But let's get into it - spoiler free and all.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)
Back in 2017, I was all about Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. It was one of my favorite films of that year and ever since I’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of Wonder Woman 1984. With the two minor setbacks of the release date, I was still in high hopes it would be worth the wait. To my surprise and truthfully, utter disbelief at first, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined, which is okay. But let's get into it - spoiler free and all.
As I would expect, there’s a lot of campiness. But it seems like WW84 can’t really decide if it wants to be campy the whole time instead of fully embracing it. I just didn’t vibe with how this movie carried itself.
The thing I loved so much about Wonder Woman (2017) is how the setting ties into its theme. The backdrop of World War I aligns with Diana’s internal moral dilemma. When Diana witnesses the war-torn world, she has to come to her own conclusion whether or not humanity is worth trying to save. Wonder Woman portrays the horrors of war with more depth than even some war films, and it tackles themes of humanity and hope that feels very organic to its 1918 setting. In Wonder Woman 1984, the world is a spectacle that hinges on nostalgia yet fails to feel nostalgic whatsoever. The setting doesnt tie into the theme texually or subtextually. The world and its characters don’t feel organic, and with a cold-war backdrop, I think WW84 really missed an opportunity to tie the setting into the theme.
WW84 begins with a flashback to Diana’s childhood that sets up the main theme of the film. The opening scene feels really out of place in the context of the rest of the film, but seeing as how the theme is sort of lost throughout the overstretched run time, it seems like this was thrown in at the last minute so we know what the take-away is supposed to be right at the start. I’ll tell you right now, it doesn’t come back around in a particularly satisfying way. Coming hot off the flashback opening, we jump to 1984, where Diana lives in D.C. as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Museum. Barbara Ann Minerva is her shy new colleague at the museum and immediately takes a liking to Diana, wanting to be as cool as her. We also meet Max Lord, an oil tycoon trying to save his dying business when he gets his hands on an important artifact from the museum’s lab that could change his life forever. When all three are each affected by the artifact’s powers, Diana has to figure out how to stop Max from taking it too far. It’s an okay plot with not a lot of engaging elements. It's a simple story that is trying to feel like it's full of substance, but just misses the mark. The plot elements are fine, but WW84 does not use it’s screen time wisely. The third act feels really rushed and the character arcs just overlap with a lot of dissonance.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I’m not too picky about comic book character adaptations because I like when new movies make them their own. I enjoyed Cheetah and Max Lord as cunning and believable villains, however I feel like we get too much of one and not enough of the other. We get a lot of Barbara, when we could have had more time with Cheetah. Max Lord is a really well developed character and his scenes dominate the screen, but consequently Diana’s most crucial moments fall flat because there is so much going on with Max. With that being said, that does not fault the actual performances in the slightest. Kristen Wiig blew me away and I wasn’t ready for what she brought to her character. It was nice to see Gal hone in on a more sophisticated and wiser Diana. Pedro Pascal’s portrayal was wonderful and engaging, to the point where he almost carried the film on his back. Chris Pine was everything this film needed him to be and then some as Steve. I’m glad they decided to give us some time with his character.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Production design was alright. I appreciated the 80s luxury flashy gold everywhere as a fitting nod to the woman of wonder. However, the costuming was strange. I wasn't a huge fan of the diet 80s fashion. The looks are all decade inspired rather than pulled from the archives. As far as effects go, it’s a superhero movie; it does the job. I could nitpick some questionable CG moments, but it’s nothing I’d dare call distracting. The action sequences were all fun and kinetic, I really just wish there were more of them. This movie shines when Wonder Woman shines, and across a 2hr 30min run time, I would have expected a few more of those moments. But what’s here is good, and that counts for something.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The absolute standout soundtrack pick was Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome. It’s a cherry on top to the scene where it plays and was one of my only “oh yeah, this is 1984” moments. There are some little synthy techno tracks that are stitched into the main score which is a cool touch. 2017’s Wonder Woman had a lot of great moments for the score that make Diana's story feel uniquely hers. Those moments still exist in WW84 to a smaller scale, so it just didn’t excite me the same way. We barely ever hear her theme, which adds to my issue with it not feeling like her movie at all.
WW84 is absolutely not the worst movie in the world, let alone of this year. A lot of superhero sophomore efforts tend to lack some of the magic of their origin stories, and WW84 is no exception. At the end of the day, I’m happy to see the golden lasso back on the silver screen. It’s already been announced that a third film has been greenlit, and you can bet I’ll have my butt glued to the seat. Even if this sequel wasn’t for me, I am still pretty excited for the new one, and I hope by then we will be back to experiencing movies in a theater again. Wonder Woman 1984 is available now on HBO Max and in select theaters in the US.