Wonder Woman 1984

WARNER BROS. (2020)

 

Director: Patty Jenkins

 

Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine

2017’s Wonder Woman provided DC with the hit it desperately needed, it was a financial success and critically lauded after a period of missteps so it really came as no surprise when a sequel was greenlit allowing for Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot to team up once more to save the world. Three years on, the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 (or WW84) is here and the story has moved on a few decades into the 1980s - the fashion, the hair, the music, oh what a time - and finds Diana Prince (Gadot) quietly existing in Cold War-era America. Of course, things won’t remain quiet forever and soon Diana finds herself facing off against the nefarious duo of businessman Max Lord (Pascal) and geologist-turned-supervillain Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Wiig).

This time, events surround a magical Dreamstone - an artifact that can grant any wish you desire (but these wishes come at a great cost) - and it’s this stone that facilitates Chris Pine’s return as Steve Trevor, allows for the socially-awkward Barbara to turn into a...cat and also for Max to put his plan for world domination into action. Jenkins took inspiration from Richard Donner’s Superman movies and it’s not hard to spot the influences throughout in a movie that feels partially lifted from the decade in which it was set - though this doesn’t make it immune to any criticism which is a good thing as WW84 is a big disappointment. Yes, WW84 has some of the verve and feel of those Donner Superman flicks (amongst others from the time) but what it lacks is the heart and soul that Wonder Woman had in spades (bar that final boss fight…), instead feeling like an overly-long victory lap that doesn’t really have a lot to say. There are times where themes are raised or touched upon and subplots that are seemingly introduced but never really revisited, instances that would’ve provided great moments of payoff had they been utilised effectively. That’s not to say that there aren’t any positive elements about the movie because there are - Gadot is once again marvellous in the lead (her chemistry with Chris Pine still crackles), the opening scenes on Themyscira provide the movie’s highlights and there are some fun moments peppered throughout but WW84 becomes bogged down by plodding pacing, jarring villain performances (Pascal goes big and not always successfully and Wiig suffers from a poorly-written character) and a janky narrative. Where the movie aims for emotional heft it frustratingly falls short and when there’s minimal action to fall back on, what’s left feels like empty spectacle. The action itself is...fine, though clever lighting is employed to cover some unconvincing CGI and costume design during major moments but at least we didn’t have to suffer through David Thewlis’ evil moustache again.

 

Thankfully, Gal Gadot helps to elevate the movie, alongside some pretty visuals (action aside) and decent gags. In terms of superhero flicks, I can think of a fair few that are considerably worse than WW84 but not so many that are as disappointing. Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t a bad movie, not at all, it’s just uninspired and burdened with a story that just ends up feeling a bit pointless.

December 27th 2020

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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