WW84 (Wonder Woman 1984): Movie Review

There’s a really strong hype surrounding the sequel to Wonder Woman. After the success of the first film in 2017, the follow up admittedly had big shoes to fill. Helmed by the same director (Patty Jenkins) and the same team, DC tried to replicate the formula of the first movie which included leading man Chris Pine as pilot Steve Trevor (although he already died in the first movie). You have to watch the entire film to find out how this happened.

Synopsis: After an attempted jewelry store heist uncovers a secret operation for smuggled artifacts, an ancient stone is sent to the Smithsonian for analysis. It is mysteriously able to grant any wish but it comes at a cost. Failed businessman Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and brilliant gemologist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) get their wishes granted which causes a chain reaction of disasters that affect the world.

Consistent with the original, WW84 serves up tight action sequences and really fun chase scenes. The girl power element is quite heavy as Diana is pitted against another powerful female character in one of the final showdowns.

I like that the film took its time telling its story but it may have taken too much time to build up to the climax. An hour and 40 minutes into the film, Max Lord was still persistently trying to get every person on the planet to make a wish at the same time to perpetuate his goal to become at the cost of his deteriorating health. It also took this amount of time for Barbara to realize that she will not renounce her wish as she relishes her newfound power.

While the stakes are high, Diana’s nemesis in this installment were technically two unremarkable normal people who got drunk with greed. Kudos to Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig for evoking the audiences’ empathy with their emotional potrayals, especially for the backstories. However, in the general scheme of things, the motivation behind their adamant refusal to let go of what they had amid the chaos it was costing, was pretty flimsy. Barbara was a brilliant professional. Could she not have realized that even without the Dreamstone, she could have achieved popularity and confidence? And what of Max? He already had so much. He was making his enemies pay. Why did he want to destroy the whole planet with his scheme?

On the flipside, Chris Pine’s welcome return to the franchise as Steve Trevor was a great addition to the story. True, the premise of his return was more whimsical than realistic but he was the one character that truly brought out the best in Diana. His wonder at the “marvels of the modern world” was infectious. And his heroic heart has always been the core of the character. It was no wonder that he was ready to make a sacrifice as soon as he realized what had to be done. When he talked to Diana about how he wanted her to be happy, it broke my heart into a million itty bitty pieces. And like Diana, I was loathe to see him go, again. (PS. This is not a spoiler because these events took place in the 1984 timeline and we already saw that Steve was not in Justice League).

There was a great attempt to make the final showdown epic, but I was a tad dissatisfied that the fight scene between the Cheetah and Wonder Woman was so short after all the buildup they made all throughout the movie. Because the transformation came too late, there was not enough time to establish the Cheetah character. Instead, it felt like Wonder Woman was just having a catfight (get it?) with Minerva.

The resolution for Max Lord was just as anticlimactic. It was as if the filmmakers have been playing tug of war with the character for more than two hours and just suddenly let the rope go. Like, what was that? Was there no consequence at all when the world was almost destroyed by his misguided belief? While the worst was avoided, it bears to note that there were major consequences for the wishes that were made.

Overall, WW84 delivered on great effects and production. It was action packed. It was visually stunning and it had a good story to tell. It was an entertaining way to spend 2 and a half hours and Gal Gadot was marvelous as Wonder Woman. The pandemic really did a disservice to this movie. It definitely have been even better as a theater experience.