapes of the causeways, the skylights and the sense of an outdoor space indoors all come from a later era, a later philosophy of mall design––It looks to me like a mall you might be likely to see in 1989, but probably not in 1984. But I think what's worse is that the setting doesn't say anything. It doesn't make Wonder Woman's role any more necessary because the film takes place in 1984. Wonder Woman has no reaction to the culture of the time. The setting never becomes an active enough element of the story. And Jenkins' odd assertions about 1984 being the height of a culture are not woven into the subject matter of the movie; nor are they illustrated by the sedate production design. So I don't see a purpose to attempting this "real" 1980s look––one which I went to some detail to suggest wasn't realistic in many of its details––if the result is that the time and setting you named the movie after doesn't really figure into the plot and doesn't successfully integrate itself into the film's thematic payload. It seems to me to have been a mistake––a failure to visualize a necessary 1984, which carried from the inception of this movie throughout its production and which ended up very clearly on the screen. I mean, they were under no obligation to make this movie look like Supergirl; but I do think that in calling the movie Wonder Woman 1984, they were placing themselves under some obligation to explain to the audience why they were doing that. Probably the most accurate explanation, though, is that Stranger Things and It were huge hits when they were planning this movie, and the studio executives thought they could jump on that bandwagon.

User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#173 Post by R0lf » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:36 am

Sorry, but the 1980s you describe is what I would describe as neo-1980s: a grab bag of things that people now view as important or nostalgic from the period put together to form a new hyper stylised version that doesn’t (and isn’t meant to?) reflect what the reality of the 80s was.

WW1984 is more period accurate.

User avatar
feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#174 Post by feihong » Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:30 am

Setting aside this 80s/neo-80s formulation you're proposing––which we will probably never agree upon––what is the point of making the film, with what is, in your view, "80s realism?" What does it accomplish? Because it certainly doesn't make this a good movie, nor does it add, to my mind, any clearly-wrought thematic weight to this picture.

User avatar
bottlesofsmoke
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:26 pm

Re: Wonder Woman / Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2017/20)

#175 Post by bottlesofsmoke » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:41 pm

I enjoyed bits and pieces of this movie, though I agree with most criticisms that it doesn’t really work together as a whole, and has other problems.

I agree with feihong that this has a very Silver Age vibe to it, which is primarily why I liked it, since that’s my favorite era of superhero comics. It will probably never happen but I’d love to see one of these movies really embrace those types of stories, with weirdness and magic galore, lower stakes character relationships, and a minimum of action and violence. Maybe we’ll get that with some of the Marvel TV stuff, though I don’t really like the Marvel style very much and have already seen people on Twitter complaining that there wasn’t enough action in the first two episodes of WandaVision.

Maybe the third WW will go that way, but based on the reception of this I’d expect it to be much more conventional, which is a shame because I’d personally want superhero movies to push more in that direction, not less.

I wonder if what most audiences expect of comic book movies will prevent anyone from really trying to break the mold and make, say, a full fledged romantic comedy with superheroes, which this movie felt like it was doing in fleeting moments before jetting off to a fight scene or plot point. I’m not in the target audience for superhero movies, I can take them or leave them, but we’re running up on over a decade of these things without much or any variation as far as I’ve seen.

Post Reply