By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Filmmaker Patty Jenkins and actor Gal Gadot are back and they have arrived at a time when hope, love, and heroism are exactly what people are needing from movies. With 2020 being the dumpster fire it is, a movie like Wonder Woman 1984 is exactly what people have been craving in a year with very few blockbusters in its filmography. This is in no way an endorsement by me to go straight to cinemas to watch this film. If you do decide to risk it, protect yourselves. Yet, on the other hand, people will have the option to view this movie as it will be available for streaming via HBO Max. So regardless of which way one decides to watch this movie, Wonder Woman 1984 is an absolute treat which families can enjoy during the holidays.
Since the events of the last Wonder Woman movie, the demigod Diana Prince (Gadot) has survived through decades and yet still remains youthful looking. In 1984, she spends most of her time working for the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. as an anthropologist. She also spends some time fighting crime as Wonder Woman whenever a situation calls for it. When a mysterious artifact arrives to the museum, both Diana and co-worker Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) become quite intrigued with it. The artifact turns out to be a magic stone capable of granting anyone one wish. Barbara, who is shy and insecure, wishes she can be more like Diana, while Diana wishes she could be reunited with her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).
Though both ladies made these wishes half-jokingly, they soon realize that their wishes have come true. In the meantime, aspiring oil magnate Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) desperately searches for the “Dreamstone” and manages to manipulate it out of Barbara’s hands. Lord’s one wish it merge with the stone and use its powers to acquire power of his own. With this power comes some serious consequences, though. As he grants people of power their deepest darkest wishes, the world to fall into chaos, a chaos that can only be stopped by Wonder Woman.
Written and directed by Patty Jenkins, who co-wrote with Geoff Johns, and David Callaham, Wonder Woman 1984 is a fun movie so full of heart and optimism, it is so hard not to love it. Of course the main question people want to know is, how does it compare to the first film? Well, the movie does suffer from a bit of sequelitis, and that is to be expected. The filmmakers behind this film had big ambitions for this movie and that much is obvious, given its two and a half hour runtime. They obviously had a lot to say and wanted to develop their characters as best as they could in the limited time they had.
That is not to say that the movie is totally overstuffed. The movie has so much going on that perhaps one of the villains could have been eliminated. Yet, at the same time, I enjoyed how the writers developed each of the villains in conjunction with Wonder Woman. Still, the whole movie doesn’t flow and work as well as it did the first time around, but the filmmakers get enough right to make the experience so much fun and enjoyable. I would compare Wonder Woman 1984 to Superman II (not the Donner Cut).
And I say this because in a lot of ways, it feels like an 80s superhero movie. Not only does the movie take place during the 80s, but some of the themes and its cheery optimism and sense of humor makes it feel just like a good Superman movie from that decade. And as we all know, there is only one good Superman movie to come from the 80s, and that is Superman II.
Now, as far as the acting goes, it should come as no surprise that both Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are great in this. They pick up their roles as Diana and Steve as if their characters were their favorite comfortable outfits. Of course, a lot people want to know how the villains performed and I am happy to say that both Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are great in this movie. Wiig shows some wonderful range here as her character evolves from a shy, awkward wall flower into a fierce, ruthless predator. Pascal also gets to shine as he portrays Maxwell Lord as a desperate addict, drunk and high on his new powers and laying waste as his addiction propels him on a path of destruction, both to self and others. It is a layered villainous turn that feels almost Shakespearian at times.
Going into this review, I had a bit of a hard time reconciling all of my feelings about this film. I feel like I have so much to say, but have to limit myself. Perhaps that was how Patty Jenkins and the writers felt. Wonder Woman 1984 has enough going on to perhaps begin a television series, but is constrained by its 2.5 hour runtime. Nevertheless, it is its indellible and beautiful heart that sold it for me. I feel that if anyone finishes this movie and doesn’t feel pretty good afterward, they probably had a bad attitude from the get-go. Wonder Woman 1984 opens in theaters on December 25 and will be available for streaming simultaneously on HBO Max.