The new Wonder Woman film restores my faith that superhero movies, like Hollywood's video game adaptations, are doomed to be bad films. But to detail the multitude of mistakes, inaccuracies, inconsistencies, clichés, and lazy dialogue would be a waste of our time; instead I'll focus on two prominent issues that plague all modern Hollywood action-driven films, particularly the superhero sort: slow motion and, for lack of a better name, the horny cameraman.
Slow motion is exactly that: slow motion (traditionally by an over-cranked camera). It's a simple editor's device that, when used correctly, can provide extra depth—emphasize an emotion or death or failure (Seven Samurai)—or more commonly enhance the coolness of an action. Like most devices, good slow motion shouldn't call attention to itself as a tool, just like proper word choice shouldn't pull attention from the content (unless word choice is the content, as in the opening paragraphs of Lolita), but should enhance the current emotion, mood, or experience of a scene. Lately, though, Hollywood treats slow motion as a simple trick to increase the coolness of any given action sequence. Boring superheroes fighting endless aliens we don't care about? Slow motion! Cool martial arts move that took the actor fifteen tries to pull off? Slow motion! Wonder Woman jumping into a room of German soldiers? Slow motion! And again. And again. And you know what, it's been three seconds since we saw Wonder Woman jump in slow motion, so let's do it once more for the hell of it. (After all, there's nothing like seeing the perfectly shaven and toned legs of an Amazonian warrior in slow motion.) But in reproducing the same effect Hollywood cheapens its use every time. The first moment Major, from the new Ghost in the Shell, jumps through a window in HD slow motion, it's cool. It has weight—we know she'll kill the enemies, we've been waiting for her cool entrance, and here it is in its slow, glass-sparkling, glory. Skip ahead to the end, after a few more slow motion shots, to the final roof jump, and we don't care one bit about the slow motion. It adds nothing more than time to a film already long enough. It becomes a gimmick, a toy, a nuisance.
More so than most recent action films, Wonder Woman abused the device every chance it had. Thus, halfway through the film, I wanted to shout at the screen to just let me watch the goddamned action. Good action does not need to rely on cheap effects to enhance its spectacle. But if necessary, use slow motion sparingly; nobody talks anymore about M. Night Shyamalan plot twists as if they're inventive or surprising. The surprise was forgotten when The Sixth Sense ended.
Now to shift fully and explain what you've been wondering: what is a horny cameraman? You'll see his result in every modern superhero movie (and most action movies as well), but you may not have noticed it yet. The horny cameraman has an inability to turn the camera away from our beautiful stars no matter what happens. Take note during the next action sequence of how many adversaries there are, where they're coming from, and when they'll stop attacking. Hard to do, right? Because the camera will never pull away from our stars, our ungodly beautiful ego-driven stars. Wonder Woman can jump into a room, punch and kick an uncountable number of Germans—for whom we feel nothing—and move on to the next battle with the next innumerable extras. Enemies in modern action movies are like flies, or more, they replicate those stages in video games where your character walks into a room, doors shut, and you have to battle dozens of enemies until no more drop down from the ceiling. How many enemies? No idea, just keep shooting. Do they matter or pertain to the story? No, they spawned for the sake of another battle, another forgettable challenge. Plus, our superhero characters have the magical money shield on them: so long there's a chance they will make money, they will not die. They always win, the nameless and faceless bad guys always die, quickly, and everything ends well.
But why not, for a change, decrease the number of enemies and give each one more weight? Move the camera off Gal Gadot and her compatriots and show the result of her attacks. The viewers don't need a detailed account into the victim's unfortunate life, but showing any simple reaction to one of Wonder Woman's attacks would help solidify both the existence of real enemies (as opposed to extras who only bloat runtime) and her strength, which, through little motivation, cannot even be matched by the great Greek god of war.