Action Adventure

Review: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is an Embodiment of the Best and Worst of the '80s

December 24, 2020Ben MK

The superhero genre has come a long way in the past few decades. So when a film like Wonder Woman 1984 comes along — a movie that not only embraces the strongest elements of 1980s big screen superhero storytelling, but its weakest as well — it's impossible not to feel some degree of mixed emotions towards this highly anticipated sequel.

The year, of course, is 1984, and it's been some seven decades since Amazonian warrior Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) aka Wonder Woman left behind her home, the hidden island of Themyscira, and saved the world of men from the evil schemes of Ares, the God of War. Still, no matter how many innocent people Diana saves, nothing can fill the void left by the loss of the love of her life, WWI pilot and spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Now an anthropologist at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., Diana has also become an expert on the history of cultures once completely foreign to her. But when an ancient artifact surfaces — one seemingly capable of granting the wishes of anyone who looks upon it — it will have Diana facing one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

At the same time, we're introduced to two new characters and soon-to-be antagonists for our titular heroine — archaeologist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal). A socially awkward introvert, Barbara meets Diana by happenstance and the two become quick friends. But when the aforementioned artifact gifts Barbara with powers and abilities on par with Diana's, the pair end up facing off in a climactic showdown. Likewise, Maxwell doesn't appear to be much of a threat when he first enters the picture. But as his unquenchable thirst for power grows after he comes into possession of the same artifact, his selfish pursuit of greater and greater success threatens to destroy not only him, but the planet itself.

Needless to say, director Patty Jenkins and and co-screenwriters Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham have it once again falling on Diana to prevent global catastrophe. But whereas that mainly involved our protagonist coming into her own identity and learning how to wield her own powers in the first film, this time around Diana has to realize what she herself is willing to sacrifice, not to mention convince the citizens of the world what they, in turn, must sacrifice as well. The result makes for a poignant and always timely message for audiences, but when it comes to jaw-dropping set-piece action sequences, they're few and far between.

Wonder Woman 1984 is far from a disappointment, however. The way it throws back to '80s superhero movies like the Christopher Reeve Superman sequels is a refreshing juxtaposition to the current state of the genre. On the other hand, this is also a film that attributes almost all of its most vital plot points to a mysterious, wish-granting stone. Yet if you can overlook the seemingly lazy narrative choices, there's still much to gaze at in wonderment here.

Wonder Woman 1984 releases December 25th, 2020 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of action and violence. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 31 min.

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