There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Wonder Woman 1984
The year is 1984, and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) has hardly aged a day. The world around her, however, has evolved into a very different world than the one she was introduced to during World War I. She still protects the world of man, but with no active war raging, her duties have become stopping criminals as opposed to fighting on the front lines of the battlefield. Over the decades, she has amassed great wealth, and she has used her resources to study history, learn languages, and locate dangerous, ancient artifacts created by the gods in order to keep them out of the hands of men.
When one such artifact winds up in the hands of an oil tycoon named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), Diana knows she must retrieve it before he gets anyone hurt, including himself. The artifact in question is a wishing stone, granting anyone who touches it one wish. Diana Prince, originally skeptical of the artifact’s legitimacy, wished for more time with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Scientist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) wished to become like Diana Prince, not knowing who Diana really was. Maxwell Lord, however, now has the stone, and his wish will have a global impact. The stone grants wishes, but it always comes with a cost, and Maxwell’s wish puts mankind at jeopardy. Thus, Diana needs to find Maxwell and destroy the stone, but the cost of her own wish will not make this an easy task.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Stone (+5pts)
Chris Pine (-2pts)
Maxwell Lord & Barbara Minerva (+5pts)
Wonder Woman’s Powers & Lazy Writing (-4pts)
Diana Prince & Wonder Woman (+4pts)
The Climaxes & The Suit (-5pts)
Pro: The Stone (+5pts)
One had thing that annoys me with too many superhero movies is when the villain ends up being just an evil copy of the hero. The filmmakers of this movie went another way, and while the origin of the stone was tied to the gods, the whole wish thing really challenged Diana in a unique way. It meant that victory could very well require great personal sacrifice. It also meant Diana would have to think outside the box in order to become victorious, and I liked wondering what on earth she would do to save the day.
I also liked the filmmakers idea of what would happen to our society if such an artifact was introduced to it. This stone disrupted society to a catastrophic degree. People got whatever they wanted, but the stone had a way of fulfilling wishes in a way that came at great cost to the person who wished them, in addition to coming at the expense of others. This movie was not perfect, but I thought this stone was a great idea, although I would have liked to have seen more focus given to the moral and ethical dilemmas the stone introduced.
Con: Chris Pine (-2pts)
When I first saw this movie would take place in 1984 and that Chris Pine would be in it, I immediately had some questions. Was he going to be an annoying vision? Would the filmmakers bring him back in a way that made his decision in the last movie lose meaning? Was his return going to be an eye-roll inducing return in a superhero franchise?
Fortunately, I thought his return made sense, because of the stone. What made no sense, however, was his appearance when he returned. I do not understand why he could not have simply come back as himself. I thought the logistics of his return were unnecessarily weird, and I thought it stranger that no focus was given to the morality of what happened to the previous person, and the weirdness of Diana being intimate with him. If you have not seen this movie, then this probably does not make much sense. Just know that the filmmakers made the character’s return unnecessarily weird, and it had unnecessary moral implications that were never addressed.
Pro: Maxwell Lord & Barbara Minerva (+5pts)
When Maxwell Lord was first introduced, I was totally ready for him to be a typical, greedy, power-hungry antagonist, but he ended up being more complex than that. Was his story entirely original? No, but it was simple. The guy just wanted success, so his son would be proud of him, but he quickly developed an insatiable appetite for it. We have seen characters like this before, but Pedro Pascal brought such emotion and charisma to the character, that it made me want to see him succeed, even though I knew he was the antagonist.
I also liked Barbara Minerva’s story. Sure, the filmmakers did the classic trope of throwing glasses on a famous actress and calling her an unpopular nerd, but Kristen Wiig did a decent job in the role, which let me look passed that trope pretty easily. I liked the idea that she had no idea Diana had superpowers, and simply thought she was a confident woman who had it all, so her wish to be like Diana had unintended results, giving her powers that ultimately corrupted her. It was an interesting story, and I would have liked to have seen it explored deeper.
Con: Wonder Woman’s Powers & Lazy Writing (-4pts)
Unfortunately, I thought the filmmakers got pretty lazy with Wonder Woman’s abilities. They made a point to say that she was losing her powers, but she always had just enough in her to get the job done. Her lasso was able to catch bullets, catch lightning bolts, and catch criminals, but she never did these things when it would have resulted in ending the movie early. She also tried a power that she had only done once before—on a cup—but she was able to do it on a much larger scale when the writers needed to her to, and she was able to do so without issue. Then there was the thing she tried later in the movie that she had never tried before, but was able to master it immediately.
Unfortunately, her powers were not the only form of lazy writing in the movie. There was also the fact that the stone could have brought back Chris Pine anywhere in the world, but it chose to bring him back in a random location, that just so happened to be near Diana, but not in the immediate vicinity, because the writers did not want her to know the stone’s power right away. Then there was the fact that Barbara became cheetah-like, despite not wishing for that at all. In other words, she just wished for vague traits that the stone somehow interpreted to mean cheetah, because the writers wanted to make her Cheetah. There was more like that, but really, this movie was just filled with lazy and convenient writing.
Pro: Diana Prince & Wonder Woman (+4pts)
Diana Prince was in a different mindset in this movie than she was in the last one. In the last movie, she was brave, courageous, and was willing to risk everything to save the world of man. While she was definitely brave and courageous in this movie, she was more complex than that. She lost Steve Trevor at the end of the last movie, and she had to live with that for over 60 years, leading up to the events of this one. She has spent her time learning more about the gods and the world of man, and she has continued to be a hero, but she never really recovered from the death of Steve Trevor.
In this movie, however, a miracle brought him back, but it came with a cost. It forced her to choose between her own happiness as Diana and saving the word of man as Wonder Woman. It forced her to become conflicted in her role as Wonder Woman, and I thought this was a really interesting direction to take the character in. Unfortunately, the filmmakers hardly focused on this inner struggle, and giving this part of her story more development could have made for a far more emotional and impactful ending. Nonetheless, the filmmakers still touched on this idea, and I enjoyed seeing it explored, even if it was just a surface level exploration.
Con: The Climaxes & The Suit (-5pts)
The filmmakers brought two villains to the table with this movie. Naturally, this meant that there were also two climaxes, one for each villain. Unfortunately, I had issues with both scenes. The first was the final fight between Wonder Woman and Cheetah.
I thought the climactic fight between Wonder Woman and Cheetah was dumb, as it immediately undermined what the filmmakers setup earlier about Wonder Woman’s new suit, making it basically useless. I also thought the CGI that went into making Cheetah did not look very good, and I did not think the scene had anywhere near the emotion that it should have had, given the focus given to the stories of the two characters fighting each other. Then there was the climax for Maxwell Lord, which felt entirely anti-climactic. I liked most of the movie that led up to these two scenes, but I did not think these scenes stuck their respective landings.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
The last movie was good. Not amazing, not great, just good. I will not go into detail on that movie, as you can read my full review of it—wink, wink—but I unfortunately thought Wonder Woman 1984 was a bit of a step down. Do not get me wrong, this movie was not without its share of strengths. The stone was an artifact that introduced plenty of chaos, as well as moral and ethical dilemmas. I also liked the two antagonists and I liked the difficult place that the stone put Diana in, as she had to decide between her own happiness and being the hero the world needed her to be. This was a very difficult decision after how lost and lonely she had been over the past several decades, and it made Diana feel more human and complex than she did in the last movie. These things were interesting, but the movie unfortunately had its share of issues as well.
I thought both climaxes—the final confrontations between Diana and the two antagonists—were weak. I thought the filmmakers used Diana’s powers lazily and conveniently. I also did not understand the point in having Steve Trevor return in the way that he did, as it introduced a bunch of weird implications that could have been avoided if they just simply had him alive again. The filmmakers made a point to say he looked different, but it was completely unnecessary, and they just lazily said he looked the same to Diana because of how much she loved him, so she just saw Chris Pine anyway. Some of these issues were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but some of them—like the climaxes and the lazy, convenient use of Diana’s powers—made this movie feel somewhat underwhelming.