Here’s our review for “Wonder Woman 1984,” which featured another standout performance from Gal Gadot but unfortunately this time around she didn’t have nearly as much to work with…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Sequels are tricky things.
In the blockbuster movie business it’s almost expected, especially in the superhero business where a film earning over $1 billion will get a sequel green lit automatically once that cash register starts ringing. In the case of “Wonder Woman,” it was certainly a no brainer because not only did the first film win at the box office but following a downtrodden series of DC movies that failed to live up to expectations, director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot delivered on just about every level.
Sadly, the follow up fails on just about every level possible outside of Gadot doing a whole lot of heavy lifting without much support from a weak script and an eye-rolling plot that is solely based around a random MacGuffin that had no real ties to anything else from the movie.
Of course, Gal Gadot does her best to save the show because she’s been wonderfully cast in this lead role and the return of Chris Pine is a welcome addition, although without spoiling how exactly he comes back, it’s a mind-numbing twist that’s just a sad attempt to revive feelings from the first movie.
In many ways that’s the overall problem with this sequel is that there’s no real growth from the first film except the villains and the danger at the center of it hold no weight, especially when compared with the grave danger at the center of World War I in the original movie.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for “Wonder Woman 1984”…
The year is 1984 and Diana Prince has been living a lonely life in Washington D.C. where she spends her days working at the Smithsonian and her off time stopping random crimes as Wonder Woman — making sure no one ever snaps a photo so her true identity is never revealed. During one particular robbery, Diana prevents a quartet of thieves from making off with some valuable jewelry and artifacts that were stolen from a store that apparently specialized in black market antiquities out of a shopping mall.
If that sounds really convenient, you’d be correct.
After stopping the crime, Diana meets a new friend at work named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who is mousy despite her best efforts to be seen by her co-workers. The writers hammer that point hard, especially when a supervisor doesn’t recognized Barbara despite just hiring her days earlier. Anyways, Barbara is tasked with identifying the stolen antiquities including one strange stone encased in Latin writing that feels somewhat familiar to Diana.
It turns out this is a Dreamstone that can grant anyone who touches it a single wish for whatever they desire but like most stories involving a genie in a bottle, those wishes come with consequences.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
First off, let’s just say Gal Gadot is a national treasure.
Out of all the casting that DC has done since jumpstarting their own universe to go up against Marvel, Gadot was the shining beacon amongst a group that featured a lot of near misses. Make no mistake, Jason Momoa is fun in just about everything he does and Ben Affleck was a far better Batman than anyone wanted to give him credit for but nobody comes close to Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman with such grace and flare while also transforming into Diana Prince as seamlessly as a superhero should when hiding a secret identity.
Unfortunately the rest of the cast fails to live up to Gadot’s high standards but that’s a problem with a poorly written script rather than bad performances. Pedro Pascal is wonderful when he’s playing Oberyn Martell on “Game of Thrones” or Mando on “The Mandalorian.” His attempt to breathe life into wanna-be oil magnate Maxwell Lord just falls flat or feels completely overdone at certain points.
Kristen Wiig does a solid job as Barbara Minerva, the meek scientist who wants nothing more than to be as strong and capable as her new friend Diana. But as much as Wiig sells that part of the role, her transformation into the deadly Cheetah is anything but compelling or believable.
As previously stated, Chris Pine’s return is a nice boost but truth be told, the only reason it appears that he came back was to give Diana someone to chat with because she hasn’t made any real friends over the past 60 plus years. Rather than allowing Diana to build some kind of life on her own, “Wonder Woman 1984” drags her back to the past by having Pine return as Steve Trevor. If anything it felt like his return could have made a much bigger impact if that was revealed in some kind of post-credits scene or perhaps during a third film in the series but obviously there was no patience involved when making this sequel.
The biggest issues in “Wonder Woman 1984” all come down to a limp plot that relies so much on a random MacGuffin created solely for this story to fly except it never gets off the ground. The dialogue is decent at times but everything falls apart on the back of that spineless plot that just can’t support the weight of a great cast, who just don’t have much of anything to work with.
Patty Jenkins is a great director but it feels like she’s stuck relying too much on flashy effects when trying to make up for an ineffective script.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
That’s a long and loaded list, especially without giving away spoilers.
That said, “Wonder Woman 1984” is riddled with problems but the biggest issue always comes back to the central plot, which just wasn’t very creative and ultimately lacked enough punch to feel like Diana was ever truly in peril. Add to that, the action scenes at times are well done and executed but a great fight means nothing without a bigger payoff.
Diana just doesn’t have a real equal in this movie and it shows time and time again when she goes up against Maxwell Lord or Cheetah, once she’s fully realized in the film.
And the opening of the movie ties directly into the morality pitch that is supposed to be the central theme but when the film is over it feels more like an after-school special than a blockbuster superhero story for the ages.
A lot of folks who love Wonder Woman will probably still somewhat enjoy this movie because Gal Gadot is absolutely a shining star and she put in a lot of effort to make this sequel work. Also, make sure you stick around to the post-credits scene because that is a worthwhile moment that pays a whole lot of fan service.
Unfortunately, she’s just about the only person doing any heavy lifting in this film because a bad script fueled by a weak plot just plagues everything else.
“Wonder Woman 1984” gets 2 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale