Wonder Woman 1984 Review

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All Rights go to Warner Bros.

By Graham Jones, Reporter

For the last few years, there has been an undeniable interest in the ‘80s pop culture. Shows and movies like Stranger Things and Ready Player One have gained incredible success just due to featuring music, films, television shows, and properties from the 1980s. Because of that, studios have begun creating more and more entertainment that takes place in the era in the hopes of cashing in on people’s sweet, sweet nostalgia. One of these cases comes in the form of the sequel to the massive superhero film hit, Wonder Woman. The 2017 blockbuster was successful critically and financially, making $822 million globally and praised for being one of the first female-led superhero films. Production studio Warner Bros. quickly got to work on a sequel with director Patty Jenkins and eventually released it after four delays with the title Wonder Woman 1984. In the film, we find Wonder Woman herself, Diana Prince, living a melancholic life in 1984, stopping crimes and pining over her lost love, Steve Trevor. When a mysterious, wish-granting stone emerges, Diana must stop the power-hungry businessman  Maxwell Lord from using the stone to take over the world. 

 

I’ve always thought that 2017’s Wonder Woman was a good but not great movie. It had some amazing action set pieces and very charming characters, but its third act was a giant failure in basic storytelling. I went into Wonder Woman 1984  with very high expectations and unfortunately came out very disappointed. I should address that going into the movie expecting something amazing may have been the reason I felt so let down by the film, but I think even if I had gone into the film with zero expectations, I still would have come out disappointed. Running at about two hours and 30 minutes, the film’s plot, or should I say plots, are all over the place and a complete mess. In fact, it’s such a mess that I don’t even know where to start. 

 

For one, the introduction of a “wishing stone” seems like a fun idea for a throwback superhero film, but instead, it becomes convoluted in its rules. Maxwell Lord, the character that uses the stone the most, sometimes must follow very specific guidelines when using it, but sometimes it’s an “anything goes” situation. This may not seem like too big of a problem, but the film chooses to focus on it so much that many of the movie’s biggest plot points end up making absolutely no sense.

All Rights go to Warner Bros.

 

Another big focus is the return of Steve Trevor after Diana wishes for her WWI boyfriend to come back to life. This could be really interesting and create a classic superhero dilemma with Diana having to choose between the world and the one thing she’s wanted all her life, but the film decides to use it for a few “fish out of water” gags and one or two touching moments before it throws it out. On top of that, the way he returns is a bizarre choice by the writers and makes Diana and Steve look like kind of terrible people. I won’t spoil why that is but it’s truly strange. 

 

The third and maybe final plot of the film is Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva, becoming Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis Cheetah by wishing she was like Diana. There’s more to it than just that, but it’s another part of the film that is rushed and feels awkward. Barabra starts off as an out-of-date stereotype of a “nerd,” and then wishes to be like Diana so she can be “cool,” but somehow this turns her into a mean and violent person because the wishing stone works like a monkey’s paw device…sometimes. This goes back to the stone’s existent/non-existent rules which once again, really ruin this whole movie. Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that she kind of asks to turn into a cheetah, which makes her into a horrific CGI creature reminiscent of 2019’s Cats film. This movie is exhausting. 

 

Switching to something that’s a bit better, the acting from the whole cast is acceptable. Gal Gadot, who plays the title character, is, to be honest, not a great actor. That’s not to say she’s bad, but she can definitely come off as stilted sometimes. I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman 1984 is her best work to date. While some of her scenes are still a little frozen, she nails the emotional moments of the film, which I have to admit are still pretty effective. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor does his usual schtick, which is always a good time to watch but nothing new. Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva is a lacking performance but not a terrible one by any means. She pulls off her scenes well, but it feels as if she’s still acting like she’s in an SNL sketch rather than a big blockbuster film. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord is no doubt the best part of this whole film. While the character may be under-developed, Pascal plays Lord with an infectious hamminess that I can’t see anyone disliking. Constantly over-the-top and always scene-stealing, Pascal has a unique type of charm I’ve never seen before. 

 

All Rights go to Warner Bros.

The film has a nice 1980s production design, which I’m sure will be nostalgic for those from the era, but other than that, the movie never indulges in its setting. Its time and setting doesn’t affect the film’s plot in any way and is rarely referenced throughout its runtime. This leads me to think that as mentioned before, Warner Bros. studio was simply cashing in on the recent ‘80s resurgence, and frankly, I don’t blame them because without the colorful and flashy backgrounds, this film would be almost no fun. Wonder Woman 1984 is just such a mess and really it’s sad because you can tell from interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that everyone involved put their heart and soul into it. But as I said, it fails in so many departments, especially failing in its story, which is one of the most important aspects of any film. Even its message is confusing, having something to do with truth and not taking shortcuts, I honestly don’t know. If you put the lasso of truth around my arm, I would still say that Wonder Woman 1984 is a massive swing and miss.