“Nothing good is born from lies, and greatness is not what you think.”
2017’s Wonder Woman exploded on screen bringing DC’s comic book goddess, Diana Prince, to fight off villains in her own solo movie. While the first film wasn’t perfect, it’s still entertaining and plenty of fun. And being a woman myself, it’s always nice to see a fellow female kick some ass. But with Wonder Woman: 1984, the film takes a huge tumble doing a disservice to the powerhouse female superhero we all love.
The story begins with Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Diana (Gal Gadot), as a young girl. She’s competing against other female warriors in what can only be a mock American Ninja Warrior obstacle. Diana leads the pack throughout the race, but falls off her horse — losing the lead. She finds a shortcut, and ends up retaking first place. But as she’s about to finish the final obstacle, she’s stopped by Antiope (Robin Wright). The moral of the story being that no heroes are born from lies. Remember that, because that’s basically the plot for the whole film. Now, flashforward to the year 1984. Movies like Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and The Karate Kid were released in theaters. George Orwell’s dystopian novel came too close for comfort, and the fashion, well the fashion was full of vibrant colors. Diana, who now works at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., believes her friend Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) has come into the possession of a rare, and very powerful, gem. This is no ordinary gem, but one that can grant the wish of whoever is holding it. However, the gem is not what they think, as it soon causes a path of fiery destruction.
Wonder Woman: 1984 marks the second installment in the lucrative Wonder Woman franchise. Now, I never tend to fall in love with superhero origin stories. It’s all too much discourse in finding oneself, rather than being engrossed in the action. Look at the Dark Knight, for instance, Wonder Woman’s fellow DC comrade. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins has action, but doesn’t allow for the audience to fully appreciate Batman’s greatness — not to the extent of The Dark Knight. 1984 was supposed to be Wonder Woman’s “coming out” party — a chance for her to fully show off her skills. Not the case. It’s not so much Wonder Woman, but Diana’s tame story at the forefront of the film. It’s full of lengthy conversations and repartee between the characters. And while it is entertaining here and there, the film becomes stagnant for a huge portion of the second act.
Gal Gadot, our infamous, bad-ass, superhero, steps into the shoes of this warrior again, but can’t do much with this underdeveloped character. Diana pines for Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), her love-interst who sadly perished at the end of the first film. Upon his mysterious return, 1984 turns into a cheesy romance. Together they go in, searching for the mysterious gem —fighting off the people wanting to keep it for themselves. For some reason, will Diana always need a man to help her fight the bad guys? I hope that’s not the case, but the films are surely painting that as the premise.
This time, in the villain category, Kristen Wiig’s, Cheetah, and Pedro Pascal’s, Maxwell Lord, lead the charge. However, it’s more Maxwell’s chaotic reign that terrorizes Diana. The villains are bland — more importantly — Cheetah does nothing to stir up trouble. She walks around, changing her style, and walks in, the “all-important womanly feature,” high heels. If you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. Cheetah’s storyline is unimaginative compared to the one in the comics. For the small, sporadic, moments where Wiig graces us with her presence, she isn’t half bad. I actually like her as Cheetah. However, with that being said, they did my girl wrong. Cheetah’s story is far more aggressive, and sinister, in the comics than what was put up on the big screen. Not only does she seem to saunter from scene to scene, but her corrupt relationship with Maxwell could have been better. The screenplay begs for an all-female showdown between the hero and the villain. However, the boring take on Cheetah forces the writers to inject Maxwell’s lukewarm story for ultimate global chaos. The cast of the film have been known to have some great performances throughout their career, but you won’t find these talented actors excelling here. The screenplay leaves absolutely nowhere for the actors to add the intrigue their characters so desperately needed.
The screenplay is 1984’s biggest downfall. The humor of the first film is subtle, and often pokes fun at Diana’s awkward acclimation to the real-world. It’s witty and enjoyable. But to be honest, 1984 feels like a wannabe Marvel movie, and that’s coming from a person who prefers DC over Marvel. The goofiness is so prevalent with the unfunny quips, that it saturates the film. Too long did I sit in front of the screen and wonder when I would finally see some amazing fight scenes. The minutes stretch into hours as the fight scenes barely come. Instead the narrative focuses on the “Velveeta cheesy” romance between Diana and Steve, and a rock that grants wishes. Sappy. Sappy. Sappy. The screenplay ultimately does a disservice to every single character by hacking away at the characteristics that make them so entertaining. 1984 is criminally watered down.
In anticipation for 1984, I read the comics and watched the trailer about 100 times. But any enthusiasm built up from the trailer, promptly died within 30 minutes into watching the film. But in all my criticism, let’s not count this franchise out yet. Wonder Woman 3 is set to finish this trilogy, with both Gadot and director Patty Jenkins set to return one last time. I believe they can still come back strong with the third installment by learning from the mistakes of this film. But at a whopping 2 hours and 30 minutes, 1984 is a bit of a snooze.
Wonder Woman: 1984
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal