Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984: I Was Hoping For So Much More (Some Small Spoilers)

I’ve been anticipating this movie for a long time. I loved the first Wonder Woman film and having it set in the era I grew up in just felt like a win all around. The trailer alone gave me optimism about how good this would be.

Set in Washington DC in 1984, Diana has led a life of seclusion. She’s working at the Smithsonian by day and occasionally making mysterious appearances to change people’s fates when bad guys show up.

Kristen Wiig and Gal Gadot

She meets Barbara Minerva, new employee who is non-descript. She’s someone who is seen every day but no one really remembers her, including the woman who hired her. She’s socially awkward as well, but Diana takes the time to get to know her and finds someone she really enjoys being friends with. The two of them begin working together on a case involving a heist that Wonder Woman thwarted in a previous sequence. As they are identifying the stolen artwork, they come across something that appears to be a not-so-elaborate fake, but is actually much more.

What is the one great thing you would wish for?

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine

Steve Trevor does a Quantum Leap into someone else’s body and that’s how we get him to return. Barbara, meanwhile, wishes she was more like Diana. Neither of them have intentionally wished for what they got, but both are accepting of the changes in their lives.

Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal

Enter Max Lord. He’s not the villain of the comics, but a shady businessman who was the intended recipient of that particular item from the heist. He charms the awkward Barbara into letting him take the artifact to someone he supposedly knows who could possibly identify it. It would seem his motivation is to become a successful businessman and very wealthy, but t doesn’t end there. Unfortunately, we never know what he’s actually out for. At times he seems to mimic Donald Trump, a “successful” businessman who it’s really all an illusion, and who keeps just wanting “more.” More what? More of everything. More love, more adoration, more power.

Which is why the ending really falls flat. Among other issues I had with the film, though overall I found it entertaining.

Set in 1984, but the real question is why? Why pick that year? They have certain imagery to use, but it could have been dropped in any decade. What’s the point of showing us the red Trans-Am speeding down the street, or the boutique of neon accessories, or the Virginia mall with the variety of stores, arcade, and food-court? There’s no real reason to set this film here, and unfortunately, the one thing that could have redeemed it is missing.

The trailer seemed to promise 1980’s music with New Order’s Blue Monday blaring over it. However, other than a background of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome in one scene, the one big thing of the 1980’s it could have capitalized on is missing. I liked that Barbara Minerva was drinking a Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler. A few details like that were fun to someone who grew up in that time (I was 18 in 1984) but overall the story could have happened at just about any time.

The action sequences are good, although a number of them are pointless. The long introduction sequence of a young Diana competing in her youth exists just to make the point that there are no shortcuts in life. The heist at the mall is fun, but also could have been dropped completely. Both of these really contribute nothing to the story, which is a shame. An action sequence in the White House is good, as Diana’s humanity shines through and the cost of her wish becomes apparent.

As the wishes people make begin to destabilize the world, there’s more action that ties into the story. There’s a great sequence in Eqypt that’s not quite a car chase. Barbara eventually goes over to the dark side, not wanting to return to her old life, and faces off against Diana in some great sequences. I enjoyed these a great deal.

However, the character of Max Lord is poorly written. I don’t blame the actor for that – we all know from Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian how great of an actor Pedro Pascal is. The part is written erratically. He’s a narcissist throughout the film, then isn’t when it’s convenient. We’ve seen, recently, just how little a narcissist cares for anyone around him, even their children at times. We’ve seen how people like that will put their own desires above the good of others or the world, yet we’re supposed to believe when the time comes he will change. The more believable ending would have been his destruction, and I’m not quite sure why this wasn’t written that way.

It’s also a fairly glaring error that Barbara’s transformation to Cheetah is the product of a second wish, something that isn’t supposed to happen. The action sequence between that transformed character and Diana is fun, and the effect is excellent to watch, but it’s another conflict in the story that is ignored because it’s convenient.

Overall I enjoyed the film, but it could have been just so much more. Gal Gadot is wonderful in the role, as was Kristen Wiig. Christ Pine does well, but he feels less like he’s really invested in this story than he was in the first film. There’s just so many things that feel like padding in the story itself, plus moments that don’t make sense to the overall story. I’d recommend seeing it, but I’m glad I didn’t risk going to a theater for it.

And I recognized Asteria’s eyes without needing the credits scene. You’ll probably love that though so make sure to see it.

13 replies »

    • I had talked to other reviewers so I knew there wasn’t any 80’s music in the soundtrack, so I was prepared for that disappointment. Definitely lower your expectations. I have a feeling we’ll eventually find out that too many people had input on the original story and this is the result.

      • I wasn’t crazy about the first, I think you liked it more, but I thought there was potential, and in my head, really imagined they would go to town on the music angle. They’re likely to come about a billion dollars short of expectations at the box-office, so my guess there will be a few discussions about what went wrong (apart from the virus).

      • I really thought they would too, with the music. I kept trying to get information about it because I just couldn’t wait to hear what they did. That was a huge disappointment in its own right.

  1. I assumed they chose 1984 because of its association with George Orwell’s book. I guess I won’t have to lower my expectations as I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. I really liked the first one, but from what little I’ve seen of the second—well, you’ve only confirmed my suspicions, sad to say.

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