‘I’ ON CULTURE
Wonder Woman 1984 is here and this was one movie I was really waiting for. The first of the films with the character was superb, one of the best of the genre — a brilliant origins picture. Now we would go to the 1980s!
Unfortunately, the new movie is not nearly as good as the first. Mind you, it is not a bad one, actually pretty good. But it has enormous flaws, and they get in the way of creating a coherent, exciting story line. This is a film clearly made because it is a sequel to a really successful film that has a couple of top stars, particularly Gal Gadot, the most charismatic performer in the DC/Marvel pantheon.
Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Wonder Woman’s alter ego, is working as a cultural anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, keeping a low profile, although she does manage to capture a group of goons at a local mall before going back in hiding. She meets awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who has a whole string of degrees, when she begins work at the Smithsonian. Barbara is the opposite of Diana: she’s awkward, bad with people and is essentially ignored by just about everyone.
Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a failing businessman, recognizes an artifact as a “wishing stone,” one that grants people their heart’s desire. Barbara wishes to be more like Diana and is gradually transformed. Diana, in passing, wishes her great love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) could be alive, and he returns. And Lord wishes that he could be the means for everyone to achieve their wishes.
As expected, things fall apart. Diana is thrilled to reunite with Steve and recruits him to help find the wishing stone, one said to have been involved in the destruction of civilizations all through history. Barbara and Lord oppose her. That leads to the major plot… which goes nowhere.
The chemistry between Gadot and Pine still works. Together, they are great. You can sense the attraction between the two. Some great comedy is worked in. Watching her try to get him dressed in 1980s fashion was funny. I enjoyed Steve trying on parachute pants and asking if it meant that everyone went parachuting. Their scenes were great, with an emphasis on the best action setup in the film as the two of them chase Lord and a group of minions on an Egyptian highway.
Wiig gets a great chance to steal scenes using her impeccable comic timing, her good looks and acting ability to play a really complex character. Pascal is way over the top, stealing most scenes because the other actors are more laid back, but his motivation, aside for a drive for power, is unclear. And the ending creates a change in the character that seems unbelievable.
There are not many action scenes considering the genre and the more than two-and-a-half-hour length. There is a nice opening sequence with Diana as a child learning that cheating is wrong, which presents the film’s moral message about truth being the most important thing. Then there is a brief fight with some clumsy thugs, the aforementioned highway chase, a far-too-long fight in the White House and a final battle between Wonder Woman and Cheetah, which was filmed in the dark so that it’s hard to figure out who was winning or even if the actors were really there. Somehow Barbara becomes sort of feline, although I could barely see it.
This film reminds me of the really silly superhero movies we saw before Christopher Nolan did Batman Begins in 2005. The villains have no real motive, and there are massive holes in logic. But with Gadot headlining it, they thought we could sit through more than two hours of it. There were some good sequences, but except for the parts where she and Pine were together, the film dragged.
Since you’ll probably see the movie on HBO Max if you have it, and it’s free for the next month, see it. It’s certainly worth that price of admission. As I wrote earlier, not bad but not really very good.
Nevertheless, it was great to actually see a new movie.