December 23rd, 2020
MOVIE: WONDER WOMAN 1984
STARRING: GAL GADOT, CHRIS PINE, KRISTEN WIIG, PEDRO PASCAL
DIRECTED BY: PATTY JENKINS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
With the massive success of 2017’s Wonder Woman, audiences are most likely aware that whatever was to follow would shirley not be able to achieve the same impact as the first. Patty Jenkins had made the penultimate superhero movie, with a female hero and did it with a powerful stroke of precision and creative genius. It was not about a woman proving things to others, although that naturally comes with any superhero narrative, but it was about proving things to herself. Gal Gadot stepped onto the stage and effortlessly delivered as Diana Prince, the warrior from Themiscyra, fought Nazi’s in WWI, a big monstrous demon god, and fell in love with American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). And she did it all of that to save a world she was unaware of. Now, after Covid pushed things out of our summer, Wonder Woman 1984 arrives at Christmas, premiering on HBO Max, and this one has the inspiration of the first Wonder Woman, but lacks in having much of an adventure, or a story at all this time around. Wonder Woman 1984 is filled with retro 80’s nostalgia, a few well paced action scenes, but it lacks in a story to remember. Wonder Woman 1984 is a bit stale.
There are polarizing narratives with WW84. Things start well, with a flashback to Themiscyra, with a young Diana, the only kid in the group, competing in an American Gladiators-style event. The action moves quickly, as Diana’s mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and teacher Antiope (Robin Wright) look on, and although she does not win, there’s a genuine lesson about learning to do things the right way. Fast Forward to “present day” 1984, Diana works at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and defeats bank robbers in her down time. It’s a lonely state, but newcomer Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) shares an appreciation for gems and a similar sense of loneliness that Diana has. When a mysterious stone arrives at the museum, it’s revealed that it wields an uncertain power, with the ability to grant wishes, but when it falls into the greedy hands of oil baron Maxwell Lord (a slimy Pedro Pascal), he uses these powers for his own personal world domination. Of course, not if Wonder Woman has anything to do with it.
The screenplay by Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham works well at the lighthearted charms of these characters and sets them up for inspiring fun, but one of the major themes in WW84 is “be careful what you wish for”. That theme applies to everything else about the narrative. Diana wishes Steve would come back and the reunion is sweet and comforting, including a fun clothes change montage, but it’s also retroactive. Barbara wishes for great powers like Diana’s and it turns her into a more confident cheetah-like villain. Her character is ultimately sidelined by Pascal’s Lord, who although perfectly smarmy and greasy, he becomes too much of the major focus. In Wonder Woman 1984 there’s not enough Wonder Woman. When we see Gadot use her lasso or swat bullets away like flies, it’s a highlight of her power, and I wanted so much more.
That’s not to say that Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t have positives to mention. Gadot is still every bit as awesome as the title character. At this point her presence as the DC superhero should last forever, similar to the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man and Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr. As for the rekindled romance between Prince and Trevor, it is incredibly sweet, with Trevor fascinated with the new inventions of the future, and a cool introduction to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. There’s also a spectacular score by Hans Zimmer, who is no stranger to superhero movies, but knows how to set the mood for almost any movie he is employed on. There’s many technical things that this Wonder Woman movie can hang its hat on, I just wish the story was something else.
When I reached the end of Wonder Woman 1984 I was trying to think of other superhero movies it reminded me of and I sadly kept going back to Iron Man 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-Men: Apocalypse. That’s not a memorable collection. The ending feels overstuffed with multiple villains, the terror at hand is so massive on a global scale the heroics don’t matter, and the hero we are wanting to cheer for is saddled with trivial problems instead of the big ones. Wonder Woman is a fantastic superhero and her movies will only get better, but Wonder Woman 1984 belongs in the past.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 PREMIERES ON HBO MAX CHRISTMAS DAY
Written by: Leo Brady