This by-the-numbers, visually dull movie doesn’t deserve the praise it received.
Ninety-two percent of reviewers, according to Rotten Tomatoes, liked Wonder Woman — which just shows the limits of the site’s methodology. “Like” is such a milquetoast evaluation. A shrug of “Yeah, I thought it was decent enough” counts equally with “This was a genre defining cinematic breakthrough.” Lukewarm is indistinguishable from ecstasy.
After watching Wonder Woman, I have to think its 92% is of the lukewarm variety. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a good one, either. And its not-badness is perhaps inflated by the fact that it follows on two much less critically liked DC films.
Call it the Sigh of Relief method of movie reviewing. When expectations are low, or at least worry high, a movie that’s not bad gets reviewed as if it’s really good, because it allayed the fears of reviewers. After Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, expectations were low. (Though the latter film received far more negativity than it deserved.)
Still, Wonder Woman’s sigh of relief is earned. Nothing stands out as aggressively bad, and there are quite a few things to like. Wonder Woman herself is super charismatic. Gal Gadot delivers an effortless performance. She’s not asked to do much, but she plays the role with enormous charisma. Godot is a far better Wonder Woman than Ben Affleck is Batman or Henry Cavill is Superman. (I say this as someone relatively unfamiliar with the source material, so it’s possible she misses in that regard, but within the context of the DC movies, she works well.)
Yet, beyond Gadot’s character, Wonder Woman feels entirely disposable. I liked that the movie was self-contained, instead of taking the Marvel strategy of every movie just being a cold open for the next, but story’s thin, the villains remarkably boring, and, most tragically for a DC movie, the visuals dull.
There’s not a single interesting visual filmmaking moment in Wonder Woman. The whole thing lacks any sense of style. Say what you will about Snyder, but he has an eye for gorgeous shots. Patty Jenkins does not. Wonder Woman looks more like a Marvel movie with heavier color grading than it does a DC movie as Snyder established them.
Like is so often the case with comic book films, if Wonder Woman hadn’t been called “Wonder Woman,” but featured a super hero with all the same traits but a different name, and without the build-in fan base, it would’ve received at best low to middling reviews. There were good moments, sure, but it’s certainly not a movie I’d ever feel like watching again.
It does feature the best theme of any superhero to date, though.