Our Take: 3/5 Stars
The 2017 release of Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman” instantly changed the movie industry. Almost all of the most popular and commercially successful films of the past decade have been superhero movies.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universehave heralded a golden age of the superhero genre.
Before “Wonder Woman” studios were wary of backing a female-led superhero film — but the film’s critical and commercial success brought an end to that.
The second installment of Jenkins’s Series, “Wonder Woman 1984” has been greatly anticipated. Having been pushed back several times due to COVID-19, the film finally premiered on Dec. 25 in a joint HBO Max and theatrical release. Despite a strong cast and some powerful moments, the film fails to live up to both its expectations and the story’s promising potential.
Jenkins (“Monster”) is an incredibly talented director who tackles her third feature film with genuine heart and energy.
Additionally, the film is superbly acted and the chemistry between the cast members is a joy to watch. Returning from the first film is the duo of Diana Prince and Steve Trevor, played by Gal Gadot (“Justice League”) and Chris Pine (“Star Trek”), respectively.
The pair feed off each other and create a truly riveting dialogue.
Despite occurring 66 years after the events in the previous film, “Wonder Woman 1984” provides a strong continuation of the story of Diana and strengthens her character in ways that the first film does not. The film also serves to give Diana a strong catharsis for the traumatic events in the first film that she has yet to move past.
This emotional journey is surprisingly organic in a film where so much of the message seems forced, and is the strongest facet of the film.
Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”) is wonderful as Barbara Minerva or Cheetah, a truly iconic comic book baddie.
Sadly, her role is reduced to a side villain in favor of Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian”). While Pascal is a truly talented actor and his portrayal of Maxwell Lord is intriguing and surprisingly multifaceted, the smaller role that Cheetah is relegated to is such a missed opportunity.
The development of Barbara Minerva into Cheetah that occurs in this film is so formulaic and is such an overused trope that she almost felt like an afterthought. In a film that allows its cast great moments of heart and humor, the fact that Kristen Wiig, one of the strongest comedic actors of our time, was given so little room to work was a tragedy. There is so much potential in the character and with Wiig but the film failed to do her justice.
Jenkin’s sequel fails to mirror the success of its predecessor. For all of its strengths, it fails to live up to the potential of its story and its characters.
Central to the film is a Monkey Paw-like, “be careful what you wish for” plot which is interesting.
But the story set up has much more promise than what is actually on screen, serving as little more than a thinly veiled message for viewers.
It is painfully obvious that the film is so centered around conveying a message that the writers took the story to painfully unrealistic lengths, even for a superhero film, to achieve that message.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is an enjoyable film full of fun 80s references and several strong moments, but the story itself is lacking to the point that the film becomes muddled.
Essentially, the effectiveness of its message becomes greatly reduced.