- Release Date: 23/12/2020
- Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal
- Director: Patty Jenkins
Wonder Woman 1984 is a gigantic misstep that insults our intelligence and takes our love of the genre for granted
In the year 1984, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is living a lonely life but is doing everything in her power to keep the world safe for good people. She foils a robbery at a black market dealer of antiques and the spoils of the robbery are handed over by the FBI to Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kirsten Wiig), a gemologist for further analysis. One of these objects is a stone that grants one’s wishes if wished by holding the artifact in his/her hands. Without even understanding its potency, Diana wishes her boyfriend Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) was alive and Barbara who is desperate for the attention of the people around her and drools over how wonderful and attractive Diana is, wishes that she became like Diana. A millionaire, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who has hit rock bottom after making people make major investments in his oil fields but coming up with no oil, wishes that he becomes the wish-fulfilling artifact itself with terrifying results. The three get their wishes granted and the rest of the film is about the consequences of their respective wishes and their impact on the world as we know it.
I was thoroughly disappointed by Wonder Woman 1984. It is expected of a sequel to be at least as good as its predecessor if not better. Sadly, this film spirals into such an abyss after a flamboyant start that it is hard to believe that it has the same director at helm who piloted the first film. Before dwelling on the negative aspects of the film, I would like to draw my reader’s attention to some of the things that the film gets right.
The film starts with an opening sequence featuring a young Diana prince that raised my hopes for the rest of the film considerably. This action sequence is done so well and Lily Aspell playing Diana rendered the character so effectively that I was almost immediately immersed in the tale. Gal Gadot is wonderful in the sequences where she is not Wonder Woman. I just loved the sequence where she has to choose between holding Steve Trevor back for her own sake and letting him go for the benefit of the entire world. She was able to effectively convey the despair and conflict that the decision brought with it and it was an affecting piece of drama. Almost every scene between the two is rich with emotions, drama, and was effective in capturing my imagination. Chris Pine has a long enough essay and his wonder at the development in science and technology since the time he was alive were precursors for good comic relief.
The two antagonists are fleshed out properly and we understand their motivations for doing what they are shown doing. Pedro Pascal as Max Lord plays a character that cuts very close to the rendition of a somewhat subdued version of the “Joker”. However, as the film progresses and we dwell deeper and deeper into his psyche and past we understand where he gets his forced flamboyance from. While his mannerisms might feel a little off to start with, they quickly start making sense as we understand his character’s genesis. Pascal is likable and fits the bill for an antagonist who is hell-bent on doing something that would make him a god on earth and is not afraid to make any sacrifices to achieve it. He has been sidelined, humiliated, and left with nothing for his entire life and now that he has got the opportunity to reign over the world, he goes all out after it.
Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva aka The Cheetah is terrific. She is an awkward and unsure lady who seems to be suffering from being neglected by one and all. She believes that she is not attractive and while she has a truckload of knowledge, she is invariably ignored by others. She is physically weak and is quickly bullied. She isn’t even confident wearing high heels. When her wish comes true, she starts realizing that there is more to Diana than her beauty, confidence, and smartness. She starts unearthing Diana’s inherent strength but as she enjoys being this new version of herself, she starts losing all that was good about her. The lifelong frustration of being ignored and bullied, that she had bottled up, starts finding a release in the ultra-violence that she unleashes on her oppressors. Kirsten Wiig, just like Pedro Pascal, is pitch-perfect for the character. She is able to exude the awkward charm of Barbara as well as the physical violence of “The Cheetah” with equal elan.
Having said all that, let us now dwell on all that didn’t work in the film for me. Wonder Woman 1984 is surprisingly underwhelming when it needed to be uproarious, fun, and inspiring. The film, in terms of the plot, bites off way too much and is unable to convincingly tie off the things that its antagonist messes up. The stone is shown granting wishes and taking back something in return but just so that the film could conclude convincingly, the director introduces too many sudden and conducive getaways from its magic that the characters unearth without any valid reason or research behind it. Everything that the stone does has absolutely no finality to it and neither is undoing it any difficult. It can be done by simply renouncing the wish which felt extremely “meh” to me. While I liked how the two villains gradually turned into the antagonist and were seduced by the wonderful things that the stone could do for them, I hated how the director tied off their side of the stories in a matter of minutes with an unbelievable change of hearts at key moments.
Gal Gadot felt physically incapable of doing the action sequences that Wonder Woman had to do and it showed in how the action of the film was filmed and edited. Every action sequence left a lot to be desired and turned out to be one of the weakest aspects of the film. The way we see Wonder Woman leap and run feel fake and the basic laws of physics, that Hollywood is generally very good with camouflaging, is violated again and again when they could have easily done something to fix it. While the rest of the film is beautifully shot and has the perfect 80s vibe to it, the action sequences feel like a CGI mess where even the most casual of viewers will be able to point out the green screen moments. The physicality is just not there in the action and it turns out to be a major handicap in turning the actions effective.
When I walk into a superhero film, I always know that it will need some suspension of disbelief from my side. However, what is important is for the makers to make the film in such a way that the suspension of disbelief is organic and doesn’t insult my intelligence altogether. Wonder Woman 1984 fails in that department terribly as I couldn’t bring myself to connect with the plot and the proceedings of this film. Once that happened it became impossible to enjoy and appreciate the film. There were scenes when Diana and Trevor were running against time to stop a villain from doing something terrible but still had the time to enjoy fireworks or relive a past romantic moment. These sequences not only played on my nerves and irritated me but also effectively drained the sense of urgency from the screenplay.
To sum it all up, Wonder Woman 1984 is a gigantic misstep that could have been easily saved with a little more proficiency in the action and visual effects and a lot of re-writes to fix the faltering screenplay. Its only saving grace is its stars and their consistently good performances and a nostalgic 80s milieu that brings back fond memories.
Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)