Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) – A Review
Gal Gadot returns as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman the world’s favorite super heroine from DC Comics. After being introduced to the world in 1918, the sequel takes a mammoth time jump to 1984. Rather than trenches, prop planes and German soldiers, Diana is now working as an anthropologist for the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and is surrounded by awesome 1980’s clothes, dance moves and malls.
Thanks to a mystical Dreamstone that makes wishes come true Diana inadvertently brings back her long dead love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). This Deamstone also assists in making geeky Barbara’s (Kristin Wiig) wish of becoming more like Diana come true and making failing entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) become something of a genie with the ability of granting wishes himself!
All this ‘wishes do come true’ causes a lot more problems than expected. The Monkey Paw ramifications from this non-stop wishing threatens the world and Wonder Woman has to put a stop to Lord’s maniacal wish assembly line, while also fighting Barbara who has taken on the role of villainous Cheetah. Plus, Diana might have to sacrifice her deepest wish of having Steve back and letting him go once again.
Wonder Woman 1984 has been a highly anticipated film since the original became a hit in 2017. While, I thought the first Wonder Woman had a few moments and liked Gadot in the role much more than I expected, I didn’t think is was all that great and was confused by all the accolades and praise fans heaped upon it.
It appeared the majority of audiences simply loved it and were anxious to get Patty Jenkins’ followup film for another Wonder Woman adventure with Gadot as soon as possible.
The worldwide pandemic hit the brakes on the release of the film. After several release delays, Warner Bros. made the choice of releasing Wonder Woman 1984 both digitally and theatrically (to the few theaters in operation) at the same time around the world. This release strategy is the template that Warners appears will follow for the release of all their films for 2021.
Folks will look closely at how that all works out and see if it’s a viable and profitable way film studios can proceed in the future. For now, it looks like Wonder Woman 1984 is a success with this unique release. While, in its first week it grossed 17 million at the box office (in a normal year this would be viewed as flop numbers for such a big tentpole movie), it has been a huge hit on HBOMax. Subscriptions for the streaming platform jumped thanks to viewers wanting to see the film, it had the biggest streaming debut ever and became the most watched film of the year.
Warners have even announced a third Wonder Woman film is on the fast track to be made. So, clearly WW84 (as folks like to refer to it) is a success in this new pandemic era.
Perhaps we’ll be seeing more and more simultaneous ‘streaming and theatrical’ releases of big films in the future from Hollywood. Time will tell.
It’s all interesting stuff, but what about the movie Wonder Woman 1984 itself? Well, for all the success and excitement the sequel has generated it doesn’t translate into being an entertaining and satisfying film. It’s pretty bad.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first film, it did have some good moments. I can rewatch certain parts and enjoy it. Like the famous ‘No Man’s Land’ scene, which I thought was the standout scene in the first film. I didn’t have very high expectations for Wonder Woman 1984, I only hoped that Jenkins would have a better footing and be more consistent with the quality of this adventure. Maybe even possibly make it better!
But it wasn’t. It was much worse in fact. Wonder Woman 1984 felt overlong, laborious and had no interesting characters. The story was weak, confusing, unengaging and the film possessed no standout moments to make me feel it’s worth seeing ever again. I felt every minute of its two and half hour runtime.
I suspect even those you liked Wonder Woman 1984 would feel it was a drop off from its predecessor. I can see why the word “disappointment” has been mentioned by so many who have watched it.
The storyline (Jenkins is credited with the script, along with Geoff Johns and Dave Callahan) of a magical wishing stone that has fallen into the wrong hands was just not captivating or done the least bit well. The villains were not menacing or were strong obstacles for our heroine to overcome. It felt like the majority of the film was flailing around this silly focal point of a wishing stone.
Things were set up and not delivered on. Not to mention it was a very, very confusing film. I kept trying to figure out the films own rules, while also being very perplexed as to why they decided to do some of this stuff in a Wonder Woman movie.
If Jenkins and the filmmakers’ intention was to get audiences scratching their heads for most of this, I think then you could call Wonder Woman 1984 a success in that department.
There are very long stretches of dullness that gives you ample enough time to try to ask how and why are things happening, but you’re not going to find any reasonable answers. When the superhero action finally does kick in it’s not very thrilling. It’s CGI heavy, it doesn’t look the least bit convincing and is simply not very well choreographed or filmed.
Wiig’s character arc of being this nerdy girl to becoming villainous antagonist is trite and silly. When I saw her over-the-top introduction, dropping papers all over the floor doing her awkward ‘Wiig speak’ (you might mistakenly think that you’re watching 2016’s Ghostbusters again). I immediately flashbacked to Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Jim Carrey in Batman Forever and Jamie Foxx in Spider-Man 3, it’s the same kind of character and execution.
It’s the classic character being a put-upon geek, not respected, ignored and then the transformation of them getting power. They lose their glasses, get mean and finally are able to throw security guards across the room. It’s not very interesting. Of course the nerdy woman must be wearing glasses to make her appear unattractive. We can’t allow that cliché to be missed out on.
And I still am not sure how Barbara makes the leap to wishing to become a Cheetah. They didn’t really connect the dots very well with that!
Wiig is a strange choice for this role. She has a handle on the ‘awkward’ klutzy gal bit (that’s what she’s best known for playing), but when she’s meant to take the turn into becoming the intimidating and dangerous threat she falls short.
Pascal isn’t much better as an adversary. He energetically hams things up, and is less dangerous and maniacal than I think he’s meant to come off. He’s trying to be a success to make his son proud, but once he gets his oil business on track he just keeps continuing to want more and more. It got to the point I wasn’t sure what he was after or why he kept this wishing scheme of his going.
One odd thing I thought about after watching this was how much screen time Pascal has and how unmemorable a character he turned out to be. The actor who plays the President is quite bad too. Maybe he’s supposed to be President Reagan, I don’t know.
Another confusing bit with this wishing stone (and there are plenty!!!) is that it’s mentioned that when you wish for something you lose something. Ok.
So, Diana gets her wish for Steve to live again. It comes true and she now must lose something – I think. At moments we see she’s getting weaker and losing her superhero strength. Ok, so this could add some tension to the action as she becomes more vulnerable. But the film never runs with that or does anything with it. She gets a bloody shoulder, has trouble breaking a lock and that’s the extent of showing Wonder Woman weakening. It’s all for nothing. It’s this kind of thing that makes so many scenes play as filler.
Nightmares befalling upon people from the ramifications of dreams coming true. The idea, while not wholly original, does have potential for both fun and serious results. Yet, the film never really gels with it and pays the idea off in any interesting ways. I can give a film some suspension of disbelief if it lays down its rules and plays by them, but with WW84 it’s like they’re writing the rulebook as the film progresses. As a result it makes it impossible to follow.
The ‘wish stuff’ will make you’re head fill up with questions and search for the explanations to how it’s meant to work – or at least the filmmakers decisions of what made them decide to go down these roads. One whopper of a ‘What were they thinking Question’ I had was – why did they make Trevor take over another man’s body to fulfill Diana’s wish of wanting him to return to her?
Diana wishes that the dead Steve comes back to her. Ok, I got that. So, Pine returns, but he’s inside another man’s body. They do that old trick of him looking in a mirror and seeing some other actor’s face. Everyone we’re told sees him as this other actor, but we see Pine.
Questions started filling up my noggin: Who is this other guy? What happened to him? Does he just exist in limbo while Pine is occupying his body? Does he have family or friends that are wondering why he’s behaving like a pilot from WWI now?
In my mind, the way they constructed how dead Steve has took up residence in an innocent modern day man should make it easier for Diana to let Steve go and renounce her wish. Forget her getting weaker, Steve residing in some other poor schlubs skin should be the penalty for this wish coming true. They essentially wiped out an innocent man and his life for Steve to go walk around art galleries with Diana.
Shouldn’t Wonder Woman immediately selflessly exclaim – “I’m not going to accept my wish coming true if it means it will eliminate the life and existence of an innocent man”? Of course the movie doesn’t do that, it’s more interested in getting us to giggle watching Pine wear a fanny pack.
I don’t understand why they went this route with Steve’s resurrection and not simply make Steve arrive back mysteriously, walking around, looking like himself and not being some kind of entity that is using some random guys body as his own now. What’s with doing this All of Me thing? It just seemed like the body swapping concept was pointless and didn’t contribute anything other than even more confusion and questions.
Establish the rules at the start and then we’ll go along with the premise! Lord has to physically touch people to grant wishes, there’s some kind of payback to getting your wish granted, the wishes are making Pascal’s eyes bloodshot, wouldn’t some people’s wishes cancel others out, is he taking something from everyone who wishes something, now does Lord want his health back, what’s he want from the President??? Oh brother. I just gave up trying to figure it out.
When the movie does get around to the ‘Wonder Woman’ action it’s another underwhelming aspect. It’s CGI heavy, it doesn’t look convincing and is simply not very well chrorgraphed or filmed. There’s the mall robbery, a truck chase, a fight in the White House against Cheetah and the final fight against her on some dam.
That last fight is particularly bad! It’s dark, it’s very video game-ish, Cheetah looks terrible. There’s a setup to that golden armor Diana will change into at the climax. It was hyped in the trailers, she’s wearing it on the posters and it doesn’t pay off in any way. It ends up providing nothing special to their brief fight.
Take your pick as to what you’d say is the best action scene from WW84 is. None made me feel eager to watch any of them again. There is no ‘No Man’s Land’ scene. Nothing even close. I guess that’s why that ‘No Man’s Land’ scene from the first film scene was so memorable, it wasn’t soaked in outlandish CGI and there was emotion to go along with it. I didn’t get anything like that anywhere in WW84.
Add in a disorienting climax of Wonder Woman stopping Lord from granting wishes to the world in some underground bunker thanks to satellite technology that will technically fulfill the requirement of him physically touching people to grant their wishes, Wonder Woman uses her magic lasso to act as a type of microphone to speak to the world reciting corny fortune cookie lines to renounce their wishes and bring the world back together…..it’s all really weird.
I guess I’d say the best part in Wonder Woman 1984 are Gadot and Pine traversing through some 1980’s sets reversing their roles of the ‘fish out of water’ from the original, where now Steve is the one overwhelmed and confused by this futuristic world. The pair click and fans who enjoyed watching their chemistry in the first film should enjoy seeing them reconnect, although I don’t think there’s as much emotion or romance between them as in the original flick.
They engage in simple jokes, nothing mind-blowing. In fact, the 1984 setting is another thing that feels thrown in without any major payoffs. They manage to get some easy laughs with cheesy clothes. Although, I wasn’t very amused by Pine going through a ‘clothes montage’. It felt like something I’d see in some silly Juila Roberts comedy.
It’s too bad the film didn’t spend more time on the reunited lovers and give them more scenes to play with each other. That would have been more gratifying to see rather than what we get.
I was also surprised the film doesn’t drip with tunes from the 1980s dotting its soundtrack, much like Guardians of The Galaxy did with the 1970s. That’s the easy route many films take, pour in some ’80’s hit songs everyone loves for easy recognition and fun. I thought that would be a given. Have Gadot and Pine dance to Foreigner or Air Supply, have a superheoric fight scene with a boom box blasting Motley Crue, but theres’ nothing like that.
There’s a Han Zimmer score and I still enjoy Wonder Woman’s theme, but I was shocked that the soundtrack didn’t embrace its 80’s setting. I mean, it’s in the title of the movie, let’s have fun with it and dig through Warners library of music from the decade.
Here’s a bit of a spoiler – there’s a tacked on brief cameo appearance by Lynda Carter at the very end, but that couldn’t save WW84 for me. Tossing in an invisible plane did nothing but provided another eye-roll in this fiasco.
Perhaps hardcore fans of Wonder Woman, Gadot and Jenkins will enjoy WW84 and have some fun with it. But I quickly felt the positives from the original film got lost, they weren’t built upon and the character wasn’t given anything special to do in her sequel. The script is quite the mess and gave Wonder Woman an extremely perplexing adventure in 1984. It really bottomed out.
It will leave fans more confused than anything and make them wonder what happened with this sequel. They’ll only be left wishing that the third Wonder Woman movie will be better.
I thought we’d get Diana and Steve having a romantic cheesy montage to 80s songs like this. It just seemed like a given.