*Contains spoilers (all views expressed are my own)
Wonder Woman 1984, one of the most anticipated films this year, just released this past Friday on HBO MAX and in limited theaters. Warner Brothers releasing this film on Christmas day was supposed to be a highlight for 2020 and finally gave fans something to look forward to after such a crazy year. With all the delays, announcements, advertisements, trailers and fandoms there was so much riding on this sequel to be a success or as fans call it the saving grace for the DCEU. Instead we got a mediocre film full of inconsistencies, major plot holes, forced emotional scenes, terrible CGI and lots of “web slinging.”
The bland and overhyped sequel felt more like a bad experiment infused with 80’s elements as an excuse to mix things up. Set in the 1980’s, the film really has no bearing on the Justice League or DCEU. Although how a future Batman doesn’t know anything about this incident is a little mind-boggling, that’s minor in the context of why this movie doesn’t work though. Jenkins emphasized why she chose the 80’s for the film and what this era represented and the significance of the “pursuit of having it all.” She promised that Wonder Woman 1984 embraces its own “look and feel but it feels more like an excuse to not take itself seriously. Despite having some standout worthy performances, WW84 just falls flat and feels like an unnecessary filler full of lazy comic book tropes and poorly written origin stories.
With Director Patty Jenkins returning, WW84 picks up decades after the events of the World War 1 focused blockbuster hit Wonder Woman (2017) and flashes forward to malls, mullets and fanny packs. Gal Gadot reprises her role as the beloved Amazon Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman, and surprisingly so does Chris Pine portraying her love interest Steve Trevor despite dying in the first film. In WW84 Diana Prince maintains a low profile working as a curator with ancient artifacts while somehow keeping her heroic acts quiet. She eventually comes face to face with two poorly written super-villains, wannabe entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and loner Barbara Minerva/ Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).
While both Wiig and Pascal gave individually note-worthy performances it still wasn’t enough to save this movie. The structure of this film was outlandish and downright lazy. DC has a tendency to neglect the small details or make little effort to make sure things are explained properly or even cohesively connect. The visually- stunning opening sequence in Themyscira had a very clear cut message, that you cannot cut corners to succeed. This clearly was the theme of the movie but they made no effort to reflect on this scene at all the entire rest of the movie. As an adult Diana didn’t even take this advice and this scene eventually had no bearing on the movie at all and just felt out of place.
WW84 is based upon an ancient artifact that simply lets you make a wish.
That’s it. Diana and her coworker Barbara whom she never paid attention to before skeptically make wishes that do in fact actually come true. Barbara wishes to be just like her new friend Diana, confident, cool, stylish, strong and pretty. Eventually she realizes she gained more than the ability to walk in heels but also incredible strength. (We’ll get back to Cheetah next)
Meanwhile Diana wishes to see her dead lover Steve again. Chris Pine returns as Steve but not how you would think. He somehow comes back but not as himself, his soul has taken over some random dude’s body as Pine is only visible to the viewer. Now the love story absolutely worked great in the first film, but this was a very weird and wildly inappropriate way to bring back his character. They made a woman into a cat, created a Great Wall out of thin air, started nuclear wars, practically brainwashed the entire world … but they couldn’t put him in his own body? The film also doesn’t spend any time explaining Steve’s return or why it’s unethical to hijack a living strangers body. Diana didn’t even seem to care how, who, what or even why Trevor was back. At least the romance in the first film was charming and added some dimension to their characters, but bringing Trevor back in this film was just weird and problematic.
Also bringing Steve back like this takes away from the whole woman empowerment perspective.
Patty Jenkins has all this talk about making female heroes strong and someone to look up to but Diana spends half the movie pining over her lost love. She puts Steve before the world and her own health. She judges Barbara for basically doing the same thing until she finally deems it more important to save herself and the world.
Getting back to archenemy Cheetah, Kristen Wiig actually does a great job portraying the ambitious, awkward and severely neurotic archaeologist Barbara Minerva. However, the movie does Cheetah no justice as the character is written so poorly and constantly competes for screen time with other super-villain Maxwell Lord. They destroy her origin, and pump her character with every cliché transformation. They could’ve done a much better job than her suddenly being “hot” when she only removes her glasses or every time she puts on a pair of heels. Honestly, they should’ve made Barbara the main villain and focused solely on Cheetah and made Pascal a supporting character or save him for a future JL movie. What they should’ve done was make Barbara and Diana meet on an expedition in Africa and uncover the stone on one of black gold’s sites. This would’ve made for a much more interesting story, a better origin and be a little closer to actual source material.
Also towards the end of the movie she uses a second wish to transform again (how many wishes are there?) – this time into the even stronger anthropomorphic Cheetah that looks like horrible CGI straight out of Cats to only get defeated in a matter of minutes in an extremely boring, pointless and anti-climactic fight.
Even Maxwell Lord was done pretty dirty. He’s supposed to be loaded and have mind- control powers, but once again they based his character arc on a typical comic book trope where they try too hard to make you feel empathy towards him or that he’s only working so hard to provide for his son. Now Pascal definitely gave a helluva performance but once again his character didn’t have a good story or script to work with. Also did he literally just get away with it?
Aside from stereotypical origin stories and bad writing we are left with so many unanswered questions.
Did Maxwell literally exit a chopper in the scene where he was reunited with his son? After becoming an international criminal and nearly causing a catastrophic nuclear war military personnel found it in their hearts to escort him to his son? Are we supposed to just forget that he manipulated the military and government just because he renounced his wish and feel bad he has a son?
-How many wishes were people allowed ? It was never properly explained. Somehow Cheetah had multiple wishes and she also wasn’t touching Lord for that to have been an additional wish.
-Also when exactly did Cheetah get the full “Apex Predator” it was so quick it poorly transitioned.
-Also, you can just renounce the wish ?!?
-When were the rules of this stone ever explained?
-Did all these civilizations die because of the stone ?
-Why introduce the lore of the Golden armor to only have it so easily ripped apart?
The armor stood up to all of mankind… but ripped apart like paper machete
Lastly, if you’re going to go with the 80s theme then give us 80s!! With such an emphasis on being set in the 80’s the movie should have just opened up with the mall action scene. The film was supposed to have a nostalgic feel and all the cheese and radical essence of the 80’s. Yes, the 80s theme was super fun and they did give a campy vibe and nods to the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman era but was it well executed? Not exactly. Although there were some arcade scenes, 80s aerobic workouts and funky outfits, where were the crazy 80’s hairstyles? Why was everyone dressed badly except Diana, who constantly looked like a flawless runway model with no 80s aesthetic whatsoever? Also where was the 80’s music? This could’ve been the perfect opportunity to make a memorable soundtrack comparable to that Guardians of the Galaxy.
This film was mediocre, unmemorable and a pointless filler.
Definitely not the movie we expected or the direction we would’ve liked to see the DCU go in. You know there’s an issue when the most memorable moment is an end credit, seeing Lynda Carter was the highlight of this entire movie. The CGI was absolutely horrible, Diana’s lasso had more screen time than Gal herself and her running and flying scenes looked like green-screen in someone’s basement. The overhyped and over advertised Golden armor was pointless, as Diana spent less then 10 minutes in the suit, and it’s unfortunate that most of the fight scenes were unclear, forgettable and meaningless. Even WW was pointless in her own movie. Wiig and Pascal were the only standouts of this movie despite being given horrible origin stories. If they got rid of Max Lord, shaved 30 minutes out of the movie, and fleshed out Cheetah, it would’ve been a worthy sequel.
5.5 Over-Hyped · Forgettable · Corny
Major disappointment, little to no wonder.
Check out my review from the worthy Wonder Woman (2017) Review: Wonder Woman – Triple Header!