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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is an overstuffed, disjointed escapist playground

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is an overstuffed, disjointed escapist playground

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is an overstuffed, disjointed escapist playground
December 28
11:00 2020

This review contains a paragraph with minor spoilers.

“Barbara, what did you do?”

“Wonder Woman 1984” is the problem child of the DC Extended Universe. It seems to like to cause problems by being loud, throwing things in the air hoping something will stick and running around solely for the sake of causing a commotion. It has its bright spots of controlled chaos, but sometimes the child’s problems overwrite those moments of ingenuity. As for those aforementioned problems of the film this time, one of the most glaring is its script. There are some plot holes and character developments that don’t quite make much sense considering some events of the film.

For example, Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord, putting the great performance aside, is a very convenient character. His motivations and progression not only feel convenient to everything else going on in the film but also feel a little undercooked as well. His wanting of this “Dreamstone” that Diana and Kristen Wiig’s character are attempting to examine seems to only be his motivation simply to advance the plot. It’s not earned nor does it really make much sense. His performance is quite great though because it looks like he’s having an absolute blast playing Lord, and that did rub off on me a bit while watching. My other issue with him and the screenplay is that he should not have been the main villain (more on that in a bit…).

As for Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot has at least improved in her line delivery marginally, although some do come off a little wooden which goes hand-in-hand with the screenplay and its truly rough dialogue. She still kicks ass as Wonder Woman herself, but this is more of a Diana Prince movie than a Wonder Woman film. There’s maybe three (four?) big action set pieces with Wonder Woman in action, but the rest of the movie is more about Diana Prince, her life and her relationship with the returning Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine.

As for Trevor, I won’t begin to even try to understand all the time stuff and how he was brought back because it doesn’t really make much sense. He also gets put into another body but Diana still sees him as Steve, but only she does? It’s not executed very well because there’s hardly any explanation for it nor is there much questioning from Diana. It’s accepted by her and then it’s moved on from very quickly. Who knew 2020 would be home to two movies with utterly incomprehensible time elements?

I liked the first “Wonder Woman” film but I was most excited about this one because of the inclusion of Barbara Minerva/Cheetah. Cheetah is a favorite comic character of mine so the live-action debut of her was enough to warrant curiosity and anticipation. Even after seeing the film, Kristen Wiig is still a very interesting choice for the character because she’s not at all who I expected to be in a role like this, but I thought she served Barbara Minerva quite well. Her Cheetah is an interesting interpretation of the troubled villainess as well, but ultimately falls victim to underdeveloped writing and characterization. The final action scene at the end is the Diana vs. Cheetah fight and it lasts maybe ten minutes and that’s all the screen time Cheetah gets.

When all the wishes that were made from Max Lord’s powers get renounced at the end, Barbara renounces her wish of becoming Cheetah as well. This negatively contrasts with the character’s comic-book portrayal because Barbara wanted to be strong, powerful and known so bad that when her transformation into Cheetah comes full circle at the hands of the God Urzkartaga in the comic run that this film seems to take inspiration from. She feels doomed to be stuck in the body of Cheetah forever, so the only thing she thinks she can do is accept her fate. Then, of course, her disdain for Diana follows because she believes that Diana did not properly help her in preventing her transformation at the hands of Urzkartaga. As a result, Cheetah vows to kill Diana but knows she can only do this in her Cheetah form.

While the film touches on the betrayal that Barbara feels from Diana, her renouncing her wish to become “the apex predator” doesn’t at all align with Barbara Miverva’s ideologies regarding the vengeance she feels as Cheetah. You can surely call this a new interpretation of the character, but for a film that follows a predetermined storyline about the character so much already, it sure feels like a betrayal to the character.

Wiig gives a committed performance as both Minerva and Cheetah and it’s certainly nice to see her being versatile in the roles she chooses. Her origin and eventual descent into Cheetah is eerily similar to Michelle Pfeiffer’s origin as Catwoman in “Batman Returns,” but hey, let’s call it a nice, respectable homage to the other, albeit more iconic, cat-themed villain of DC. Beyond that though, she should have been the main villain in this so her backstory and relationship with Diana could have been explored to the fullest extent that it needed to be. She’s a fascinating character and her relationship with Diana is an interesting foil to the character. I just wished this film dove deeper into it. The third film should have Cheetah return as the main villain with the witch Circe as the backup villain so we can have Cheetah as she’s truly meant to be.

“Wonder Woman 1984” is enjoyable to a degree and has some solid action sequences, especially in the last twenty minutes or so. There are also some solid performances from Pascal and Wiig, but it’s also much too overstuffed and overlong. The script is genuinely not good and to refrain from ranting into monotonous territory, the politics of this thing are eyebrow-raising at the very least. I think that there are some solid elements in here, especially Hans Zimmer’s rapturous score, but it doesn’t quite all come together. In comparison to the first film, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

Grade: 2.75/5

Featured image: Courtesy WarnerMedia

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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