Though Wonder Woman 1984 came out in 2020, like many based in the UK I was unable to see it upon its initial release. Riding out the twitter storm that followed it’s HBO Max release, I did my best to avoid the majority of spoilers, but I knew the opinion was mixed. I went in with an open mind. Whilst not a fan of Zack Snyder’s DC universe, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by recent outings like Shazam! and Birds of Prey. Unfortunately, what I found with Wonder Woman 1984 was an incomprehensible mess.
I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but it’s almost impossible to discuss the myriad of issues that face the film without going in to some minor spoilers. I’m going to keep them as mild as possible, but do be warned, I will be discussing some of the plot points within the film.
The tone is light and at times silly but for the most part I dug that. From the opening games, to the big mall sequence, down to the ending cut scene, you can tell this is written by someone who loves the character and the original comics. They’ve lent fully into this lighter side but I can see how for some, especially fans of the Snyder Verse, this all feels a little bright and cheap. The effects themselves, such as the lasso of truth and Diana flying and jumping through the air are fine but look a little weak. They’re nice enough, but not exactly what I would expect from a big budget epic. One of the first big sequences is set in a shopping mall and despite being engaging, it doesn’t feel much different to the set pieces seen on the CW ArrowVerse shows. It’s a lovely homage to previous Wonder Woman and Superman shows and films, but it just feels a little small, especially for a sequel.
Similar to other lesser films in the superhero genre (looking at you X-men), it’s as though the plot has been written around key set pieces within the film (the fireworks sequence for instance) and forced to wrap around these moments, rather than a flowing and coherent story that these sequences could fall in to. The inclusion of the invisible jet is so silly despite being a fun moment that even as iconic as it is for fans, it’s written in to the plot like a messy afterthought.
Pedro Pascal plays Maxwell Lord, an oil tycoon hunting down a magical artifact that grants wishes. Unfortunately, his character has almost no other development than this, aside from having joint custody of a young son who he doesn’t seem to care that much about, even before he turns villainous. In fact, it’s obvious from the get-go he’s a complete villain so he has almost no arc, other than getting more and more greedy and his mission getting more convoluted as the never-endingfilm goes on. Worse than being confusing, it’s incredibly dull. If I’m actively rooting for something bad to happen to your kid so that your character can be imbued with any level of general humanity, decency and interest, you’ve messed up. I’m not saying a villain needs that, but don’t add in a child plot to try and make me care and then fail so miserably to do so. Again, it feels like the child element was shoved in at the last minute to add something to the character, like a taped-onstudio note.
Speaking of villains. WHERE THE HELL IS KRISTEN WIIG? I was promised Kristen Wiig as a super villain. A feline themed super villain. I now understand why we got so little of Barbara/Cheetah in the trailer, because despite being the best thing about the film, she barely appears in it. Her arc from wallflower to apex predator at the hands of the artifact is incredibly interesting and it’s great to see Wiig get to play serious. Unfortunately, she disappears for large swathes in the middle of the film so that we can go on a random side story to watch Pascal ham it up in the Middle East in a barely explained oil stealing plot. Gadot and Chris Pine turn up and have an enjoyable tank chase through the desert, but honestly. Give me Wiig.
It takes an hour and 50 minutes to get to the Cheetah plot line. Why do we need two villains in this film, especially when one is so much more engaging than the other? To see Gadot and Wiig go up against each other for the film’s runtime would have been fascinating, one learns to use their power as the other learns to live without them. The actresses have good chemistry with each other and the two fight scenes we do get are great, but we deserved a whole film of that. Barbara deserved a whole film of that. I say, release the Wiig cut. It’d be 90 minutes shorter and 90x more plausible.
More than twice during the film I realised I had gotten so bored of Pascal’s weird oil stealing hijinks that I’d zoned out and had to rewind the film to figure out what was going on (it didn’t help much). The main plot is so difficult to follow at times, and just dull enough that you don’t really care anyway, that I haven’t even been able to write up a plot summary. I really wanted to give the film the benefit of the doubt, but as it went on and on, each plot point making less and less sense, I felt myself more than anything getting angry. I may have given myself wrinkles frowning so much in the final bunker sequence.
The film is all action set pieces, there’s no sense of consequence and little humanity, so you just don’t care by the end. The tone is fine. It’s the plot that’s the problem, it’s so overstuffed and yet completely irrelevant.
I’m glad that some have been able to enjoy WW84, unfortunately for me it became a chore that I don’t plan on revisiting. If someone out there wants to make me the Wiig cut (or should we be calling it the Cheetah cut?) so I can enjoy Barbara without suffering through the rest of the nonsense, that’d be delightful.
Oh, Chris Pine is in this film too. He’s good.
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