Let’s just rip the bandaid off now so we can get it over with. WONDER WOMAN 1984 is not a good movie and I can’t tell you how much that breaks my heart. It’s a two and a half hour bloated mess that’ll leave you scratching your head at the disordered storytelling. This despite the much-needed message of hope that all of us are dying to consume as 2020 wraps up.
In WONDER WOMAN 1984, we find Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) living quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s – an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile, curating ancient artifacts where she receives a mysterious gem with unfathomable powers. Though she’s been performing her superheroic acts incognito, Diana will have to step directly into the spotlight and muster all her wisdom, strength, and courage in order to save mankind from a world of its own making.
To start things off, I want to highlight the good aspects of the movie, such as the acting. In terms of characters featured in the new film, the most divisive character will probably be the oil salesman, Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal. He may not be as terrifying as his Narco’s character, Javier Peña, but he’s just as cunning. Kristen Wiig also has moments where she shines as Barbara Minerva, the shy, awkward, and – mostly – invisible gemologist who works with Diana at the Smithsonian. Out of all the characters that transform over the course of the film, her coming into her powers felt the most natural.
As for Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot’s performance was energizing and came across just as good as what she delivered in the first film. Every time Gadot is on screen, whether as Diana or Wonder Woman, you can’t help but be inspired by her undeniable strength and her sizable heart. As for the return of her love, Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, their meeting is quite lackluster. That said, Pine is fantastic in this film and the humor that’s centered around him learning to live in the ’80s will definitely generate lots of laughs. However, the exploration of their relationship felt like it should have been sized down and re-focused so as to give more credence to the impact of Steve’s return.
Now, in terms of the action, that’s the biggest highlight of the film. Watching Wonder Woman fight as her theme song plays in the background is going to get anyone jazzed up. A scene that’s a personal favorite of mine takes place in Egypt and features a car chase that had me on the edge of my sofa. Furthermore, that moment is also a pivotal point in the film as we begin to learn about how powerful this puzzling gemstone truly is.
The only downside to the action moments is that there are so many lulls in between. This had me question why this film had to be so long to begin with. However, my biggest gripe with this film is the way in which the larger plot points are executed. Once we have learned that the gem grants wishes, we get to see how our characters react to that, whether for good or bad. However, Diana’s wish is done so subtlety that if you don’t pick up on it then you’ll most likely be confused by how her wish even came true – which leads to a lot of confusion. It wasn’t until I went back and rewatched what I assumed was the scene in question that I was able to understand when that crucial moment took place.
Additionally, I was also really put off by the insane amount of times we had to see men catcalling the women in the film. I could see it being done a few times to reiterate the point of how women are treated in and out of the workplace, but I literally have no idea what the point was of having it shown an excessive amount of time. When you already have an inflated runtime, moments like this really don’t add much to the film especially when you are waiting close to an hour to even understand what exactly is even happening. Once things finally do hit the proverbial fan, utter chaos unfolds but it’s so unorganized that it’s a detriment to the storytelling process.
Patty Jenkins is an immensely talented filmmaker and we saw what she was capable of with Wonder Woman. While I’ve pointed out many negatives, it’s difficult not to be frustrate and wonder how a follow-up of this magnitude could go downhill so quickly. That said, the film does have a message of hope that is more important now than ever. Unfortunately, this message isn’t given enough room to breathe and – ultimately – feels too rushed at the end. In all, I think everyone should see the film to form their own opinions but, for this critic, WONDER WOMAN 1984 was a disappointment.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on December 25, 2020.