In this much-anticipated sequel to director Patty Jenkins’s 2017 hit we get everyone’s favourite Amazon battling through the COVID-19 crisis to land her invisible jet on the nearest streaming platform – no theatre near me was showing this film – but is the magic back or has the DC Extended Universe stumbled again?
This particular outing takes place in the wondrous year of 1984 – placing this entry between the first Wonder Woman movie and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – and this is where our first problem arises because in Dawn of Justice it was established that Wonder Woman had dropped out of sight after World War One to only make herself publically known when she joined Batman and Superman to fight Doomsday, which hobbles the script when it comes to giving us some great Wonder Woman action. In the comics she is a beacon of hope that inspires mankind, much like Superman does, but in this film, we find Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is maintaining a low profile as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and is keeping her superhero activities on the down-low, making quick in and out rescues like the Red-Blue Blur from Smallville – Note: ripping off Smallville is never a good idea – and this leaves us with a major question, exactly why is she hiding the existence of Wonder Woman from the public?
“Don’t worry, I took out the mall security cameras and as this is the 80s no one has cellphone cameras.”
Sadly, no excuse is given, maybe she doesn’t want the world to freak out about the existence of superheroes, but that’s just guesswork and though it could have introduced some interesting ideas about the DC world of superheroes his film has no interest in exploring the ramifications of an immortal warrior with the powers of a god, instead, we quickly zip ahead to a plot that has something to do with wishes and greed. Turns out a broke conman named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) has his mind set on getting his hands on a mysterious Dreamstone that seemingly grants wishes – don’t ask me what his overall plan was as I’ve watched this film twice now and I still can’t figure out what his intended endgame was – but first, this special item has fallen into the hands of Diana’s new co-worker Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), an insecure woman who idolizes and envies Diana for her beauty and confidence.
Diana has apparently been living the celibate life for the last six decades, what with her true love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) having died back in 1918, so she decides to test out the artifact’s abilities by wishing for his return and before you can say “Quantum Leap” Steve’s soul is back and is now inhabiting the body of some random hot dude. Mousy Minerva also makes a wish, to become strong and beautiful like Diana, but being Diana is a superhero Minerva gets a bigger upgrade than she expected. Needless to say, this complicates things for all involved as good ole Minerva takes the old adage “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” very seriously and she becomes one of the film’s villains…kind of…maybe sort. Let’s just say that if you thought Macavity in the musical Cats was a lame villain, well, he’s got nothing on Minerva.
The key problem with Wonder Woman 1984 is that Maxwell Lord as the“Big Bad” makes for a terrible terrible villain as he is just not that interesting, when he finally gets his hands on the Dreamstone he spends the bulk of the movie running around the globe giving wishes and extracting power – and know I don’t know how that is supposed to work – and though I do appreciate the fact that we don’t end this movie with another giant sky beam I still find Lord’s entire motivation lacking substance and his character arc is so mind-numbingly boring that if it wasn’t for Pedro Pascal chewing the scenery at every turn this character would have been a cure for insomnia. His only real character trait is his mission statement of “Think about finally having everything you always wanted” which quickly has one wishing for a poorly computer-animated Steppenwolf to show up.
• Wonder Woman’s lasso should get its own spin-off movie, it’s not just magical it’s goddam miraculous in this movie.
• Apparently a woman can’t walk fifteen feet in Washington DC without being accosted by some sexist male asshat.
• When Steve Trevor’s soul inhabits this hot random dude’s body where exactly is that guy’s soul? Diana seems very unconcerned that her wish may have killed this poor sod.
• Minerva going from a bookish nerd to a hot sex symbol is about the most 80s thing in this movie.
• Diana says they can’t book a flight to Cairo because Steve doesn’t have a passport, did they even look to see if the guy whose body he is inhabiting has a passport?
• Does the Air and Space Museum keep its exhibits fueled and ready to fly? Asking for a friend.
• And I know Steve Trevor is supposed to be this amazing pilot but I call bullshit on his ability to fly a modern fighter jet.
• Diana arrives at the final fight wearing her cool golden armour, which can repel any amount of firepower, but it is shredded by Cheetah’s claws without much effort.
In the pre-title sequence, we see a young Princess Diana learn that lying is not the way to win, unfortunately, director Patty Jenkins didn’t take this sentiment to heart when she helmed this sequel because even though the title makes one assume we’re going to see a Wonder Woman movie that’s actually stretching the truth quite a bit as the superheroic Amazon has very little screentime. I’m not saying that Wonder Woman doesn’t appear in this film but for a film that is two and a half hours long we spend way too much time with Diana Prince and her boy toy Steve Trevor wandering around “investigating” Maxwell Lord. There is more Wonder Woman action to be found in an episode of the 70s Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter than what we get in this movie, this is not to say there aren’t some cool action sequences to be found here it’s just that they are too few and far between for my liking and none of them came close to the “No Man’s Land” scene from the previous film.
There are some fun moments in Wonder Woman 1984 and Gal Gadot continues to prove she was perfect casting as Wonder Woman, and even Pedro Pascal’s over-the-top performance was at least a little entertaining at times, but the visual effects dropped the ball huge during the action scenes with what looks like unfinished visual effects and a CGI catfight that rivals the one from Black Panther for looking like a PS2 cut scene. One could point out that having two villains is never a good idea but in this case, the real issue is that neither one of them was properly developed and the resolution to both of these characters comes across as forced and hackneyed. Another thing to take note of is that setting the movie in 1984 didn’t really add much to the proceedings other than providing a few jokes about fashion and breakdancing, with none of it being that crucial to the story and is pretty much forgotten halfway through the film, well other than the 80s motto of “Greed is good” being a central theme, but as this takes place in America, and greed being integral to the foundation of the country, I think this film could have been set in present-day with no real problem.
Note: Steve Trevor’s role in this film was mostly to provide fish-out-of-water jokes and try on 80s fashion disasters.
I went into Wonder Woman 1984 with fairly high expectations and maybe that was my fault, but with Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and director Patty Jenkins returning for this outing I did have high hopes of another fun superhero adventure, instead, what we got was a nonsensical script, poor visual effects, and worst of all is that they totally wasted one of Wonder Woman’s best villains. In conclusion, if I had a Dreamstone I’d wish for my two-and-a-half-hours back.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Movie Rank - 4.5/10
With two villains and a plot that can barely be called coherent, we have a Wonder Woman entry that is very disappointing and the fact that the cast all gave fine performances isn’t enough to save the day.