“Wonder Woman 1984”: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Photo courtesy of the official Wonder Woman Twitter page.

After numerous COVID delays, Wonder Woman 1984 hit theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day! How was it? Well, the short version: it definitely belonged on HBO Max. Here are my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly of WW84.

Spoiler Warning: This post contains full spoilers for WW84!

The Good

  • Cast: Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) carry this movie. Gadot is as charming as ever, Pascal really hams up his inner villain, and Pine is Pine. Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) has some good scenes, but the other three really outshine her.
  • Cinematography: Oh my goodness, the COLORS in this movie! Thank you, Patty Jenkins, for letting the colors fly and continuing to showcase Diana’s prowess with stunning visuals along the way.
  • Score: It’s not Hans Zimmer’s best score, but it was good for the film. Superhero film scores rarely stand out these days, but I liked the music I heard in this one.
  • Core Themes: Deception and truth are cliché, yet universal values. I’m biased towards this kind of narrative, but I think the film pays off on those themes overall. It was good that Diana’s childhood begins that lesson and I’m glad that she did eventually learn it.
  • Invisible Jet: WE GOT THE INVISIBLE JET, BAYBEE!
  • Heroism: One thing that helps a superhero film is seeing the hero act like a hero rather than brood or grimace. Diana saves a lot of people in this movie, which sells the idea that she’s invested in her role.

The Bad

  • Runtime: At roughly 151 minutes, WW84 is too long. The first act devotes a lot of time to a Themyscira sequence that would have been perfect in the origin story but drags in this one. It has a payoff, but not nearly enough to justify its length. And that’s just the beginning of the movie! The rest is littered with bits that serve some heartwarming moments, but not the overall narrative.
  • Recycled Plot: WW84’s story revolves around godly magic giving people power and throwing the world out of balance. It is supposed to highlight the darkness in humanity, which…is effectively the plot of the first film. This was a rom-com version of “The Monkey’s Paw” and Aladdin with a little Greek mythology thrown in.
  • Consequences: Was everyone just redeemed by renouncing their wish? You literally had a man go on international TV and coerce his way to power, throwing the world into chaos. Is he immediately redeemed because he gave it all up? It’s great that he saved his son, but did he have any actual consequences for his actions?

The Ugly

  • Final Fight: The final fight between Wonder Woman and Cheetah is entertaining. But the scene is so dark that it is almost laughable. I got “The Long Night” (Game of Thrones) vibes, where I wanted to see the fight but also needed to adjust my TV settings. At this point, it might just be WB’s modus operandi.
  • Heel Turn: Something bothered me about Barbara becoming an antagonist. It is contingent upon her being envious of Diana, exacting revenge on the man who tried to assault her, and later protecting the other man who blatantly used her to get what he wanted. Her descent wasn’t very compelling to me. She felt more like a forced foil to Diana, rather than an eventual equal. I think she needed a little more agency, but I’m also glad she didn’t die. 

The Verdict

Wonder Woman 1984 gives me emotional whiplash. On the one hand, it was a more personal narrative than the first, the hero spent more time actually acting like a hero, and the final act made more sense in the context of the film. At the same time, it was effectively a superhero romantic comedy whose time period amounted to ’80s jokes, payphones, and eventually “the Russians.” Notwithstanding, I find myself confused because I like it more than Wonder Woman, but I’m not sure if it’s because I want to or if it’s because the narrative themes had more payoff by the end. I need more time with the film, but for now, I give this a passable 6.5/10.

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