Review: Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is the long awaited sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins returns to direct Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.

Set in 1984, Diana works at the Smithsonian Institute in D.C. She is also secretly protecting the city as Wonder Woman. The film opens with a very campy scene involving Wonder Woman flashing past the cameras as she stops crime in the city.

The story shifts its focus to Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), an aspiring businessman who is drowning in debt while trying to get rich through acquiring oil. He’s in search of the Dreamstone, an ancient artifact that grants wishes. Think of it as a genie’s bottle that grants one wish, but takes something in return.

Maxwell’s quest to acquire the stone has him cross paths with Diana at the Smithsonian as well as her co-worker Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). While Maxwell plots to steal the stone, Diana and Barbara make wishes not knowing the stone’s true powers. Diana’s wish brings Steve Trevor (Christine Pine) back to life and Barbara’s wish unknowingly gives her powers and abilities – but at what cost?

Once Wonder Woman realizes what Maxwell Lord’s plan is, she set out to stop him before it’s too late.  Wonder Woman also has to face off against Barbara who doesn’t want to lose the new powers she’s been granted by the stone. Wonder Woman takes on both Barbara/Cheetah and Maxwell Lord before the world  around them collapses.

WW84 is a bit of a mixed bag. It opens like one of Richard Donner’s Superman films – full on comic book ridiculousness, action, witty banter, and comedy. Even the introduction of Barbara is her as a bumbling nerd that wears glasses, has messy hair, and seems to be the clumsiest person alive. At some point the film shift gears and makes an attempt to be a full on action movie but with no real action on screen. The action sequence we do see are so heavily edited, it’s hard to focus on what’s happening. At some point the film is a feel good love story between Diana and Trevor but none of what happens between them really matters.  The final act of a film includes a showdown between Wonder Woman and Cheetah that doesn’t feel earned. It’s obvious the two will square off but once that moment arrives, it’s more a CGI mess than the choreographed fights we’re use to seeing in recent comic book films.

What’s good about this film is obviously Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Gadot  is so good, it’s unfortunate she’s’ not supported by a better film.  The star of the film is Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord. He’s the perfect balance of maniacal comic book villain and slimy 80s businessman. Every time he’s on screen, the film is a lot more interesting. The film could’ve used more Maxwell Lord and less of Diana and Trevor’s love story. 

The biggest problem with the film is how much of it goes unexplained. Is it magic? Is it the God’s? Why does Barbara look like that now? Does Diana’s lasso do that for real? It’s impossible to have so much go unexplained in a film that’s 2hrs and 30 mins long. 

Sequels are tough to do. WW84 has a good movie buried underneath some of the bad CGI, messy action sequences, and underdeveloped characters. Trying to shoehorn in the invisible plane was a mistake, changing Cheetah’s origin was an odd choice since she’s one of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes. There is still hope for the Wonder Woman franchise as long as Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are attached. Here’s hoping for a better story next time.

Grade: C