WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020) – THE RETURN OF WONDER WOMAN IS A DISAPPOINTMENT

Wonder Woman 1984 is the much anticipated sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot returns as Diana Prince or Wonder Woman and Chris Pine also makes a return from the dead (though not in the way most are expecting). Although an interesting take on the 1980s neither the performances nor the action is sufficient to make this sequel better or even as good as the first one. Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman is more like a supermodel turning down several male supplicants instead of a super heroine. Most of the time, we see the forced feminism on display – creepy men harassing the two female protagonists all the time and how the modern confident female struggles and overcomes such challenges. The desire to add these themes to every comic book adaptation is creating boring cliched sequels and sadly Wonder Woman 1984 falls flat when it comes to entertainment.

Set in 1984 during the Cold War, the film follows Diana and her past love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) as they face off against Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). The movie begins with a clip from Diana’s childhood as she competes with other Amazonian warriors in an athletic competition in which she is disqualified for taking the “shortcut” to victory.

Years later, in 1984, Diana works as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., specializing in the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilizations; Diana also continues to fight crime as Wonder Woman but always maintaining anonymity. At work, she meets Barbara Minerva, an insecure woman, bespectacled woman (necessary apparently to look convincing as a nerd) who idolizes, befriends, and envies Diana. After Wonder Woman foils an attempted robbery, the FBI asks Barbara to identify a cache of stolen antiquities from the robbery. One item both women take notice of—later revealed to be the “Dreamstone”—has an inscription in Latin which Diana translates as “Place upon the object held, but one great wish“.

Left: The Cheetah Right: Maxwell Lord

Diana unknowingly uses the stone to restore her deceased lover, Steve Trevor, though his soul takes over another man’s body. Later, after being saved from sexual assault by Diana, Barbara wishes upon the stone to become like Diana, inadvertently discovering Diana’s superpowers. Businessman Maxwell “Max Lord” Lorenzano then visits the Smithsonian under the guise of making a donation, secretly coveting the Dreamstone in hopes of saving his failing oil company. During a gala night at the Smithsonian, Maxwell seduces Barbara in order to gain access to her office so he can take the Dreamstone. At his workplace, he wishes to become the embodiment of the stone and gains its power to grant wishes, while also becoming able to take whatever he desires from them in return should they have anything he could want.

Maxwell becomes a powerful and influential figure while leaving chaos and destruction in his wake as his powers trigger worldwide instability and conflict. Barbara, Diana, and Steve investigate the Dreamstone further and discover that it was created by Dolos, the god of treachery and mischief. The stone grants a user their wish but exacts a toll, and the only way to reverse the exchange is by renouncing the wish or destroying the stone itself. Steve realizes that his existence comes at the cost of Diana’s power, while it is later revealed that Barbara’s newfound life has drained her of her kindness; both women are unwilling to renounce their wishes, however.

Maxwell learns from the President of the United States that the US satellite broadcast system can transmit signals globally, and then uses it to grant wishes to the entire world while regaining his now-deteriorating health; on his way out of the White House to the broadcast station, he is confronted by Diana and Steve as Barbara joins forces with Maxwell to prevent Diana from harming him. Steve convinces Diana to let go of him and renounce her wish, allowing her to regain her strength and gain the ability to fly. She returns home and dons the armor of the legendary Amazon warrior Asteria, then heads to the broadcast station and battles Barbara, who has been further mutated after wishing to become an “apex predator“. This results in a clash between first Diana and the Cheetah and later with Maxwell Lord.

Overall the movie is decent enough for streaming but it does little to explore Wonder Woman further. The subtle humor and lack of seriousness in Wonder Woman are missing. Here we encounter cliches of literally everything – hunger for power and wealth, love and jealousy. The movie’s action sequences are good but not that great – especially having been spoiled by tons of Marvel and DC movies trying to outdo each other in thrills. We get a classic comic book movie storyline about a megalomaniacal madman intent on taking over the world, but beyond that there isn’t much the sequel offers. This is a throwback piece of pure pop entertainment

The return of Chris Pine and the introduction of Kristen Wiig does bring some of the entertainment back. Kristen Wiig does well as the Cheetah but in terms of humor, the usually funny actress, disappoints in this flick. Pedro Pascal brings a subtle Latin charm to the proceedings but isn’t convincing as a megalomaniacal evil villain. He seems to be like the side-kick of a truly evil man who has been given some time to annoy the hero until the main villain comes in. Last we come to Wonder Woman played by the increasingly wooden Gal Gadot. Having seen Gal Gadot “act”, before playing Wonder Woman, in the Fast & Furious franchise, I was quite surprised by her turn in Wonder Woman, a movie I genuinely enjoyed. But in Wonder Woman 1984, it seems Vin Diesel was her acting coach. Just as Vin Diesel does nothing but look menacing for a majority of his screen time, Gal Gadot, spent most of the time look graceful and beautiful as Wonder Woman. The charisma and the charm from the previous movie were missing.

JAY’S VERDICT

Watch Wonder Woman 1984 on your streaming devices – not worth a trip to the theaters if you are expecting lavish action sequences. Let’s hope the next Wonder Woman isn’t this dull and promises more of what made the first movie so good.

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