Movie Review: “Bomb Girls — Facing the Enemy”

I promise I have not moved to Canada, I’m just really into Canadian television right now. So, I would like to talk about the Bomb Girls movie.

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For those of you have who never seen Bomb Girls the first two seasons, which act as a prequel to this movie, are on Netflix so go watch them because they are amazing.

The movie was not so amazing. My feelings on it have evolved when I first watched it I was ridiculously excited. The show was cancelled after season two but the fans were promised a movie to follow. But shows promised that all the time and it hardly ever happens. So, when it does you get super excited and don’t see the flaws in the movie the first time because you are just so excited that the characters are back. Nothing could have killed how exciting it was even though it was horribly emotional and tragic. All the reactions on Twitter seemed the same, everyone was too excited to question anything it did.

Then I watched it again. The little things I let slide the first time, like them killing Vera, who is the complete opposite of how women who like sex are usually portrayed on television. There is no slut shaming for Vera. She is the sexy queen of everything. She slept with lots of people, because she liked sleeping with people and she was Vera and nobody was going to tell her she couldn’t.

This is the girl, who spent the entire first season in the hospital after she got her scalp ripped off in a factory accident. Then she becomes a badass. For them to kill off a character like that was not necessary. When you make a character that so many people respect and relate to and look up to you shouldn’t just kill them off for a character arch for other person. Marco already had the motive to go be a war hero before Vera randomly decide to enlist.

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Vera in season two: “You know Marco’s a war hero waiting to happen.
He keeps trying to enlist they won’t let him.”

I’m not just mad that they killed off Vera. I’m mad that they ignored her character arch over the first two seasons. She worked so hard to get to the top of the factory and establish herself at Vic Mu.

But, I blame Vera’s change in character on the writing.

Sometime in the middle of all the fans freaking out that the movie was actually going to happen, one of the co-creators Michael MacLennan, left the project. Nobody knows why. Then they brought in a guy, Donald Martin, who had never worked on the show or written an episode before, for some reason. The person that they brought in didn’t understand what Bomb Girls was about. Sure, it is about World War II and everything about it is the 40s and Nazis and Hitler. But, the show isn’t about the war. It is about how the average person is affected by the war. Many character’s had family oversees (Edith’s husband, Lorena’s sons, Gladys fiancé) and soldiers would cycle through (Lewis, Gene, Teresa) but they were never a main part of it.

As much as I feel like the fandom can agree that the show was cancelled because of Gladys spy story line, everyone has come to the point that the movie wasn’t that great because of the writing. They tried to rush to put in too much too quickly to the point that Vera’s death is overshadowed by the explosion at the bomb factory. This is the death of a major cast member which comes right on the heels of the death of a sort of main character, Ivan.

A lot with the writing was trying to fit in too much and make everyone spies. Sometimes you can tell the problem was just the writing by how great the actresses were still able to be with the poor writing. When Gladys goes and finds Betty, their dialogue would not have been as good as it was without Jodi Balfour and Ali Liebert delivering it so well.

That interaction in the first episode of season two when Betty tells Gladys she is just doing what girls do and their conversation in the boxing locker room are similar. It is the way Gladys gets to this point of having this little mean slant to what she says. In the show is it was “you telling me your hearts in this” and then Betty goes into her great quote. In the movie it’s Gladys saying “So this is free, hiding here from Kate?”

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It is the same thing, the way she delivers the dialogue. It brought it back to how the show is, which shows that this still is the same thing. It makes me feel like the whole thing is just these great actresses, these great characters and this great show trapped in this poorly written movie. I feel like that is why I like the Bomb Girls movie, but it is not that great.

I like parts of it but as a lot of people are saying it seems like the writer didn’t know what to do with Kate. As many people have been saying, you can interpret what Kate does to however your fandom wants it to go. I do that. I feel like Charlotte Hegele was acting it that Kate is in love with Betty.

It is the way that Betty looks at the picture and she asks her if she is still in love with Ivan. And Kate says, “no, things are different now.” For me, shipping McAndrews more than anything else, I took it as Kate is not ready to admit that she has feelings for Betty, but she might be ready to admit it to herself. I feel like if she was given better dialogue or a less rushed story or a story that captured what Bomb Girls was really about Charlotte Hegele would have been able to show us what she truly felt.

But, instead more time was devoted to Gladys being a spy. And though I liked Jakob as a character and the most out of any guy Gladys has been with, I’m a little mad that we go to see her make out with that guy a ton and McAndrews got three hugs.

The show never made it seem like the Gladys was more of a main character than anyone else. Gladys’ relationships were never more important than Vera’s or Marco’s or Betty’s. But, in the movie, we get to see Gladys be happy. We get to see Gladys be spy good. We get to see Gladys meet a new guy. We get to see Gladys do all this great stuff and come back to save the day and be the hero. While Betty is emotional destroyed, crying most of the time and doesn’t even know if the girl she is in love with likes girls. But, she bought a house with a room for her.

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I want to be mad that they didn’t do anything with McAndrews and if this really is the end of Bomb Girls and that is all we get I am going to be pissed, but I feel like I can take it and feel like Kate just isn’t ready to admit it yet. The movie seemed to give just enough to satisfy people and that kind of makes me sad, because if this was Xena I would take it.

But, it’s not the 90s anymore and this is a movie based on a Canadian television show. And yes, in the context of the show Betty and Kate can’t be Bo and Lauren but they could have at least kissed. What about after they trapped the head Nazi guy? Turn the intense hug into a kiss and then have them still be moving in together and leave it at that. That would have been something, but having them move in together and never defining Kate’s sexuality made it seem like the writer didn’t understand that Betty and Kate’s relationship and friendship was always an important aspect of the show.

Not something to be overshadowed by Gladys and spies.

Vera getting killed I feel like was too much about the war and the show is not about the war, it is about war workers. But, what I did like about the movie is that they did have a bomb in the bomb factory. It is always part of this show that we never think about. It is what Kate thought about in that hospital bed. This show is about them making bombs, so how many countless James’ and Ivans and Veras have they killed?

I feel like the writer watched Bomb Girls and liked it but he didn’t get it and he didn’t love it like so many of us love it. Because there is the little things like Kate saying “I’m spending the night with my friend Betty” when in the show Kate calls Teresa Betty’s friend and Gladys getting to that point of mean because she has to make Betty realize how serious she is being or Jane Schmidt saying to Gladys “we’re the same” just like how that Nazi told Betty “we are the same.”

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But Gladys turned Jane in because she falsified her papers and is really German, just like Kate and Betty, respectively. There were references but it wasn’t the same thing. There was too much in this movie and it pulled away from the fact that this is an ensemble show about war workers and friendship and being who you need to be. This was supposed to be a five-part mini-series and if this is all we get I’m not satisfied. I want there to be more. This is an amazing show and I hope some network –Netflix or not – sees that and picks it back up because I don’t think this is the end, I hope it isn’t the beginning of the end but I am fine with it being the end of the beginning.

 

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