Sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins returns with stars Gal Gadot as the title character, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Robin Wright as Antiope, and Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta. They are joined by Kristen Wiig (Walter Mitty) as Barbara Ann Minerva, a co-work of Diana’s who is both admires and envies her and Pedro Pascal (The Mandolorian, GoT) as Maxwell Lord, who is a wannabe oil tycoon.
Premise: In 1984, Diana works as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., specializing in the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. She secretly continues to fight crime as Wonder Woman. After foiling an attempted robbery, the FBI asks Smithsonian to identify a cache of stolen antiquities, including the a stone with peculiar powers.
Review: Most work of fiction need some, if not complete, suspension of disbelief. Depending on the work, the level of which you’ll need that intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something surreal varies. However with Wonder Woman 1984 I had to use it a lot. It was mainly a problem of consistency for me. Even putting BvS and Joshtice League aside this movie feels like an alternate version of the character we met in Wonder Woman.
The plot works for me on many levels but it was in the execution that they made some bold
artistic choices. The stunts and action sequences look cheap and yet expensive. To me it’s a glossy version of what a rag tag team of amateur filmmakers could do with a limited budget, or a season finale of a superhero tv show – because most series don’t have movie level budgets to work with. I mean what did they spend money on? For every action sequences after the opening scene, I was baffled by how amateurish it looked. I could see the wires, well guess, where the wires were. I’m all for CGI light, practical stunts but I’ve seen those look better. I could also see what the creative team was going for, something campier, cheesier that would mesh with the 1980s and be reminiscent of the TV show but they didn’t have to make it look like it was made back then.
Anyway, the story is quite brilliant, from the opening scene in Themyscira to 1984, the film is laced with strong themes and ideas that are reflected throughout the piece. The idea of cheating and conning your way to what you want, may lead you to lose a lot more in the long run. It’s a glaring theme in the movie but it works quite well. Everything has a price, and if everyone got what they wanted, we all lose out.
The cast does a great job in conveying the ideas and messages of the film with the emotional weight it needs. Pascal and Wiig are nuanced and compelling as the vilains of the piece. Pascal is obvious – in the sense that you know who that guy is, and think that you wouldn’t fall for his BS – yet he’s convincing. The threat that his character represent seems small at first but it quickly becomes real and interesting. Not that I had any strong feeling about her casting but I understand and loved what Wiig did. Pine and Gadot are strong in their performance, individually and together. They have an amazing dynamic and a great grasp of their characters.
Wonder Woman 1984 is more about the message, it’s more intellectual, which is apt for the character and was a great idea for the film. It’s something that’s carried over from the first film, the emotional beats and messages / lessons of the film. It works as a whole but instead of a crumbling third act, there’s a cartoonish quality to the stunts and action sequences that didn’t work for me.
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