Films based on comic books were in danger over becoming oversaturated, every other month Marvel or DC would release their latest loud Blockbuster all vying for the same thrills and huge box office. The original Wonder Woman struck a chord with me, I loved watching this strong charismatic woman take centre stage in a fabulously directed and well-thought out origin story, though the films third act let the overall package down a bit, the preceding two acts were strong enough to hold it up. So the stakes were high for the sequel to deliver the goods and during these trying times it was a delight to return to the cinema to see Gal Gadot play the iconic hero once again.
Wonder Woman 1984 is fundamentally different to the prior film in almost every way. It’s a lot more colourful and there’s an elegance to the way the film is shot and the way movements are choreographed that feel very different to the grittier first film. I welcome this change wholeheartedly, I liked the fact it looked different and I loved the way the film embraced the 80’s era in which it’s set. The first Wonder Woman worked so well for me as it really felt like a period piece and 1984 is no different. Director Patty Jenkins has managed to capture the spirit of the 1980’s without it ever descending into a full on parody, it’s a tricky balancing act but it’s very well done. The setting is the perfect back drop to the films themes around greed and wanting something without earning it.
With the sequel taking place so far in the future returning characters are thin on the ground with only Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor returning (I won’t spoil how) and though Lucy Davis’s Etta Candy is missed, the new characters add some much needed friction as well as levity. We’re introduced early on to Barbara Minerva played to perfection by Kristen Wiig. Barbara is a shy and often overlooked individual who just craves human connection and to be seen – when Barbra and Diana meet they bond almost immediately and it’s sweet exchange between the the two women. But Barbara craves the attention and confidence that Diana exudes, attributes the character later acquires but at a grave cost. Wiig’s character arc as she slowly loses her humanity descending into a villainous threat is terrific and is one of the stronger aspects of the stories many threads. Pedro Pascal as the main antagonist Max Lord is also superb, his character has far more depth than I initially expected and the films climax surprised me in with the way Max’s moral quandary was played out on the screen.
Though I very much enjoyed Chris Pine and Gal Gadot’s enigmatic chemistry I did feel like his return was to the detriment of Barbra and Diana’s budding friendship. Wiig’s character arc would have had more impact had more time been spent on their slowly building friendship, rather than re-treading the same ground with Steve Trevor. At times his character feels like an after-thought but his use in the plot is smartly put together and the emotional pull of the his and Diana’s story still works very well. In fact this film is a lot more emotional than your typical Hollywood blockbuster, it’s one of the main things I enjoyed about it – the sincerity, it’s not afraid to have an emotional weight and consequences, it also doesn’t trade its mournful tone for cheap laughs like certain third God of Thunder film.
The action sequences in 1984 work very well and have similar level of excitement to the ones in the original film, a showdown in the White House and the Amazon’s Olympic were standouts for me. I enjoyed the fights between Cheetah and Wonder Woman and I’m happy to report that Cheetah’s final form doesn’t look like a hideous outtake from Cats. The look isn’t 100% perfect, but considering the challenge of creating a cheetah/human hybrid I was satisfied with the way it looked and the final battle between Cheetah, Max and Diana is far superior to the the climax of previous film.
This is a difficult film to decipher whether it is better or worse than the 2017 film, I think I preferred the 1918 setting and it was far more cohesive, with a simpler plot and better general pacing than the sequel. 1984 sags in some places and a plot point that moves the story over to Cairo probably could have totally cut out (even though there’s a really fun chase sequence), but it pulls ahead in the other places such as stronger villains, better character development and the film has a much better third act. In fact I’d say the 3rd act is the best part of the film, which really is a reverse of the first film.
What I really liked about Wonder Woman 1984 is that it feels absolutely nothing like any other modern comic book film, it really feels unique. My main gripes with it are some pacing issues and a slightly over-written plot, but it never gets bogged down in it’s foibles and when Wonder Woman 1984 works – it soars, both literally and metaphorically.
- Unique style
- Well written villains
- Engrossing and emotional character arcs
- Some really well-done action sequences
- The cast are all superb
- The plot is a bit all over the place at times
- Pacing in the early film is a bit on the slow side
- Steve Trevor’s inclusion doesn’t feel as necessary as it should.