In Brief: Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t a total loss but it really isn’t all that wonderful.
Gal Gadot is again cast as Wonder Woman and does battle with super salesman and mega-huckster, Maxwell Lord. He wants to be the biggest oil baron on the planet and is willing to do anything to get there.
The movie picks up where 2017’s Wonder Woman left off. Diana still misses Steve Trevor who died over 60-years earlier in World War I. He died helping save humanity from the god, Ares.
Diana works at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and is an expert in ancient artifacts. A few artifacts from a robbery are given Barbara Minerva who is one of her associates. One of them has the power grant wishes. Lord knows about it and has been tracking the artifact.
He’s a real charmer, mesmerizes Minerva and steals the artifact. Before that happens, the lady — not knowing the power of the artifact — wishes she’d be more like Diana and gains super powers. Also not knowing how the artifact works, Diana wishes Steve hadn’t died. He comes back from the dead.
After stealing the thing, Lord uses it for his own selfish desires.
The lesson of being careful what you wish for cleverly comes home to roost for him and for the rest of humanity. For some — like me — it’s also a lesson in why comic book character movies just don’t work.
I say that with a lot of regret. At age10 I fell in love with comic books. That love affair lasted until I was about 13. Even today I remember the comics fondly. I was 12 or so when the popularity of Marvel comics exploded. Marvel’s characters — especially Spider-man — were a lot more fun than Superman, Batman and the DC Comics heroes.
They still are but I’m not now — nor have I ever been — fond of movies about comic book heroes.
When I was a kid movies and TV shows just didn’t work. TV’s Superman, George Reeves was too flabby to be believable and into the 1970s the special effects to make them super just didn’t make the grade. Case in point? The Adam West and Burt Ward TV series Batman was embarrassingly bad.
Even flicks like the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeves sucked. Better effects. Horrible plots. Some of the Batman flicks have been pretty good but mostly because of the acting of villains done by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and other actors.
However, and overall, the DC movies have been a bust.
More success and better movies came to us via Marvel. They would have been a lot better if they were shorter. Marvel’s producers tend to take plots that would be brilliant at 90-minutes and overcook them. Instead of a quick and fun hour and a half, the movies are a posterior killing 2:30 or more.
The first, and now the second, Wonder Woman offerings haven’t been bad. However, they — like their superhero cousin movies — suffer from padding.
Gadot goes all out to sell the character. She has looks matching TV Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter but looks aren’t everything. Gadot is not a very good actress. She is also hampered by horrible dialogue from the pen of writer/director, Patty Jenkins who also did the first film. Jenkins and her co-writers developed a potentially fun story and, other than the early 1980s spoofing, disappointingly fail to put clever and snappy dialogue into the script.
Chris Pine reprises his role as Trevor. He’s always been pretty good at comedy and plays being mesmerized by 1984 with tongue properly inserted in cheek. Also having a blast is The Mandalorian’s, Pedro Pascal as Lord. He’s totally over-the-top and, other than Pine in his early scenes, is the only character in the film who seems to be having fun.
Kristen Wiig’s (Bridesmaids) comedy skills are also wasted.
After you get past the what will from now on be an obligatory Themyscira scenes where we see Diana the child learning some sort of lifelong lesson, the first half of Wonder Woman 1984 is lots of fun. This is especially true of scenes where Trevor discovers 1984 and the modern technology of the times. Lots of laughs there.
They make it worth sitting through the iffy second act and the totally boring third.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig, Barbara Minerva, Pedro Pascal, Maxwell Lord, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, language and some violence. As most of you know, I’m not a fan of movies based on comic book characters. Wonder Woman 1984 is better than most but it’s still pretty average. Give Wonder Woman 1984 a 3 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
Wonder Woman 1984 can be seen in areas where theaters are open. For those of us who are theaterless, you can stream the film on HBO Max.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.