Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 31 minutes, Director – Patty Jenkins
Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) secretly acts as Wonder Woman, stopping or preventing small crimes, however she has to use all her power to stop business-owner Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) from gaining world-threatening power.
Is Wonder Woman here to save 2020? Perhaps. However, the person more responsible for having cinemas backs may potentially be Patty Jenkins. Having initially fought for a summer release spot for her sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, facing multiple delays of almost over a year since the initial release date, Jenkins ended up fighting for a proper cinema release – with a simultaneous theatrical release and opportunity to stream on HBO Max available in the States. Her plan is clearly set out in Wonder Woman 1984, a film that tries to show traditional hope through heroism. Perhaps its how heavily the film is infused with it’s 80’s setting but there’s a feeling of Christopher Reeve Superman films that. In one of the opening scenes we see the leaping figure of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stopping a theft in a shopping mall, alongside other accidents in the nearby street. Her stances are clearly set out, rolling her eyes as she disapprovingly states “I hate guns”. Yet, all of this happens while her alter-ego Diana Prince lives an almost happy quiet life.
A quiet life which is soon interrupted when struggling business owner Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) finds a way to vastly increase his power, to a world-threatening degree after having a wish-granting stone fall into his possession. Pascal is having great fun throughout the film, truly capturing the classic-superhero-flick honouring villain he’s portraying. In fact, it seems as if the entire cast is having fun being a part of this feature, however perhaps the person most people were looking forward to seeing is Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva. Initially a shy, nerdy Smithsonian worker over the course of the film she gains a dark confidence that flips her initial friendship with Diana to a selfish antagonism on her side. This kind of role is something different for Wiig and she pulls it off well, especially during the earlier changes of her character.
With all this going on plot-wise there’s still room found to explore Diana’s relationship with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), somehow making an unaged return, despite his arc in the previous film set during World War One. While the arrival of Pine’s pilot does bring in some comedic attempts – some more successful than others – the focus is certainly shifted to his bond with Gadot’s Amazonian warrior. Taking away from her trying to investigate and track down Pascal’s increasingly powerful threat before his parallel madness leads the world to destroy itself, and even the development of Wiig’s sometimes sidelined figure. At one point the pair are meant to be rushing somewhere as fast as possible to avoid life threatening consequences and yet they take a moment to slow down and admire conveniently placed 4th July fireworks. It almost feels at times as if the film is nearing being put on pause to show something different, or as if a sub-plot to show Diana’s emotional pain takes major priority over the potential end of the earth, instead of being more woven into it. While she may feel in such a way the impact on the audience is unfortunately not quite the same.
At 2 and a half hours this is a long film. Partly because it frequently tells and repeats information instead of simply showing it, meaning that when action does kick in it sometimes takes a second or two to properly realise it in the later stages of the film. There are certainly third act issues, feeling somewhat more like a conventional/ mid-2000’s superhero flick than the rest of the film, as was the case with the first Wonder Woman feature, which at just over 2 hours and 20 minutes felt somewhat lengthy. This isn’t to say the action is bad. There are certainly a number of thrills to be found within this film – particularly in a number of close-combat fights and a particularly brilliant car chase sequence; which is excellently captured by Jenkins direction.
Yet, despite its slight flaws, this is ultimately a film or hope and heroism. A respectful look back to the classic Superman films that shaped many childhoods. Those which inspired a generation. And this Wonder Woman may likely have the same effect on a new generation. The character is very much still DC’s guiding light, thanks to the collaborative force of Gadot and Jenkins who have worked hard to create a character that people can be proud of. Strong yet not without their flaws, sometimes becoming a key focus over the narrative of defeating evil, and one who shows emotion – rarely do we see a hero actually display sorrow, loss or upset in a way that isn’t anger or revenge.
Wonder Woman continues to be something different amongst DC’s current catalogue, and a number of recent increasingly large-scale features from other studios. Venturing into new bright and hopeful reaches, while managing to capture the unmistakable feeling of classic 80’s grit-free heroism throughout, not just through the setting, but the style and character of the piece too. Don’t go for a huge superhero blockbuster with insane budgets, epic fight scenes and masses of visual effects, go for a true big-screen tale of good overcoming evil.
At times more Lester than Donner this is a well-told tale of good vs evil. There are some sidetracks that choose to tell rather than show, but this is still an enjoyable and mould-breaking flick. Holding well-captured action and most of all a character of hope powered by a united force, led by the passion of Jenkins and Gadot.