HOLLYWOOD—When “Wonder Woman” arrived to the big screen with Gal Gadot in the starring role a few years ago it was a spectacle. It was unlike anything that the comic book universe had seen before; a female superhero that was on the same playing field as the greats like Batman and Superman. It was an origin tale that had plenty of heart and resonated greatly with women across the globe. Of course that popularity at the box-office would lead to a sequel, which we see in “Wonder Woman 1984.”
Yes, the title seems to highlight the style, grit and mayhem of the 80s, as Diana Prince (Gadot) returns with new challenges and baddies to tackle in the process. The opening scene of the movie is fantastic, giving the audience another glimpse of Diana’s upbringing in that amazing dystopia where women are treated, trained and respected as Gods. What this franchise does exceptionally well is embrace women as being equal playing field as their male counterparts. Gadot is exceptional in the role as she was in the past. She delivers the charm, passion and beauty of such an iconic character.
Patty Jenkins returns as director, and does phenomenal work behind the camera. I just loved and I mean loved that opening sequence. It places the viewer right into the spectacle of this iconic scenery and beautiful world that one can only imagine. With any sequel the goal is always to be bigger and better than its predecessor, which “Wonder Woman 1984” attempts to do. How so? Instead of one villain there are two: Barbara Minerva aka Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and Max Lord (Pedro Pascal).
When you have two villains in any superhero film which many movies have tried to do endlessly you open up the door for major criticism as the focus tends to be on one character over the other. Barbara is a klutz, a nerdy gemologist whose life changes when she gets her hands on a mythical Dreamstone, granting one his or her greatest wishes. The character is a major focus in the early part of the narrative, but then seems to fade into the background until the movie reaches its climax. I wouldn’t argue it’s a defining role for Wiig because we have seen her do other things besides comedy, this is just another check showing some versatility for the actress. Iconic. No? Fun. Yes.
Pascal brings sleaziness to his character, a salesman, who is desperate to prove his worth in life, especially to his young son, who he thinks he has to do all to impress. It does force us as viewers to reflect on our own personal lives and trials and tribulations we have encountered and how we overcame them. Yes, “Wonder Woman 1984” has a bright message for the moviegoer. Pascal in my personal opinion is the major villain of the flick who finds his powers thru a magical gem. Can you argue it’s cheesy, without a doubt, but just role with the punches people, as none of this could happen in real life?
The other hiccup is the writer’s decision to bring back Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor back to life. As we all know he died in the first film and him just manifesting himself back into the flesh (appearing as another male) just leaves you scratching your head. You want to make sense of it, but it is so hard to and I mean it is very hard to explain it in a logical sense. The rest of the world sees someone else, but Diana sees Steve. There are a few hilarious moments involving Steve and seeing him become accustomed to the new technology and style of clothing of the 80s including fanny packs people.
The thing about “Wonder Woman 1984” is when things start to click which happens throughout the movie that works exceptionally well. I will say I was slightly disappointed with the level of action. The first flick had it throughout the entire movie, this sequel not as much, but when it transpires it is absolutely amazing to watch and entertains you to the fullest potential. The climax is exciting, but the end result left me wanting just a bit more. Visually, it is absolutely satisfying, but on a narrative front, it could have been much stronger consider this flick was so highly anticipated by so many people.
That mid-credits scene delivers an absolute surprise; anyone who is a fan of the Wonder Woman will have a big smile on their face. It is unexpected to say the least, but it raises the question as to where the franchise might go for its third installment which is all, but a go after its recent performance at the box-office and the response from critics and the public of the movie. “Wonder Woman 1984” is a fun ride, not as stellar as its predecessor, but it does the job to entertain the audience and that wins points for me in my book.