Commentary

'Wonder Woman Looks To Smash Some Hollywood Stereotypes

With the “Baywatch” big-screen debut and the fifth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” getting pounded by critics and flopping — at least domestically — over the long weekend, Hollywood already has its eyes on “Wonder Woman,” which is garnering very positive first reviews this morning. It opens Thursday with Gal Gadot in the title role.

“Finally, a DC Comics movie that works,” reads the headline over the review by Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips. It may run on too long and have some “lapses in narrative energy,” the Hollywood Reporter’s Sheri Linder tells us, but “‘Wonder Woman’ breaks the genre mold. She’s openhearted, not angsty — an anomaly within the DC Universe, ‘Extended’ or otherwise.”

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“‘Wonder Woman’ is the first major studio superhero film directed by a woman, and it shows in a number of subtle, yet important ways. As skimpy as Gadot’s outfits may get, for example, [Patty] Jenkins’ camera never leers or lingers gratuitously — Diana is always framed as an agent of power, rather than its object,” writes Andrew Barker for Variety.

That sounds like a formula that might attract more than the usual action-adventure fanboys to the theaters. Indeed, “women-only” screenings are not only selling out, they are — more importantly — generating headlines in doing so.

The Austin, Tex.-based Alamo Drafthouse chain is hosting several such events in its hometown and in New York that have “led to both praise and complaints from various online corners,” Andrew R. Chow reported for the New York Times on Saturday.

“On Wednesday, the Alamo’s Austin branch announced that it would hold a special screening for women on June 6, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed,’ the announcement read.” 

And that story has become the subject of a NYT/Learning Network discussion for students 13 and over this morning. That’s one way to re-engage a class after a long, summery weekend. Meanwhile, Britton Peele’s Guide Live piece, which also ran in the Dallas Morning News as well New Zealand’s Stuff, carries the hed: “Chill out, bros: Women-only 'Wonder Woman' screening isn't a sexist attack on men.”

Much ado, in other words, about a clever promotion. Not that the usual big bucks aren't being spent, too.

“Girl power has fueled much of the ‘Wonder Woman’ marketing campaign, estimated to total $125 million to $150 million in spending. The posters for the film feature Gadot in muscular poses on her own, largely leaving out male costars such as [Chris] Pine from the recent ‘Star Trek’ movies,” reports Ryan Faughnder for the Los Angeles Times

“The studio is teaming with brands and retailers for clothes and accessories such as Betsey Johnson backpacks, Alex & Ani charm bracelets, and Nanette Lepore watches featuring the famed double W insignia. Pieces from designers such as Louis Vuitton and Versace will be displayed and auctioned for charity at a June 7 event in Paris,” Faughnder continues.

For those of you keeping score at home, “Wonder Woman” so far has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 44 of the 46 reviews this morning rating it as “fresh rather than “rotten.”

As for why this weekend’s blockbuster wannabe’s failed to excite moviegoers in the U.S., Deadline Hollywood’s Anthony D'Alessandro and Anita Busch report a developing theory out in La La Land that involves that very same Web site. 

“Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with ‘Pirates 5’ and ‘Baywatch’ respectively earning 32% and 19% [which are decidedly on the “rotten” side of the meter]. The critic aggregation site increasingly is slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies,” they write. 

“‘Pirates 5’ and ‘Baywatch’ aren’t built for critics but rather general audiences, and once upon a time these types of films — a family adventure and a raunchy R-rated comedy — were critic-proof. Many of those in the industry severely question how Rotten Tomatoes computes its ratings, and the fact that these scores run on Fandango (which owns RT) is an even bigger problem,” D'Alessandro and Busch conclude.

So how long do you think it will be before Hollywood moguls start using social media to tell us directly about how great their productions are while tweeting incessantly about all those “fake reviews” out there?

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