Christmas Day provided us with two big hit releases, Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul (technically for me Wonder Woman came out on 16th but pshh). The latter was Pixar at their best, the first is somewhere that only Wonder Woman is in the DCEU, reliable entertainment.
As I was constantly navigating Twitter to avoid any Wonder Woman spoilers, I was getting rather annoyed. This film seemed to blow people shit hot or fucking freezing. There was no in between and it seemed the negativity was louder than the positivity, as it normally is.
As a big fan of the first film I really wanted to make up my mind on this one so I tuned in as soon as I could and sat through it’s lengthy two and a half hour runtime. What I found was that Patty Jenkins understands the world she’s created and is able to provide fun, action and a solid universe for her stories to live in.
Wonder Woman 1984 builds on the first by exploring Diana a lot more and Wonder Woman a bit less. The whole film feels much more grounded in a sense, from the god fighting we had in the first film.
Wonder Woman 1984 takes place quite a few decades after the events of the first film. We’re in the bright and colourful 80’s and Diana (Gal Gadot) has found her place in it. She’s taken a job at a museum and stays pretty detached from forming relationships. Her morals mean that she is unable to leave behind the sense of being a superhero but she does it as discretely as possible.
Part of her job allows her to meet Barbara (Kristen Wiig), a typical geeky girl with lots of underlying quality features. Barbara is asked to take a look at some artefacts that were part of an attempted robbery. One of which is a stone (yes, we back to the stones) that comes with a message about granting wishes.
I know I said this film feels more grounded, and despite this film being about wishes, it is. Naturally, Diana is suspicious but doesn’t realise what the museum holds. Barbara is in awe of Diana, being everything she wants after a life in the shadows.
There’s also a third player, Max (Pedro Pascal). He’s a failed business tycoon but is after the stone, being the only one who knows anything about it. He manipulates Barbara into getting it and absorbs it’s power. From there he can grants wishes.
Dian’s throwaway wish is granted and we see her reunite with Steve. Her only friend, it would seem, Barbara has a new sense of power and Max starts to build his ideal world. These three stories become closely linked but then start to go in their own direction. These narratives are interesting but 84 does struggle to manage them, meaningfully.
Like I said, we spend more time exploring Diana’s world as a normal person. Her relationship with Steve drives her need to find out where he came from and how to stop Max. We see her at her most mortal. Her relationship with Steve brings out a side to Diana that a lot of superheroes tend to lack. I could only compare it to Captain America and Bucky. The connection is genuine and it throws away all powers and just explores how emotion drives need.
As things get worse for each character it dawns on Diana exactly what is happening and what needs to happen in order to prevent any further influence from Max and his wishes. The story or morality and consequence is explored quite a bit in this film. I don’t think it means to be political at all but it does mean to expose our reliance on a higher power.
84 is lengthy, it does suffer from this, slightly. The 3 main characters are developed but not too deeply. We see more of Max than Barbara, which is a shame because Kristen is really good. Barbara seems to have a more complex personality that would be great to explore, but she’s cast to a power hungry type of role.
When we do see the Wonder Woman side of Diana it’s truly magnificent. I think that the team at Wonder Woman, guided by Patty Jenkins make her feel so cool without any cheesy girl power. The action is really top tier and well choreographed.
Some of the CGI could be worked on, and I find that a strange thing to say because it would appear any delays didn’t allow for any extra post production.
Wonder Woman is a colourful film, and it does feel like a comic book film but it doesn’t take full advantage of the 80’s setting. I know it would only get slated for copying the style of Ragnorok but I think more could have been done. It definitely plays set design and score safely, but maybe they need safe.
Overall Wonder Woman 1984 is able to deliver a well made extension of Wonder Woman’s character. It isn’t syncing up with her first appearance in Batman v Superman or Justice League but I think that’s for the best.
It feels like Jenkins is steering the DCEU and not Snyder. Her level of work should be emulated and I don’t blame Warner Bros for wanting her on more projects. I don’t think it would happen for a while but I’d love to see what Patty would bring to a third.
Where to Watch: Theatres (Europe), HBO Max, Rent (from 13 Jan).
Runtime: 2h 31m
Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal & Chris Pine