SPOILERS AHEAD! (Wonder Woman Movie Review)
I think we can all agree that Wonder Woman is fiction’s strongest female lead to ever hit the big screen. However, it hurts my heart to say that her latest film appearance was not nearly as strong. With actors Gal Gadot and Chris Pine reprising their roles, my expectations for this sequel were higher than they were for the original. With the additions of Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal as villains Cheetah and Maxwell Lord respectively, Warner Brothers set themselves up for success with a more than stellar cast of well-seasoned actors. The overall diversity scattered throughout the ensemble was a good representation of the 1980s time period in America. The theme of truth and the importance of authenticity were impactful, and I hope that young people around the world hear this message and live by it. So you might be wondering, what went wrong? It’s difficult to fully comprehend what could have been different to fix this 2:30 hr film which could have been so great. The absence of a plot structure that flows, a cinematic crutch that made any impossible idea possible, and incredibly unimpressive CGI are just a few of the reasons why this film with potential fell flat for me.
Let’s talk about the opening scene that takes place on The Amazonian island of Themyscira.
It was refreshing to see familiar faces at the start of the film. We are reminded of the absolute fierceness of Diana with an Olympic-style competition where, even as a very little girl, Diana nearly crushed her significantly older competition. When knocked off her horse, Diana decided to take a shortcut to remain in the lead of the competition. Diana is then punished by her Aunt Antiope for cheating and not winning with truth and honesty. As we know, Antiope is a very significant figure in Diana’s training and perishes in the first act of the original film. Noting the significance of this interaction will only become relevant at the very end of the film when Diana wants Cheetah to be “true to herself” and choose authenticity rather than power. As much as I do like this message, it felt tossed together at the end rather than woven together as an over-arching theme.
Kristen Wiig’s character Barbara, whose wish on the Dreamstone turns her into Cheetah, was really quite likable at the beginning of the film. I was curious to see Kristen Wiig in a menacing role and her comedy and personality as Barbara stood out so much more than her more threatening alter-ego as Cheetah. Something about the CGI effects at the end of the Cheetah performance gave me horror flash-backs to Cats (2019). The main villain, Maxwell Lord, a power/ money hungry businessman turned politician represents a patriarchal and capitalist country that Diana will ultimately have to fix. When Maxwell Lord wishes that he would become the Dreamstone, the references to our current political climate became more relevant. The Dreamstone encourages more deception and chaos around the world. The figurehead that Maxwell Lord becomes as the Dreamstone is scarily reminiscent of our exiting president. The redemption arch that Maxwell receives involving his son didn’t warm my heart as much as it was intended to. I was more focused on how Barbara (Cheetah) got left in the dust without redemption in sight. For a film centered around the power of women, it felt wrong that Cheetah got nothing in the end, when Maxwell who caused all the chaos, got fully redeemed with no known consequences. These villains were a fun addition to the DC cinematic universe and I hope that since they both survived this movie, we see them again in the future.
Anyone who loved the first Wonder Woman movie and who was excited to see WW84 dreamed about how they were going to bring back Steve Trevor. The Dreamstone made the reunion of Diana and Trevor almost too easy. Trevor is an awesome sidekick for Diana, there’s no denying that. Something about their chemistry from their debut film was simply missing in this movie. When Diana is forced to choose selflessness over her only desire, I was in no way surprised or heartbroken. We are here for a movie about a woman who can succeed without a man, so when Diana has to carry on without Steve Trevor, I don’t think anyone’s shocked. Also, the way the movie wedged Steve Trevor in so that historical researchers wouldn’t recognize him by having him inhabit someone else’s body made NO sense to me. This power couple was stronger when their love was unconditional in the first film and, to me, that says something about the actor’s chemistry.
There were moments throughout WW84 that absolutely made me smile like the superhero dork I am. The invisible jet as well as when Diana shows up flying in the Golden Eagle armor made me grateful for a second film about a badass female hero like Diana. The development of her character parallels the comics properly and overall does the evolution of Wonder Woman justice. The power of a talented female director like Patty Jenkins and an overall diverse cast is what makes this film worth watching for me.
Movie Review by Allie Posner