Published on December 27th, 2020 | by Craig Silliphant0
Wonder Woman 1984
Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to a movie that showed the Hollywood dummies that people will pay to see heroes beyond straight white dudes.
Wonder Woman 1984 is a 2 ½ hour slog that takes most of the wonder out of the woman.
More like, Blunder Woman Widescreen Weighty-Bore, amirite?
The movie suffers from superhero sequel bloat; 20 minutes in, the story starts to wheeze and sputter to a start. 40 minutes in and we’ve seen about three minutes of action with Wonder Woman (not counting little girl Wonder Woman in her Amazonian Ninja Warrior Hunger Games contest). And at 1 hour and 21 minutes, she finally appears at length in costume.
A lot of people loved the first Wonder Woman, but it’s middling. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, mostly because it was an antidote to the rest of the overly grim and washed out Synder DC films. But it too suffered from bloat. I found I couldn’t even get through it a second time. That said, I don’t want to understate that the movie was important in showing Hollywood that diversity could sell movie tickets too. That people could have heroes that represented them up on the big screen.
This time around, it’s 1984 and the ever-wooden Gal Godot is back as Diana Prince. She’s keeping a lid on her Wonder Woman identity while secretly saving brides from falling off bridges. Diana is working at The Smithsonian where she meets Gilly the Loser that Even Normal People Can’t Help Themselves From Bullying…er…Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig. Pedro Pascal is wannabe success story Maxwell Lord (Pascal carries the movie, for the most part). They encounter a magical monkey’s paw rock that grants wishes, or something like that. This makes Lord and Minerva evil, and brings back Diana’s long dead love. Yes, one of the strongest women in lore has been Chris Pining over some frat dude for 60-some years. Sigh.
The story is convoluted, slow as the molasses in July, and doesn’t clearly establish its own rules, a big no-no in the suspension of disbelief that genre movies rely on.
One of the better bits of the movie is shoehorned in, where Chris Pine is trying on 80s clothes for a laugh or two (oddly, after the sequence, he ends up wearing what he was already wearing, so it accomplished nothing, story-wise). They also try to recreate the fish out of water thing from the first movie, but with a time-displaced Steve Trevor this time instead of Diana. He marvels at, or gets confused by, an escalator, a subway, and fireworks, ALL THINGS THAT HAVE EXISTED SINCE AT LEAST THE 1800S.
He also knows how to fly a modern jet because he’s a PILOT. I’m no expert in aviation but I’d guess that flying a WWI plane and an F-14 are vastly different tasks. This kind of thing happens a lot in the movie. It’s one thing to say, hey, relax, it’s a movie, but another to treat the audience like they’re total idiots. And again, I can suspend my disbelief enough to go with the idea that there’s a Wonder Woman, an island of Amazons, even a monkey paw rock, but reality needs to act like reality. WW84 doesn’t obey its own haphazard rules, nor even many basic rules of reality.
The action segments, though few and far between, are silly. Director Patty Jenkins uses that godawful speed ramping effect that I thought had been mostly stamped out. And Wonder Woman has really taken to Spider-manning all over with her golden lasso, in ways that look quite unnatural and cheesy. Riding the lightening is definitely metal, but it looks stupid. (And like, I’m not doing a lot of physics research for this review, but is lightening even a solid?).
I’ve been pretty hard on WW84, for a lot of good reasons. I will say that it does have better, more human stakes than the first movie. Rather than the CGI destruction porn that hamper many superhero movies (and the first WW), the sequel pulls on the 80s cold war nuclear war fears. It also creates characters like Minerva and Lord with some motivations, even if they’re sloppily handled. They make a fool out of Maxwell Lord, who is mysterious and brilliant when he’s introduced in the comics, though there’s room for different interpretations of characters, I suppose.
This DOA sequel is trying to do too much, the narrative borders on incoherent, and worst of all, Wonder Woman is barely in it. I was surprised by the lack of 80s music in a film that wants to lampoon that era. And oddly, the movie becomes a Hallmark Christmas film in the last few minutes.
Through most of its running time, Wonder Woman 1984 is in a sustained nose dive in an invisible jet. It does manage a terribly rough landing instead of total and absolute Catwoman-level catastrophe. But even with all of these faults, its worst crime is that it fails to do justice to Wonder Woman herself, a powerful feminist icon we need right now. Diana deserves better than this. So do audiences.