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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (aka WW84) sees director Patty Jenkins return to the franchise that saved the DCEU. It is hard to believe this is the ninth film in the DCEU, dating back to 2013’s Man of Steel, and including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam! (2019), and Birds of Prey (2020). As you know the main problem with the DCEU has been maintaining a consistent quality with many of the films falling very far from their potential. Jenkins’ 2017 Wonder Woman though was the exception to the rule and seemed to please the hardcore fans, the casual cinema goers and the critics. The question now though was could Jenkins do it again?

Coming from a Geoff Johns and David Callaham script which itself was based on a story by Johns and Jenkins we see Gal Gadot return as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, alongside Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, and Connie Nielsen. This time the story is set in 1984 during the Cold War, and we find Diana as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. On the surface she seems fine but underneath she is still mourning the loss of Steve Trevor (Pine) whilst dealing with the threat of Maxwell Lord (Pascal) and the emerging Barbara Minerva – the woman who will become the Cheetah.

The film opens with an amazing amazonian flashback where we see a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) in a contest with older Amazon warriors. Young Diana is holding her own until she accidently falls from her horse. This results in her taking a short cut and just as she is about to win her Aunt, and badass warrior in her own right, Antiope (Robin Wright) grabs her and tells her she is disqualified. Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Antiope then lecture her on the importance of truth because “no true hero is born from lies.” Something that is later used to hit us over the head several times throughout the movie.

One day at work Dianna meets the polite but very nervous and insecure Barbara Ann Minerva (Wiig). Minerva idolises Diana and wants to be as sucessful as she is. Later, after Wonder Woman foils an attempted robbery, the FBI asks Barbara to identify a cache of stolen antiquities from the robbery. Barbara is excited to be asked and even more excited to be working with the FBI. One item both women take notice of is later revealed to be the “Dreamstone.” Barbara later wishes out loud in front of the dreamstone that she wished she was more like Diana, her wish is granted and she soon discovers that wish gives her more than she ever bargained for. Wiig’s exploration of the role is fantastic and I’m sure we will see more of her again in the DCEU.

Diana later wishes Steve was still around. Her wish is granted when Steve appears once more in the body of another man. As an audience we see him as Steve (Pine) but those in the movie view him as the actor Kristoffer Polaha or as he is billed in the credits “Handsome Man.” Steve reacts to his possesion in a way not to disimilar to Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap! This works well initially but as the film progresses more and more ridiculous wishes are granted that makes you wonder why Steve did not just appear as himself. His possesion does nothing to further the plot anymore than just a normal return would have. His return is played out worse when he reinacts the Crocodile Dundee on an escalator moment – weird as he saw plenty of escalators in the first Wonder Woman movie.

The tragedy of Maxwell Lord (Pascal) stands as the major plot glue of the movie. Without giving too much away Pascal plays him brilliantly and makes you forget any other roles he may be more famous for. Unfortunately what starts as a well paced villain arch soon speeds up into ridiculousness that does not make sense no matter how hard you try to suspend your disbelief. It is no fault of Pascal he is making the most of what he has been given.

Another plot point that seemed tacked on to expalin why Diana needed a suit of armour (and not just so they could release new action figures) is the legend of Asteria and yes the mid-credits scene is amazing but it could of been meant so much more if they took their time to thread it through the movie rather than “What’s that Diana?,” “A suit of armour Steve,” “Cool.”

Verdict: 6.5/10 When it is good it is great but when it is bad it is laughable. An excellent concept, with great performances from most involved, weighed down by ropey CGI, and a plot that almost seems scared to become more complex. Where we could have explored more character depth (which Wiig was knocking out of the park) they instead went for the classic addage that Fantasy Island dished out earlier this year of being careful what you wish for – especially if the wish is based on lies – because remember, “no true hero is born from lies…” Wonder Woman 84 remains a stronger movie than almost every film in the DCEU so far, apart from its predessecor, and it is a fun watch. It is just that final dip into a Masters of the Universe moral wrap up that waters it down.

 

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