Diana Prince lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s -- an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she's come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility. (from Google)
Since we last saw Diana, she's taken a job in Washington, DC working for the government in antiquities. As Wonder Woman, she's frequently found on the streets, rescuing people who come close to harm and often disappearing just as quickly. Wonder Woman 1984 opens up with a flashback to her childhood in Themyscira, where she participated in one of their ceremonial games, and ends up learning a crucual life lesson in the process. The film then zooms forward, taking us to 1984 where we see her foil a robbery in a shopping mall. From the start, Jenkins seems to have lost a bit of her touch on how to make everything flow smoothly and fit together. In the first film, which was only 10 minutes shorter than this one, the pacing was tight and swift, taking just the right amount of time to flesh out characters, while still giving viewers the action they'd expect from a DC comics film. WW84 is a dramatic change of pace. The transition from Themyscira to 1984 is jarring, and Jenkins' tone for the 80's couldn't be more different than the first movie. If anything, the tone for much of WW84 feels like the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman movies from the 80's, for better or worse. Those movies have a sort of charm to them for being part of that decade and also the precursor to today's superhero films, but I'm not quite sure it works in 2020.
Pacing is possibly WW84's biggest setback. Once the Themyscira flashback and mall fight is over, most of the film gives way to plot setup and character development, and Wonder Woman herself is hardly present. It helps to have the film's antagonists get fleshed out more, but the cost toward the film's end product probably isn't worth it. Kristen Wiig joins the cast in the sequel as Barbara Minerva, a newcomer to the antiquities department who works with Diana. She's awkward, frumpy, and clumsy, and she immediately wishes she was like her strong, beautiful and confident new friend, Diana. Her character is very similar to that of Jamie Foxx's Max from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even though Barbara works far better here than Max did in that 2014 film. (I do have to say though, while I've enjoyed her in the comedies I've sene her in, Wiig is a weird choice for a role like this.) The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal is another newcomer as Max Lord, an ambitious businessman with a selfish drive for success. Pascal plays the character with much gusto, which mostly works for Max Lord, but as the movie continues to expand its grandeur over the course of the movie's 2-and-a-half-hour runtime, he takes the character over the top with the rest of the story. For the most part, though, I think Pascal was great in the role and I enjoyed getting to see him play a character where we don't only hear his voice and only occasionally see his face.
(Some mild plot spoilers are ahead.) The plot revolves around an ancient artifact being found where the possessor of the stone can have one wish granted to them. Max Lord is determined to find this stone and use it for his own personal gain and power. Diana accidentally brings Steve back to life through the power of the stone, which reunites the two for the first time since he died over 65 years earlier. But in investigating the mysterious artifact, she learns that there's a catch, and it's one that ends up having a different effect on everyone who uses the power to make their desire come true.
With the extended running time, Jenkins spends ample amounts of screentime building up Lord's conquest. A lot of his storyline works, but Jenkins doesn't seem to know when enough is enough, and by the end, it spirals into an overlong version of the climax from Bruce Almighty when pandemonium breaks out as a result of everyone's desires being fulfilled. The first Wonder Woman film dealt with the concept of mankind being the problem, which is what Steve tries to attribute Ares' manipulations to be, and WW84 doubles down on the selfishness and evils of the desires of man. While yes, apart from Christ, mankind is inherently evil and sinful, the way it comes across in WW84 feels overly dark and cynical. For example, there's a scene where Max Lord asks what the president of the U.S. wants most of all, and he asks for more nukes to be able to protect the U.S. from the Russians. It feels not only out of left field with virtually no setup, but like a really pessimistic view of what our country's leader would ask for most if given the chance. (Granted, saying "world peace" would have sounded pretty hokey, but then again, the scene isn't needed at all to begin with.) Also, nearly every time Barbara or Diana was shown looking dressed up and beautiful, the miscellaneous men in the scene would be whistling at or hitting on them. And then you've got Max Lord who is a selfish, self-centered, egotistical and manipulative man (and poor father). So, I'm not sure if Jenkins just has a low view of men in general, but she really doesn't paint them in a very good light - especially in this movie. Steve Trevor was flawed at times in the first film (which felt rounded and realistic), but his entourage were at least heroic in their support of Diana's pursuits. With it just being "Diana & Steve VS the World" this time around, it feels more obvious (or, at the very least, questionable).
With so much to touch on that doesn't seem to work so well this time around, it's easy to layout what doesn't work, which makes it seem like all is lost in Wonder Woman 1984; that's certainly not the case, though. First of all, I adore Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. I loved her more innocent, fish-out-of-water personality in the first film, so while we have a more seasoned hero this time around, she hasn't lost what's so lovable about her character. The fish-out-of-water role, this time, is swapped with Chris Pine's Steve Trevor, who finds himself suddenly in "the future" after having only known life as a soldier in 1918. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is electric once again, and their scenes together are the best thing about this movie. The action scenes - although too few - are great, especially a dramatic truck chase in the desert. We see Wonder Woman rock the bad guys in new ways this time, and it's pretty great. There's also a wonderful scene that takes place on the 4th of July, which I won't spoil, but it's total fan service that was a lot of fun (even if it is pretty far fetched). And, while Pascal's character is just too much at times, I thought he did a solid job as the character, and it was fun to see him get to play such an animated character after his more stoic Mandalorian performance. (It's just a shame that the kid playing his young son in this movie had the personality of a wooden plank, which only made Pascal's performance seem more exaggerated when they shared the screen together.)
For the most part, the film's content is surprisingly tamer than the first 2017 outing. However, thematically, it still gets pretty heavy -- especially for younger viewers. There isn't much by way of sexual content, but we see Steve and Diana in bed together in the morning, presumably after sleeping together. They share some passionate kisses throughout the movie, but that's about it for showing us the physical aspects of their relationship. (It's just still a shame that such a strong role model for women and young girls is shown hopping in bed with a guy just because she "loves" him. It doesn't send a very good message.) Language is pretty infrequent, with a single use of the "S" word from Steve (in a comical moment), and some milder cuss words here and there. Aside from the occasional "Oh G-d" or "Oh my G-d," there really isn't any gratuitous blasphemy (and some characters go out of their way to say "gosh" instead, even.) There is plenty of violence, but it's rarely graphic. We do see some bloody scrapes on Wonder Woman's face, arms and chest, but it's seldom focused on. Also, Max's health diminishes through the movie, so we sometimes see him with a bloodshot eye, a bloody nose, or even some blood coming from his ears. (And dark veins showing in his face and hands on a few occasions.) At the film's climax, we see Cheetah become a more animalistic creature, with a face that has cat-like features and fur on her body. Her fight with Wonder Woman is dramatically and dimly lit, so it will surely frighten the more sensitive viewers. Lastly, as I touched on briefly above, the themes involve people being given their wishes--with a twist, usually a dark consequence--so things get pretty intense by the end. Riots, destruction and violence break out in the streets, and this can be a bit much for some viewers. One scene shows a husband and wife arguing and the man tells her to drop dead, so she falls over. Another sequence shows the ruler of a Middle Eastern land wishing to have his land back and to cast out others people, so a huge wall forms between their lands (a political statement perhaps?). Our son is 10 and struggles with anxiety, and we opted to not share the movie with him (with us not having seen it first), and we're pretty sure it would have been too much for him to handle.
The first Wonder Woman outing made my wife and I fans. Ever since its announcement, we've been itching to see Wonder Woman 1984. Sadly, it definitely doesn't live up to the hype or expectations, and in a year filled with disappointments, it's a bummer that Wonder Woman has to be yet another one. Again, it's hardly a complete loss; if you're a diehard fan, you'll likely enjoy at least some of it. Wonder Woman 1984 may not live up to its predecessor or the character's legacy, but it's still enjoyable to see Diana wielding the lasso again, and I'd still love to see Gadot eventually suit up for a third solo film. (By the way, be sure to stay through the credits for an extra scene!)- John DiBiase (reviewed: 12/23/20)
Wonder Woman 1984 is out now on all digital outlets and is also available in a 4K UHD/Blu-Ray combo pack, standard Blu-Ray combo pack and on DVD. The 4K UHD disc has no extras, but the Blu-Ray disc and the digital copy offer the following extras:
Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K UHD - This was my second time seeing the film since the streaming pre-release screener we saw last December. I found my second viewing was much more favorable. I think, with expectations lower and knowing what I was going to get, it was easier to just sit back and take the movie in less seriously. It's still a disappointment compared to the first, 2017 film, but overall, I liked it better the second time. In 4K, I was surprised how sometimes it looked grainy and even a little pixelated (like it was streaming, but this was a 4K physical disc) on occasion. The color was still vibrant and really popped, but the clarity was inconsistent. The opening games on Themyscira looked pretty crisp and clear, but other scenes, in darker settings especially, didn't fare quite as well. Overall, it's still a decent transfer, but it seemed surprisingly hit and miss.
iTunes Featured Extra: The Wonder of Music (10:39) - Hans Zimmer and director Patty Jenkins talk about the evolution of Wonder Woman's theme since she was introduced in Batman v Superman. They also talk about the complications the original theme presented - as it was mostly a "battle" theme - and the challenge of knowing the best direction to take the music in given the film's base in the 1980's. They also talk about the other themes for the various characters and villains. We're even treated to a short peek at Hans in the studio thinking out the music for the final action scene and offering his suggestions to his music team.
iTunes Featured Extra: Museum Mayhem (6:45) - This is a motion comic, telling a new story about Wonder Woman who is working at the museum when some thieves with guns break in. There is no audible dialog, but there is music and some sound effects throughout. You're forced to speed read the dialog as written in bubbles on the screen as it goes by a bit too fast. I suppose it doesn't matter, though, because the story is pretty cheesy and poorly written. I wouldn't recommend wasting your time on this. (2 "a" words and some talk of a teenager being "stoned," as in high)
The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder (36:23) - This is the main making-of featurette about the film. Jenkins and the producers talk about making a sequel and taking Wonder Woman to the 80s so she's in the “height” of her powers. Jenkins also makes sure to specify that Chris Pine wasn't brought back simply because of the fans, but it had been the plan before the first film had even been finished. The featurette covers Barbara Minerva's comic book origin and story and Kristen Wiig's portrayal of her, bringing Max Lord from the comics to the screen and Pedro Pascal's performance, and, of course, Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor. They focus on the challenge (and fun) of trying to recreate the 80s, and what that meant for the design direction. We learn about the real location set re-creations for places like the White House and the Smithsonian Museum, as well as shooting on location for real in Washington, DC. (It was also interesting to see how much of the movie had been shot way back in 2018 - which was roughly 2 and a half years ago now!) They also shot many scenes on location in Spain, and tried to capture as much in camera as possible, with as much of Gal as Wonder Woman as possible! Finally, they talk about Wonder Woman's new golden armor, and that special cameo from none other than Lynda Carter! (1 "bad*ss," 1 "p*ssed," 2 "Oh my G-d")
Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever (5:11) is dedicated to how Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig actually became real, dorky friends on set while making the movie. This segment starts out about Barbara's character and how she's a friend for Diana, and then focuses on their actual friendship that endured long after the cameras finished rolling.
Small but Mighty (10:44) is about young Diana, played by 10-year-old Lilly Aspell. Lilly played young Diana in the opening Amazon games at the start of the film, and here the cast and crew talk about how tough Lilly is, and how she did all of her own stunts and does her own horseback riding in the film! (1 "bad*ss," 2 "Oh my G-d")
Scene Study: The Open Road (6:12) - For the road action sequence where Wonder Woman defeats a security convoy in Egypt, the filmmakers tried to do as many real stunts as possible. To do this, they tried to use Gal as much as they could - utilizing rigs and such - to bring realism to the action... and they really flipped that truck in the air!
Scene Study: The Mall (5:04) - For the opening mall fight scene, they found an abandoned mall in Virginia and recreated 65 stores - including their interiors - to match a mid-80's design! They also explained that all of the action in the scene was done for real with wire work.
Gal & Krissy Having Fun (1:13) - This is a super cheesy (albeit fun) and silly song of the two actresses singing about how they have fun together, with bits from their time together and goofing off on set mixed in.
Meet the Amazons (21:28) - Patty Jenkins and a moderator did a Zoom chat with a cast of the Amazon actresses during the DC Fandome event. We're introduced to a group of the international cast and they share their experience being Amazons in the film - and how they've remained sisters and friends since the shoot.
Black Gold Infomercial (1:39) - This is the full, uncut Max Lord infomercial as shown in part in the film.
Gag Reel (6:26) - This gag reel is one of the better ones I've seen in recent years, featuring mistakes, stunts gone wrong, Gal giggling (A LOT), and the cast goofing off on set. (1 "Oh my G-d", 5 Bleeped out "F" words, 1 Bleeped out "S" word, 1 "J-sus Chr-st")
Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix (1:40) takes the old TV show theme song and puts scenes from new movie in it instead.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/29/21)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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