Rich Handley Author and Editor

Wonder Woman 1984: Not So Wonderful

So… yeah… WONDER WOMAN 1984. Let’s talk about this in non-spoilery terms since the film just came out. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. Is it enjoyable? Yes. Is it fantastic? No. Are the performances good? Yes. Are the roles well-written? Well… no.

As a sequel to WONDER WOMAN, it’s a disappointment. As a standalone film, it has its moments, though a lot of it is cheesy, non-credible, or ridiculous. It should have–could have–been so much better than it is.

Gal Gadot is, as always, amazing. She’s perfectly cast and I hope we see her return many times. They couldn’t have found a better fit for the role than Gadot–she’s talented, timeless, kickass, likable, believable, and absurdly attractive. Chris Pine, meanwhile, is his usual brand of charming, even if his involvement in the film is contrived and not really justified. So the problems the movie has isn’t his or Gadot’s fault.

It’s also not Pedro Pascal’s fault, despite how over the top his character is at times, which likely comes down to bad direction. (And it pains me to say that, as Patty Jenkins showed such promise as a director last time.) Pascal was one of the best things about both GAME OF THRONES and THE MANDALORIAN, so we already know he’s a fantastic actor. And when the character of Max Lord works, he’s great in the role. But the character is so broadly written, yet at the same time so one-dimensional until the end, that it’s hard to be invested much in him.

That leaves Kristen Wiig. When I first heard she’d be in WW84, I cringed. “An SNL comedian? In the Wonder Woman sequel? Has no one watched SUPERMAN III?” But I was wrong. Whatever problems there are involving her character, Wiig is NOT the reason. Her performance is much better than I’d expected it to be, particularly in the first half of the movie. She’s endearing during Barbara’s more vulnerable moments, and when she needs to be darker or sultry, she’s surprisingly effective.

So if Gadot, Pine, Pascal, and Wiig were all well-cast… what went wrong? Simply put, the script just isn’t there to back them up. At many points throughout the movie, I found myself shaking my head at how predictable and/or unrealistic it is, especially during the final act. My son even commented at one point, “I feel like I’m watching a rom-com”–and he was right. I’m not going to be specific here, as I’m purposely avoiding spoilers for others, and I’d ask that people do the same in the comments, but this movie is a narrative mess and a big step down from the prior outing.

The ingredients are all present here, but the recipe is a miss and the soufflé, as a result, is a fail. WONDER WOMAN 84 is entertaining at times, with solid performances from all four leads, but it fails to live up to its predecessor on pretty much every level. It would have greatly benefitted from a tighter script less reliant on corniness, conveniences, and silliness, and with better-defined villains, a much stronger concluding act, and actual repercussions for the villains. This could have been a great film, and I wish it had been. But it isn’t.

On a brighter note, I love the mid-credits scene and I hope that foreshadows the direction they’ll take in WONDER WOMAN 3.

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