WONDER WOMAN 1984 REVIEW: GREATNESS IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK

Wondering about Wonder Woman 1984?

JonChristopher Collins – JANUARY 8, 2021

Wonder Woman 1984, the superheroine sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, landed in theaters with Amazonian fashion this past Christmas. Like a Christmas gift, the Amazonian princess’ latest cinematic adventure waits to be unwrapped.

There will be those who find the wrapping paper shinier than the actual gift, some might even be ungrateful for what was the best cinematic gift of 2020; others overhype their gift, calling it the best ever. Wonder Woman 1984 follows neither of those scenarios. Instead, it was good, great even. In the movie, Maxwell Lord says life is good, but it can be better; that applies here as well. It is a great film, but it can be better. Wonder Woman 1984 is an eight out of ten stars cinematic treat of a film.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this sequel film owes its screenplay to Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham. The source material, as acknowledged in the film’s beginning, is the Wonder Woman comic book by William Moulton Marston. At the start of the film, audiences are treated to a flashback that echoes a lesson to be built upon throughout the film. Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman, played by returning actress Gal Gadot, meets viewers as they are then transported to the eighties. It is from this point on that moviegoers learn that when Diana is not stopping crime as Wonder Woman in her powerful, graceful and showstopping manner she lives in D.C. where she works at the Smithsonian Institution. It is not too long before viewers meet the socially awkward, insecure but sweet Dr. Barbara Minerva played by Kristen Wiig. Minerva as Cheetah and Maxwell Lord or Max Lord played by Pedro Pascal make up the film’s baddies.

The revelation of Wonder Woman’s occupation with the Smithsonian Institution provides setup for the mystical elements of the movie. The Dreamstone is the ancient creation of the God of Lies who Diana reveals as “a very bad God” later in the film. The Dreamstone grants any wish but there is always a catch. The stone takes its share as payment for granting the user’s wish; wishing proves itself costly, especially as the story progresses.

Some viewers might see the Dreamstone artifact as weak writing and the great thing is, everybody is entitled to their film opinions. However, the artifact is used to drive home a point in the end. In the end, it works. When the Dreamstone is first used, its comical and written off as coincidence when the wish is granted. Sooner rather than later, viewers see that the stone is not powerless once Chris Pine enters the scene reprising his role as Steve Trevor.

It is a great, some might argue predictable reveal when Trevor is revived. Perhaps it is both of those things. His reveal is not so surprising for the following reason. Prior to this, Diana is portrayed as a valiant, responsible, honorable but lonely heroine. She missed her boyfriend and that is not easily overlooked. So, with that in mind, viewers are able to cheer for Diana Prince and Steve Trevor when they are reunited at a Smithsonian hosted gala. The romantic element is introduced and sparks fly.

Sparks do not fly with class or quite the emotional release between Dr. Barbara Minerva and Maxwell Lord. Earlier in the storyline, Lord is depicted as a successful, vibrant, charismatic businessman. He oozes charisma and success but underneath he is shown to be a deceptive, struggling businessman who comes off like a cookie cutter televangelist. Not only that but his romancing skills are also dramatic and showy; they hide his ulterior motives.

The scene presenting Lord’s romantic display is the cringiest, slimiest, most uncomfortable moment in the film’s entirety. It is obvious that Lord uses and manipulates Minerva to get what he wants. He plays on her desire for love in a dastardly way. He is sleazy and abusive in that regard. Dr. Minerva got what she wanted from the stone as well. She wanted in a few words to be like Diana and it was granted to her.

Bearing in mind that Steve Trevor died during World War I, his reaction to the eighties is as endearing as Diana’s was when she left Themyscira for the first time. It is fun as a viewer to see Diana and Steve reverse roles from the first film. She was a stranger to the world in the first film while Steve is a stranger to the time period in this film.

This is not a plot summary but a review and there is more ground to cover outside of the plot. Before journeying beyond discussing the plot, the action or lack of depending on how one sees it, demands attention. The first film showed fans just what Diana, Amazonian Princess of Themyscira, Wonder Woman is capable of with pow boom wham bam comic book fashion. She easily obliterated enemies and weapons of war in the first movie. The action she unloads in this sequel is not entirely disappointing, but it did not display all that the character can do. Of course, that is due to the consequences of what the screenplay calls for Diana to do. Understandably, it alters the plot and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as a character.

The big finale ending gushes the most action in the entire film. Comic book films of this kind are no stranger to doomsday scenarios and this movie is no different in that respect. Death, destruction and chaos are all accounted for in the film’s big finish. A moving speech with a powerful message brings the themes and messages from the beginning and throughout the story full circle.

The performances executed in Wonder Woman 1984 were well done. Gal Gadot renders a performance just as powerful, classy, graceful and bold as her last one. Pedro Pascal plays a character that sympathy might follow. Pascal’s performance nails the villain one hurts for; he is a man with struggles, desperately trying to transcend them only to hurt himself and those he loves. Pascal also provides a comedic flair, often commanding laughs with the over-the-top character.

It is understandable if some find his character hard to accept because he does not fight like other villains. Like this movie is different to others of its genre, Pascal’s character is different from other villains. That is what makes his character and this film great. Kristen Wiig elicits a similar result and is hard not to enjoy watching. Chris Pine’s return is a pleasant addition to the film; he is humorous, endearing and even gets the chance to do some hand-to-hand combat.

Visually speaking, the movie is pleasing to the eyes. This is the case throughout the film and most notably during the flight through the fireworks. In addition to the ceremonial action film explosions, the movie displays a wide array of colors. Sometimes it is crisp in color and exceptionally vibrant, popping off the screen kind of bright. Other times it is darker, matching the seriousness of the moment but never so dark that viewers experience dullness of color.

Finally, and perhaps supremely appreciated is the utilization of Hans Zimmer for the movie’s music. Zimmer did not score the first film. Having scored Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Dark Knight Trilogy, Zimmer is by no means a newcomer to this film genre. The music is quite enjoyable, as per usual with his work.

As with any movie, there is good and bad. Some movies are worse than others while some are better than others. This film received undue, disproportionate hate. Again, people have opinions and that is obviously not an issue. At the same time, even those who dislike or even strongly dislike it have found good about it. It might not be a favorite among some viewers but to say it is the worst film one has seen seems excessive. 

Wonder Woman 1984 may not be everyone’s favorite film or even one they would consider good or great. Anticipation and hype play large roles in anything to be consumed. For some, that is what this movie is. A lot of anticipation and hype only to deliver a letdown. For others it was a great gift after drudging through 2020; it is a movie that means something. As mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman 1984 is an eight out of ten stars cinematic treat of a film. It loses two stars for awkward, cringy moments, although the reasoning behind them is understood it was not convincingly executed, as well as lack of action compared to the first film. It is said in the film that greatness is not what you think. That applies to the movie; Wonder Woman 1984 is great but just not what moviegoers, whether watching from home or in the theater, might think.

Note: I hope you enjoyed my review of Wonder Woman 1984. I asked you to submit your thoughts on the film and you did. I know I mentioned undue hate in my review, that did not come from you. Those of you who submitted critical input articulated your issues with the film clearly. Thank you for your submissions! Read the thoughts submitted below!

Your submissions

Loved the score. Disliked that there was less action than the first one. Liked it. Big tonal shift from the first movie. I liked the first one more, but still enjoyed this one. Overall a pretty good movie that stands on its own pretty well.

– Josiah

I can’t even explain how bad Wonder Woman was for me…OOOoof. Where to start. Decent beginning but then 45 minutes of nothing happening in the middle of the movie. Not a single paper cut for almost an hour. Just way too long of a film. Elementary story writing. Nothing surprising in the end at all. The premise was basically DC’s Aladdin to a T. Chris Pine was back again just to look pretty and then fade away.

It wasn’t a total Trainwreck I guess. Haha obviously the visuals and special effects went a long way with the money they spent. I did like the nostalgia play on the 80s and the soundtrack pretty well. Gal Gadot is a good actress as well, just didn’t care for the creative choices as far as plot and some messaging. Being content with your life and what you have was a positive message I think they brought forth at the end.

-Tyler

I thought it was ok. Story was so so.

-Luke

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