FILM REVIEW // Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Off the back of saying Breathless is overrated, I am continuing to commit film buff sacrilege: I think Wonder Woman 1984 is a better film than most people give it credit for. I suppose it’s kind of a beautiful mess, but I was easily able to forgive the nonsensical plot points because I liked the themes and characters so much. Given that I am having to accept the premise of an immortal woman with magical powers whose main weapon is called the ‘lasso of truth’, for me it is not a stretch to accept the premise that there is an ancient magical stone which can grant people’s wishes. I’m also perfectly willing to accept that Diana Prince’s long-dead boyfriend Steve - played by Chris Pine - can come back to life through the the magic stone, because of the compelling story opportunities that it provides (although be prepared, the way in which Steve is reincarnated is… odd). If you’re already put off by this, I doubt the film will exceed your expectations.
However, if skepticism can be laid aside, I think WW84 has a lot to offer. The movie absolutely screams a clear moral, “Be careful what you wish for”, but I really liked the theme of an ideal world or object actually turning out as dangerous and destructive, when self-interest takes over - as much as it was overly preached in the climactic scene. I also took a liking to the villains of the story, Barbara Minerva and Maxwell Lord - played brilliantly by Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal respectively - who represent widespread personality problems. Barbara represents the loner whose lack of self-confidence means they never see that they’re really a good person; Maxwell represents the businessman whose drive for profit and success strips them of humanity. We can look at the characters more deeply than this, too: Barbara is truly well-meaning, hard-working and kind, but she measures her worth in popularity, and because she has no friends, these things don’t seem valid. Casting a chilean actor to play a character who may seem like a Trump caricature is particularly interesting to me: impressively, WW84 reserves villain backstory until the end of the film, and we learn that Maxwell Lord - born Maxwell Lorenzano - was a poor immigrant child who never fit in and who nobody trusted, and who became so obsessed with American capitalist culture and adopting the ‘white businessman’ persona that it took over his personality. Gal Gadot plays a great wonder woman, shamelessly ‘heroic’ in an era of many morally grey anti-heroes; it is her warmth and compassion for others, combined with her journey of self-empowerment, which makes her a better role model and inspiration than the likes of Captain Marvel. Lastly, for positive thoughts, there are some truly stunning wordless sequences in WW84, beautifully directed by Patty Jenkins (the romantic ‘invisible jet’ scene was a highlight for me) and I have been playing Hans Zimmer’s glorious soundtrack on repeat for several days.
Wonder Woman 1984 admittedly has its fair share of contrived and expositional dialogue, but its saving grace is being delivered by high-caliber actors rather than the cast of The Room. In any case, the movie clocks in at 2 and a half hours, so I’m reluctant to complain about dialogue which is straight to the point. I also didn’t mind when scenes or performances went over-the-top, because this is a primarily fun film. As for things I genuinely didn’t like, there ARE silly plot points that are too noticeable to be ignored, and Barbara Minerva becoming ‘Cheetah’ comes absolutely out of nowhere, which was a let-down - Barbara notices Diana’s cheetah-skin-patterned high heels at one point, which is… something, but the writers could at least have given her a fascination with cheetahs early-on in the film. Overall, WW84 has heart; it has occasional clever and well-placed jokes, sweeping and inventive action sequences, memorable characters, great setpieces, and the right amount of compelling and emotional moments. I generally don’t cry at films, but some bring me close - and a scene in which we see Maxwell Lord for the last time brought me close. Despite all the hate it gets, that’s proof for me, at least, that Wonder Woman 1984 definitely did SOMETHING right.