Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Directed by Patty Jenkins
***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***
“Nothing good is born from lies. And greatness is not what you think.” Gal Gadot (Diana Prince)
Patty Jenkins directed and did not write my favorite DCEU film to date: 2017’s Wonder Woman, this go around she pulls double duty and the end result is not as good as the first film which is fine. Jenkins had tremendous pressure laid upon her in 2017 after Zach Snyder underwhelmed with the overstuffed and expensive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Seemingly, Wonder Woman needed to course correct and perhaps save the DCEU altogether. Funny thing about that unfair pressure on Jenkins in 2017 is she met it head on and delivered a truly great superhero film (made my top 5 films of 2017!) with a character that I would argue is not an easy sell (did anyone really think Wonder Women could lead a successful film or a franchise, I mean really??). So, having seen the sequel and read some of the hate (typical divided America loves to hate the DCEU) I can safely say to those haters, chill the f**k out, Jenkins gets a little leeway here, and if anything we owe her a debt of gratitude for producing the only fully formed superhero in the modern cinema version of the DCEU that has real flaws, shows growth, and that we actually care about.
Director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman and Monster) revisits Diana Prince (a still mesmerizing Gal Gadot) some 70 years after the events of Wonder Woman and some 30 years before the events seen in Justice League; in Wonder Woman 1984 (an interesting time period choice). This time around Diana is up against (2) major villains, Barbara Minerva (played charmingly by Kristen Wiig), aka Cheetah and Maxwell Lord (a complex and manic performance by Pedro Pascal). I often cringe when superhero films feel the need to overstuff the movie with too many villains, but this duo, though maybe underwritten at times, works well enough together. Whereas the first Wonder Woman focusses on man’s propensity to be violent and create war, the sequel draws on man’s propensity for greed (“the answer is always more” says Maxwell Lord). Complicating matters is the return of Steve Trevor (just another great performance by Chris Pine) to the franchise. Having Steve back satisfies Diana’s wants, but at what cost? I was skeptical of bringing back the Trevor character that I loved so much in the first in the film, but I have to say even with a shaky narrative about a wish granting, macguffin rock (anyone care how or why Max knew about the rock?), I was having enough fun that I just went with it. I appreciated that greed versus desire leading to a heartbreaking choice, served as the moral center of the film, which is further emphasized by being set in the decade of greed. I have heard the comparisons to Spiderman 3 which I completely disagree with, both Wiig and Pascal do a fine job with the villains (unlike Thomas Haden Church's completely confusing Sandman in SP3), I think they are complex and interesting enough, but Jenkins has to make choices about time and editing and if there is a flaw of the film, it lies there. The flow of the film can seem choppy at times and I think though Jenkins shows a lot of the excess and greed of the 80’s, there are some missed opportunities in the film (come on Patty give us a few more 80’s tunes!). I actually loved that the climax, though goofy and a little hard to follow, was one without major violence or a truly giant set piece (that comes earlier in a fun car chase sequence that will leave your heart pounding) which is very rare in this DCEU and certainly un-Synder like (I criticized the climax of the 1st film for being too CGI reliant when it didn’t need to be). It is also noteworthy that Jenkins asks you to pay attention to the things that are said in the film, because if you don’t, you may not understand what is going on in that 3rd act. I certainly question the Cheetah and WW showdown, some poor CGI and a weird resolution make it less than spectacular, but I firmly believe Wonder Women 1984 has more good moments than bad in it. I couldn’t help but smile when Diana achieves the heights of her powers in a variety of scenes that to the unappreciative, may feel unnecessary. Jenkins really doesn’t care about brooding or darkness much, she actually doesn’t care about the rules much, she just f**king goes for it, and that more than narrative or style is what sets her apart from the Synder's or even the Favreau's. Wonder Women 1984 is a worthy sequel that reminds me more of Superman II than Spiderman III, more Batman Returns than Batman Forever. It dares to be a little weird, it challenges us to pay attention, and most importantly it makes us care about the protagonist. Why is Wonder Woman my favorite character in this modern DCEU, because I care about her, and because I care about her, I hope we see more of her. SEE IT!!
(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) WW 1984 is not as good as the first film and it doesn't need to be. Wonder Woman 1984 is a truly wonderful spectacle worth seeing in a theater so as long as you take precautions. Jenkins continues to do interesting and underappreciated work in film (See I am the Night, the TNT series). Although WW 1984 is far from perfect, it is still a very fun ride that achieves growth for the character and delivers a solid message. It is a worthy 6.5 on the The Shawshank Scale (and though she is taking on a Star Wars film apparently, we here at Reelwatchability.com prefer her in the DCEU where she should be running the show for all our favorite DC characters). Imagine a likable Bruce Wayne or a Superman that shows growth, I firmly believe Jenkins can deliver that.
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