Wonder Woman 1984 movie review: Gal Gadot’s goddess-like charm barely saves a wonderless sequel
Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kirsten Wiig and others
Judging from the title, there are two things that should have been the focus of Wonder Woman 1984: the Amazonian goddess and the ‘80’s nostalgia that the film most likely wanted to cash on. But somehow, neither is explored to their full potential. Wonder Woman, among the few actually interesting DC icons, had the good luck to find someone as perfect as Gal Gadot to wear the cuffs, yet even she could just barely save a largely soulless, wonderless film.
WW84, a follow up to 2017’s Wonder Woman, which I still dub the best DCEU film to exist, leaves World War I and German trenches to land in Washington DC of 1984. Diana Prince has assumed her position at the Smithsonian and has been spending her weekends saving joggers in pink tights from getting run over and local malls from getting robbed. Other than on the fashion, there is very little influence that the 1980s have had on WW84. Try as hard as I might, I cannot recall hearing a single beat of synth in Hans Zimmer’s gargartuan music, as we were so vehemently promised in the trailer, a year ago. The music, specially the opening Themyscira theme, is more likely to transport you to the Shire and leave you there.
Watch the trailer here:
With a needlessly long, flashback opening sequence set in Diana’s homeland Themyscira, director Patty Jenkins establishes the moral lesson she will give us this time. A young Diana, in a shorter, more Amazonian version of the Ironman Triathlon, learns that there is no honour in taking the short path to what you desire. Lying will get you nothing and the truth shall always emerge as victorious. The lessons and the ideals crop up again in her life, more than 60 years after she enters the human world.
At work (the cover-up kind), Diana makes friends with the clumsy and awkward Dr Barbara Minerva, played by Kirsten Wiig. Together, they chance upon an ancient rock that promises to make anyone’s wishes come true. But even in a premise that has already established Diana as a goddess among men, the magical rock still manages to look too stupid not to roll your eyes at. Diana, who has still not moved on from the death of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), wishes him to come back and Barbara wishes to be ‘strong, sexy and cool’ like her new friend. Both of them get what they wish for but much like the Monkey’s Paw, it comes at a heavy price.
But the one most desirous of the rock is Pedro Pascal’s slimy, loser businessman, Max Lord. With a failing business and his funds running dry, he wants to find the genie in a bottle, in a plotline straight out of Disney’s Aladdin. He becomes the film’s main villain who takes the plot to faraway lands, on a journey no one wants to be on. While Pedro does have fun as the pathetic Lord, the same cannot be said about the rest of us. He is given a large chunk of the screentime, which could have perhaps been better divided among Cheetah or Wonder Woman.
Kirsten, as expected, is perfect with the comedic portions and electric in the more sinister moments post her transformation. Her beating up a creep in the streets was among the more human, if not all that righteous moments of the film. However, even she gets an unfair, rushed treatment with how quickly she turns against Diana. It’s a turnaround that almost matches Kangana Ranaut’s feelings for Priyanka Chopra, when at one moment, she is helping her friend find out the truth about the rock and soon after that, beating her to a pulp and calling her a snob for thinking that she isn’t worthy of the same powers as her.
But what broke my heart the most was what they did to Steve Trevor. Once a guiding light and a hero in his own right in a story about a goddess, Steve is now reduced to an excited puppy, who tags along with Diana to her adventures. He is the sacrificial lamb brought to life only as an aide to her. The tragic love story of Diana and Steve, paralleled only by Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter’s in the MCU, gave the first film its beating, although sad heart. But here, even the dead are not left in peace for an easy cash grab. I know we love ourselves a Chris Pine in a fanny pack, marvelling at the wonder of an escalator, a rocket or a trash can, but one must realise what our wishes cost us.
WW84 have just three extra characters and they manage to hog the limelight away from Gal’s Diana. While she is charming enough as Diana, Gal’s strong suit has always been how glorious she is in the action scenes as Wonder Woman. Sadly, this time they come too few and far in between. With a run time that spills over to more than 2.5 hours, there is just four scenes where she gets to put on her metal skirt and slide across the floor. And even in those four, absolutely none comes close to the unforgettable no man’s land scene from the first part.
With Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins gave DCEU a film that it could be proud of. The good parts were so great, they made you forgive even the horrible CGI battle at the end. Back then, I had hoped Patty got full autonomy for the next part to do whatever she wishes, tell the story she wanted to tell and end it the way she wanted to. But with a script as dull and uninspiring as this one, I think she may have not wished wisely.
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