By: John M Jerva
The Review: So it took all the way to December 25th to finally get a huge summer comic book blockbuster movie released in theaters but here Wonder Woman 1984 is in all it’s glory. This release is unprecedented because at the same time it hits cinemas, Warner Bros. is also launching the film on its HBOMAX streaming platform for thirty days. This move comes in light of the year we have had and with all subsequent 2021 releases from the studio doing the same thing, it’ll be interesting to see what this film’s box office numbers will be on Monday as this is the first film to see the light of day in Warner Bros. new marketing strategy.
With all the hoopla over that, one has to ask the question of whether or not WW84 is a worthy sequel to the original film that was a hit with critics and audiences alike and basically pulled the DCEU out of the gutter. Well the resounding answer from most critics is that yes the film is worth your time. However, many fans are crying foul with a different opinion and while I was excited to finally see a big film like this, I have to admit that I was strongly disappointed in the end result.
Before I get into what I felt didn’t work, let me just say that the cast, once again led by Gal Gadot who was born to play Diana Prince, is great and they do phenomenal with what they were given in terms of the plot. Speaking of plot, that was my biggest gripe as it revolves around an ancient artifact from the gods that will grant one wish from anyone but unfortunately it takes more than it gives in return. Now, I know that this is a Wonder Woman film but I felt that this time around, the storyline failed the character and while it was certainly different, it just ended up being overly melodramatic in the end.
As you all know, WW84 takes place in well 1984 of course and we find that Diana is living quietly among the common folks and while working for a museum, she frequently dons her superhero persona and we get to see her in action as she stops a robbery at a mall which harkens back to the wonderful days of Christopher Reeve in the Superman films. The scene is exciting and we get to see our heroine in action. Unfortunately, that would be the last time for the first hour plus of the film’s bloated two hours and thirty minute running time.
In this first hour, we are introduced to our villains in waiting played by Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig who don’t start off as evil but eventually succumb to the dark side. Pascal, who rocks in The Mandalorian, gets to have his face on full display here as businessman Maxwell Lord who is in some serious financial troubles after trying to start his own business. Wiig plays Barbara Minerva, a shy woman who just started working for the same museum that Diana is at. Pascal is good and so is Wiig who’s performance reminded me of Michelle Phiefer in Batman 2 who starts of as a timid lady with a heart of gold but eventually becomes the villainous Cheetah when she gets a taste of being evil.
When Lord gets his hands on the artifact that grants wishes, he becomes the very object itself and thus starts a chain reaction of events that will put the world in peril as millions of people fall prey to greed and gluttony.
The best part of the movie is the relationship between Diana and love interest Steve Trevor (Pine) who returns from the dead in another man’s body when Diana wishes for it and it is their connection that is the driving force of the movie and gives the film its heart. Pine is great and he serves up a lot of the movie’s comic relief as he is essentially a fish out of water in this new age of the world. Their love is bittersweet however and Diana must make a choice between her true love and her powers when she starts to lose them as a direct result of the artifact’s effects.
Like I mentioned before, WW84 is way to long and I’ll never understand why filmmakers feel that these types of films need to be so long. Sure, Avengers: Endgame needed to be long but that was because of the weight of everything that it was trying to close in terms of 10 plus years of storylines but here it wasn’t needed and I would have liked to see a running time around two hours. There was a lot of downtime and I’m all for story development but not at the sake of overstuffing the movie. It just seemed to drag and my attention was wondering more than once.
The action, when it does come is good but not great with the aforementioned robbery scene and an exhilarating car chase in Egypt being the standouts. We do get a battle in the White House that is not bad but the ending is a letdown with Prince’s final showdown with Wiig’s Cheetah being a brief affair that never delivers what was promised. It also took way too long for Barbara to finally become the villain and she’s dispatched rather easily. For a film with a high budget, some of the CGI fails to achieve the visual eye candy that it is meant for and some scenes took me out of the moment when I found myself looking more closely at what wasn’t working visually.
There is the eventual showdown between our heroine and Lord but by that time, Maxwell is reduced to nothing more than an over the top cheesy supervillain who has way too much power and there is no real physicality or tension to their confrontation. I prefer more fisticuffs in my superhero films and here it was nothing more than talk, talk, talk with a little dose of what could have been. Pascal is excellent in the role but being the main villain of the movie just didn’t work for this fanboy.
There is also a stinger scene after the initial credits role just like in Marvel movies but once again it is a gigantic missed opportunity. I don’t spoil it but even though it’s paying homage to something, I would have preferred something that would have wet my appetite for another future installment after sitting through this one.
Overall, WW84 is a serviceable comic book movie but it takes too long to get where it’s going and our tag team villains are a big letdown. Gadot was made to play this role and she hits the target once again here. Hopefully, she will get another shot and that movie will rise to the occasion and be a fitting entry for our star. The first film was a welcome entry in the DCEU but this sophomore effort from Jenkins is a missed opportunity. There are a few hints of greatness but eventually, they are swallowed up in a bloated film that isn’t much fun and is messy from the get go.