Badly plotted and written, with all the best bits spoiled in the trailer, there is very little left here to enjoy.
Warning: This review of Wonder Woman 1984 contains spoilers.
It’s arrived! The most eagerly anticipated DC Universe film of the year, Wonder Woman 1984, has found its way to the few cinemas that have been allowed to open, before being streamed on HBO Max on December 25th, if you live in America.
The film has been pushed back due to the pandemic, along with other blockbuster offerings such as Black Widow and No Time to Die, but a deal with Warner Brothers and HBO Max has resulted in the release of this movie, and boy, was the filmgoing public looking forward to it.
We have had trailers and online events, and Gal Gadot in the middle of a lockdown deciding a Karaoke version of Imagine would be a good idea on social media. Spoilers: it wasn’t, but all would be forgiven with the release of 1984.
Well, despite what you may have read on social media, I hate to be the one to tell you that despite its good intentions this is not a great superhero movie, and here are the reasons why I think this.
The major problem with this production is the script and storyline. An ancient artifact gives all who hold it a free wish, but like a monkey’s paw, it also sort of takes something back from the wisher.
That’s pretty much it. It’s the plot of a weak Twilight Zone episode, and they decided to hang Wonder Woman 1984 all over it.
Now a simple premise can often benefit a production, but in a major studio blockbuster release, it becomes so paper-thin that by the third act there is nowhere else to go with it, and the plot holes become so big that anyone following the action becomes detached from the events over and over again.
Maxwell Lord, a smarmy failed businessman who is also an odd TV life coach sort of guy — it’s never really explained, that bit — comes into contact with the wishing stone, as does Gal Gadot as WW and Kristen Wiig as shy outsider Barbara, who make their wishes and set the plot in motion. Gal wants long-dead love interest Steve Trevor back, and Kristen wants to be more like Diana — you know, sexy, powerful, and confident.
Meanwhile, Lord steals the McGuffin and absorbs it, turning himself into the wishing stone, so he can get people to wish for things that will benefit his own agenda, making him powerful so he can… well, rule the world or something?
Cue Lord taking possession of the world’s oil and eventually gaining access to the President of the U.S., escalating Cold War tensions to the point that soon the nukes are flying. Then, after gaining access to a system that allows him to address the world’s population, he encourages them to make wishes that lead to the world falling into riots and destruction while he grows more powerful.
Meanwhile, a depleted Wonder Woman has to defeat Barbara, who has now wished herself into becoming an “apex predator” and making a sacrifice to stop the now maniacal Maxwell Lord.
Now before I go on, let me state that the first Wonder Woman was my favorite DC movie out of all of them, and I wanted to enjoy 1984. Gadot is an amazing Diana, and Wiig seemed perfectly cast as Cheetah. It was also intriguing that Chris Pine would somehow also be back as the love interest, so I was all in on this film, but it is unfortunately just a hot mess.
The film starts with promise, and a flashback to young Diana on Paradise island taking part in some strange Amazon Olympic Games, and learning a lesson in humility, then we flit forward to 1984, and the production seems to be almost paying homage to Superman 3. It’s all a nice opening sequence, but the minute we hit the flimsy premise it all goes to Hell.
The pacing is all over the place, and it’s a long time before we actually see Gal in costume, then after the first action set-piece, things plod along very slowly, till you get to the point when you are wondering if she will ever show up in costume again.
By the time the story gets underway, we have had all the foreshadowing that we need to plot our own path to the third act; new outfit, son of the antagonist, and frenemy subplots are all signposted so obviously that the only thing that spoils the action more is the trailers that show clips from all the major action scenes, leaving no surprises for the audience.
By the third act, it seems that the rules of the wishing stone are being made up as the writers go along in an attempt to elevate the action to something we might care about, but it has the opposite effect.
The moments that we are meant to feel something are now completely devoid of any real emotion as the ridiculous situation smothers any real heart that the story could have had.
Steve Trevor literally disappears off-screen in a scene that shouldn’t have left a dry eye in the house but did, and the resolution of the major players are given no screen time whatsoever. You are left wondering what happened to them but that soon passes when you realize you don’t care anymore.
Badly plotted and written, with all the best bits spoiled in the trailer, there is very little left here to enjoy. The leads do their best, but their motivations are so two dimensional and underdeveloped that by the time the credits roll, you are left feeling empty and disappointed.
I honestly believe that there was a good movie here, if they had cut the Max Lord wishing stone rubbish out and concentrated on Wonder Woman versus The Cheetah then they might have been on to something.
A story of two women that are opposites in many ways, but develop a friendship, is more compelling than an ancient rock that grants wishes. They could have really focussed on friends that become bitter enemies and are forced to fight. A deep dive into their relationship and growing friendship, showing their personalities and frailties before culminating in an iconic final battle and the tragic ending would have been so much better for these characters, and in between, you could have had Gal doing her thing stopping bank robbers and inspiring young fans. And they could have done it without the 1984 gimmick too.
Wonder Woman deserved so much more, but for this reviewer, 1984 is a badly-paced hodgepodge of a movie that really wasn’t worth the wait.
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