“You’ve always had everything, while people like me have had nothing. Now it’s my turn.”Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva in WONDER WOMAN 1984
How much are you willing to risk and sacrifice to obtain or keep what you most desire? That’s the pivotal question in the upcoming film WONDER WOMAN 1984 headed to HBO Max on Christmas Day.
Director Patty Jenkins’s sequel to the 2017 blockbuster hit finds Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) 66 years after the first film living quietly and somberly as an archaeologist amongst mortals – and using her superpowers while remaining incognito.
Enter Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a shy and unpopular geologist who befriends Diana while coveting her ability to attract people naturally and not appear socially awkward. And Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a greedy oil salesman who pretty much runs a Ponzi scheme by taking money from people to invest in oil he hasn’t yet harvested.
The duos need for popularity and power respectively, and the introduction of a very potent artifact that grants wishes with devastating consequences, presents Diana with her greatest challenge after losing the love of her life Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) almost 70 years earlier and being reunited with him in 1984.
“One day you will become all that you dream of and more.”Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta in WONDER WOMAN 1984
The beginning of the film starts off strong, with a preteen Diana participating in the Amazon Games that take place on Themyscira. For that scene, it’s reported that Jenkins hand selected 242 actresses, stunt performers, athletes, and horse riders from across the globe to portray the Amazons. Once casted, they were put through a rigorous training process for the roles. In addition, there were 38 female stunt performers used in the film’s fight and action sequences – choreographed by stunt coordinator Rob Inch and his team.
The opening achieves its goal in inciting the audience, and we are treated to one of Diana’s incognito Wonder Woman transformations early in the film. But I think this entry will suffer some of the same critique that 1981’s (dating myself) Superman II faced due to its need to focus on Diana’s emotional journey and interpersonal struggles – and the time it takes to do it.
Where the first film is more action-packed, don’t get me wrong there are some great fight scenes in this movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” is more character driven and really attempts to sell the messaging of living truthfully, authentically, and peacefully.
And unlike in the first film where Pine is a formidable ally and action hero to Prince’s Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor is more an emotional tool in the sequel – although he does still have a few tricks up his sleeve and is beneficial in a fight scene or two.
Where Pine absolutely shines is serving as the audiences’ eyes to the technological and generational changes from 1918 to 1984. His wardrobe scene is hilarious and a clever nod to Diana’s intro to period clothing in the first film.
What I most wish is that Max Lord’s (Pascal) backstory would have included more information, especially on his relationship with his son Alistair (Lucien Perez), and been better developed. Instead of coming across as the damaged man he was, and despite Pascal really giving it the old college try, he lacked solid motivation for his actions throughout most of the story.
But Kristen Wiig’s Minerva is a bit more flushed – as she didn’t have any relatives that needed addressing – and proves a worthy opponent, one that you could almost root for or at the very least understand her catalyst to become Cheetah.
I enjoyed Gadot’s somber performance with the understanding that Wonder Woman had been living life alone for almost seventy years. However, unlike the aforementioned Superman II, which is my favorite of that saga, I don’t think Wonder Woman’s emotional journey is as strongly executed nor is her journey as solid as in the first installment. And overall, with the lack of development for Max Lord’s character, this movie suffers for it.
In short, “Wonder Woman 1984” is an entertaining sequel with some flaws, but I would watch again. It’s definitely worth watching in theaters (although I personally question the safety of that option) and streaming – the latter being the biggest, and safest, plus during this holiday season. I rate it 3 out of 5 on the MMTromter.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 premieres in select theaters and streams on HBO Max Christmas Day, December 25.
Until next thought, Thomasena