Review: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Director: Patty Jenkins
Screenwriters: Dave Callaham, Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Release Date: 12/25/20 (Streaming/Theatres)
Runtime: 2h 31min
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%
Where to Watch: HBO Max

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I actually enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984, and I feel like people are being way too harsh on the sequel to the hit that made Israeli actress Gal Gadot a star. Sure, it’s a bit convoluted and probably too long — I don’t mind longer movies if the runtime is warranted — but I thought that it was better than almost everyone has been saying. Some critics are looking for it to be revelatory as the first film, which was the first DC film in recent years that I’ve liked (I also really liked Birds of Prey). Rather, people should just enjoy it for what it is: a fun, entertaining female-fronted flick, one that is probably best seen in a theatre, not on one’s TV.

Gal Gadot gives her best performance yet as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince — although, I haven’t seen [nor plan to see] Justice League — and she really sells the dialogue and emotions of the film, even when the material seems a bit heavy-handed. Her chemistry with Chris Pine as returned-from-the-dead Steve Trevor (his return is explained and actually makes sense in the scope of the film) is great as before, and it certainly helps that they’re both insanely (almost annoyingly) attractive. I only wish we got to see more of his reactions to ’80s life, which are among the most amusing parts of the film. On that note, I found the ’80s setting to be really interesting, and it actually plays into the theme of greed and power (embodied by the main villain, played by Pedro Pascal). The costumes and settings are impressive, and makes me wish I’d been alive longer in the ’80s (I was born in 1987). 

People are also nagging on the visual effects, which aren’t as good as you’d expect them to be — especially with such a high budget — but I didn’t find the effects to be amateur or distractingly bad. There’s plenty of action, to be sure, although not all of those sequences were needed or could have at least been trimmed. And, as previously mentioned, the movie is too long; 30+ minutes could have easily been cut, in order to pick up the pace. Although, that said, I didn’t mean the somewhat slower pace of some of the scenes, which spent more time on characters — which isn’t always successful.

There isn’t a whole lot of character development/growth, aside from that seen in Pascal’s utterly fascinating and complex villain.  He gives the best performance in the film by far, and his commitment to the role is admirable. He isn’t simply a bad guy looking for more power; there’s much more to him than that, as evidenced in a handful of excellent between him and his son. We haven’t seen such a fascinating, emotionally-driven superhero villain since Thanos in the MCU. 

The story itself isn’t exactly that hard to follow, but it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be. It attempts to have as many moving parts as Avengers: Endgame, whose complex plot was warranted. Also, WW84 takes some strange narrative turns that don’t always make sense, and don’t necessarily feel true to the characters and their motivations. People have also remarked on the inauthenticity of Kristen Wiig’s character, who quickly transforms into a stone-cold villain who teams up with Padro’s baddie. I actually thought she did a solid job, especially in the earlier scenes; she excels at playing socially awkward characters, even when the character, Barbara, is written fairly stereotypically. And, yet, Wiig is so charming that she makes it work. 

All in all, despite being a bit of a mess, WW84 is enjoyable and worth watching for its performances and interesting characters.