Wonder Woman 1984 Movie Review - An Okayish Sequel That Has Its Moments

The cast of Wonder Woman 1984 saves it from failing totally.

From the beginning itself, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984 — a sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman and the ninth installment in the DCEU — establishes its message: success achieved using shortcuts is worthless. These words loom large over the entire 151 minutes of the film. Surely a greeting card could deliver this line, but it won't allow you to watch a gorgeous Gal Gadot (returning as Diana Prince) flexing as Wonder Woman sliding on the floor and kicking on the legs in a way that suspends the victim rolling in the air. Gadot chews up the screen with her magnetism. Though this time, we also have a fantastic Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva, who owns every scene she is present in. 

The story: An ancient artifact named Dreamstone grants wishes to anyone who touches it. Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a struggling businessman, has his eyes on it. Once in his possession, he wishes to become the object itself, allowing him to grant wishes (good thing he didn't change into the artifact's shape). The more he grants wishes, the more powerful he gets. Will the Amazon warrior be able to neutralize this threat along with the supervillain Cheetah? No prizes for guessing the right answer. 

The Dreamstone has quite a history. It was created by Dolos, the god of lies, mischief, and deception. It first appeared in Indus Valley, then in Carthage in 146 BC, followed by Kush in 4 AD. The last Roman Emperor in 476 had it during his assassination. The final record of the artifact point to the Mayans. After traveling everywhere, it lands on Barbara's desk at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.. 

Barbara is the new gemologist/zoologist (and many other things) at the museum. Imagine the shy, awkward character of Halle Berry from Catwoman (2004), and you will get the image of Barbara. Her long skirt and heavy bag indicate she has no friends, while the glasses inform us that she is a nerd. "I kept busy in college/I've never been popular," confirms Barbara. Obviously, no one initially takes the Dreamstone seriously, but people wish. A colleague wishes for a coffee, and he gets one instantaneously. Barbara goes for popularity; she wants to be like Diana and like Diana, so shall she become. Sexy and strong. Very strong. Of course, Barbara has no idea about the latter part, so she wonders how the fridge door broke with her force or how she is able to lift weights with ease. Diana yearns for Steve's (Chris Pine) return, who sacrificed himself on a plane in the prequel and, ta-da, Steve appears.

In the 2017 film, it was Diana who responded in awe after moving from Themyscira to London. Now it is Steve's turn. He provides delightful reaction shots to the new world around him. Trains, escalators, and even trash bins catch his eager eyes. Steve has apparently adjusted himself into someone else's body and is first seen in that person's original face. When Diana recognizes him, we see his face. In the mirror, the actual person's face returns. So is it only Diana who can see Steve's real form while the rest notice the man he has occupied? It's not clarified. 

Wonder Woman 1984 tells us to be comfortable in our skin. Since this is a superhero film made for the masses, the volume is loudly amplified to reach our ears loud and clear. Wonder Woman 1984 underlines how changing yourself for others degrades your inner beauty. In one scene, Diana says to Barbara, "Where's your warmth, your joy, your humanity? You're attacking innocent men, Barbara. Look at yourself." If you have not guessed, Barbara is Cheetah, and no, it is not a spoiler. I don't think you can spoil Wonder Woman 1984. There is really nothing here that you have not seen a thousand or more times before. Unless you were living under a rock for the entirety of your life (or in Themyscira).

For all its expensive CGI, the only stunning shot here is the one where a plane passes through some dazzling fireworks. Apart from the one in a mall and another on the road, the fight sequences lack a polished choreography. The showdown between Cheetah and Wonder Woman is surprisingly lame and poorly lit. There is swinging and sprinting but no style. The face-off with Maxwell consists of uninspiring dialogues devoid of motivation. The bad guys in Wonder Woman 1984 come up with the stupidest strategy. You have a wish-granting artifact, and no one thinks of asking for invincibility or immunity! Forget Maxwell; why didn't Barbara ask for powers greater than Diana when given a second chance? Yes, we are told that wishes are granted by taking something in return from the person. But this feels like an excuse to steer away from answering the mentioned questions or even touching upon them. Because finally, you want good to prevail over evil, and that cannot happen if the villain becomes more potent than the superhero. The studios, storytellers, and audiences are not ready to see the evil triumph (on the screen, that is), which takes me back to the controversial statement from Martin Scorsese about superhero films being a theme park experience. 

While it's certainly nice to see these movies navigating on moral issues, trying to add depth and complexity (even if feather-weight) to the characters, they won't fully commit to the ideas. For instance, Maxwell's wicked behavior is assigned to childhood trauma and abuse that feels out of place and unnecessary. This could be the result of three writers (Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham). However, it shows how these films content themselves from being on the surface rather than exploring the complex themes introduced by them. And so, the good (superheroes) will always defeat the bad (supervillains) — even when there will be chances of the latter overpowering the former — by using what is known as "plot convenience." For Scorsese, cinema means something that treads along and connects with the story and the characters. What Marvel/DC does is pandering. It focuses on delivering happiness spanning for merely a few minutes or hours before chugging another sequel into the machine.     

If the above paragraph looks like a rant, or if you think I hate superhero films, then let me stop your thoughts right there. I enjoy watching these films, and I have found myself eager in line for the first day first show for many of them. Everything written above is my thoughts that surfaced while watching Wonder Woman 1984. And that brings me to the film. For all its flaws, I enjoyed parts of the movie, especially the performances, which really saved it from tanking completely. The bottom line is: Wonder Woman 1984 is good, but it could have been better.          

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/01/wonder-woman-1984-movie-review-okayish.html
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