Married couple Greg Bruce and Zanna Gillespie review Wonder Woman.
(Screening on TVNZ 2 tomorrow at 8pm and all good streaming services now.)
SCORES (out of 5)
Importance of cultural moment: 5
Watchability of cultural moment: 1
Number of hurt feelings (reviewer's): 1
Number of Chrisses: 1
Superhero movies shouldn't interest anyone over 15, but Wonder Woman is a special case because it's a much-needed riposte to the idea that superheroes should be men. That makes it an important cultural moment but does a cultural moment really need 141 minutes?
Zanna refused to cuddle up to me on the couch, which I assumed was a feminist statement but turned out to be because she was afraid of falling asleep - rightly, because phenomenally large and boring chunks of the movie were made up of protagonist Diana spinning in slow motion or deflecting bullets with her forearms. Zanna spent the last 45 minutes of the film - effectively one long, ridiculous fight scene - fighting sleep.
During the end credits, I offered some thoughts about how the movie was boring and stupid, backed up by evidence about the formulaic nature of superhero movies and their interminable fight scenes but I could tell she wasn't really listening.
"Well, I'm going to give it a good review," she said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because that's what I do."
It had been clear from her lack of engagement during the movie she'd been as unenthusiastic as I was, so this was perverse in the extreme. I asked how she could reconcile her obvious dislike of the movie with a positive review but - again - she wasn't listening.
"I'd love to stay here discussing this with you," she lied, "but I've been falling asleep and I've got to go to bed."
A few minutes later I arrived in bed and found her on her phone, scrolling through Twitter. "Interesting," I thought, a little hurt. "I see she's not too tired to read the vitriolic, attention-seeking, semi-informed commentary of emotionally damaged strangers." But I shook off my disappointment because, as she often tells me after upsetting me: "It's not all about you, honey."
I attempted to remove my ego from the situation: I turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk about the movie?"
"No," she said.
"No?" I said.
"No" she said. "I just want to read myself to sleep and if you get me talking about Wonder Woman it will stimulate my brain."
"I guarantee it won't," I said.
She spent another 15 minutes on Twitter, picked up her Kindle, read maybe five lines, then fell asleep. She rolled over, said goodnight, then added: "That was a stupid feminist movie ... But it was ultimately good for women and girls everywhere … And a little bit bad as well."
That was a good summary. If she'd been interested in discussing it, I would have agreed.
Greg has an unwavering belief that superhero films are only for kids and any adults who like them are dumb. Which is ironic, because that's dumb. Everyone has the right to enjoy whatever they like and not feel judged.
Traditionally, I haven't liked superhero films but I really thought my raging feminist heart might beat for Wonder Woman in all her ass-kicking glory. And it did, for one fleeting moment.
The film opens in Themyscira, a mythical island inhabited by a tribe of Amazonian women who spend their days training for battle. Greg audibly scoffed during the montage of women performing outrageous battle stunts - often on horseback. I get it. It was preposterous. But - maybe because this was at the beginning and my hopes were still high or maybe because it was the only time in the movie we saw that many women on screen at one time - I felt something. Was it pride? I had seen this scene countless times before but never like this, never with women. I felt a warmness in my chest that rose up to my face and threatened to leak out my eyeballs. Unfortunately though, it was downhill from there.
Diana (aka Wonder Woman) sets out on her mission to take down Aries (god of war) with the hunky Stephen, played by Chris Pine, who I thought was Chris Hemsworth the whole time but it turns out those two white men named Chris just look really really similar.
From here on, Diana is in a man's world. I tossed this around in my head: by making her the only woman, are they making a point about women historically being excluded from wartime narratives or are they just telling another story that has one female character and countless male characters? Are all the men leering at her as a statement about men's inability to see women as anything other than objects for their viewing pleasure or are they just making her an object for their viewing pleasure? Greg thought the latter on both counts. He's probably right. Ugh, feminism is hard.
Sadly, this movie was a horrible hackneyed soup but when I think back on it I'll remember the feeling I got seeing - for the first time - hundreds of women deftly, gracefully, brutally beating the crap out of each other and I'll smile and think: "Well, I hope my kids don't like superhero movies but if they do, I'm glad this awful one exists."