From the moment 11-year old Gal Gadot nearly gets her head sliced off by a giant pendulum, the tone is set. This is a film about complete bollocks. It isn’t even art. I can’t relate to, or enjoy any character. They are all selfish, privileged, shallow people. Yet Wonder Woman 1984 has nailed itself to gender equality, and female identity, thus putting itself beyond criticism.
WW84 starts right away in the spirit of equality and women’s rights. Yes, the opening scene is a fitness pageant. The winner being the one who can jump, leap, ride and shoot their way to the top of a podium in front of an audience of baying supermodels. On the way, a rainbow array of draped flags resembling a bar chart hang from a giant vaginal piercing to grade their progress, as they swim like sperm in a giant ocean. These horrible hyper-competitive masculine women in spandex rush around doing bad CGI gymnastics, covering superhuman distances as if in a video game with a cheat mode.
WW84 is a grating $200 million dollar B-movie.
This extreme fitness nonsense is made worse by the older ‘dance moms’ watching 11 year old future-Gal Gadot perform her baffling horse gymnastics. These privileged bronzed Hollywood MILFs just cannot get enough of the competitive drive to be the best, even if somebody’s 11 year old ends up getting their nugget pierced by a javelin. It ends with some heavy-handed helicopter parent psychological torment, where the elder Wonder Woman scolds a poor little Gal Gadot for cheating. “That’s the truth”, she says as she snatches the javelin from her just before the finish line, despite the fact she’d miraculously outperformed a field of grown-up wonder women from start to finish, overcome adversity and thought outside the box. For there is no tolerance in this dystopian female dominated world. It’s such a heavy handed moment, akin to taking a baseball bat to the knees of a young gymnast in the final leaps of a perfect score because she put her toes outside the white line.
The weird thing about this scene is it’s played so clinically with so little humour or compassion that we immediately dislike the lecturing elders, but the intention of the script and thrust of the story seems to strive for the opposite. It is as if Director Patty Jenkins doesn’t really care about conveying the male-written script in movie form. “There’s no shame in accepting you lost!” “That’s the truth”, the cliched Amazonian elder lectures. Ah, so this is a good character then, a sympathetic one?! Could have fooled me, as the 11 year old tears up.
The hectoring and patronising continues well beyond where the audience gets the fucking message. Just in this scene alone, repeated baloney about the truth, courage, being ready, and of course being the most attractive and fittest alpha female in the class comes top of the moral agenda. The delivery is B-movie. The tone is Nazi. The acting is school pantomime throughout the entire movie, with bad editing, sometimes with noticeable pauses mid-sentence when an interruption by the next character is about to happen. This is not a film that has had a Kubrick eye for detail anywhere near the editing room. The visuals are of course $200 million budget Hollywood except when they’re not.
But this isn’t the most problematic thing about WW84. The depiction of men is.
Once all the Amazonian CGI gymnastics nonsense has ended we’re introduced to the 1980s (which coincidentally was the genesis of our current narcissism era) and there’s a stereotypical male show-biz celebrity on the gogglebox saying “All you need is to want it!”. Alas this was never true, and if it was, this fucking film franchise would have ended by now for me. Unfortunately there was another 2 hours 15 minutes to go.
Up to now, all female characters have been portrayed whiter than white (quite literally) but you will notice that all the male ones are all bumbling idiots, buffoons, crooks or foreign. And that’s just in the first 15 minutes. The joyriders, the jewellery stall thieves and apparently the little boys in the audience watching the film are all enemies of all women. Young boys around the world will think less of themselves after closing the laptop lid on HBO Max.
Perhaps Patty Jenkins thinks that two wrongs make a right… That all those movie treatments of female characters as objectified sexist cliches, make the reversal OK.
Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m a massive misogynist. How dare I criticise the great Wonder Woman. But it is actually just an utterly shit movie, a real nonsensical turd, an astronomical $200 million failure, deeply unlikeable from any reasonable male non-feminist perspective and there’s very little more to read into it than that. There are thousands of people overthinking this movie right now, yet it has the depth and intelligence of Captain America made by experimental science lab chimpanzees. It tries to go for a kitsch 80’s blockbuster feel, but just comes across as clinical, with lashings of dumb visuals like this…
For almost 45 minutes, Gal Gadot approaches men with narrow eyed suspicion, as if they are all rapists. The unflinchingly terse expression hardly never lets up. It is only when her dead lover Steve, bafflingly reincarnated in the body of another less attractive man, appears out of nowhere, that she even lets slip a smile. In fact, she suddenly goes all gooey eyed and girly girl, which completely undermines her character development, but the film is just full of stupid inconstancies like this.
Did I mention the story is complete bollocks?
In-between telegraphing social issues into a thin plot via the most heavy handed means imaginable, there are action sequences. These are as dumb and uncool as you’d expect, but it’s the plot developing quiet moments that are the most headache inducing. They plod forward at a snails pace, so badly edited and overlong and so boring, they’re actually physically painful to sit though. For those with not brains enough, you can be comatose and wing it. For those expecting an entertaining storyline and likeable characters, tough luck.
I think WW84 ranks as the most tone deaf Blockbuster since the 80’s in terms of believable human behaviour, even compared to Michael Bay’s infamous nonsense. Just reams and reams of unrealistic inconsistent human behaviour in every scene, confused two dimensional twaddle, which only serves to extend the runtime of the movie rather than forward the plot or serve the characters. We glean from the origin story that young Wonder Woman is taught “only the truth matters”. Yet the first line of dialogue from the grown up Wonder Woman sees her lie to a waiter at a fancy restaurant. When the shopping mall crook’s collaborator dangles a little girl over the edge of a high walkway, the other pantomime villains pause in their tracks half way through an escape from the police and shout at him NOOOOO, “Put the girl back”, thus being sure to practically wink at the audience, telegraphing to us that dropping little girls to a certain death is bad, lest some of the males in the audience have forgotten.
Shortly after supermodel good-looking Gal Gadot is stood up in a restaurant when her date doesn’t bother to show, we’re introduced, or rather bonked on the head, by a thin supporting cast of cliches, with the male cast being not just cliches, but cliched little bastards – and that’s just the first 25 minutes.
Wonder Woman holds down a day job with a ditz nerd girl, examining historic artefacts. It’s Lara Croft without the tomb raiding. During the next 10 minutes severe boredom sets in and the only male characters are a black homeless guy and a rapist lurking in a park.
The nerd girl then basically turns into an impressionable rental wife.
Like a headache inducing Clark Kent, but even more so, Wonder Woman is an incredibly privileged middle class American living in an extreme gentrified and uber expensive neighbourhood where all the prior occupants have been socially cleansed away.
It had to be whiney privileged white tech start-up America didn’t it? A neoliberal San Fran or NYC, didn’t it? For that’s the elite ideal city living of today isn’t it? All the main characters, without exception, are selfish, two dimensional, shallow cliches of middle class spoilt Americans, because those are the type of people who wrote the film, directed the film and starred in it.
In a film so woke, it’s really weird that nearly all the male black characters are poor or homeless.
Next we’re introduced to YET ANOTHER working class sexist male imbecile. A lowly balding cleaner, who spills his water bucket near ditzy nerd girl at work and praises her with a comment about being good at walking around puddles of water in high heels, which the audience is supposed to take as vile misogyny rather than just a lame attempt at humour by a manual labourer. WE GET IT. All men are bad, how many scenes do we need to grasp the agenda?
It doesn’t take long for the screenwriters to assume we’ve forgotten. Within the next 5 seconds we’re introduced to two more. The main villain, a letching, repulsive TV show-biz celebrity Mr Lord. A Hammy Trump, so cliched and obnoxious he wouldn’t even pass for a real-life US presidential candidate, who has the habit of leaning in close to the camera all the time with his ugly mug, a visual that encourages you to mash the off button on your internet router.
It doesn’t take long for the next eye rolling inducing ‘here we go again’ sexist moment. Mr Lord has the utter temerity to embrace his son, but his wife is furious at being ignored whilst he does so! Thus heavy handedly telegraphing the existence of patriarchy, and all its evils. Great escapism! The entire film goes on and on like this, posturing and moralising. It never stops.
The experience of watching it is merely to feel no meaningful emotion at all but to recognise politically correct themes one by one, as they are shot into your head with all the subtlety of a paintball gun. I feel like it is now saying… ah. I feel like it is now saying… ah. And none of what it says has anything good to say about men.
My father, when he was alive, was a hero to me. I had an idyllic childhood, and it’s simply not right or acceptable to have a mainstream film with this kind of message in 2021. It is one of the most repulsively sexist films America has ever made in the name of anti-sexism. No father or son, or even grown adult male should have to sit through this and be lectured to by some of the most privileged women in Western society that men are lesser, uncaring oinks, motivated only by money, sex and their own self-interest.
It’s simply not true for most men, certainly not the vast majority of good men, and I don’t think fathers should be patronised by a rich politically correct elite in Hollywood when watching family entertainment on HBO Max for their $15 per month. It just isn’t acceptable.
As cinema, WW84 is so woefully repulsive, it makes me feel better about the demise of coronavirus-hit multiplex cinemas. It takes a lot to do this to me, somebody who loves cinema. But if I never see another blockbuster super hero movie like this again, it’ll be a price worth paying. I’m fine if only smaller cinemas devoted to artistic films survive from now on.
At the heart of this movie anyway, runs a deeply hypocritical vein. 99% of the female characters are fashion model-level good looking, all well adjusted, fit and wealthy. Working class normal people or barely attractive at a distance female characters (or larger women) do not get so much of a sniff of screen time, presumably because they don’t fit the story of feminine superiority! Yet the movie has plenty to say about the objectification of women, at the same time as simultaneously objectifying their looks in every frame.
There is no doubt Wonder Woman has a lot of tired and cliched things to say about male egotism, sexism, even middle-eastern men in Egypt, and walls – but I feel that as a culture, here on Planet Earth we need to have a frank discussion. First I need, you, top filmmakers and actors, to get back to making entertainment, designing moody spectacles, and to quit with the moralising, the hectoring, the lecturing, and the politics. The privileged grandstanding bullshit on your social media platforms is witless and tired, and is even actually reversing the social justice gains of the 1960s to 2000s.
I say this as a liberal, and as an artist. The leaders of mainstream global culture, celebrities, are ushering in a new era of communist style totalitarianism, where the only characters and stories allowed in fictional stories and movies are the two-dimensional ones you come up with to fit lofty moral agendas. This comes at a time when most normal people are struggling with their mental health and just want to be entertained, or enjoy even basic everyday things in their lives again, no thanks to the pandemic, broadly without the same privileges that affords them to be constantly woke all fucking day. Celebrities, film directors and above all politicians should appreciate that for us mere survival is the bigger agenda, and indeed it is ok to write controversial fictional characters into movies and books for entertainment purposes!
For every amoral character on screen, there does not have to be a telegraphed denouncement of them in the same moment.
Did I mention it was 2 hours 30 minutes!