Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984
Review by Ray Schillaci
Sorry to say there is little wonder with Wonder Woman 1984. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but had theaters been open, this sequel might have done half the business once word got out. Patty Jenkins’ new film comes with lots of promises and sadly none of them are delivered. What we get is an amiable stock superhero movie that could have been set in any time period, wandering around, planting tongue in cheek while winking to us and hammering a message down our throats that is far from veiled regarding the outgoing president, Donald Trump.
By no means am I a supporter. But, I’m not a fan of forced propaganda left or right, and although the message the filmmakers are conveying appears commendable, it’s marred by the obvious as to who they are referring to. The whole ending (not really a spoiler) with Wonder Woman pleading to us at the camera is somewhere between a Peter Pan urging the audience to believe in magic to save Tinker Bell and a Tommy Wiseau (The Room) moment. It’s damn near cringe inducing.
Is there anything fun about the latest adventures of this Amazon? Yes. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are a fun duo when they have the chance to interact. Gadot can be a true joy as the action hero, but has little chance to flesh out her alter-ego, Diana Prince. This film is far more concentrated on set pieces as evident in its lengthy action opening involving Diana as a child in a contest of strength and endurance against adult Amazon women where she learns a valuable lesson that will later be inserted into her adult life.
Flash forward from the first time we saw Diana as an adult which was in 1918 to 1984. She has not changed a bit, and now works for the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. as an anthropologist specializing in ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Somehow you know this will figure into the plot, especially when she runs into the new employee Barbara Ann Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig as an insecure, awkward woman who would love to be just like Diana.
Enter Maxwell “Max Lord” Lorenzano, a charlatan of a business man very much resembling a young Donald Trump. He’s full of pomposity and insists that he will eventually be the man his young son will be proud of. Obviously, his ambitions are clouded by his ego. That ambition leads him to a mysterious relic, known as the Dreamstone, currently held by Minerva and he woos her into letting him borrow it.
The relic proves to be like Aladdin’s lamp or the monkey’s paw, and that means you have to be very careful for what you wish for because it could backfire and have you regret your wish. Everybody’s wish starts to come true: Minerva becomes fashionable, secure and eventually as powerful as Wonder Woman, Diana gets the love of her life back, albeit in somebody else’s body, but we still see Steve Trevor, Chris Pine, for the most part. And, Max Lord, what could he possibly ask for? The man that wants everything. Well, he wants to be the Dreamstone.
Let the battles begin between our wants, needs, and the pursuit of truth. The only thing separating WW84 action set pieces from Tenet are the wink and nod that comes from director Jenkins and Gal Gadot. Frankly, it gets annoying at times. Especially when children are utilized as endangerment props and used to obviously mug for the camera.
Kristen Wiig’s talent is wasted and reduced to a whiny character and eventually turned into a bad CGI caricature. And Pedro Pascal as Max Lord is given little guidance, barely touching upon the riveting character in the comic books. This cannot be any fault of Pascal since he has more than proved himself in Game of Thrones and Narcos. For crying out loud, the man is more interesting in a helmet covering his face in The Mandalorian than he is as Max Lord thanks to Patty Jenkins and her writers.
Aside from all of WW84‘s faults, the most glaring is the obvious. Why on earth did the filmmakers set it in 1984 other than just a hook and attempt at a nostalgia grab. The ’80s are barely a blip on the radar – a few outfits, a few vehicles here and there, and a quick shot of exercise wear. Little ’80s music, TV or anything that makes us yearn for those days of yore.
Wonder Woman 84 was suppose to be the big Christmas gift from the filmmakers and Time Warner to HBO Max and their subscribers. But, it’s more like a half empty Christmas stocking delivering a minimal amount of joy. Aside from the anticipation for this blockbuster, subscribers can only hope that what Warners has in store for us in the future gives everyone a reason to sign up and keep their subscription. After all, Disney+ really shined with their premiere of Soul.
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Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Run Time: 151 min.
Distributor: Warner Brothers