I’ve been looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984 for a long time, and the eighties, synth-pop vibes the trailers were giving off only cemented that excitement. Then, early reviews came out and had it pegged at an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Things were looking good. Unfortunately, after watching the film last night, I feel like DC has once again slipped into the tonal inconsistency void that has plagued their cinematic universe from the start. Despite great performances from both the villains, there just wasn’t enough for them to do in this space.
Wonder Woman (2017) succeeded, at least in my opinion, partially because the film knew exactly what it wanted to be. Diana was a serious character, but the clash of her coming into the real world after her life in Themyscira left room for comic relief and helped give impact to the sadder moments. Wonder Woman 1984 tries to do the same fish-out-of-water routine by bringing Steve (Chris Pine) back to life in the 1980s (you know, because the title). Diana showing him the wonders of the new world and the jokes that follow were some of the best parts of the movie. Unfortunately, there’s not much time spent on it.
Instead, we get a lot of villain buildup time as the show is split between its main villain, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the secondary villain, Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). Both actors did well with what they had, but Cheetah suffers from rushed character devolvement, causing her slow descent into madness to lose its punch. Pascale does a great job of playing a failed marketer of an MLM scheme, but he also falls from grace at an alarming rate. I wish we had more time to watch his transition, but it isn’t called Max Lord 1984. His character feels like he belongs in a somewhat goofier movie than we got which prevents anything he does from fully landing.
Finally, a word on Wonder Woman herself. Gal Gadot is still an amazing choice to play the character, but I don’t like the direction she was written in this movie. WW84 sees Diana as aloof, which we are told ham-handedly in a scene where she eats dinner alone, and in exposition dumps to Kristen Wigg. Part of what made Diana great in Wonder Woman (2017) was her easy charm, complete disregard for patriarchal bullshit, and that classic superhero heart of gold. What I feel like we got in WW84 was a character constantly pining (pun intended) for her long dead boyfriend and losing all purpose for anything else in the world. Sure, she regains it, but the emotional journey to get there felt hollow.
DC really needs to sit down and plan what their movies are going to be. When they go full goof (Shazam) or full grit (Dark Knight), it works. What doesn’t work is this strange mishmash of the two. If you’re making a gritty, darker movie, the characters need strong character development and motivation behind their actions. That’s why WW84 doesn’t work in my opinion. The characters are all rushed tropes in this installment, and with the more serious tonal segments of the film, it only exposes how two dimensional they really are.
2.5/5 – I still enjoyed pieces of it, and I’ll be back for WW3, but I’m not watching this one again