It has been four years since Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman first showed up in Zack Snyder’s Caped-Crusader-Son-of-Krypton match-up, jumping into battle at the last second. Oh, the spine-chilling thumps of Hans Zimmer’s twangs as Diana lunged forward with her blade. Since then Wonder Woman has starred in her solo caper, garnering critical success on her own. While Wonder Woman got to feature in the Justice League team-up (we all know how THAT turned out), she’s flying solo again in her new film.
“Wonder Woman 1984” was originally slated for a release in December last year but was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic. At long last, the Amazon princess is here to save what has been a year with minimal blockbuster value. And she’s in theatres! Big-screen experience. Here. We. GO!
So, wonder no more as we are here to present our honest thoughts on the movie. We swear, we’re roped up in a chair with the Lasso of Hestia, so you will be hearing nothing but the truth from us.
After the events of the first movie, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) carries on living in the world of men. As the decades wind up to the 80s, she settles down in the nation’s capital, juggling vigilantism with unabashed glee while performing anthropological shenanigans at the Smithsonian. Most of her time is spent on helping the people around her, be it in little or giant ways.
Despite her affinity for humanity, there is one thing that she can’t quite shake away. She’s lonely. Everyone she formed an attachment with in the past has already passed on. Nevertheless, there is one individual whom she holds dearly in her heart despite the short time she had with, and that is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).
Diana eventually befriends Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a shy and awkward historian at her workplace. During the course of their work, they come across a mysterious citrine artefact which has the purported ability to grant wishes. Deciding to try it, Diana wishes for Steve Trevor to come back whereas Barbara wishes to be more like her new companion. Both desires are fulfilled, but the stone has a monkey’s paw twist to it, granting the user their deepest desires at a cost.
The situation soon spirals out of control as a down-on-luck businessman Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) attains the artefact for himself in order to become the most powerful tycoon in the world. As the world descends into madness due to repeated usage of the stone, it is up to Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to save the day. But can she? Can she give up this person she loves the most?
First, we appreciate that there was an attempt to make Diana Prince much more accessible. Yes, she may be able to go toe-to-toe with a Son of Krypton. Yes, she’s mighty. She’s cool. She’s got glitz and style. However, underneath all that still lies a very emotional being. One that can still feel love and pain and joy.
This sequel improves upon that by making Diana feel utterly lonely in this world. We see that the love she empties upon the community does not get reciprocated deep within her soul. So, naturally, when she gets a chance to find affection, much less bring the love of her life back, she takes it, not considering the weight of her decisions or what it might cost. Having to bear the cost of her own selfish desires is where Diana shines.
Diana Prince, the Amazon warrior, becomes human.
There is a role reversal here in the form of Steve Trevor. While Wonder Woman played the fish out of the water role in the first film, Steve here slips into the man out of time. Displaced but not dazed, he gasps with wonder at every contraption he sees, be it a subway train or an escalator. Chris Pine’s wide-eyed look perfectly encapsulates Steve’s utter glee in this new era.
Unlike the rest of the DCEU outings, “Wonder Woman 1984” makes no overt reference to the other films or its characters within the DC cinematic universe. There’s no deep-sea demigod. No Green Lanterns. No scarlet time-travelling speedsters. This is a double-lew-W standalone outing, through and through.
Despite that, “WW84’s” narrative issues abound. Even though it has more free rein without having to be bogged down by a mention of a metahuman every few scenes, the film does not succeed in creating a truly cohesive experience. The script written by Patty Jenkins herself along with Geoff Johns isn’t airtight as it bounces around multiple subplots involving the film’s villains.
The film lacks focus in where it intends to propel these characters, following them around to perform certain acts multiple times in order to drive a point home. As a matter of fact, the pacing here is rather disastrous, feeling a whole lot more bloated than it intended to be. One particular flashback to Themyscira at the start of the film feels so drawn out, but in hindsight didn’t really serve much of a purpose to the film’s 155-minute runtime.
“WW84’s” two villains do start off fairly well. We felt that there was a compelling narrative to be told to provide a triangular antithesis to Diana’s conscience. These characters are at their lowest. They just want to be seen and the artefact provides them with that chance. Nevertheless, they lose any momentum they had halfway due to the progression of their motives and characters being contrived.
Gosh, we do have to talk about Pedro Pascal. Even though the big picture does not totally work out for his character, we know for certain that Pascal was having a blast! It was as though he had been living with a baby and a helmet covering his face this whole time that when he finally took it off, he let his expressions run wild. Indeed, the “Mandalorian” star brings out the best of his smiles, forced laughter, and glistening eyes to bring life to this morally skewed man.
Wiig performs decently in her role as Barbara Minerva, who eventually transforms into Wonder Woman’s nemesis, the Cheetah. The actress may be recognised for her comedic roles, but it’s still great to see her take a more serious role, something that she also did in Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!”. Alas, the gravitas of the character claws itself into a ditch, not due to the performer, but rather sloppy writing.
We believe Patty Jenkins had some well-intentioned ideas in here, whereby she places the idea of a manipulated truth at the forefront. It could be a political message, but could also resonate within an individual’s essence as something as deep as a desire. To what lengths would you alter your morality, your stance, or your personality in order to achieve what you want most in life. Would your selfish ambitions be the detriment of your inner being?
Of course, “WW84” exhibits the aftermath of mass wishes, how societies and nations may crumble under the spirit of an individualistic drive. Yes, the film posits that an individual, and ultimately a community must stay true to itself to propel forward. We shouldn’t just rely on empty promises or skewed grants. The truth. Yes, the truth is what prevails in the end.
Ultimately, we believe “WW84” had something to say. It had a message, solid ideas, and a good collection of cast and characters. Alas, they weren’t executed in the best manner possible, creating a slightly mundane sequel that did not have a clear objective. Most of the writing here is at fault as it struggles to maintain its momentum to the very end, providing little spurts of action to keep the viewer entertained at the very least.
“WW84” might not be the perfect blockbuster to end this year, but it sure as hell tried. There’s no doubt that the performers are doing most of the heavy lifting on their own. Some, like Pedro Pascal, are having the time of their lives. Needless to say, the film itself is a serviceable balm to a calamitous 2020, providing what little wonder it has to remind its audience that the blockbusters aren’t dead.
To repurpose Jim Gordon’s line in “The Dark Knight”, this film is not the one we deserve, but it’s the one we need right now.
Wait, don’t leave! Do stay in your seats after the movie for a wondrous surprise!
“Wonder Woman 1984” is currently playing in theatres nationwide.