Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 31 min.

Release Date: December 25th, 2020 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Patty Jenkins Actors: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Lilly Aspell, Amr Waked, Oliver Cotton, Lucian Perez, Gabriella Wilde, Kristoffer Polaha, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen

 


 

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ladiatorial games – something of an Amazonian Olympics (or a twist on “American Ninja Warrior”) for cheering crowds – provides an immediate opportunity to abuse wirework and computer graphics as a substitute for believable physical feats. It’s an instantly disappointing visual start, despite being paired with extraordinary cinematography – for paradisiacal surroundings that are equally unreal, yet beautiful nonetheless. Inexplicably, a child competes against adults, and manages to lead the pack of decathlon-like competitors, nearly winning the whole event thanks to an absurdly convenient shortcut. “No true hero is born from lies.”

That child grows up to be Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), an immortal of considerable supernatural talents. It’s now 1984 in Washington, D.C., where she attempts to blend in, but, like Superman, she can’t stop herself from intervening in various, random, small accidents and crimes. A somewhat bigger heist resulting in hostages taken at a mall lends to a spree of rescues by a mysterious female savior, whose exploits fuel news reports and fantastical theories of divine intervention. Miraculously, Diana has been able to keep her alter ego hidden. Unfortunately, this secondary opening sequence, just like the first, doesn’t create thrilling action as much as it generates additional eye-rolling, CG-infused mayhem and laughable posing.

“People think I’m weird.” The story proper begins with nerdy, klutzy, frazzled geologist Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) clumsily dumping the contents of her briefcase in the middle of a Smithsonian complex lobby while coworkers and management snicker and dismiss her. Diana, a cultural anthropology and archaeology expert there, takes a kinder approach, starting up a conversation and even offering to join Barbara for an early dinner. “You’re so personable; so free.” Although this setup – as well as the character development – is hopelessly generic, the brief conversations about past loves and enviable popularity impart a glimmer of humanity, which may lend to a steadily more creative script.

Ignoring the darker superhero qualities of previous DC entities, the tone here stays airy, with plenty of chuckles as Barbara uses an ancient Roman artifact to spruce up her love life as if Love Potion #9, snagging the attention of television personality and well-known oil magnate Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) of Black Gold Cooperative. But he harbors plenty of secrets beneath his slick exterior. And his growing financial desperation clashes with Minerva’s own desire to be in the spotlight (something that can’t easily be stolen from Diana, a woman whose idea of casual dress upstages everyone in the room), culminating in the creation of a supervillain – an epic match for the likes of Wonder Woman.

Strangely, as the premise follows along with the typical formula for a subaverage commoner transforming into an over-the-top, monstrous nemesis, a series of whimsical wishes transitions the picture into something along the lines of “Wishmaster,” but instead of the requests turning horrific, they’re moderately comical. And they’re aided by frivolous montages. Yet many of them feel as if part of an elaborate dream sequence, or a body-swapping fantasy, or a goofily convoluted scheme (like something from “Aladdin”) to make a simple end goal bloat to over two hours of circuitous misadventures. But perhaps the greatest letdown is the underuse of ’80s stuff (or a distinct nostalgia factor); the setting is so unimportant in the scope of things that, aside from a few costuming choices, this could have taken place in present day.

Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) returns, but his lines and behavior aren’t as natural or charming as before, somewhat reversed as his WWII-era knowledge conflicts with technology of the ’80s; action sequences are fewer and farther apart, which wouldn’t normally be an issue, but the pacing feels clunky; and the general sense of a path or purpose is terribly stalled. The antagonists aren’t even properly defined for a major portion of the film, let alone their special powers, which possess a curious wish-making curlicue – a caveat invented on the spot. Eventually, a car chase arrives, but it’s so riddled with computer animation and hi-tech simulations that the excitement is limited at best.

“Hectic days, hectic times.” The story is overstuffed with escalating chaos in the second act, which shifts the vibe from one of a dated, farcical comedy into a more traditional superhero flick. With that, however, comes the awkward nature of Prince nonsensically stripping away her business attire to reveal her Wonder Woman costume impossibly ready to go, either just underneath her clothes or perhaps packed away in a back pocket (neither of which explains her tiara or metal bracelets or armored boots). At least Diana’s solution at the end includes a potent bit of sacrifice, though it’s quickly discarded for an obscured, overwrought showdown at the finale that mirrors the one from the original movie – a climax so overcome by unconvincing bluster and pandemonium that it’s even more forgettable than before. Plus, it’s all hopelessly, preposterously unbelievable.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10


The DC Extended Universe


Man of Steel (2013)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Justice League (2017)

Aquaman (2018)

Shazam! (2019)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Black Adam (2022)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

The Flash (2023)

Blue Beetle (2023)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)