FlixChatter Review: Wonder Woman 1984

There are few 2020 movies that are as anticipated as WW1984. No wonder, it’s apparently got seven release dates, as far back as last December 2019, then it got moved around several times mostly due to Covid, then Warner Bros shifted its entire upcoming movie schedule until it’s got its dual premiere in theater and HBO Max. Well, I live in a state where there’s a state mandate to close movie theaters, so I saw it on streaming.

The opening sequence on Diana Prince’s paradise island Themyscira is quite a visual spectacle displaying the prowess of the Amazons as young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes in an olympic-like athletic competition against those who are much older than her. It’s a cool sequence that harken back to the amazing Amazons vs German army battle in the first movie. Now, unlike the first one, I’m not sure this sequence actually fits in this movie this time around. More on that later.

After that competitive scene ends, we’re then transported to an entirely different world – 1980s Washington D.C. We’re suddenly hit with all kinds of 80s throwbacks – leg-warmers, bat wing tops, 80s sport cars, etc. It’s actually quite fun to reminisce on 80s nostalgia, especially in the shopping mall sequence where we see places/stores that no longer exist, particularly Waldenbooks as I always made a stop in that store (or B. Dalton) before Amazon (as in the retail giant, ha!) blew its competition out of the water. I think the period world building is pretty convincing, albeit not as immersive as the WWI period that Diana was thrown into in the first film.

Our heroine now works as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian, and she exudes elegance amongst the more campily-dressed rest of the world, but then again, only Gal Gadot would look lithe and graceful in loose-fitting pleated pants. There she meets her colleague, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a bumbling nerd who’s a bit outcast. Barbara is quite star-struck by Diana, even as the two forms a tentative friendship over a new project brought by the FBI to identify some ancient gems. As it turns out, there’s something about one mysterious stone that ties both of them with an aspiring businessman (focus on the aspiring part) named Maxwell Lord (perfectly slimy Pedro Pascal) who sells his brand of Gordon-Gekko greed with aplomb–”Life is good! But it can be better!”–even when his empire is crumbling in a mountain of debt.

The 80s is all about being loud, blatant and showy, but it seems that the movie has adopted the ‘go-big-or-go-home’ mantra from that era as well, where subtlety and nuanced seems to be deemed a bad thing. The conversations between all the characters, Diana & Barbara during lunch, and all the scenes involving Lord is campy to the max, which at times is comical. I have to say that the action scenes post the opening sequence are all big, bombastic, but largely uninspired. In fact, it’s was like a big clanging cymbal that feels empty and repetitive, which you could also say the same about the film.

The entire plot is built upon this Dreamstone that can grant wishes to anyone. Unlike Aladdin’s magic lamp, it not clear how this stone actually works but we’re supposed to just go along with it. When someone in the museum office wishes for coffee in front of the thing, then voila! it magically appears. Apparently Lord’s been searching for this magical stone for a while and naturally he sees it as the solution to his economic problems, that is to get all his investors to believe in his oil investment schemes. Interestingly, the stone would grant any wish, big or small, no matter how incredulous it might be.

Thanks to this mysterious Dreamstone, everyone’s life changes in an instant. Director Patty Jenkins, who also co-wrote the script with Geoff Johns & Dave Callaham uses the moments post wish-granted as comic relief. From Barbara at the gym being all hot, sexy and super strong (channeling Jane Fonda in her leotards, rawr!) to ALL the scenes when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is all bewildered by everything in the 80s. As to those asking why in the world is Trevor back from the dead? Well, trust me, that’s not the only thing that’ll get your suspension of disbelief stretched to its snapping point, at least he was amusing in the 80s getup. Plus, Pine and Gadot have an effortlessly-playful chemistry that’s fun to watch.

I try to make most of my reviews spoiler free, but from time to time I simply have to talk about it. One of my biggest beef about Diana’s character here is the irritating inconsistency of who she’s supposed to represent. She’s supposed to be one the most powerful woman person in the world, but yet she’s shown as lonely and reclusive, unable/unwilling to make friends. SPOILER ALERT! (highlight to read)Despite initially not believing that the stone has magical powers, she made a wish anyway and that is she wants her lover back. Diana/Steve love story was beautifully-realized in the 2017 movie, but in this timeline, that was more than six decades ago, and she hasn’t moved on in all that time?? Now, I’m not against romance or anything, but bringing Steve back in this way is problematic. Somehow the movie makes Diana comes across like a lovelorn woman, which is disappointingly at odds with the message of female-empowerment.

Thus, I feel like Jenkins just want to work with Pine in the sequel and she ended up sacrificing story integrity, or worse, the integrity of the character we’ve come to love in the first film. I’m all for bringing Pine back, I just feel like his character should’ve been written in a different way. It’s also odd that the biggest action spectacles involving Wonder Woman is at the most dynamic when Steve was around as her side-kick. I’m not saying that Steve becomes Robin to Diana’s Batman necessarily, but it feels as if he was more instrumental to her ‘saving the day’ than he needed to be. He also becomes her voice of reason, which again is a re-tread to what we’ve already seen in the first film.

Which brings me to the two villains in the movie, which is definitely not created equal. With his inherent campiness and absurdity, Lord is an entertaining character to watch. Pascal is having a moment right now and I’m glad because he’s a terrific actor who finally gets his due. His character is clearly modeled after Donald Trump (“I’m not a con man but a respected television personality” ha!) but with much, much better hair. You can almost visualize Lord twirling his invisible mustache. I think the fact that Pascal is without any facial hair makes him look unsettling, like something is off, which I guess is the point.

At the same time, Pascal is still able to make the character grounded instead of making him a full-blown caricature of a modern genie. He hits the emotional moments required that makes you still sympathize with him despite the massive chaos he’s caused all over the world. I do have to mention though, I was a bit distracted by the fact that the boy who plays his son looks more Asian (like Thai or Filipino) than Latino, but perhaps I was a bit more distracted by his unconvincing acting. His nefarious plans are so grandiose and incredulous, i.e. inadvertently starting a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union, seem to play out like SNL skits that they’re unintentionally hilarious.

Barbara, aka Cheetah, on the other hand, suffers not only from poor character development, but also from horrible special effects. I was still scratching my head as to how she suddenly became Cheetah when suddenly she’s dressed in the furry cheetah getup, slinging and taunting Diana who’s now donning the legendary Amazon warrior Asteria’s all-gold armor that she’s kept in her home. Despite being almost as powerful as Wonder Woman, Cheetah is barely menacing nor even the least bit threatening, partly because of bad CGI, but also largely because of the shaky character motivation. Barbara is more of an ugly-duckling-turned-swan run amok as she’s consumed by her own beauty and power. I like Kristen Wiig generally, but I have to say her character makes me cringe from start to finish. Her giggling and crushing over Maxwell Lord is as hard to watch as all the Cheetah action sequences.

To be fair, none of the action sequences is all that great apart from the opening sequence. That’s why I said it doesn’t fit this movie as it feels tonally different and doesn’t really advance the story forward as we have already seen how bad-ass young Diana was in the first film. It would’ve worked better as a special feature in the blu-ray instead, as it’s still spectacular to watch. To make matters worse, the music by Hans Zimmer is too loud, boisterous and irritating… I can’t even remember any of its motif/melody at all, just the fact that I wish it could be toned down (hello Dreamstone/Maxwell Lord? Were you not listening to my wish?)

At an overlong 2 hours and 31 minutes, WW84 feels derivative and preachy, which is made worse as it’s a rehash of the same virtues that’s been delivered in the first movie. So she’s basically ‘preaching to the choir’ over and over again with her lasso of truth, adding a clichéd ‘be careful what you wish for’ adage on top of that.  I guess the one improvement that can be said over the first movie is the villain is far more memorable this time around (anyone even remember Ares God of War?). Unlike The Dark Knight where the villain upstages the hero, that is in fact part of the plan and fits the Batman story as a whole. It’s quite ironic that despite showing an extended flying sequence here, Wonder Woman fails to soar.

It pains me to write this review… though I had a bad feeling after watching all the trailers, I was hoping the movie would prove me wrong. Alas, that did not happen. I still like the character and Gal Gadot’s performance as Diana though, so I’m hoping this is just a singular misstep and we’d see the character rising to greatness again in its inevitable third installment.


Have you seen Wonder Woman 1984? Well, what did YOU think?

30 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Wonder Woman 1984

  1. I pretty much agree with you here, very disappointing sequel. I thought the whole wishing stone story was silly, I know it’s based on comics story but they should’ve picked a better story to adapt, surely there are tons of other ones to choose from. The script was a mess and somehow they made this one way more cheesier, I’m wondering if this the direction they want to go since the cheesy Aquaman was big a hit. Also, quite surprising how little there was when it comes to action and I agree that none of the action scenes in this one were memorable.

    Lol, about the Latino-Asian kid. Not sure if you knew but there are lots of Asians descent down in South America, I have some friends who look like me an Asian person but they consider themselves Latinos since they’re born down there. I have yet to visit any of the countries in South America but I know there are lots of Chinese and Japanese descents.

    1. Hi Ted! Yes, very silly indeed. I think it’s fine that they picked the wishing-stone story if they knew what do make of it. Right now it’s just a mess and the more I think about Trevor being back on this movie simply because Diana wished for him to be is just baffling! I mean it’s obviously because Jenkins liked Pine too much but she could’ve written him a different way. I actually still have not seen Aquaman, it just looked SO bad, ahah.

      I know about the Asian-Latino thing, I mean Ivan often gets mistaken for being Latino even though he’s Indonesian. That’s why I said I was distracted more because of the kid’s poor acting 😀

  2. Wow, I think we’re in disagreement with this though I can understand why. Yes, the film is flawed as I felt maybe there could’ve been more into Barbara’s development and how she started to get meaner and such. Plus, what happened to her in the end remains puzzling.

    I think the opening sequence of the film does say a lot about what Diana would have endure when she’s older as it relates to what she has to deal with. As far as her missing Steve, I think it is clear she knows that whoever she meets will never reach into that level that Steve brought. I’m sure that sense of loss was really hard for her yet bringing him back did pay a major price as it does say a lot about life in taking the good and the bad. I love Gal Gadot’s performance in this film as well as Chris Pine and Pedro Pascal. I liked the Lord character as I think he is someone that wants to be successful but lost sight of his own humanity. Yeah, the kid playing his son isn’t that great but I do like seeing Pascal.

    1. Hey Steven! Totally ok to disagree on how we feel about a movie. I was hoping I’d love it, at least on par with the original, but I’m still astonished as to how terrible the story choices are. Barbara is so poorly written and the CGI was awful to look at, poor Kristen Wiig deserved better.

      As for Steve, yeah sure it’s likely no man would compare to him as he was Diana’s first love. But the movie made it as if she didn’t even try to have a social life and that she was lonely, like her life wouldn’t have been complete without Steve. I’m sorry but I thought we are done w/ such romantic notions that dates back to Disney princesses of the past??

      Performance-wise, I still like Gal as Diana and Pedro is fun to watch as the villain, heck I even said I enjoyed seeing Steve here as Chris + Gal have a great chemistry together, I just wish the WAY he’s brought back were different.

      1. I will agree with you on the look of Cheetah as I felt like it wasn’t totally finished and it didn’t look great but I’ve seen worse. Then again, I was watching the whole film late last night into morning on my laptop. Honestly, I thought I was going to watch about 10-20 minutes of it but I got sucked into it.

        1. I watched it on my 65″ HDTV and the action scenes are bad. Cheetah is particularly laughable. I didn’t bother to watch CATS but it kinda remind me of the poor CGI-ed cats in the trailer.

  3. When I saw the trailer, I thought for sure Pine’s character would come back in some sort of scientific method like the way Captain America was still alive, not some stupid wishing magic stuff. Lol! I still can’t get past the wishing storyline, it’s just too silly to me. I wouldn’t suggest you waste your time on Aquaman but then again I’m one of the few that didn’t care for it, the film was a massive hit so apparently a lot more people enjoyed it more than I did.

    A lot of people, non-Asian mostly, always assume I’m either Samoan, Native America or Hispanic. Many of them never assume I’m Asian, lol! It’s probably because of my darker skin and bigger built.

    1. Yeah, I think if they’d brought Steve back using a time-machine type plot it would’ve been ok, heck ANYTHING but the body-snatching method they did with no regard to the guy whose body Steve stole for days (someone said it’s like using that guy’s body like an Uber, ahah). I don’t think I’d watch Aquaman as I could barely get through its trailer!

  4. rockerdad

    Nice review Ruth – I feel for you because I really wanted to love this movie – Gadot is just so perfectly cast you’d think they could do no wrong. I agree with Ted in all of this too (Ted’s comments crack me up ‘cos he just tells it like it is!). I think one of the main issues here is we’ve got 2 supervillians. Cheetah is a huge archenemy of WW and probably deserved their own dedicated storyline. They maybe tried to cram too much into one movie. Part of me also agrees with Steven but overall it was underwhelming. I wish the action sequences were better executed.

    1. Hey Vince! Yeah Gadot is still perfect as Diana/WW, but I think the filmmakers really butcher her character and the story choices are just weird + ethically problematic. I honestly don’t know why they wrote Barbara/Cheetah character in such a way, which comes of weak + ridiculous at the same time. The character and Wiig deserve a better story. So many things wrong here and the bad CGI just add insults to injury.

  5. Pierre

    Wow. Whoa. Oh boy. What a fooking mess this movie was. I actually had to waste my time downloading HBO Max to watch this drek.

    The best part of the movie was Gadot’s smooth, hairless pits. Otherwise, NONE of it made sense. Not a lick of it.

    Let me break it down…

    1. The beginning looked like a completely different movie. No rhyme or reason to it. The green screen was glaringly obvious. Waste of film.
    2. Wiig is a better comedienne than she is a baddie. She could NOT pull it off at all. The old “take off the glasses and unhinge the hair” and become a supermodel has been done to death. Don’t get me wrong…Wiig looked smokin’. But she was not a decent baddie.
    3. The dude who gets his eyes gouged out of his head and his teeth knocked out of his mouth by the Mountain on Game of Thrones…his acting was over the top bad. Couldn’t watch him for more than a minute. His son in the flick was so much worse. He must have been hired through a grandiose gesture of neoptism.
    4. Chris Pine made the movie. Unfortunately, he had no business being in it. Also, his chin is looking a little weak. He should grow a beard ASAP.
    5. Cheetah…HELL NAH!

    Pierre

    1. Hi Pierre, welcome to FC! Yeah, I think we’re in agreement that this movie is terrible. The beginning definitely feels like it’s a different movie, it just has a different style + tone, and it doesn’t really advance the story forward. I think Wiig’s character is just badly-written, I mean she could’ve still pulled off the role otherwise. I actually think Pascal’s over-the-top style as Lord made sense, he’s still fun to watch at least. As for Pine, well as I mentioned, I have no problem with Steve Trevor being in this movie, just not in the WAY he’s brought back.

      1. Pierre

        Ruth,

        Thank you for the warm welcome.

        I am glad we were able to see eye-to-eye on certain aspects. Pedro without his perennial ‘stache and scruff, coupled with his really, really bad wig threw me off. I understand they wanted to equate him to Trump, but I was nonplussed.

        Wiig is funny. Wiig should do nothing but comedy. She is not a dramatic thespian. Not gonna happen.

        Pine is great. His inclusion in this debacle of a flick was not. It made no sense. It was a “Chris” cash grab. Hemsworth and Pratt were unavailable for comment.

        I just heard they green lit a 3rd instalment. Shoot me now.

        Pierre

        1. Ahah yeah I think Pedro is definitely better w/ his perennial ‘stache and scruff, we’re in agreement w/ that. I still think he fares better than most characters in WW84, even Wonder Woman herself.

          I have not seen Wiig in a dramatic role but I still am willing to give her a chance that she could still pull it off if the script was better written.

          “It was a “Chris” cash grab.” Ahah yeah and I think Patty Jenkins might have a crush on him, having done another project with him after the first WW.

          Well, the 3rd movie is inevitable whether we like it or not. I wish Jenkins would just stick to directing and have a better writer to do it. Btw, I just realized there’s no 80s music/song at all in a movie set in 1984 [facepalm]

  6. I still managed to have fun with it, but all the points you make are spot on. The plot is straight from a Saturday morning cartoon. Chris Pine coming back really does feel like a studio decision, that said its nice giving her someone familiar to play off of.

    1. Hey Ian, I had fun w/ it to a point. By the third act I was shaking my head and rolling my eyes so much I got dizzy! I think Pine being back is Jenkins’ decision, she seems to absolutely love him, probably have a crush on him (which isn’t surprising), which could explain the irrational way he’s brought back, with no regard to ethical concerns whatsoever. It’s possible the director is projecting her irrational love for the actor through the protagonist.

  7. Good write up, Ruth. I saw this at a drive-in cinema (my first time visiting one) and my overall impression was that it was far too long, not enough explanation was given as to how the Dream Stone came to be in that jewellery store and the soundtrack didn’t really add anything.

    Apart from the fashion moments and some of those other scenes you’ve mentioned in the mall, I didn’t actually find it 80s enough. Where were the 80s power ballads?!

    I enjoyed Pascal but that was about it really. Also, the theme when GG starts to kick ass is starting to grate on me.

    1. Hello Claire! I’ve never been to a drive-in cinema but sounds like fun! Was the picture quality good where you watched it?

      Well sounds like we’re in agreement with this one that it’s disappointing. Yep, there are huge plot holes everywhere that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! The Dreamstone coming out of nowhere and of course, the body swap thing w/ Steve Trevor that grows more disturbing the more you think about it.

      You’re SO right about the 80s music and lack thereof. Nope there isn’t any 80s songs at all! I think having some of 80s big hits would’ve been fun and add to the vibe. I kept thinking TARZAN BOY by Baltimora would’ve been perfect to go along w/ Cheetah’s action scenes, ahah.

      I enjoyed Pascal too, he’s quite the scene stealer here, but yeah I’m with you about that WW kick-ass score, I think overall the music is just meh.

      1. Tarzan Boy is a great shout! That would have worked so well.

        The screening was really well organised. Cars were parked by size with decent size gaps in between. You tuned into the sound via your radio. The picture quality was good – only problem was my windscreen kept steaming up because there were two warm humans and a dog sitting in it on a cold, cold night! 😀

        1. For some odd reason I always remember Tarzan Boy. I think it was playing at a party my late mom threw at our house when I was a teen, somehow it’s stuck w/ me.

          Your drive-in experience sounds delightful! Made me want to attend one someday.

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