So, here we are with the only surviving superhero blockbuster movie of 2020. If you don’t count Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot from earlier this year, there hasn’t been any Marvel Studios films in 2020. Wonder Woman 1984 seeks to fill that void.
Does it succeed? Is it a worthy sequel to the widely-praised 2017’s Wonder Woman? Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984 is a mess of a movie, saved only by the emotional performances of its cast and its enjoyable over-the-top action scenes.
A Step Towards Wonder
Wonder Woman 1984 is both a sequel and a prequel, as it takes place before 2016’s Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice and 2017’s Justice League, but after 2017’s Wonder Woman. Due to that reason, the movie is already at a disadvantage from the start, bound by certain narrative restrictions.
Those narrative restrictions are probably why the main story in Wonder Woman 1984 ultimately doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the DCEU as a whole. Instead, it simply serves as character development for Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), adding more depth to the character.
It’s a necessary stepping stone for the character’s growth. Wonder Woman 1984 depicts Diana as a tragic figure of sorts, injecting her with much-needed humanity. This shows that Wonder Woman is not just a powerful demi-goddess, making her much more relatable as someone who is just as human as the rest of us.
Gadot herself manages to convey the complex feelings that Diana feels at this moment in time. Inside the demi-goddess exterior lies a very human heart, and that makes Diana’s plight resonate with any viewer who has ever experienced loss in their lives.
If you’ve ever wondered why Diana stayed after the events of 2017’s Wonder Woman to keep watch over humans, this movie finally provides a well-deserved justification for that. Her motivation, if you will. That’s all I can say without spoiling the movie.
What A Mess
Too bad the rest of the movie can’t keep up. To its detriment, Wonder Woman 1984 is over a whopping two-and-a-half hours long. As a result, the contrived plot (that relies on a ridiculous MacGuffin) suffers even more due to its weak pacing that’s all over the place. It’s frankly a mess, with clunky exposition and convenient plot devices that made me groan throughout the movie.
Pedro Pascal is unsurprisingly brilliant as the antagonist Maxwell Lord. Despite doing his best, the character’s motivations are ill-defined and vague. It’s easy to sympathise with the villain due to his relationship with his son, but that’s all there is to it. Wonder Woman 1984‘s Maxwell Lord also loses points for straying from the comic book version. If you’re looking for accuracy, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
Another highlight of the movie is Chris Pine’s return as Steve Trevor. Obviously, I can’t say much about his character to avoid spoiling the movie, but once again, Pine proves to be irresistibly charming as always. It’s amusing and adorable to see him marvelling at 80s technology with all the glee of an enthusiastic kid.
Kristen Wiig’s turn as Barbara Minerva AKA Cheetah gave me mixed feelings. Just like the rest of the cast, Wiig’s performance is actually quite amazing and praise-worthy. Seeing her transform from the meek Barbara to the more aggressive and assertive Cheetah is a wonder.
That is the reason why it is so disappointing when she does finally complete her transformation into the Cheetah. Her long-awaited confrontation with Diana in the third act of the movie is anti-climactic. If you’ve seen part of that scene in the trailers, I’m here to tell you that you’re not getting much more of that. It’s too brief and it ends with a whimper, much to my dismay.
One big aspect that will prove to be divisive amongst viewers is the action choreography in Wonder Woman 1984. It’s more over-the-top and shot in a more exaggerated and corny way. Every shot fluidly focuses on Diana’s every move, slide, jump, and more.
Diana uses her Lasso Of Truth in more dynamic and interesting ways than ever before. Some of it may make you cringe from its sheer cheesiness (such as lassoing a freaking bullet shot from a gun), but they generally feel like they popped out of the comics.
Besides that, the CGI is generally okay, but there are some parts that look spotty and unfinished. Case in point, Cheetah’s final form looks underwhelming and disappointingly-bad, and the bad lighting contributed to that. Plus, Diana and Cheetah’s fight was shot in the dark for some reason, probably to hide the bad CGI in the first place.
Last but not least, comic book fans will at least appreciate some of the more subtle easter eggs and references. They’re mostly relegated to background stuff since the movie isn’t really in a position to connect to the wider DCEU much (due to its unique setting, which I previously mentioned above).
Not So Wonder-ful
Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t a particularly bad movie, but it’s certainly a disappointing outing for the iconic DC Comics character. Diana Prince and Gal Gadot both deserve better than this messy sequel.
Is it better than 2017’s Wonder Woman? It’s hard to say, but the potential that this movie had was mostly squandered. Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince is the only reason you would want to watch Wonder Woman 1984, and nothing much else.
FINAL SCORE: 60/100
Wonder Woman 1984 is now showing in selected Malaysian cinemas.