WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020), the highly anticipated sequel to WONDER WOMAN (2017), was finally released this week after many delays due to the COVID 19 pandemic both to theaters…. which really aren’t safe yet to attend, sorry to say…. and to the streaming service HBO MAX. Like many of you, I subscribed to HBO MAX just to see WONDER WOMAN 1984, and in my case, the subscription was a gift from my youngest son, Jonny. Thanks, Jonny!
Now, I absolutely loved the first WONDER WOMAN movie, which for me, was by far the best of the recent superhero movies put out by DC, which sadly, isn’t saying much, because most of their recent superhero films have been pretty bad, and have paled in comparison to their Marvel counterparts.
And I’m sorry to say… and I say this almost in disbelief… that not only is WONDER WOMAN 1984 nowhere near as good as WONDER WOMAN, but it also joins the ranks of DC’s worst movies, films like BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016) for instance.
In simplest terms, WONDER WOMAN 1984 is downright awful.
How bad is it? It’s so bad that it lost me before the opening credits even rolled, and then it never recovered! There’s a pre-credit sequence featuring a child Diana Prince competing with adult warriors in a long and excruciatingly boring competition in which young Diana ultimately cheats and then learns a lesson about not cheating, and how it’s always important to tell the truth, because at the end of the day, truth is the only thing that matters.
Nothing wrong with this message, and it does tie in later to the plot, as an adult Diana also attempts a cheat in this story, but the sequence I thought was long and simply not very engaging. Sadly, the rest of the film isn’t much of an improvement.
The story takes place in 1984, which is another draw about this movie, that it would take place in a decade that seems to be getting lots of attention of late and viewed in recent movies with plenty of nostalgia. And the decade definitely fits in with the theme of the movie, which is even if you have a lot, why not ask for more? You deserve to have it all! A movie from that decade, Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET (1987) did a much better job with that theme, and it was current at the time, with Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko’s catchphrase, “Greed is good,” a character that was loosely based on Donald Trump, of all people!
And other than an early montage filled with 80s clothes, hairstyles, behaviors, and settings, like the ubiquitous shopping mall, there really isn’t a lot in WONDER WOMAN 1984 that captures the feel of the decade. Director Patty Jenkins, who directed the first WONDER WOMAN, drops the ball here in that regard. There’s not even a lot of cool 80s songs on the soundtrack! She dropped the ball on the whole production, sadly.
The plot, if you want to call it that, finds Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) in the 1980s working for the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. She is investigating an ancient artifact with the bookish and unconfident Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). The artifact, it seems, possesses the ability to grant wishes to anyone who touches it. Come again? Yup. You heard me right. It grants wishes. This is the level of fantasy we’re talking about here.
So, Wonder Woman wishes for the return of her lost lover from the first movie, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and suddenly Steve is there with her in the 1980s! How about that? She didn’t even have to say it three times! It’s just about the lamest way to resurrect a dead character and put him back into a movie. Talk about lazy writing!
Barbara wishes to be more like Wonder Woman, and she gradually gains power which leads her to become the rather villainous The Cheetah!
And the main villain here, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con artist who’s on TV every day touting his ponzi oil scheme, telling people if they can dream it, they can have it. Eventually, Lord gets his hands on the artifact and he’s soon on his way to using it to become the most powerful man in the world, unless Wonder Woman can stop him. Blah, blah, blah.
I am a big fan of the original LOST IN SPACE (1965-68) TV show, and the ridiculous plot of this movie reminded me of something we would have seen on that show, where Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) discovers a wish machine (there is an episode like that, by the way) and his poor decisions wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Robinson family. The plot was ludicrous then (the writing wasn’t LOST IN SPACE’s strong suit) and it’s just as ludicrous now.
Everything I liked about WONDER WOMAN is gone in the sequel.
I loved Gal Gadot’s performance in that first movie. Sadly, she is completely forgettable here. Sure, a lot of it is the script, by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham… it took three people to write this mess?…. but some of it is Gadot didn’t seem nearly as inspired here.
Chris Pine is okay as Steve Trevor, but he’s playing a “wish” character here… the only reason he exists is because of a wish… so it’s hard to pay him much attention.
Kristen Wiig is enjoyable early on, but once she converts to The Cheetah, she’s as dull as the rest of the movie.
And Pedro Pascal, who I have really enjoyed on the TV show NARCOS (2015-17) and in such movies as TRIPLE FRONTIER (2019) and THE GREAT WALL (2016) completely hams it up here as Maxwell Lord, so much so that he was as far removed from a real character as one can possibly get. Pascal currently stars as the Mandalorian on the series THE MANDALORIAN (2019-22).
Even the aciton scenes to this one were a letdown. There wasn’t one action sequence I enjoyed. The film runs for two and a half hours, and I was bored the entire time.
There are other goofs as well. For instance, in the crazy finale, when the world is on the verge of nuclear war, the U.S. defenses are alerted that Russian missiles are airborne. Now, having lived through the 1980s, at a time when the Soviet Union still existed, I’m pretty sure those would have been Soviet missiles that were launched. Small potatoes? Perhaps, but it’s all part of a sloppy poorly written production that is a major disappointment.
WONDER WOMAN deserved a much better sequel than this.
Whereas WONDER WOMAN ranks as one of DC’s best superhero movies, WONDER WOMAN 1984 sadly is one of their worst.
Books by Michael Arruda:
DARK CORNERS, Michael Arruda’s second short story collection, contains ten tales of horror, six reprints and four stories original to this collection.
Waiting for you in Dark Corners are tales of vampires, monsters, werewolves, demonic circus animals, and eternal darkness. Be prepared to be both frightened and entertained. You never know what you will find lurking in dark corners.
TIME FRAME, science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.
How far would you go to save your family? Would you change the course of time? That’s the decision facing Adam Cabral in this mind-bending science fiction adventure by Michael Arruda.
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.
Michael Arruda reviews horror movies throughout history, from the silent classics of the 1920s, Universal horror from the 1930s-40s, Hammer Films of the 1950s-70s, all the way through the instant classics of today. If you like to read about horror movies, this is the book for you!
FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, first short story collection by Michael Arruda.
Michael Arruda’s first short story collection, featuring a wraparound story which links all the tales together, asks the question: can you have a relationship when your partner is surrounded by the supernatural? If you thought normal relationships were difficult, wait to you read about what the folks in these stories have to deal with. For the love of horror!