‘Wonder Woman 1984’ comes to us this holiday season to provide blockbuster-level entertainment and a much-needed sense of normalcy for us cinephiles. Despite watching it at home on a much smaller screen, there was this nostalgic sense of anticipation that I haven’t felt for a while. I tried to make the night feel as much an event as possible, I even went so far as to make custom popcorn bags. The movie starts and we sit there for two and half hours as a wave of disappointment gradually washes over us. By the time the third act started we finally revealed our distaste for the film and we continued to do so till the movie ended. One thing about my mother is that she is easily pleased when it comes to movies and the fact that I sat her down to watch this movie only for her to hate it left me feeling extremely guilty. I truly felt let down watching a sequel that had all the right parts and failed to utilize them in embarassing fashion.
spoilers for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ are included in this review.
Within it’s elongated runtime, there is a good movie to be found in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’. That being said, this movie’s continuous decision to make questionable choices make it incredibly hard to see the redeeming qualities. Despite opening with a promising first act, the overall quality of the movie progressively gets worse. The film’s disinterest in making any sense and having well developed characters results in one of the messiest third acts in recent memory. The looming blockbuster checklist looms over this movie turning it into a generic, underwhelming superhero movie. It genuinely upsets me to say that as I was looking forward to this movie for over three years at this point. The sad truth is that ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is ironically dull and uninspired. There was rarely ever a sense of wonder throughout the movie. With this being a superhero sequel, it naturally has to force more of the mythology from the comics onto Diana and it was never once executed in a way that felt natural or believable. There is a fantastic scene which opens the disappointing third act where Diana is running in the street having just given up Steve and then she pulls herself up to the skies. She remember his words and begins to learn how to fly. On paper that sounds exciting, it’s a perfect use of her powers. However if you told me ‘The CW’ produced that scene, I would’ve believed you. The poor visual effects took me out of the moment. It still baffles me how a movie with a $200 million dollar budget which has been on hold for a year came out looking this poorly made. The same goes for the incredibly underwhelming action sequence between Diana and Cheetah. It was such a poorly lit scene that you could barely see what was happening. If they couldn’t afford to do Cheetah, they shouldn’t have stuck with it because in a few years we will look back on this movie as a visually outdated mess.
With Patty Jenkins at the wheel again, it makes sense that she nails specific aspects of the sequel that worked wonderfully in the first film. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine return to carry this entire movie on their backs with their incredible chemistry. Diana and Steve are easily one of my favourite on-screen couples in recent memory. That first film did such a stellar job making me care for both of them that when they reunited in the sequel, I found myself getting emotional. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we could have done without the entire ‘Steve being stuck in someone else’s body’ thing though. It was weird and unnecessary. While the introduction to the invisible jet was poorly executed, Steve and Diana’s chemistry saved that scene, it was one of the two times I genuinely felt a sense of wonder. The next is the heartbreaking scene where she gives him up. If there is one thing I can praise this movie for it’s Diana’s arc. The reveal that the price for bringing Steve back was dampening her powers brought a heartbreaking revelation with it. She only ever asked for one thing yet she still can’t have it because it’s denying the truth. It was a stunning showcase of Diana’s strength to let go of the one thing she truly wanted in life. Seeing her running in tears, slowly getting stronger and then learning to fly (with horrible vfx) was easily the best scene of the movie.
Without the visual effects, the movie actually looks gorgeous… at first. The movie opens with this stunning, cinematic scope of Themyscira, you could really feel the grandness of it all. One thing that definitely caught my eye was the amazing shot composition. The entire scene where Diana reunites with Steve was shot really effectively. There’s even a gorgeous shot later of them walking at night. The shot where Max becomes one with the magical stone and it’s a close up of his face slowly being taken over by the power. All in all it’s a gorgeous movie outside of the visual effects, I love it when comic-book movies utilize different styles of filmmaking. Hans Zimmer elevates every scene with the emotion his powerful score brings. Every time Steve and Diana’s theme played, it just made me want to curl up into a ball and cry knowing what’s going to happen. It’s a shame that such a triumphant sounding score doesn’t have an epic action sequence to go along with it.
Newcomers Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig do the most with what they’re given. Wiig’s Barbara Minerva is a tired, cliched and frankly offensive trope that should have died a long time ago. Nerdy, awkward character (with glasses, they HAVE to have glasses and then lose them after because glasses aren’t cool I guess) idolizes the protagonist and obtains superpowers only to become the villain. Her inclusion in this movie didn’t really add anything of substance or depth to the script. Her “decision” to become an apex predator is shoe-horned in purely because of cheetah print on clothes and Diana’s heels in the beginning. Her scenes as Cheetah were too dim to truly enjoy. It was just a mess. The loveable Pedro Pascal returns to our screeens with a purposefully over-the-top performance and way too much screentime. Maxwell Lord has never been an interesting charcacter to me and this movie is no excpetion. Pascal is a delight but the entire ‘United States versus Russia Nuclear War’ third act trope where the villain has the President in the palm of his hand is beneath this movie. At least I thought it was. It was beyond disappointing that this was the route the movie was taking. It seems like third acts are a bit of a problem when it comes to ‘Wonder Woman’ movies, let’s hope they finish the next movie off strong.
When it comes to movies like ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ I just want to say that my opinion is just that, an opinion. It is not fact and I am not trying to force it on you. I encourage everyone to watch it and form their own opinion. In regards to the hate this movie is getting, it’s pretty intense. As long as it’s genuine criticism, it’s perfectly fine but we all know that the internet is not that civil. If there is anything to take away from this movie, it’s to be compassionate to everyone around us.
‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is now streaming on HBO Max (in the US) and in cinemas globally.