Wonder Woman 1984: A superhero takes on greed, misogyny, shoulder pads.
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig
Directed by Patty Jenkins
The opening scene of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman 1984 is a lesson: Shortcuts to greatness, cheating at the expense of others, will get you nowhere. It’s all a lose-lose. Which is a solid enough lesson for Diana Prince — a child, in this moment, still living on the women-run archipelago of Themyscira — to learn before she becomes Our Goddess and Savior Wonder Woman. But look at the way she learns it. She gets a little cocky during a competition, gets knocked off her horse, and finds a clever way to get back into the game. You might expect the prevailing lesson to be one extolling the values of quick thinking and using your wits. Instead, she’s reprimanded: Get ahead using the straight path — the right path, the harder path — or, morally, you’ll always be behind. The evil that eventually crops up in WW84 makes the value of this lesson a bit clearer … when applied to other people. But what’s the hard road for a demigod, really? The odds are always in their favor. Make them humane, sure, otherwise the rest of us are toast. But why rein in their creativity, their wit?
In fact: Why rein Wonder Woman in at all? Wonder Woman 1984 is, in so many ways, a more ambitious, expansive movie than its predecessor, tackling more in the way of dramatic chaos, big feelings, and convoluted archaeological villainy. But Diana Prince herself, as resumed by Gal Gadot, feels a little less complicated, her personality even more razor-focused, more straightforwardly virtuous, than before. It makes all the excitement that arises in the movie’s button-busting two-and-half-hour runtime feel somehow narrow, too, even as the premise expands.
Let’s skip the plot specifics for now. Wonder Woman 1984 is a better made and more interesting movie than its predecessor, in the way that a superhero sequel ought to be: Now that we’ve gotten the origin out of the way, let’s get to business. You know the climactic fight is coming (the first movie’s remains an endearing but inarguable mess, as any action scene featuring David Thewlis probably ought); you know there will be other fights along the way to keep the audience’s asses glued in place. Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movies feel more interested in the little grace notes of Diana’s personality. The trouble with the new movie is that it suffers for having fewer of them, or rather, few new ones. The action in these movies has clear appeal. But Jenkins’ interest in Wonder Woman the woman has always felt more essential.
Wonder Woman 1984 is solid where it counts, maudlin in the way its fans need it to be, and, similarly, just funny enough to be charming. For all that goes unsaid, the writing is even occasionally clever. The central conceit of all the villainy here at times comes off as a dark riff on entrepreneurial self-help-y logic in its most bastard state, as if we were watching The Power of Positive Thinking (which gets named outright) headbutt the logic of “Power corrupts… ” for an entire movie. Nowhere is this more striking than in the fate of Wiig’s Minerva, an overqualified professional who’s ignored for the wrong reasons — until she gets attention for the wrong reasons. And it gets to her head for reasons that are, all in all, understandable, actually. This is where the movie lands its handful of provocative punches. As for the rest, it doesn’t always add up, the acting isn’t always great, the climax overreaches a little. Courtesy of the stars, and of the filmmaker’s clear affection for her subject, there’s a little more soul here than there had to be, thankfully. That’s not everything. It’s also not nothing.
– This story has been edited for the sake of brevity
– Courtesy: Rolling Stone
Rating system: ★Not on your life ★ ½ If you really must waste your time ★★ Hardly worth the bother ★★ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only ★★★ Good enough for a look see ★★★ ½ Recommended viewing ★★★★ Don’t miss it ★★★★ ½ Almost perfect ★★★★★ Perfection