Main cast: Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Chris Pine (Captain Steve Trevor), Kristen Wiig (Barbara Minerva/Cheetah), Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord), Natasha Rothwell (Carol), Ravi Patel (Babajide), Gabriella Wilde (Raquel), Oliver Cotton (Simon Stagg), Robin Wright (General Antiope), and Connie Nielsen (Queen Hippolyta)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Oh, it’s the first big movie in ages, and after being cooped up at home for so long and watching older movies for the most part, I can’t wait to… oh.
Well, Patty Jenkins only has herself to blame for this one. While Wonder Woman received some of the highest accolades around for a DCEU movie, this sequel receives a complete 180 of a reception. Sure, you can argue that maybe the marketing department had run out of money to grease the palms of critics to love this one, but the feedback from actual people that watched the movie was just as unkind. After watching Wonder Woman 1984, I can see why. The previous movie had Petty Jenkins as the director, with the script written based on s story by a team of folks that included Zack Snyder. This one has Ms Jenkins in full control, as she came up with the story, co-wrote the screenplay, and directed the movie.
You know what my problem with the story is? It seems to be a story that came from folks that either don’t understand or don’t want to do superhero movies. Instead, this is a movie that is all about how we should be careful of what we wish for, and oh yes, the ultimate villain here is a rock-like equivalent to Aladdin’s lamp.
So yes, we have the Dreamstone, a magical artifact that grants people their wishes. It ends up in the museum at which Diana Prince works at. Aside from Diana, we also meet her boss, Barbara Minerva, who wishes that she can be as confident and poised as Diana. Meanwhile, we have Maxwell Lord, who is now a failing business tycoon instead of the villain he is in the comics. All three wish upon the Dreamstone: Diana wants Steve back, and Steve’s soul ends up possessing some poor bloke’s body as a result; Barbara wants to be like Diana and ends up gaining her powers, and Maxwell wants to be a human version of the Dreamstone. All will soon realize that their wishes coming true come with a price, as Diana begins to lose her powers, Barbara loses her humanity, and Maxwell’s health begins to fail. All three refuse to let go of their wishes, however…
On paper, this could have been an interesting movie regardless of the lack of a big bad villain, but there is no interesting character study here to make things worthwhile. What this movie offers is an abundance of tired clichéd platitudes about wishes, being true and honest, blah blah blah.
Diana is the biggest disappointment here—in the previous movie, her romance with Steve doesn’t define her entire existence and personality; here, however, the romance becomes her entire character focus, reducing her into yet another of the many female superheroes out there that seem to care more about feels than the greater good. In the previous movie, Wonder Woman is a superhero. Here, she is a woman with superpowers that just want the love of her man, ugh.
Oh, and she basically rapes the poor guy whose body Steve took over. That’s okay, though, because it’s Wonder Woman that does this. I can only imagine the outrage if it had been Superman doing what she did to some poor woman whose body is taken over by Lois Lane.
Barbara seems like an interesting villain at first, but as the movie progresses, this character embodies the tired old cliché of someone that loses their humanity and becomes a cackling caricature. Then there is Maxwell Lord, a pretty charismatic and sneaky villain in the comics that is now reduced to just a misunderstood little boy that needs a hug to feel better. There’s redefining a character in the comics for the movies, and then there’s slapping a well-known name over some Hallmark stereotype and call it a day. Guess which category poor Mr Lord falls into.
Worse, the movie is boring. For way too long, the movie is a meandering soap opera, focusing on feels and angst that are dull, dull, dull because of the clichéd nature of the melodrama. It’s a Hallmark movie given a gloss of paint to make it resemble a superhero movie. It’s a complete 180 of the previous movie to a shocking degree, as there are no memorable moments here, no outstanding soundtrack, no pinnacle of heroism. Instead, we have insecure and neurotic women wanting to be loved and accepted, with the title character having to be led back her to her senses by her man—why is it that self-professed feminists tend to come up with the most cringe-inducing anti-feminist stories around?—as well as a charismatic villain rendered into a bumbling loser in ugly pimp outfits.
In the end, Maxwell and Diana never really have to face actual repercussions for their selfish actions, as if the movie weren’t already unsatisfying enough. The movie also misses a huge opportunity with Barbara. She could have learned, either on her own or through her confrontations with Diana, that she doesn’t have to be beautiful, tall, and super powerful to be a strong person, as it is what inside that counts the most. That would have been an empowering message to people of all genders. No, instead, this movie has Diana screeching to Barbara while holding the woman’s head underwater, demanding that Barbara renounces her wish to be tall, beautiful, and powerful. The implication here is that Barbara is a lesser person that should never aspire to be better. No, she should know her place and be inferior to Diana! Feminism in this movie comes with a straw—the movie has no problems portraying various men as harassers and chauvinists to be beaten up by strong women, but there is no substance beyond that.
The sad thing is that the cast members are far better than the material they have to work with. Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal are all solid to the point that they elevate their otherwise generic and bland roles. Chris Pine doesn’t have much to do here other than to be the boyfriend, though.
The previous movie received the super rare five-oogie rating from me. This one, well… at least Wonder Woman 1984 is noteworthy in one respect, I guess: it’s easily one of the most epic fall from graces as far as I am concerned!