Matthew at the Movies: Wonder Woman 1984

I liked Wonder Woman (2017), I thought it was a fun time with a mediocre final act. For its sequel, Patty Jenkins returns to co-write and direct the sequel, and by god, talk about a downgrade. Any sense of awe, wonder, or spectacle from the previous film is out, and heavy-handed social themes and nonsensical plotting and characters is in.

After an ancient wish-granting artifact goes missing, Diana must contend with a work colleague and a greedy businessman, whose desire for wealth and power sends the world into chaos.

Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot, tries to muster the charisma of 80s’-era Arnold Schwarzenegger and the bravery of Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Aliens, but she just doesn’t compare. She has the charm of a cheese grater. Nothing she says is believable or funny, unless she says something so poorly, then it’s funny. 

Chris Pine, as Steve Trevor, returns after his departure at the end of the first film. You see, Diana held the ancient stone and wished Steve back to life, and then he did. But his return sparks some questions, he didn’t just reappear anew, he inhabited someone else’s body. And then, Diana and Steve start to get romantic, and I’ll spare you the details.

Unlike the first film, any chemistry Gadot and Pine had is gone. Their scenes together feel awkward and stilled. When their relationship in the film meets its climax, its baffling and laughable.

Kirsten Wiig plays Barbara Minerva, your typical adult female nerd in every 80s’ film, which she plays just fine. Equal parts quirky and sincere. I don’t feel like they utilized her comedic talents enough, and as a side-villain, she’s not intimidating.

Pedro Pascal, of ‘The Mandalorian’ fame, plays Maxwell Lord, our main villain, and he’s the only great thing in the film. Pascal plays the greedy oil tycoon so well. He soars above the rest of the cast, but then we get into the final act and his aura falls apart.

The film runs at 151 minutes. That’s just over 2 hours and 30 minutes. It feels so over-bloated, yet it also feels too short. The third act is so rushed, and so many things are shoe-horned into it; it feels like they ran out of time and just pushed everything under the rug and called it.

1984 feels like a weird follow-up to the previous movie. The first film was a World War I-era drama filled with seedy people and death, but also love and companionship. 1984 feels like a send-up to the Joel Schumacher Batman films (Batman Forever, Batman and Robin): glamorized, colorful, poppy (like an actual comic book) but filled with the most dreadful dialogue and story.

I’ll admit, there’s some charm and camp to those Batman films that make them less of a slog, but 1984 has none, or very little, of that. The plot is nonsensical to the point of genuine confusion. I found myself constantly asking why. The action is so lackluster and weightless. There’s no solid impact in any of it. It’s not exciting or engaging, it just kind of happens. It feels empty.

The ending is just god-awful. It ends on a ‘you can’t have everything you want/deal with what you are given’ message that feels so mishandled and insulting. I mean, what’s wrong with having an unachievable goal? At least it’s something rather than nothing. The movie thinks it has a heart, but it really doesn’t, it has a plastic toy heart. It think it’s being profound but its just hollow on the inside. It’s a spoon-fed message of false sincerity and passive-aggressiveness given to us by a large corporations that has appropriated political movements to seem inclusive and “woke”.

I have so many thoughts and questions about this movie; most of which are spoilers, so that might be a future article.

You may or may not remember, but, at the beginning of quarantine, Gal Gadot, some of her co-stars, and a bunch of celebrities collaborated on a video together where they each sang a line from John Lennon’s song, ‘Imagine’. Everyone, and by everyone, I literally mean everyone, disliked the video. It was tone-deaf. Instead of promoting charities, or donation centers, or just giving money at all to those in need, they made a video basically saying “Hey, everything’s going to be okay!” as they sing poorly in their million-dollar mansions, giving themselves a pat-on-the-back for being so thoughtful and considerate.

That’s how Wonder Woman 1984 feels. It’s a tone-deaf, ham-fisted attempt at trying to reconcile two sides and get them to, almost literally, hold hands around the globe. It’s not fun. It’s not entertaining. It’s boring. (2/5)

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