Film Review: Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal
Running Time: 151
Australian Distributor: Roadshow Films
Well at last 2020 has its own superhero – and her name is Wonder Woman. Over the last decade comic book fans have gotten used to having at least three or four superhero movies hitting cinemas each year. This year though with the blockbusters on hold those fans have had slim pickings. The underrated New Mutants came and went in the blink of an eye so the fans have just had to sit back and wait patiently for DC to launch their follow-up to 2017’s brilliant Wonder Woman. Now the wait is over and the result may surprise a few people.
Set in 1984, as the film’s title suggests, Wonder Woman 1984 finds Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), working at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Her secret life as a superhero is still very, very secret despite the press trying to speculate who this mystery woman is that keeps rescuing people across the city.
Then comes a case that sees Diana’s day job crash head first into her secret identity. After foiling a robbery of black market artefacts one of the items, a mystery stone, ends up the Smithsonian where it is to be identified by Diana’s friend and colleague Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). After the two women learn that the stone grants wishes they both secretly cast their own wishes.
Diana’s wish sees the return of her deceased love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) while Barbara wishes she could be more like Diana… a recipe for disaster given Diana’s powers. Added into the mix is television conman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) who was the intended recipient for the stone in the first place and his plans see the world once again put in danger.
Reviewing Wonder Woman 1984 is no easy feat. For all the reasons that some audience members like this movie others will find them contributing to the film being a let-down for them. In all honesty director Patty Jenkins has not created a film with the epic feel of the first film, but that to me was not necessarily a bad thing. Instead Jenkins should be congratulated for embracing more of the style that was made famous in the Wonder Woman television series. There is a simplicity to this film and it works. There are no convoluted Marvel storylines here, instead Jenkins takes one of DC’s most popular characters and gives her a simple storyline that ends up becoming a classic tale of good versus evil.
Likewise Jenkins doesn’t go over the top with the action sequences here like she did with the finale of the first film. Yes there are some great fight sequences throughout the film but there are no planes crashing into buildings or anything like that. The best sequence takes part on a desert road and captures the style of The Fast & Furious franchise. Just like the first film though the most interesting scenes in the film were the ones set in Themyscira and once again I found myself hoping that one day we get an entire film set there.
What Jenkins tries to embrace more here is characterisation and that in turn gives the film heart. More of Diana’s pain and loss is explored while there is also an inner conflict explored when Steve returns to her life. Perhaps where the film does lose a little though is the fact that while Maxwell is supposed to be the ‘big bad’ in this film you learn very early on that Wiig’s Barbara is the much more interesting character.
DC fans will embrace this film picking up the obvious nods to the popular Wonder Woman television series, small things like using her tiara as a weapon show that Jenkins is a true fan, while non DC fans may feel a little under-whelmed as the film concentrates more on the heart and soul of Diana than it does jumping from planet destroying explosions etc. If you are a Wonder Woman fan though, embrace Wonder Woman 1984 because you are going to enjoy it.
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