Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a spoiler-free look at Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984, out in UK cinemas now…
Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig
Three years after the first film, Warner Bros. has released a sequel to Wonder Woman. It was originally intended to come out in May of this year but just like every other major film, it has been delayed several times thanks to the virus.
So with the character set-up already in place from the first film, director Jenkins with the aid of screenwriter and comics writer Geoff Johns can just dive into a new story. We do have a flashback sequence featuring young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competing in a physical test of her will and abilities against the other adult amazons, which ironically is probably the strongest thing in Wonder Woman 84. It has pace, power, visual impact and a tightness that the rest of the film lacks. It also speaks to the genesis of Diana as a future superhero.
We are introduced to Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) a snake oil salesman with a failing company and Barbara Minerva (Wiig), a timid, mousy gemologist who works in the same place that Diana does. The museum acquires something that puts both Lord and Minerva on a collision course with Wonder Woman, who is also drawn into this web, forcing her to act a little bit out of character.
Wonder Woman 1984 is a slightly frustrating film. Gadot is as magnetic and statuesque as ever, feeling more at ease with the role here than in the first one. However its running time, at just over two and a half hours, makes it feel rather padded out and you can’t help wondering if it was a tighter film whether it would have been a more enjoyable one.
Pascal is pretty solid as Lord, a character taken from the Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis Justice League run in the 1980s, and Wiig makes for a fairly credible adversary here. Chris Pine, returned here through a plot contrivance I won’t reveal, is a decent foil for Diana once again.
Wonder Woman 1984 also feels like a love letter to Superman II and the work that director Richard Donner did with the Man of Steel. There are moments, which I won’t go into specifics on as this is intended to be a spoiler free review, which are obviously direct nods to that classic 1980s superhero movie. They work fairly well here which is testament to Jenkins’ skills as a director.
In terms of recreating the excesses of the 1980s both in terms of society and cinema, WW84 pulls most of this off although inevitably sometimes it feels like a pastiche of the real thing. Hans Zimmer’s score is very powerful in places too. The significant input of DC writer Geoff Johns into the screenplay helps it to retain its faithful connection to eighty years of comics.
The other problem here is that its release has coincided with a large number of cinemas in the UK currently closed as I write this. Warner Bros. have announced that this film will be streamed on HBO Max from Christmas Day for the US and there is speculation that it will be picked up by Sky for the UK. So the coronavirus is still raising havoc with films and release schedules. So this means I am reviewing a cinema film that many people who live in the UK won’t be able to catch on a big screen which is a shame as it does really come to life on there in spite of its flaws.
WW84 is a decent enough superhero film but it doesn’t quite gel. Gadot is still one of the high points here and, despite its shortcomings, here’s hoping this isn’t the last cinema outing for Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman 1984 is out in selected UK cinemas now