Film Review – Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 (M)

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

In the midst of the testosterone-fuelled, male driven superhero films from Marvel and DC, director Patty Jenkins smashed expectations with Wonder Woman’s first big screen solo outing in 2017 and with it brought a much needed and overdue fresh perspective.

Back to give us more gloriously feminist adventures, Jenkins and her co-scriptwriters jack up the plot and eases back on the action, before driving home a message that is very relevant in Covid-struck 2020.

It’s the thriving 80s: greed is good, consumerism is peaking and anything is possible. Diana (Gal Gadot) is now an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute living a lonely life, still mourning Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) all these decades later, but catching thugs and saving children from danger as Wonder Woman.

When her work receives the ancient artifact Dreamstone, which grants wishes, TV celebrity and businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) takes it and wishes to be the artifact, giving him the power to grant any wish to anyone he comes into contact with.

Meanwhile, Diana has unknowingly wished for the return of Steve and her goofy, overlooked colleague Barbara (Kristen Wiig), wishes to be as powerful as Diana. But when it is discovered that all this wish granting is leading to the downfall of society (world leaders wish for more power and nuclear weapons, natch and Maxwell does eventually turn Tr*mp-ish) and it can all be reversed by simply renouncing a wish, Barbara goes to lengths to protect Maxwell to keep her new powers.

And all this overstuffed plotting leads to the partial downfall of this otherwise thoroughly entertaining action film.

Establishing a distinct and freshly different tone to the gloomy WW1 set original, 1984 is bright, colouful, glossy and even a touch more cartoony. WW swings around on her lasso scooping up kids like she is Spider-Man and the cutaways to kids beaming faces is the cheese factor that gives us a new endearing quality.

The way Steve is brought back is clever and organic, offers a fun twist on WW finding herself in new surroundings like we saw in the first one (“This is London.” “It’s hideous.”) and offers an emotional arc for Diana and internal struggle that she must grapple with when she finds out each wish has a consequence.

But it all gets bogged down in a drawn out middle section with all the wishes and rules associated with how the Dreamstone works which slowly begins to dilute the “be careful what you wish for” message that 1984 is trying to get across.

Though, the team does bring it back on track with the final climactic speech that Wonder Woman makes which encapsulates all the film’s themes, which is a powerful gut punch moment that rivals the emotional high of the first one’s No Man’s Land sequence.

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