Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
“Wonder Woman 1984” stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, and Connie Nielsen. Released on December 25, 2020, the film has Wonder Woman facing off against a businessman and a formidable foe.
The film is directed by Patty Jenkins, who is known for directing “Monster”, and it is a sequel to the 2017 superhero film, “Wonder Woman”, which was also directed by Jenkins. It is also the ninth installment in the DC Extended Universe, and it is based on the DC Comics character of the same name created by William Moulton Marston. Looks like we’re about to end this horrific year off with a huge bang. After surviving a few months with a bunch of small films, we are finally getting a big-budget action blockbuster. A big-budget superhero action blockbuster, to be exact, but with a twist. This film has had a difficult journey since filming had wrapped in 2018. It was originally set for a 2019 release until it got delayed to a summer release. But then the pandemic happened, and it got stuck in release limbo. It was scheduled to be released in theaters back in October in hopes of getting people back into the cinemas, but due to “Tenet” underperforming at the box office, it had to settle for a Christmas Day release. With the virus still keeping people inside their homes, Warner Brothers then decided to do the unthinkable, the impossible, and the unbelievable. They are keeping the theatrical release, but they will also release the film on HBO Max free for subscribers…for about a month, of course. A surprising, but smart, way to let people decide whether to stay home or go to the cinema. Wonder Woman has a very good track record when it comes to film thanks to Gal Gadot’s portrayal and director Patty Jenkins’s understanding of the character. Her appearance has proven to be the best part of the Batman/Superman blockbuster and the heavily-divisive “Justice League” film, and her solo film is considered to be the best installment in the troublesome DC cinematic universe. So there’s definitely a lot of hype towards the Amazonian’s latest adventure despite it being delayed several times. Now that it’s finally arrived in theaters (and on HBO Max), let’s see if this superhero blockbuster is worth the long wait, and don’t worry, I will do my best to keep things spoiler-free for you readers.
Taking place in 1984, the film follows Diana Prince (Gadot) as she pulls double duty as both a normal anthropologist in Washington, D.C. and as the superhero Wonder Woman. She later encounters Maxwell Lord (Pascal), a businessman who has gained possession of a mysterious item that has an ability to grant people’s wishes. With the help of the revived Steve Trevor (Pine), Diana must use her powers once again to save the world from Lord’s power. She also has to battle her former friend Barbara Ann Minerva (Wiig), an archeologist whose involvement with the powerful artifact resulted in her gaining abilities similar to Diana’s. “Wonder Woman” was a fish-out-of-water story that explores the title character’s journey of heroism and represents the importance of love overcoming hatred, which was one of the things that I personally enjoyed from the film, aside from Gadot’s performance and Patty Jenkins’s approach to the character. “Wonder Woman 1984” sees the already-experienced character continuing that journey while dealing with the dangers of wishes, especially the ones that involve greed and envy, and what they’re giving up in order to gain them. I watched the film on HBO Max for this review instead of in the theater because I wasn’t willing to risk my life seeing it in a packed room. Thankfully, I didn’t experience any streaming issues while watching it. Then again, I managed to view it during the nighttime rather than during the day like a lot of people did, which might explain why I didn’t have those issues. Long story short, watching the film at home was a good experience for me due to the fact that I wasn’t distracted by other people using their stinking cell phones. Even though I would prefer to watch it on the big screen, it felt nice for me to just sit back at home and watch Wonder Woman beat up the bad guys on my family’s huge 4K television for free. But how did I feel about the film itself? Was it good enough to consider itself a wondrous end to the horrifying plague that is 2020? Yeah, I believe so. I wouldn’t say that it’s a perfect superhero sequel in terms of the story, but I can say that I had some sort of fun watching it. The major difference between “Wonder Woman 1984” and its predecessor was its tone and how it was reflected by the time period. “Wonder Woman” went for the epic and grim tone for its World War I background, resulting in it being a realistic and enthralling take on the character’s origin story in my eyes. The sequel, however, managed to “lighten things up” a bit for its 1980s background by incorporating a light-hearted, vibrant, and retro style into its plot. The result is a nifty piece of superhero eye candy that’s endearing to look at, but a bit sour to eat. On the one hand, it delivered an entertaining superhero sequel that has plenty of heart and a couple of easter eggs that should please a lot of Wonder Woman fans young and old. On the other hand, it’s also a simplistic and cliched sequel that fell short of capturing the same amount of wonder as its predecessor. Gal Gadot was able to master her role as Wonder Woman almost immediately during her first appearance in “Batman V Superman” and has been consistent with her portrayal ever since. In “Wonder Woman 1984”, the fire within her performance was still just as luminous as ever. Gadot’s commitment towards playing Wonder Woman is one of the best things about the character in film, and I’m glad to see that it still exists in this film. Chris Pine also did well with his performance as Steve Trevor. However, his character did seem to fall within the lines of Diana’s fish-out-of-water scenario from the first film from time to time. It didn’t get to the point where it’s overly repetitive, but it did give me a strange case of deja vu. Then you have the film’s antagonists, Maxwell Lord and Barbara (or Cheetah, according to a lot of comic book fans), and honestly, I think they were handled a bit better than Ares from the first film in terms of their character development. While Ares is nothing but a cliche-heavy big baddie, Maxwell Lord and Barbara just happened to be villains because they fell victim to the power of wish-making. They started out as nobodies, but then they managed to become somebodies thanks to the artifact’s ability, not knowing the price they had to pay to turn their wishes into realities. I thought Patty Jenkins did a nice job at fixing the villain issue from its predecessor by injecting more personality into it. Pedro Pascal, known for his role in “The Mandalorian”, delivered a lot of charisma and energy into his role as Lord, and I got to say, it was a joy to witness. I also found Kristen Wiig to be a nice surprise as she traded her comedic side for a cheetah fur coat. At first, I was a bit skeptical about Wiig being cast as Wonder Woman’s arch enemy, but after watching her in action, I immediately became impressed at the fact that she can play a villain just as effectively as playing a comedic character. Her “Cheetah” form wasn’t too bad either when it comes to the CGI design, although her transformation from her human form to the Cheetah form felt rushed without any explanation as to how she transformed. They could have at least show her transforming into a humanoid cheetah instead of showing her in human form in one scene and then suddenly show her Cheetah form in the next. That, to me, was pretty darn lazy. Other than that, Wiig’s performance and her character both get a thumbs up from me. What I also liked about the film was its setting. In addition to writing the film’s script with Geoff Johns and David Callaham, Patty Jenkins was also responsible for combining the superhero elements with the old-fashioned and colorful 1980s setting, and she did a pretty good job with both of them. While I would like to see more of the 80s elements, it still looked nice enough to serve as a backdrop for its character-driven moments and the action sequences. Speaking of which, the action sequences were quite entertaining to watch, but compared to the ones from “Wonder Woman”, they’re also a bit underwhelming in terms of Jenkins’s direction. Aside from the final showdown between Diana and Barbara during the third act, the action scenes lacked the severe amount of thrills that made her previous outings so exciting in the first place. I also had a small issue with the film’s length, which happened to be ten minutes longer than its predecessor. With a plot that’s as simple as this, I don’t think it needed to be that long even though the character-driven scenes were nicely paced and engaging.
Overall, “Wonder Woman 1984” is another enjoyable outing for the DC Comics character and a respectable way to end off 2020 on a good note. There were definitely some elements that I believe were handled better than the ones in the first film, such as the villains and its messages, but there were also some other elements that caused it to land face first on the ground, including the story cliches and its excessive runtime. Despite those flaws, I had a good time watching this film thanks to its cast, Jenkins’s direction, and its enjoyable, yet sometimes flat, action scenes. It’s not the greatest blockbuster I’ve seen this year, but it did give me hope that there’s still some light at the end of this gloomy tunnel.
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