When Wonder Woman was released in 2017, it exceeded everyone’s expectations and delivered a well crafted, brilliantly acted, and in general, a thought-provoking and inspiring picture. It released after Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad which were all not well received by the critics. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was loved by critics and fans alike. It became and still is the best entry in the DCEU. That helped it become a major box-office success as well all around the globe. That laid the platform for this movie to be even bigger than its prequel and even see it through the billion-dollar mark. Though, Warner Bros. release tactic will make it a box-office failure. But this is a film review so I will talk about its box-office run in a different editorial article sometime after it releases in the US. The expectations were high for this one but it doesn’t fully live up to them. It’s filled with great emotions, wonder, and the sense of hope that’s required especially in the current pandemic situation but the execution doesn’t quite carry it through the end after a strong premise.
It’s 1984, hence the title. Diana (Gal Gadot) works as an archeologist but is still mourning the loss of her love Steve Trevor. This is well portrayed in a scene where she sits alone and with the way Patty presented it, we don’t need dialogue to understand it. She does help people in need but doesn’t want to get any attention. This also makes her anti-social, though, this changes when she meets Dr. Minerva (Kristen Wiig). She’s also an archeologist but unlike Diana, she’s not attractive to any man in the film and wants to be exactly like Diana; beautiful, strong, and confident. Later, we are introduced to Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), who is a fraud businessman that only craves unlimited power. This is not a two-dimensional character though, as we later find out about his motive. He doesn’t want to be a loser to his son and to himself because that is precisely what he’s been all his life. He stills a magical and very ancient artifact which grants wishes. This is the same artifact that earlier granted Diana’s wish and brought back Steve Trevor as well as granted Minerva’s wish by making her exactly like Diana. The downside is that the wish-taker has to lose its most powerful or best asset. Thus, Diana loses her powers and Minerva loses her good naive nature and humanity without knowing. Maxwell wishes to become the wish stone and therefore starts to create his empire by granting everyone a wish in return for whatever he chooses from them. Diana finds out that the only way to correct things is to make Max reverse his wish so she tries to stop Max but Minerva gets in the way because she doesn’t want to lose what’s she’s gained. Meanwhile, Max finds out about a satellite that could broadcast anywhere in the world through radio waves so he gets to that station and starts granting everyone watching wishes. This is because their eyes meet his through radio particles or something I think but I am not sure because this isn’t explained in the film. Obviously, the leaders of the world would wish for more nuclear superiority and that is exactly what happens. This leads to the US and Russia on a brink of an imminent nuclear war. Diana knows she cannot stop Max without her powers therefore Steve suggests she rescind her wish. She opposes at first but eventually makes the decision for the greater good against her personal wish. Then she successfully stops Max by connecting herself to the rest of the world (through the lasso being tied to Max’s leg) and makes them rescind their wishes including Max after he sees that his son is about to die from a nuclear strike. This was after she defeated Cheetah who appeared for no reason at all but rather because Minerva wished to become an apex predator. Of course, in the end, her wish is also rescinded but we don’t know why. I am sure she didn’t do it herself and it could not be because of Max because she made her wish before Max made his. Maybe it was because the stone was no more but it’s not explained well and we don’t even get to see Minerva’s closure.
When one thinks of Wonder Woman from the comics, we think of her two sides. One is where she’s a warrior princess bred for war and the other is who shows a lot of compassion and ignites hope. The first movie was about the fighter who is only looking for battle against Ares in order to bring peace into the men’s world but this film is about her second side. From the beginning, she’s all about giving hope and confidence. The opening sequence is so much important for this as we are taken back to Themyscira for their version of the Olympics whereby a very young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes against girls well older than her. This is where she’s taught about the basics of virtues, especially about being true to rules and respecting everyone, and giving them a chance. This was probably the best scene in the entire movie. Not just the visuals or the amazing score from Hans Zimmer, but because of what it meant especially towards the end of the movie. This is evident when Diana has to say goodbye to Steve. From the dialogues to the emotions, it’s all just top-notch. Diana knows what she has to do but she doesn’t want to do it because she will lose Steve again. Eventually, she has to rescind her wish for the greater good and understanding that bringing Steve back was in fact, cheating. She doesn’t even look at him while taking her wish back as he says that he’ll love her wherever he would go. This scene was so impactful and you felt that she would now completely beat up Max but she doesn’t. It’s because she’s about second chances and spreading hope. Even in battle sequences, she mostly plays defense which shows just how much she’s evolved from the first movie.
When we look at the story then it looks ordinary but the way Patty Jenkins presents it in the first two acts of the film, it’s anything but ordinary. It’s the final act where things start to go wrong. From the beginning, the film feels very grounded which works in its favor but then suddenly the entire world is involved and things get very cartoonish and ordinary. Until the point where Max goes to Cairo to get an oil company, everything is good. Then suddenly, he starts granting everyone wishes and things get way out of hand. I know there needs to be mayhem during the climax to make it interesting but the story needs to be built in that way. This is why I loved the first two acts of the movie because it was so grounded and it seemed that Patty corrected the climax problem of the first film but she didn’t. For the first film, I get that Warner interfered but this time she had full creative control. I don’t know but it felt like the big bang. At one moment, there was something to nothing and then suddenly, there was everything. This is evident in the film’s villain problem. Maxwell is supposed to be the main villain but we also have Cheetah for no reason at all. Of course, I liked Minerva’s character arc but this was not her movie. Her character was needed for this film but not as Cheetah. They could’ve just introduced her character in this movie and then gave her the stage for Wonder Woman 3. Her chemistry with Diana is good in the beginning but we don’t get to see it enough. After she gets her powers, she just basically becomes a nuisance as the only thing she does is wear fancy clothes and become a bad example of feminism. This film, itself, makes every guy look as if they’re just creepy perverts when it was Diana who was raping that random guy. Coming back to Cheetah, then I was so glued to Max’s character that I forgot that Minerva still hasn’t transformed into Cheetah and we were at the climax. I was praying just don’t. Please do not turn into Cheetah now. The climax is already bad and your character hasn’t built up for it. But then, there she was. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Cheetah! What a waste! She became Cheetah because she wished to be an apex predator. That’s all. Even her battle with Diana was short. Disappointing!
Though, what happened after the Cheetah battle was somewhat good. It was still far fetched in terms of how she connected with the rest of the world but the message of hope was the important thing. Especially, through the times which we are all living in. That brings us to Maxwell Lord who needed to be the only villain of this film because the entire story was, in fact, about him and Diana. The way Pedro Pascal portrayed him was outstanding and just the character himself was so engaging. Just like Diana, you could feel his emotions and motivations. It was just not fair for him to share the film with another villain.
Acting-wise, Gal Gadot once again shines as the Amazonian princess. Yes, in the beginning, she’s a little average but she improves as the film goes on. Her character had another important arc just as the first and she carries it with grace. Kristen Wiig is an amazing actress. We all know that. I didn’t hate her but just her character as she felt out of place. As Minerva, though, she fitted in the story well at the beginning but once she gets her powers, it becomes irritating to watch. This wasn’t her movie. As Cheetah, you can’t even feel the presence of Kristen Wiig. This is because they tried to make the character sexy without making us understand her better. This is even without being Cheetah as she felts forced in after getting her powers. The best performer in the film was Pedro Pascal. From being the sad and desperate guy to being the manipulative and power-thirsty villain, he carried the character on his shoulders with no sweat at all. I am a big Star Wars and The Mandalorian fan but I do think that he’s wasted behind that Beskar steel mask. I just hope this is not the last time we get to see him in the DCEU. Chris Pine does not get much to do this time but he takes advantage of his time well. You can feel the wonder his character goes through after seeing how far humanity has come since he last breathed air. This is because Chris becomes his character so well. He is Steve Trevor! It was actually hard to see him go again but just like Pedro, I hope this is not the last time we see him. The rest of the cast includes Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, and Lilly Aspell. All of them do their part well especially the little Lilly. She is absolutely cute and charming as a young version of Diana.
The Production Design team did a good job in bringing the year 1984 back to life but the visual parts were average. The visuals for the opening scene were outstanding but then it just fluctuated as the film went on. The action set-pieces were also pretty average as it mostly felt cartoonish. Maybe the movie was a little cartoonish but at moments, it felt too much. Though, there were some moments when it actually clicked like the White House sequence. The narration of the film was good but just like the action, the film felt cartoonish at times. The dialogues were somewhat good especially when it tried to inspire hope like the goodbye scene and the climax. The editing was somewhat good in the first two acts but couldn’t figure out the excessive cartoonish feels. The Cinematography was amazing. From the opening act to the climax, it mostly felt consistent. Though, the best technical aspect was Hans Zimmer’s score. He mixed the original score with the theme of the year 1984 so well. The Themyscira theme itself great enough to reflect his talents.
Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 is much deeper and emotional than its first installment. This second installment focuses so much more on humanity and its fragility; which is why it’s much more realistic even though it isn’t executed as perfectly as the first. It is a deep and rare moving superhero movie. A timeless love and cautionary tale that demands us to find beauty, wonder, and good in the things we already have. Pascal’s Max Lord steals the show with showmanship and great acting capped off with a good character arc that is truly complete. While the film has lots of great moments, the final act is a little mediocre and so much is left unanswered. Cheetah’s inclusion also deteriorates its standard but that doesn’t take away the heart of this movie, which is hope and togetherness. And that is exactly what we need in times like these.