In Review: Wonder Woman 1984

In Wonder Woman 1984, a mystical figurine sees Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) inadvertently resurrect Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). But
Wonder Woman 1984

Synopsis: In Wonder Woman 1984, a mystical figurine sees Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) inadvertently resurrect Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). But that comes at a price . . . Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) knows why, and seeks to exploit the situation. As well as dealing with him, Diana must also battle Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), imbued with superpowers. Only the good in people can save the world, now.

 

Story

Set Up

The opening scene is stunning. And we learn more about Diana’s (Gal Gadot) early years. As well as showing us how she came to be the hero of Themyscira, we learn about her moral code. During a trial, Diana cheats. She’s told by Queen Hyppolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright) that cheating isn’t for heroes. To affirm this, we learn that another hero, Asteria, presumably died, protecting Themyscira. Her armour is treasured, and bequeathed to Diana, presumably sometime later, when she’s grown older.

What works well about the idea of the dream stone, is the concept of greed and power. They were very much the themes of the first installment, Wonder Woman (2017) – which you can read our review of. Many reviews have written that the stone is only a convenient plot device. But it does work to keep the message of this franchise. In  that sense, the story has a distinct narrative voice. Very much the creative vision of Patty Jenkins, which is admirable and makes the film and story world more than just a place to have fun with costumes and fancy effects. There’s a depth to the story. Dealing with the human condition again means it’s another tale of morality.

 

Middle

The meat of the action takes place in the middle of Wonder Woman 1984. We’ve already written about this section, in our recent feature WW84 – Middle Scene. But of course, it’s not spoiler free. So, wait to watch the film if you want to enjoy a special surprise. It concerns the fate of Asteria. The scene’s crucial to the message of the film, as our feature outlined. But, back to the central action . . .

Once we understand how everything works, we get why Diana has lost some of her powers. And, why Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) has gained some. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch that Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) becomes the dream stone. But again that does fit in with the narrative voice. It also makes him extremely powerful. And so too is Barbara. But not as powerful as she ends up being. Again, the fact she makes two changes adds to things. A more complex and interesting dynamic, as opposed to an out and out evil villain.

The return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is handled well. It was always a big question of how it could be done. Furthermore, what worked is that it tied in with a hero arc, for Wonder Woman. This made the love story between them what that had to be tied to sacrifice. Love was explored well, here. How it can consume, as well as give. Ultimately, a clever take on the traditional tragic love story.

Outcome and Asteria

Of course, Wonder Woman saves the day. But not just by her powers. And that is what adds to the depth of the story. A big part of how things are resolved relies on moral courage. And there has to be a huge decision by the film’s hero. More evidence that this isn’t just an out and out action fest. The idea of good and bad is weighed on a scale. And that’s far more in fitting with concepts associated with Gods and mortals, that’ s been a mainstay in the DC cinematic universe. Wonder Woman 1984 encapsulates the ideals really well.

Just before things end, we learn a very important detail. The original defender of Themyscira did in fact survive. She walks the Earth, though Diana has never yet found her. But what’s more, the depiction of the character has a special resonance. Just wait and see!

Acting

Gal Gadot again gives a great performance as Wonder Woman. Gadot’s talent is that she can capture as much of Diana Prince as she can of the super powerful Wonder Woman. The tenderness and even the vulnerability. Playing a character with an alter-ego requires nuance and studying two sides of one coin. Gadot nails it. This is evident in her scenes with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. Pine also puts in a good stint as the man out of time. His character is also a lot of fun, too. And Pine’s scenes with the 80s clothing are comedy gold.

For a supporting cast, Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig are also impressive. Pascal brings the essence of his character out and conveys his desperation well. Whilst Wiig as The Cheetah offers real brooding darkness and shows what can turn a person to the dark side.

CGI & Effects

The opening scene was a definite example of why the world is missing the cinematic experience right now. Yes, the rest of the film has some awesome set pieces, but none quite as impressive as the opening montage. The world of Themyscira looks incredible, and the idea of this being a sort of Olympic games. But the scene isn’t only so good because of how it looks. The choreography is fantastic. And it sets up the film wonderfully, too. A visual display of the ideas of heroism being explored. A truly epic opening scene for a film.

Another cool part of the film is where we see Wonder Woman fly. The way that is done is specific to her. A sort of levitation, which is very different from how Superman flies, for example. And again, it incorporates her love story with Steve Trevor in a way that works.

Overall

Clearly, not the film that many fans wanted. Perhaps the fact that Kristen Wiig had a lesser part was amongst the reasons that the film has been badly received, by so many. Yes, there wasn’t a series of fights between them. That was what may have been expected from Wonder Woman 1984. But what we got was a strong story and the film that Patty Jenkins wanted to tell. Jenkins did a fine job of giving us another turn of a true icon for the modern age. Something that caught that well, a highlight of the film, was the gold armor. It’s always great to see characters we know and love get a little more power, or wear classic costumes from the comics. It looked simply fantastic.

Whilst it didn’t bring the film down, it would have been great to have a better soundtrack. The only big song was “two tribes”. And whilst the scene it was used in was excellent, it’s a shame we didn’t get some more of them put to the distinctive music of the 1980s. The big sound would have suited the action. But at least we got one big moment. But it’s not like that one scene had to rescue the film. It had a strong story and a strong message. Coupled with great performances and awesome action, the film was a decent sequel.

 

9.4
In Review: Wonder Woman 1984
  • Story
    9.2
  • Acting
    9.2
  • CGI & Effects
    9.8
  • Overall
    9.2
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