So Wonder Woman is back, and she’s in 1984 suburban America. And yet somehow, it’s far less joyous and exhilarating than when she was in World War I.
Wonder Woman 1984’s plot plods along at a slow, stagnant pace, with an overly extended exposition that frankly was more than a little boring, especially given the awe-inspiring wonder the original film steadily provided. instead, I was left constantly waiting for something — anything — remotely exciting to happen.
For all its world- building with the amazons from the first film, and even the few snippets we got from the Justice League film, director Patty Jenkins does precious little to build on that beautiful world, opting instead of to set her story in the ’80s, for no relevant reason, really, except maybe to offer some small commentary on Reagan-era America and the dangers of material greed. There are no ties either to the events from the first film, no explanations offered.
Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are as warm and likeable as ever, but ultimately, even their presence can’t save the film. Even the Fourth of July fireworks scene, which I suppose was meant as a romantic, emotionally prescient one, instead comes off as melodramatic fluff, with little to no substance behind it, which may stem from the generally weak script that never really feels genuine, especially compared to its predecessor, which twinkled from the uncompromising belief in humanity at the very heart of its story.
In theory, Diana’s conflict is a mammoth one: to choose between power and love; between the thing that makes her special, or the person that makes her feel human, but in WW84 it comes off as flat, with little weight behind Diana’s choices. What experiences did Diana go through with Steve Trevor save for a few days in World War I, compared to the skills and power she had worked for, been destined for, her whole life? To choose love was a noble, human thing, I understand, but it also can’t help a little bit like betrayal to not grant Diana at least some emotional distress over her choice, for all the importance and love pre-human world Diana placed on her family of Amazonian warriors.
I wanted to wonder at this film, I really did. Like millions of others, I anticipated the film ever since it was announced, a bright thing to look forward to in this hellscape of a year, which I suppose is a rather undeserving expectation for this film. But I still can’t help but feel majorly disappointed, especially when it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this film went wrong, when it shared a capable enough creative team. For all the things that made the original such well, a wonder, its sequel seems to trade in for…magic stones and Trump-like caricatures and some quite questionable CGI, some of DC Universe’s worst instincts. Here’s hoping Diana comes back in full magic-lasso swing for her third installment.