Wonder Woman: The Good the Bad and the Ugly of CGI
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was released in 2017, and it was the first widely praised DCEU film. It put Gal Gadot on the map, and she owned the role. It also allowed Patty Jenkins to showcase her skills as an action director. Visually, the film is stunning in many ways, thanks to the great use of CGI. Set during World War I, the backdrop is rich with visual history. Themyscira also offers fantastic visual lore. On the other hand, some action pieces demonstrate a good argument for less is more.
There are a lot of visual effects shots in Wonder Woman. Cityscapes and landscapes feature some of the best CGI. The Amazon island of Thymescira is rich with stunning waterfalls, lush greenery, and epic cliffs. When we move off the island into London, we see a different kind of richness. The city during World War I is dark, grey, and dirty. We see clouds of steam and the pollution of industrial progress. The shots in both settings set the film’s tone.
The” no man’s land” sequence is another gleaming example of great CGI. Greeted with heavy fire, Diana (Gal Gadot) emerges from the trench. We get perspective shots from the other side and some bullet POV. At one point, Diana is overwhelmed, and she shields herself from a hell-storm of gunfire. Once in the town, we get some great shots of toppling vehicles and massive explosions. In these cases, the CGI helps sell the intensity and grittiness of war.
The Bad and the Ugly
On the other hand, Wonder Woman also contains some effects inconsistencies. While the fight sequences are stunning, the same scenes have some ineffective CGI. The first Amazon fight includes some digital insertions of characters performing superhuman feats. The sequence picks up immediately after with live footage of the actor. Those split seconds look like a video game, and the CGI has an unnatural sheen. It just doesn’t match up well with the live footage.
The physics of CGI is another noticeable inconsistency. At the end of the “no man’s land” sequence, Diana leaps out of the trench. That one action is noticeably animated. The CG model looks 200 pounds heavier and lands awkwardly. In the town, Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) take out German soldiers. Steve is shot in live-action, while Diana is a CGI model. Her movement is sped up and doesn’t match Gal Gadot’s earlier live-action work. Again, the CGI is glaringly noticeable.
Overall, Wonder Woman is an excellent example of an origin story well told. However, the use of CGI in the film serves as a good argument for a less is more approach.