Movie Review: WONDER WOMAN 1984 Starring Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig
The highly anticipated and ever-delayed follow-up to Patty Jenkins’ DC smash hit Wonder Woman finally sees the light of day with both a theatrical and streaming release on HBO Max as Wonder Woman 1984 is finally here. As it was announced that its dual release would be Christmas day, it seems many fans already locked in their Covid holiday agendas as the film was considered to be one of the biggest releases of 2020.
I, like many others, patiently awaited Christmas Day so that I could login to the booming streaming service and get my superhero fix – one that was much-needed after a year absent from the traditional blockbusters we’ve come to expect. Once again helmed by Jenkins, the sequel sees Diana Prince A.K.A. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot’s fourth appearance as the lasso-slinging Amazon warrior), several decades later – this time in 1984.
Already established as the mighty hero she is, Diana keeps off the radar, intervening only when her help is needed. However, after the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (reprised by Chris Pine), Diana comes face to face with a new global threat. Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) has found a way to grant anyone their most desired wish. However, granting someone their greatest desires also gives Lord the ability to take what he wants. To some, this cost is too high. For others, like Barbara Minerva (Kriten Wiig, whose character’s most recognized name is Cheetah), the price is worth paying to become the apex predator she desires to be. That’s right, we get TWO villains in this film, a rarity in the storytelling formula used to pump out flicks of our beloved caped crusaders. With both enemies threatening the world, Wonder Woman must find a way to stop both before all is lost.
While I had high expectations, I found myself disinterested in what I was expecting in relation to the first film, and more so surprised by what I didn’t see coming. The film definitely struggles with a ‘cheesiness’ that is hard to progress through, but, that can also be attributed to making a film about the ’80s. I was disappointed to see that Wonder Woman lacked the grit that drove her character in the first film, replacing it with cheap CGI effects and over exaggerated action scenes that seemed too familiar in the miserably put together Justice League feature we all struggled to get through (Fingers crossed the Snyder Cut delivers).
What didn’t work for the film seems to be leveraged against what did work, providing a slightly off-balance-but-manageable finished product. Pascal’s character Maxwell Lord seemed tired, and sucked a lot of the attention from Kristen Wiig’s amazing performance as Barbara Minerva. Her transformation from unnoticed and mousy archeologist into the feline nemesis of Diana Prince was a solid story, one that should have gotten more attention. Moving forward, I hope we get to see more of Wiig’s Cheetah as the possible storylines are endless.
While the action seemed to be a little messy and over the top, that doesn’t stop the film from lacking in enjoyability. It does, however, provide a sense of missing structure that was so prominent in its predecessor. Jenkins still proves to be one of DC’s top directors, and while the film didn’t necessarily hit the mark I was hoping it would, its success is still high in comparison to some of the other attempts DC has made in the past. That being said, maybe approach the movie with the mindset that you’re watching a fun and adventure-filled superhero film instead of the edgy war origins story we saw in the first film.
The surprises and homage we get to some of Wonder Woman’s comic book glory were unexpected and helped steer some of the mishaps in the right direction. While many discuss whether or not a dual release with a streaming service and theaters was a smart move for Warner Bros, I think for this specific film it was the right choice. Having viewed the film at home, I wonder if the theatrical experience enhances the flick for audiences. Whether you watch it at home or on the big screen, WW84 does deliver an enjoyable entry into DC’s extended universe of connected films, and still holds high ranks against some of its competition.
P.S. Stay tuned after the credits roll for a fun post-credit scene unlike any other!