Playpen

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at 18:02 on 20-06-2017, Robinson L
A couple of my sisters and I watched the movie again with our dad and his second wife this weekend. My father's second wife grew up reading Wonder Woman comics in the 50s, and she wasn't very enamored of this film's interpretation of the character. My sister ptolemaeus, who's read a lot of comics from the 80s and 90s, has also come to dislike the film's version of Wonder Woman - thought she was portrayed as too youthful and immature, and was upset that the character's idealism was treated as naivete which she needed to grow out of. My sister said it's still a decent film, and she's glad so many other people are enjoying it and finding it meaningful, but to her it's not a good Wonder Woman film.

My dad also brought up an interesting point, which hadn't occurred to the rest of us. About a fortnight ago, before we'd seen the film, we were talking about the controversy in the Middle East over the protagonist being portrayed by an Israeli woman who vocally supported the 2014 war on Gaza. ptolemaeus' view was that there's more to Gal Gadot than Zionism, and more to the movie than Gal Gadot. After seeing it, though, my dad said he thought there was more substance to the criticism of the movie than he'd originally thought, because the depiction of Young Diana as innocent and peaceful and just paralleled the myth of Israel he'd grown up with.

The above issues notwithstanding, my dad still enjoyed the movie, and I in my ignorance of the character's comic book history, enjoyed it on second viewing as well, despite my misgivings about its politics. I feel like the humor doesn't always work, but when it does, it's great, and also there are a few points where a scene is in danger of becoming too sappy, but is saved by the insertion of a good joke: the scene where Steve proves he's telling Diana the truth about taking her to the front by wrapping her golden lasso around his hand, then goes on a tangent about how it's an incredibly bad plan, springs particularly to mind.

I also initially thought that the plan at the end for disposing of Dr. Maru's gas was the biggest plot hole of the film, but in our post-viewing dissection this weekend it was pointed out to me that
if the gas is burned up, it won't disperse all over the countryside, as I originally thought
. Fair play, movie.

Two last observations from second viewing, one a correction to my previous comment. I said that the gas was intended for use against a military target (in contrast to the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilian centers), and, indeed, when it's first discussed it's in the context of Ludendorff and Maru releasing the gas at the front. Later in the movie, however, when they're actually preparing to deploy the gas, we see briefly that their actual target is, indeed, a primarily civilian center (though, again, of more military significance than Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Secondly, I wonder if Amazons in this universe are naturally less hairy than humans; the only other possibility I can think of is that they shave their legs and armpits, which I find even less credible.
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at 15:30 on 12-06-2017, Robinson L
Went to see it with my mom and all three of my sisters on Saturday. It's rare for us to all go to a movie together these days, though because it was evening and on a weekend, we had to take separate seats, and my mom and I wound up craning our necks in the third row.

This was my first DC superhero movie since The Dark Knight Rises, and my first in the theater since ... possibly ever, come to think. I haven't seen the previous DC movie 'verse films, partially because I'm less of a DC fan to begin with, partially because my siblings haven't been particularly interested either, and partially because of the negative press they get. However, we were all eager to support a rare female-headed superhero movie, and it didn't hurt that Wonder Woman actually got positive buzz.

Overall, I thought the characters were good, with the exception of General Ludendorff, who was a walking cliche. Diana/Wonder Woman was suitably heroic, and Gadot handled the "fish out of water" comedic sequences very well, also. Oh, and Young Diana with her posh accent and her desperate wish to be a badass Amazon warrior was adorable. For some reason, I had low expectations of Chris Pine's Steve Trevor going in, but he was good, too. In fact, I was genuinely impressed by the scene where Wonder Woman has her little moment of disillusionment, and after trying to get her help, he finally says, "fine, you stay here, I'm going to go take care of the gas." Not often a sidekick has that much independence from the hero. Ares also turned out to be a more interesting character than I expected (low bar, admittedly), and he really came across as someone convinced he was doing the right thing. However, his decision to kill all the other gods makes no sense to me, either with the motivations Hippolyta ascribes to him or the motivations he claims to be working under.

The character arcs were pretty good, too, and carried the movie most of the way. Good enough to paper over some weak points in the plot, which itself mostly holds together if you don't look too hard.

The cinematography and set design were great (though my sisters all complained about the low lighting and inability to see a lot of the action). It's too bad that after the lustrous beauty of Themyscria, most of the film takes place in grungy locations, but the sets and the costumes were still terrifically well-realized.

Overall, my sister Noria put it best; she liked Wonder Woman, but what she really wants to see is the Winter Soldier to this movie's The First Avenger.

Thematically, though, I feel the movie tried to have its cake and eat it, too. Sorry, but I'm bringing back political stuff. If you still want to avoid it, scroll down to my last paragraph.

As I was saying, there's the whole thing at the end about there being good and bad on both sides and among all humans, and stuff like that. But at the same time, the Brits and Americans are portrayed as basically the good guys, and the Germans as the bad guys. (Trevor outright says as much when he first meets Diana, and while parts of the film undermine that dichotomy, other parts reinforce it.)

We had an argument about this in the car on the way home, with my sisters pointing out all the times the shortcomings of the Americans and the English are brought up, which to be fair is a lot. But my answer would be that the treatment of the Americans and English on the one hand in Wonder Woman as opposed to the Germans is basically like how the police are depicted vis-a-vis criminals in the better sort of cop show. A good cop show will acknowledge that the police are flawed, and sometimes authority figures within the police system are corrupt and murderous; but the baseline assumption is that the police force is an inherently noble institution, and this assumption is reinforced by treating those contrary elements as deviations from the norm. A few bad apples, if you will.

Similarly, the better sort of cop show will acknowledge that not everyone who commits criminal acts is necessarily a bad person, and that sometimes, their story is downright tragic. But again, the baseline assumption is that criminals are bad, and the ones who commit crimes for truly sympathetic reasons are exceptions to the rule.

Okay, I realize that's a dodgy comparison, but I hope it provides a useful framework to explain how I read the treatment of the two sides in the conflict. Somehow, I just can't imagine the film being so blase about depicting American or British soldiers slaughtering Amazons (
including Diana's aunt
) or enslaving a village of Belgian civilians, or depicting our heroes laying waste to battalions of American or British soldiers to get to the villains. (Well, come to think of it, maybe British soldiers, though probably not in a WWI setting.)

Speaking of the setting, I know this isn't the reason the film is set in the first rather than the second World War, but I find it cynically hilarious that General Ludendorff and his killer gas are basically a scaled down version of Harry Truman with the A-Bomb. Except that Ludendorff, if I'm remembering correctly, intended to attack a military target to help his side win a war they were losing, whereas Truman used his superweapon to attack two civilian targets when he was pretty sure of winning sooner or later anyway, and at least partly to get the upper hand in his ongoing dick-waving contest with his ally of circumstance, the Soviet Union. Again, I realize there were more pressing reasons not to set this movie during the second World War, but it also would have been really hard to paper over that parallel if they'd done so.

My sister KorraWP brought up her appreciation that the movie acknowledges the genocide of American Indigenous peoples by White American invaders in a conversation between Diana and the Chief, but that scene frustrated me because there was zero follow-up. Apart from downplaying the villainous potential of the Americans/British by not dwelling on iniquity when it's committed by "our" side, this felt very weird to me in terms of Diana's character arc. By this point in the film, she's come to trust and respect and maybe even idolize Steve Trevor, and though she's already seen things which give her pause, this is the first time she's directly confronted with something truly vile in which he is complicit. It should come as a major revelation to her, but it's just sort of passed over, without even a short scene between her and Trevor discussing it. I would have expected a cop-out: Trevor says "yeah, my people have done some bad shit, too, and I don't feel entirely okay about it"; Diana accepts it, and they move on. And I probably would have accepted it also, even though it's a cop out, but it doesn't visibly effect their relationship at all, which I find baffling from a character perspective.
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at 20:33 on 10-06-2017, Alice
[skips right past all the recent political... Stuff]

Wonder Woman! What did people think?
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at 13:25 on 07-06-2017, Arthur B
We had a bit of downtime there due to a server upgrade - please poke if you notice any issues.
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at 11:36 on 23-05-2017, Arthur B
It definitely has that "newly made antique" look that was so inspirational to The Man In the High Castle.
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at 07:14 on 23-05-2017, Adrienne
Yeah, i thought it was a good obit, and shed a lot of light on how difficult shit was for her. I wish she were better-known in her own right (i haven't read her writing at all, but her jewelry is also spectacular).
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at 10:28 on 22-05-2017, Arthur B
I raised an eyebrow when the headline called her Dick's "muse", given that he put a lot of energy into demonising her. But then I saw that the text of the obituary acknowledges that, and she used the term herself, which I guess shows who took the high road there.
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at 08:20 on 22-05-2017, Adrienne
Anne Dick has died. She was a writer in her own right, as well as having been Philip K.'s badly-mistreated third wife.
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