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Movie Review: Wonder Woman – A Box Office Wonder Lacking Awe in Critic Ville!

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By Esosa Omo-Usoh

Unlike its Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart, DC Film’s Extended Cinematic Universe has not been quite successful in winning over cinephiles and critics. Its official flagship; Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was panned by both critics and cinephiles.

However, one saving grace about Dawn of Justice was the extended cameo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. It whetted everyone’s appetite for the Wonder Woman stand-alone movie that was to come.

Expectedly, Wonder Woman hit cineplexes with a bang that resonated across the movie world. It was the number one movie across the globe on its opening weekend. With a production budget of $149million, its 141minutes running time literarily cost approximately $1million per minute. That has got be a record of sorts. But not to worry; it has proven to be quite adept at making money too. In just 10 days after its release, it has made over $435million dollars worldwide.

As an origin story, Wonder Woman starts out with an aerial shot of the Louvre in Paris set to the lightly raspy and aurally appealing voiceover by the titular character, Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot. An easter-eggish package received from Bruce Wayne’s Wayne Enterprises triggers off a flashback to Diana’s early years growing up in the Island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons.

Queen of the Amazons and Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (played by Connnie Nielsen) forbids Diana from training to be a warrior. So, her aunt; Antiope (played by Robin Wright), engages her in a surreptitious training regimen until her mother finds out and reluctantly gives in.

The Amazons, a warrior race of women, live in a hidden island away from the prying eyes of men. But as fate will have it, during World War I; a fighter plane breaks through the protective barrier hiding the island and crashes into the waters of Themyscira.

Diana plunges into the water to rescue the unconscious pilot, Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine). But he is not the only one who has broken through the barrier. A troop of German soldiers make landfall on the beach in Themyscira, and what ensues is a choreographed slow-mo battle scene that was as impressive as it was underwhelming.

Captured after the battle, Steve is made to confess his identity and mission under the influence of the Lasso of truth. Diana is convinced that his presence on the island is a sign that Ares, the God of War, is responsible for the war, and takes it upon herself to see that he is vanquished.

Aboard a boat enroute London, Diana and Steve engage in a humorous and romantic repartee that continues an earlier such exchange on Themyscira. He expresses initial discomfort with her invitation to lie down next to her, and she lets him know she is not unaware of the intricacies of biology. The scene was slightly entertaining thanks mostly to Pine’s efforts.

An unintended moment of hilarity did ensue though in the movie theatre during the scene where Diana informs Steve that she was moulded from clay by her mother while her father, Zeus, breathed life into her. At this revelation, a snigger of derision burst out from movie goers who most likely believe the first man was created from dust, and the first woman was created from a piece of his rib. The irony…it burns!

Arriving in London, the whole culture shock shtick was as predictable as it was unimaginative. Diana going googly-eyed and reaching out to a child in its mother’s arms on the street in London was as contrived as it was unnecessary. And that whole Pretty Woman-inspired wardrobe makeover scene was predictable campiness.

The part that really was more of a letdown for me was the battle scenes. Diana coming under a barrage of artillery fire which she waded off using her arm bracelets was mildly impressive at first but progressively became rather cartoonish.

Yes, in movies you have to suspend belief but there are only so many times you can swallow the idea of a heroine taking down the bad guys under heavy artillery and still manage to emerge from it with nary a scar on her body and with her hair still in shape and her lipstick still enticingly unsmudged.

Nowhere was this implausible absurdity more obvious than in the scene where Diana bounces off her shield to take out a sniper on the bell tower of a church, and she emerges from the black soot rubble looking like she was about to go do a photo shoot for Vogue magazine.

In terms of storyline and script, Wonder Woman was more cheesy and cringe-worthy than impressive. And what’s with movies these days being obsessed with Gods and supernatural beings who want to wipe out humanity and establish their supernatural reign over the earth? Echoes of this run the gamut from last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse to this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and now Wonder Woman.

In terms of acting, Chris Pine should take kudos for managing to wrangle out some decent acting from a script chock full of overly cheesy lines. It is to his acting credit that he did not cringe whilst delivering some of his lines.
Gal Gadot did not really need to act to make an impression in this movie. Her looks totally owned the Wonder Woman character. Her slightly raspy voice with a heady hint of smoky sexiness coupled with a figure that made it look like she was literally poured into the form fitting Wonder Woman costume made her an instant hit in this movie.

DC Films’ inability to convincingly establish its Extended Cinematic Universe’s imprimatur on the cinematic landscape despite four releases in its franchise only goes to show the fantastic job Marvel Studios has done with its Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As I watched Wonder Woman, all I could think of was what Marvel Studios would have accomplished if they had produced it.
Don’t get me wrong, Wonder Woman is a good movie (actually; okay would be more appropriate) but good is not the adjective DC Films should be achieving four movies into its DC Extended Cinematic Universe, especially given the phenomenal success Marvel Studios has achieved and continues to achieve with its Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Wonder Woman has proven itself a wonder at the box office. But it is certainly no wonder when critically reviewed. It did prove another remarkable thing though; Gal Gadot is an extremely sexy woman.

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