“Wonder Woman 1984”: A Mediocre Sequel

A Disappointing Follow-Up to 2017’s “Wonder Woman”

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Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. via TheLosAngelesTimes.com

Gal Gadot returns as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984.” Though not a terrible movie, WW84 feels like an empty shell of its predecessor, and falls flat as a movie in general.

After three years, “Wonder Woman 1984” is finally here. The long awaited sequel to 2017’s “Wonder Woman” arrived on HBO Max Christmas Day. Patty Jenkins returns to the director’s chair alongside Gal Gadot and Chris Pine as the titular heroine and her love interest, respectively. Joining them are Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as Maxwell Lord and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) as Barbara Minerva. Obviously, there are going to be spoilers ahead so…yeah, read on at your own discretion.

Unnecessary Opening Sequence

The movie opens with a flashback to Diana’s youth. She takes part in a race/competition where, at the final leg, the participants have to horseback ride back to the arena. Diana gets separated from her horse, so she takes a shortcut to intercept her steed and get back in the race. She gets to the arena first and is about to javelin-toss a spear to claim the top spot, but her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) stops her. The reasoning? Cheating and deception (lies) are bad. 

I really could’ve done without that first sequence. It takes up 20 minutes of screen time and is redundant (we had plenty of time to see young Diana in the first movie). This could’ve easily been a five minute flashback, since this movie already drags along at a whopping 151 minutes. The sequence of Diana thwarting a mall robbery would’ve been a more exciting way to kick off the movie. Pacing was a real issue too: scenes seemed to drag on and on, and it was especially noticeable with the scarcity of action sequences.

Be Careful What You Wish for

The MacGuffin of the film is the “wishing rock,” which grants you any wish but also exacts a toll. For Diana, she wishes for Steve to come back (at the expense of losing her powers); Maxwell wishes to become the wishing stone and gain influence around the world (which deteriorates his health); Barbara wishes to be like Diana (confident, strong) and even gains powers similar to hers, but she loses her humanity. It reminded me of 2004’s Spider-Man 2, with it’s “you have to give up what you want in order to do what’s right for the world.” Though, unfortunately, the latter did a much better job with its execution.

WW84 Isn’t Terrible…

This wasn’t as terrible a movie as many people  seem to believe. The acting was terrific, especially Pascal and Wiig. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for their characters. Pascal’s Maxwell Lord just wanted to be successful and make his son proud; Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, though kind and full of warmth, was overlooked by her peers and felt invisible. Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, as always, was noble and spouted words of wisdom and empathy. The always entertaining Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor, back again (temporarily) to give Diana a moral boost and help her unlock the ability to fly. And that aforementioned mall robbery sequence was fun to watch, too.

But It’s Not Great Either

Aside from those bright spots, the movie just feels empty. Some of the special effects looked awkward, and the awkwardness is exacerbated with the use of slow motion. Any time we get a wide shot of Diana speeding along, it looks like she’s sitting on an invisible chair and kicking her feet (which is probably not too far off). The final confrontation with Maxwell is awkward from a visual standpoint. Apparently, the power to grant wishes gives you the ability to summon a force field of wind. 

Final Verdict

I had such high hopes for this one. The trailers made me feel inspired and excited to see another Wonder Woman adventure. Ultimately, “Wonder Woman 1984” is a bloated, disappointing follow up to its 2017 predecessor. With a shorter runtime and better script, it could’ve been a great film. Instead, it’s wonderfully mediocre. While it’s nowhere as terrible as 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” it’s also not as good as last year’s “Shazam!”

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