Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984

            There was a consensus demand for a sequel to the incredibly successful Wonder Woman film since its release in 2017. Personally, I thought the film was well-done and provided empowerment to not only women, but to all people globally who were looking for a hero to help them escape from reality. The mysterious, beautiful Gal Gadot was a great pick to play the title character, and the role has certainly propelled her career to new heights ever since. However, like basically everything in the world, this year has turned the world upside-down and this franchise is no different. The notorious 2020 has now managed to strike down one of our promising superheroes.

            As I mentioned, I left the theater after seeing Wonder Woman three years ago feeling good about the direction of the story and excited for what would come next. Grossing over $800 million worldwide, a sequel was guaranteed. However, several months ago when the name of the sequel dropped, Wonder Woman 1984, I was confused and began to grow skeptical that this may not end well. Then, the trailer came out and my skepticism grew. As my skepticism grew, so did the amount of questions I had. Where were they going with this? Why is Wonder Woman going to be in the 1980s all of a sudden? How is Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) going to be in this movie after he died in the first one (spoiler alert – but, it’s been three years…tough)? As a child of the 80s, I am infatuated with that era and love when movies take us back to that time. With that said, since 1984 was in the title, I wasn’t sure if the star of the film would shift away from Wonder Woman and towards the era itself. In some ways it did, and in some ways it didn’t. Overall, though, my questions had validity and my skepticism was justified.

            Within the first five minutes of the movie, I clenched my chair as one would when they are nervous or fear impending disappointment. Although the scenery was beautiful, it was clear that 90 percent of the scene was basically animated. I felt like I was watching the old Nick Arcade 1990s game show, when real people were placed in a video game (against a green screen, of course) to compete against each other. Then came the mall heist scene.

            I hated that mall heist scene.

            Once that scene was over, I knew my intrigue for the rest of the movie was gone along with it. Yes, it was cool to get the nostalgic feels of seeing the 80s mall mania resurrected, but the scene itself was terrible. The bad guys basically flipped from smart thugs to scared degenerates, and then even further to simply blending in with the mall mob trying to stop the rogue thief (their partner, I might add) from going crazy and dropping a child hostage from the upper levels. Then, the crowd obviously was confused as to who this female heroine was who saved that girl and took down those bad guys with a glowing gold rope – but we saw no mention of society trying to figure out who she was again in the film. Unlike other movies of the superhero genre, the reveal of the character’s true identity is usually a background plot to the film. Evidently in this movie, they didn’t think it was that important to even attempt closing that gap.

            Kristen Wiig plays Barbara, one of the antagonists in the film, which leads me to another gripe. She wasn’t a despising character. Actually, I didn’t really get her character at all. Barbara had these ambiguous lesbian vibes going with Diana at first, but then upon wishing to be like her, she grows to hate her for some reason. Wouldn’t she, I don’t know…grow to want to join forces with the woman she’s infatuated with and has been given no reason to hate at all throughout the film?

Gal Gadot (left) squares off against Kristen Wiig (right) in Wonder Woman 1984.

            The main villain is Max Lord (played by Pedro Pascal), who steals an ancient gem that has been discovered and sent to the Smithsonian Museum where Barbara and Diana work. The gem gives off a power that enables you to wish anything upon it and it will come true (cheesy, I know). Of course, he wishes to gain the ability of the gem itself, which leads to him being able to fully manipulate people’s minds and feed off their energy through their own wishes.

            Before Max gains access to the gem, Diana discovers the gem and wishes for her one true love, Steve Trevor, to be brought back to life. Her wish was granted, but he comes back with the body of an already existing man that Diana envisions as Steve Trevor – even though it’s not really Steve Trevor. What happened to the real guy though throughout the film? I was extremely confused and found that whole concept maddening.

            The overall storyline of Wonder Woman 1984 was comical. The plot was extremely weak and childish, and that’s me being nice describing it. The last 15 minutes of the film, where the message of “being careful what you wish for” and “cheaters never win” is relayed to the audience through a chilling montage of what selfish wishes fulfilled can do to ruin the world. I thought for the most part it was effective. But then the actual ending of the story itself found a way to ruin that warm reality check with a different reality check altogether. The reality that ultimately there wasn’t a true saving grace to this movie, and that Wonder Woman 1984 will be thrown on top of the pile of other failed Hollywood blockbuster sequels.

            The fact that Wonder Woman 1984 is a regression to its predecessor is undeniable. The failed development of the story leaves us with more questions than answers, like why 1984 specifically? Nothing in the film seemed to be specific to that year, other than the Reagan administration and nuclear fears with Russia and the Middle East. If they wanted to go that route, having her go back to the 1960s during the Cuban missile crisis was a far tenser situation and would’ve made more sense. Ultimately, it didn’t even matter though because that wasn’t even a theme to the film anyway. Other than Chris Pine’s funny moments adjusting to a new generation, and the eye candy provided to the audience from him and Gadot, this movie will be hard to watch for mostly anyone over 15 years old.

Wonder Woman 1984 plays more like a mindless, live-action cartoon than the sexy, exciting, inspirational story that Wonder Woman was. Hopefully, Patty Jenkins recognizes the plethora of flaws and holes in this script and learns from her mistakes. I’m willing to forgive and give a third film a shot – but fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.