Wonder Woman (2020) Film Review
Published on January 17, 2021
December 25, 2020
Wonder Woman 1984
THROUGHOUT HISTORY there have always been superhero movies of variable quality, and Wonder Woman 1984 falls into the realm of big hair, big set pieces and even bigger plot holes.
Before I begin my review, I must stress that I have never been able to watch Wonder Woman without falling asleep. For whatever reason, I was void of the urge to go and see Gal Gadot’s charismatic performance in the critically acclaimed 2017 theatrical event and I never quite understood the lauded performances and hype surrounding the actress from the get-go. This might have been down to her introduction in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – but for whatever reason I was just never a fan and I am probably not the demographic WW84 was trying to appeal to from the beginning.
Nevertheless, the clever marketing and publicity from Warner Bros. surrounding WW84 left me inquisitive. Boy-oh-boy, do I regret wasting my valuable time on the premium video-on-demand, and from what I can tell from Twittersphere almost everyone else who tuned in, helping this jewel-encrusted cocktail of stodge become the most-watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020, feels just the same as I do.
I’m going to keep this review short and sweet!
Patty Jenkins’ candy-coloured sequel is set in the ’80s – to be specific1984 – and depicts the ever-grinning 100-year-old Cheshire cat Diana (Gal Gadot) as a lonely and isolated business woman – both by choice and circumstance, until a chance encounter with her co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) changes all that.
"Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t the slick sequel I envisioned; it has more in common with Howard the Duck (1986) than I’m sure Patty Jenkins would ever like to admit."
Minerva, a new museum employee, is asked by Carol (Natasha Rothwell) to help the FBI identify stolen antiques from a robbery that Wonder Woman recently foiled. Barbara, who had moments before invited Diana, also a museum curator, for lunch, but was brutally and smugly rebuffed, now not only has the important task of identifying a Dreamstone and its Latin inscription for the FBI, but also has a date with the undercover superhero, who does a complete U-turn to the extent of becoming somewhat of a stalker, which is quite fitting considering the lengths to which Diana goes to get her man, the deceased Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), back, because Diana (the movie’s Regina George) will now benefit from this unlikely friendship.
Elsewhere in Washington DC, scheming, egomaniacal oil tycoon wannabe Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) strolls into the story arc emitting satire ray beams in every direction and transforming Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) into Poison Ivy – oh sorry wrong film – I mean Barbara Minerva into Cheetah, turning the comically clumsy Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) – whoops I made that fraudulent slip again – Barbara from nascent friend to super villain, Cheetah. Meanwhile, back at Maxwell Lord HQ, he becomes a magic rock, bleeding from every orifice, and ends up setting the stage for major global unrest and a genuinely weird, but fitting for this hot mess of a narrative, account of Middle Eastern politics.
Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t the slick sequel I envisioned; it has more in common with Howard the Duck (1986) than I’m sure Patty Jenkins would ever like to admit. The major issues critics had with Pamela Anderson’s performance in Barb Wire are far more problematic here. Sure Gal can smile on cue, strut her stuff as good as Naomi Campbell on the runway, and she certainly knows how to use a menthol tear stick, but beyond her visual aesthetics she can’t act her way out of a paper bag. At least Anderson was believable within the Dark Horse mythos that emphasised the maternal strength of the character in both the action scenes and more emotional exchanges between Charlie (Jack Noseworthy) and herself. Gal just doesn’t have the range to pull off Wonder Woman or to drive the Wonder Woman franchise forward; especially given the character isn’t your typical two-dimensional comic book character that Barb Wire was.
Now I’m not saying that Gal Gadot deserves to be burned at the stake for turning in such a one-note performance, but putting it into perspective, Alicia Silverstone won a Worst Supporting Actress award (Razzies) for far less in Batman & Robin.
For all its worth, it’s a colourful entry into the DC universe. I would like to think Patty Jenkins is laughing along with us and not at us with this parody, because it is as stilted as Wonder Woman vaulting into action against a darkened skyline, using her glowing lasso to ride lightning bolts, at which I felt not an ounce of awe, and I’m afraid it’s almost genius in its lack of charm. Save your money!