Wonder Woman 1984 is a cinematic superhero spectacle that will thrill audiences despite several discernible flaws. Director/co-writer Patty Jenkins takes a deep character dive into an immortal heroine’s complex personality. Godlike power is both a gift and a curse. This central theme is energetically carried through a rather simplistic storyline. Terrific supporting performances, a comical retro setting, and glaring spotlight on sexism make up for the narrative deficits. Wonder Woman 1984 delivers the blockbuster goods, but is not on par with the genre’s best films.
The story picks up sixty-six years later with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) working as a cultural anthropologist at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. She fights crime with the golden Lasso of Hestia, but takes great care to destroy any recordings of her exploits. Stunningly beautiful and glamorous, she’s a constant source of attention. Diana rebuffs every advance, her heart still aching for the valiant Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She lives a solitary existence, until a chance encounter with an awkward co-worker. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), bumbling and forgettable, idolizes everything about the statuesque Amazon.
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The museum is visited by a generous benefactor, oil tycoon and TV infomercial star, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). He’s taken great interest in a particular find. While Barbara is enamored, Diana is suspicious of the garrulous businessman. Events take a seemingly impossible turn as Diana’s greatest longing is mysteriously fulfilled. But her newfound happiness comes with devastating consequences.
Patty Jenkins updates Wonder Woman with real life experiences. She’s no longer the naive Princess of Themyscira. Her decades in the human world have reinforced a sad truth. Immortality is a lonely business. Protecting the innocent is a noble endeavor, but doesn’t replace the warmth of companionship. Diana’s journey through the film is to truly understand her existence. Gal Gadot kicks a whole lot of ass, but finally gets to show the emotional price that Wonder Woman pays for duty.
Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig are fantastic antagonists. They get a lot of screen time with near equal subplots that parallel Diana’s. Each character is thirsting for something that has always eluded them. Maxwell Lord is a charlatan who embodies greed at all costs. Barbara Minerva is tired of being ignored, unwanted, and helpless. Her taste of strength and desirability becomes toxic. The veteran character actors bolster the film with captivating performances. Patty Jenkins gets a lot of credit for good casting here. Lessor talents would not have been able to pull off the bombastic nature of the villains without looking silly.
Wonder Woman 1984 unfortunately has a lackluster primary plot. An object, not quite a MacGuffin, is used multiple times as an excuse for massive story gaps. The film is loaded with scratch your head moments that are simply glossed over. These issues steamroll through the two hour and thirty-one minute runtime. A lot of logical questions are left unanswered. The filmmakers bet that the vibrancy of the action and good character work overcomes the obvious failings. They are mostly right. I enjoyed the film and was able to turn a blind eye when needed.
Patty Jenkins thankfully doesn’t go eighties overboard. She gets humor and style points out of the period setting. The soundtrack has a few classic pop hits, but is largely orchestral. There will be serious discussion regarding the film’s portrayal of male chauvinism and objectification of women. Diana and Barbara are subject to nonstop sexual harassment. I applaud Jenkins for forcefully addressing this issue.
Wonder Woman 1984 is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. It will have detractors, but the vast majority of fans will enjoy the experience. It’s awesome seeing Wonder Woman using all of her abilities. The film would have destroyed the box office if it weren’t for the damn coronavirus. Wonder Woman 1984 is a production of DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, The Stone Quarry, and Warner Bros. It was released abroad on December 16th. Wonder Woman 1984 will premiere in US theaters and online Christmas Day at HBO Max. Stick around during the credits.
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