Wonder Woman 1984
Warning: This review contains spoilers
In what has been a disappointing year for most people, Wonder Woman 1984 is just another disappointment that perfectly embodies 2020.
While the DC Extended Universe has suffered more misses than hits, 2017’s Wonder Woman was a success story with a well-written script, great action and Gal Gadot as the titular character. But its sequel not only failed to push the envelope, it failed to even deliver a cohesive plot.
The film opens with a young Diana Prince participating against much older Amazonian women in an Olympic-style game, only to be disqualified for taking a shortcut, delivering the film’s central message that you have to earn the things you desire, there is no cheating in real life.
With the introduction of the Dreamstone, anyone in possession has their wish granted, but, unbeknownst to them, they lose something in return. While the theme of cheating to get what they want rings true for Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), it makes no sense with Diana’s wish to be reunited with her deceased lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). How else would she ever seen him again?
The logic of the Dreamstone is also inconsistent as everyone has their wish granted immediately with the exception of Maxwell’s son, Alistair (Lucian Perez). Alistair wishes to be more like his father, but nothing happens related to this any time we see him again.
Meanwhile, for Diana to defeat Maxwell, who has absorbed the Dreamstone and has become the stone itself, she needs everyone, which at this point are millions of people across the world, to renounce the wishes made. And everyone means everyone, there can’t be any stragglers. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of people out there who are looking out solely for themselves and are not going to believe someone telling them the opposite of what they believe.
Plus, the tradeoff of the Dreamstone granting your wish is that it extracts a toll. Diana lost her powers in order for Steve to return, Maxwell was slowly dying throughout the film. Barbara? Well, she … lost her ability to be nice? As her personality slowly shifts away, the most telling moment is when she beats a man who attempted to rape her earlier in the film half to death. Barbara is a brilliant archaeologist with several sub-specialties, but the stone decided to make her mean rather than dimwitted?
Wonder Woman 1984 also completely wastes the usage of Barbara, who becomes one of Diana’s most iconic villains, Cheetah. The film instead makes the Gordon Gekko-esque Maxwell the primary villain and the two only share four scenes together in the film, half of which have a conflict that just feels artificial. Meanwhile, what isn’t brought up is that after all of the wishes are denounced, do Barbara and Diana just return to work the next Monday as if nothing happened?
The physics of the Lasso of Truth were also confusing as it was seemingly able to just latch onto thin air and allow Diana to swing or connect and tie someone up without being tied before Diana threw it. Director Patty Jenkins has allowed this weapon to basically be operated completely unencumbered.
The timing of the movie is also odd. Diana is showing operated in secret as Wonder Woman and saved multiple children, but gets them to promise to not tell anyone who saved them? How many children do you know who can so safely guard a secret, especially one as big as this?
Finally, the CGI in this film was very subpar by 2020 standards, especially in the scenes in which Diana discovers she can fly. This film had a $200 million budget and these scenes made it look like it was created for a fraction of that price.
On a positive note, the few action scenes we did get were well done, especially Diana battling Barbara. I also appreciated that they didn’t lean into the fish out of water trope when Steve returned, we went through enough of that in the first Wonder Woman. Gadot also shined again as the confident titular character.
This was a film oozing with potential that not only failed to deliver but also jeopardized the future of this film franchise. Jenkins essentially killed off two of Wonder Woman’s most significant characters in Steve and Barbara. DC Extended Universe has been operating without a well-thought-out plan for the past decade as they have been trying to play catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and we may have finally reached the point where the wheels have fallen off.