Wonder Woman 1984 - Review
2020 has barely been a year to shout about, but can Wonder Woman 1984 finally bring some Christmas cheer to an otherwise dud of a year?
DECEMBER 17th, 2020
Director: Patty Jenkins | Cert: 12A | Runtime: 2h 35m
t’s a fair view that the DC extended universe hasn’t been a complete universal success when it comes to critical acclaim. Whether it is the accusations of overly complex plotlines, dark and murky seriousness, or laughable CGI mouths – the DCEU has struggled to engage the critics in comparison with their rivals, Marvel. Then Wonder Woman came along and suddenly the DCEU was injected with a superhero story, not only thrilling and enthralling, but more so, fun.
As if as bright as her golden lasso, Patty Jenkin’s origin story of Diana Prince ignited the movie world and was a turning point for DC. Wonder Woman showcased that the giant, overtly CGI spectacles DC had become synonymous with didn’t matter to audiences as much as a sincere and honest script.
Three-years later, Jenkin’s approach is still the same when it comes to Diana’s second outing in Wonder Woman 1984. Following the Amazonian warrior-goddess’ intrinsic ethos of truth and honesty, 1984 actively seeks to build upon the understanding of Diana’s true power – to become the bastion of the values she holds most dear.
Whilst there is much similarity between both Wonder Woman movies, 1984 is pitched as an insight into the 80s age of capitalist excess, perfectly embodied by Pedro Pascal’s villainous Maxwell Lord. Smarmy, calculating and emanating constant greed for power and control, Pascal delivers a very different villain to Wonder Woman’s Ares. Lord is in effect the complete antithesis of Diana, utilising his talents for corruption to further his personal gain. Through Lord, Jenkins effectively brings 1984 to mirror the 2020 political spectrum – where lies become the truth and fiction is more believable than fact.
As the movie unfolds, Lord’s initial tacky persona becomes more unravelled as his capitalist mask begins to fracture, revealing a deeper and darker level of corruption tied to the powers of mysterious and magic crystal..
Unlike Wonder Woman, whose sole villain Ares was omnipresent throughout, 1984 brings two villains together for two differing reasons. One is addict to control - Maxwell Lord, and the other is addicted to power – Barbara Minerva, an innocent and awkward gemologist who wishes for more out of life. Kristen Wiig takes on the role of arguably Wonder Woman’s most iconic villain Minerva, who later transforms into Cheetah. The transformation of the woman longing to be Diana Prince’s friend and equal is a complex one, and yet is delivered with ease by Wiig. Her inherent likeability slowing gives way as she falls deeper into the chasms of her desires, conjuring real menace when she fully embraces her transformation into Cheetah.
If Wiig and Pascal are evidently Wonder Woman 1984’s threat, then Gal Gadot is its heart and soul, reminding everyone that she is the perfect Diana Prince. Exuding grace and goodness, Gadot perfectly embodies Wonder Woman’s unabashed femininity whilst still rivalling the strengths of Batman and Superman. Her action choreography is utterly addictive to watch, adding a sense of weightlessness that stands (or soars) higher than that of her Justice League colleagues.
Her relationship with Steve Trevor (who met his demise in the first movie) is revisited – for reasons which we won’t divulge – and Chris Pine perfectly creates a renewed Trevor, this time around becoming the fish out of water, instead of Diana. It is through Diana and Steve’s relationship where 1984 shifts gears, steering away from the heavy action opening, to spend more time with the movie’s characters. For some, it may feel somewhat slow, with a preference for the action, but Patty Jenkin’s writing and Gadot and Pine’s performances make their company delightful to bask in.
When the action does set it, it packs an almighty punch. Opening with a flashback sequence which sees a young Diana (Lilly Aspell returning) competing in an Olympic-style contest, the propulsive energy radiates with such potency it is hard not to celebrate. Other moments of action harken back to the days where superhero movies were unashamedly comic book. One entertaining mall robbery mirrors the best of Richard Donner’s Superman, which X2 feels very relevant in White-House-based showdown.
Sadly, not all of the action hits homeruns. The long-anticipated face-off between Diana and an ‘evolved’ Barbara/Cheetah is exciting yet fails to really deliver. With overused CGI, it is the only part of the movie which slips into the similar mistakes made by past DCEU movies. For most fans, they will remember the emotionally powerful No Man’s Land sequence – the moment Diana Prince truly embraced her Wonder Woman status. For 1984 Jenkins manages to hit the target again with one particular scene, which leaves your heart racing.
It is here where Wonder Woman 1984 sets itself apart in the DCEU. At a time when we have seen political upheaval, a pandemic which has shut down the world, and social instability to a level once thought unthinkable, Jenkin’s film has in many ways saved 2020. There is no denying the level of expectation placed onto the shoulders of Wonder Woman 1984. In many ways, Hollywood and the cinema industry are relying on Diana Prince to prove that there is still an appetite for blockbuster, box office juggernauts to be seen through the spectrum of which they were made – the bigger the screen, the better.
What’s even clearer is Wonder Woman 1984 feels like the injection of hope we all need (irrespective of any vaccine). The imagery of a young girl being an action hero; the power that Diana wields with the hope and majesty of an Amazonian goddess, and the emotional sacrifice of a superhero whose only promise in life is to protect the innocent, are images which purposefully lift the soul. Set against the alluring addiction to the dark, unyielding powers which tempt us at every corner, perfectly ensembled as the driving force for Barbara and Maxwell, these moments of truthful and honest reprieves are felt with a potency which perhaps may have been lacking ten months ago.
Wonder Woman 1984 is an emotional experience because it not only delivers the blockbuster thrills you would expect from a movie of this scope and scale, but it reminds you just how much 2020 has been missing. Locked in our homes, the confusion and disarray vanish with Wonder Woman, and if anything, 1984 leaves you feeling hopeful for a future as bright as Diana’s trusty lasso.
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