Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
The Return of Wonder Woman
Firstly, I want to say that I am very happy that I was able to see this movie in theaters rather than on my TV at home. 2020 hasn't been fantastic for the film industry, or for movie theaters for that matter, so I'm just glad this movie actually came out in theaters as well as on VOD.
I really enjoyed the first Wonder Woman. It was a fun movie, and Gal Gadot really gave the role her all. She follows suit in this movie.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see this. Not like, must-see-right-when-it-comes-out-or-I'll-die excited, but I was thankful for my smalltown movie theater and their ability to show this film on release night. Merry Christmas!
Of course, as I do after almost every film I watch during release week, I read reviews afterward to see what other people thought, and I must say that I am kinda baffled. I've seen a lot of reviews by people who did not seem to appreciate this that well––a lot of 1s and 2s out of 10. I can understand their complaints to some extent, and I have a few negatives of my own, but I think the film is far from a 2/10.
Let me explain.
So, what did I like?
For starters, I appreciate how character-driven this film is. It may throw some superhero film fans off by the lack of fighting and the heavy focus on the relationship of say, Diana and Steve, or Max Lord and his son, or even Diana and Minerva (Cheetah). And yeah, it's a superhero film, so there should be some fighting... but I don't think it's necessarily required to have fight after fight after fight. That's where, I think, big-budget blockbuster superhero films can get repetitive. I, personally, enjoyed the heavy focus on the characters. You understand them better that way.
I am pleased with how Steve Trevor was brought back. The trailers worried me a little, but by using something such as the "Dream Stone"––essentially the Monkey's Paw––it kept his return from being just another "look who didn't actually die" scenario. Plus, the fact the film didn't hesitate to get rid of him in the end really helped. It shows it wasn't relying on him entirely to carry the film. He is a significant part of Diana's story, so I think his return helped the story and made sense.
I could talk about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman all day, but just know that she is great and brings a lot of passion, energy, and relatability to the character.
As far as villains go, they weren't that bad. I liked Pedro Pascal's character and his hunger for power. Having the ability to grant any wish could be hella hard to control, but the film manages to, well, take things over-the-top while still allowing things to be fixed in the end in an understandable way. Pascal brought a lot of emotion to Lord, and you can tell he really enjoyed playing the role.
Cheetah was well acted by Kristen Wiig, someone who I never thought I'd see play a villain. In the beginning, Minerva is an awkward character, and Wiig's comedic talents help bring that awkwardness to life. She makes it easy for us viewers to understand why she wants to keep the powers she receives later in the film. I also appreciate the fact that the creator's kept her final "Cheetah" form for the end of the film, because... well, the CGI wasn't that great, and I think it would have been even more jarring if she had been like that for any longer.
However, I am going to use Cheetah to cross into the negatives...
Cheetah did feel a little tacked in, especially toward the end. Maxwell Lord isn't a fighter, and the creator's obviously wanted someone for Wonder Woman to fight. So, why not her most notable foe: Cheetah? And again, I like Wiig's performance, but she definitely felt like a character only added to the film so Wonder Woman could use her new awesome armor. And the final fight isn't that long... which is fine, because as I said, the CGI wasn't perfect.
As for the film's length, well... you could feel it. Two and a half hours. That's about the same length as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and you can feel that film's length, too. There was a scene towards the beginning that took forever and follows Diana as a young girl participating in a Themyscirian competition obviously not made for young girls. But Diana is special, so she partakes. It's a long, drawn-out opening scene that is really just there to introduce the audience to one of the main themes: you can't win using lies. The scene could have easily been condensed and would have trimmed off probably around 10 minutes of the runtime. It was fun to watch, yeah...but it didn't add much to the story as a whole.
I also thought the inclusion of Wonder Woman's invisible jet was a bit random, to say the least, and it is never brought back. It felt like just a fan service thing to me, which I guess is fine...it just seemed a little forced.
Overall, I think Wonder Woman is a better film in that it handles its runtime a little better. However, I do think that 1984 had a better villain and a not-as-jarring final CGI fight. Yeah, 1984 feels long, but I do appreciate the heavy focus on characters––I could understand and relate to them. Steve Trevor's inclusion didn't feel forced, and the plot in general was well executed. I also really enjoyed the 80s setting. I just wish that Cheetah had been handled a little better and that the runtime had been trimmed a little.
With all that being said, I still thought Wonder Woman 1984 was an entertaining film to watch on Christmas night, and I am going to give it an 8/10. Here's hoping that I can see more movies in theatres in the coming months.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth