Not as inspiring or thrilling as the first movie, this largely serviceable sequel has some interesting ideas that take too long to unpack and could benefit from a tighter edit.
Dir. Patty Jenkins
2020 | USA | Action / Adventure / Fantasy | 151 mins | 2.39:1 | English
PG (passed clean) for sequences of action and violence
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal
Plot: Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.
Distributor: Warner Bros
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Mainstream
Viewed: In Theatres
Most of us have been waiting for this all year, and I think it should please most fans and provide mainstream audiences with an opportunity to end the year with a Hollywood spectacle. Gal Gadot is back as Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman in what is sometimes an unwieldy film—well, running at 151 mins long doesn’t help its cause.
Deserving of a tighter edit that would have made it more engaging, Wonder Woman 1984’s main issue is that it takes too long to set the narrative up—first with a prologue of Diana when she was a child that feels extraneous and doesn’t contribute much to the overall story, and then quite lacklusterly introduces to us the film’s would-be two villains, played by Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal.
The film has some interesting ideas, but they take too long to unpack, chief of which is the theme of wish-fulfilment, which is central to the sequel’s plotting. A piece of seemingly worthless rock that has mystical properties becomes a conduit where people’s wishes can be granted.
“Nothing good is born from lies. And greatness is not what you think.”
This is where we see humanity’s selfish nature laid bare—we wish only for something we want for ourselves at the expense of someone else’s suffering, creating a neverending series of escalating problems that threaten to destroy the world.
Not as inspiring or thrilling as the first movie, Wonder Woman 1984 is, however, largely serviceable, with Gadot’s strong screen presence ironing through some of its more middling parts. Gone is the radical novelty of director Patty Jenkins’ earlier work, which is set in WWI, where there is a palpable sense of mood and stakes for the free world.
In the sequel, we are in 1984 and everything feels too manufactured or inauthentic (or perhaps that’s the state of the world then, where rampant consumerism and adverse media effects reign). But my point is that the writers could have picked any other year in the tail end of the 20th century and it would have been duly constructed to suit a similar agenda.
There is an appeal to nostalgia, though the well runs dry after a short while, and it comes at the expense of any effort to situate the story more deeply in humanity’s collective historical psyche.