Thursday, June 15, 2017

Transgressing the standards

I watched Wonder Woman last night and it was okay. There were moments in it that I enjoyed and there were moments that I didn't and, yet, I cannot help feeling a cynical distaste that they were merely check-boxes on an imaginary build list on how to make a relatively competent movie.

Now, as you may already know, I've got a selective taste. One where upside down is despised, Frequencies is appreciated and Bucky Larson is adored. To which, most of you would probably respond with, huh? How is it that Bucky Larson gets a thumbs up while being, quite clearly, a terrible film? I'm not sure ...  I would like to think that this video from Vox goes a long way to explaining this: 


But, now, back to why I was indifferent about Wonder Woman. I think the main issues I had were that Gal Gadot was miscast in the lead role. Her acting ability is very limited and she was unable to create a character which was either charismatic or interesting. Yes, she looked very striking in her vogue cover girl make-up but that's not enough to sustain my interest over the course of a 2+ hour movie. The funny part is that the younger versions of her earlier in the movie conveyed a lot more character and personality than the final product. Make no mistake: Wonder Woman (and every other franchise) are merely products designed to separate you from your money. As the producers / owners of this movie, they would like to try and point out that little girls finally have a strong female role-model to look up to - but that is just silly. I'll give you just a small list of present-day strong female leads/heroes/ass-kickers: Black Widow, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider/Salt/Wanted, Gamora (from Guardians of the Galaxy), Lucy, Super Girl,  Hit-Girl (from Kick-ass) ... and plenty more. From my vantage point, it seems pretty clear that strong female leads are pretty well-catered for - it's just that marketeers like to try and confuse us with statements to the contrary. Could it be that I'm simply being sexist because I didn't love the movie? Scientist man says otherwise.

I guess the problem I have with most big films today is that the plots are actually approached very scientifically. I will now divulge the blockbuster hero formula:

  • If it's the first in the blockbuster film series, it will *always* be an origin film and spoon-fed to the audience so they're not too confused while sipping their gallon of coke
  • There will always be an unexplained element of the origin story which will always be resolved by the end of the film
  • If the protagonist is from another country/world/time, there will be classic fish-out-of-water humor inserted
  • Whatever the main protagonists' main character traits are, there will be contrasting side-characters there to counter-balance those traits (e.g. naive vs worldly wise, rambunctious vs cautious etc.)
  • There will always be humorous side-kicks to distract the audience from the boring / limited acting range of the main character
  • There will be a 'you had the power inside you all along' moment
  • The arch-nemesis will always be one-dimensional and driven to do bad things ... because reasons
  • Slow motion is your friend
  • The End of the world plot is your friend
  • The final 10 minutes will be a CGI excrement-fest, with smoke, wind, lightning and random explosions that will frighten small children
Notable examples: both Guardians of the galaxy films, Wonder Woman, Thor, Hulk, Avengers, Black Panther (one would presume), Green Lantern, Brave, Captain America, Iron Man 2, The Force Awakens.

In all honesty, I did extract some enjoyment from Wonder Woman ... but it feels like I was forced down that path through subversive mentalist techniques. It's getting to a point where it feels like we're moving towards mass-brainwashing; where the intended agenda is prefaced years in advance so that finally, upon its release, the only possible assessment you could ever settle upon is that of complete adulation and acceptance. I can't be the only one, can I?