Comics Movie Reviews
Wonder Woman 1984
By Hervé St-Louis
December 27, 2020 - 16:49
Studios: Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, The Stone Quarry, Warner Bros.
Writer(s): Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Produced by: Wesley Coller
Running Time: 151 minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Distributors: Warner Bros., YouTube, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Microsoft, Cineplex
Following her involvement in WWI, Diana, princess of Themyscira has rebuilt her life in America as an anthropologist working for The Smithsonian Museum. There she encounters Dr. Barbara Minerva, an awkward scholar who has been tasked with helping the FBI in an investigation of a recent failed heist that was thwarted by Wonder Woman. Minerva and Diana discover that one of the stolen artefacts can grant people’s wishes but they are not alone in knowing of its existence. Business mogul Maxwell Lord is after the rock and has plans to give to everyone on Earth exactly what they wish for, even if it means the destruction of the entire civilization. Can Wonder Woman stop Maxwell Lord in time and relinquish her own dream of having Steve Trevor revived?
I was not sure about whether I would watch this film. I did not want to register to Canada’s Crave streaming service just to watch this one movie. Thankfully, in Canada, viewers can obtain Wonder Woman 1984 on several services such as YouTube/Google Play, Amazon Prime, Cineplex and more. The rental lasts two days, however, and retails for $30 CAD.
I was looking forward to this Wonder Woman film. The first one was important to me and gave me a lot of courage when I needed it. So, I was eagerly expecting this one too. I am not Wonder Woman’s biggest fan at all, but her message usually resonates with me. And this is the strength of Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman. She is regal and strong but very compassionate at the same time. This is what was seen here which makes the film a bit unusual in the comic book movie world.
Wonder Woman 1984 harkens back to a previous era of comic book superhero movies and borrows nothing from the formulaic Marvel Cinematic Universe. Set in 1984, this movie will remind you more of the original Superman film and its sequels from the 1980s. It is built on a premise of greatness and huge scales the type we do not see in current superhero flicks. There is a lot of scale in the Avengers and other marvel-related films but it is based on explosions, gigantic universes, not wonder and emotions. To explain my point better, 2018’s Aquaman borrowed from the MCU formula a lot in its depiction of Atlantis and adventure.
Wonder Woman 1984 unlike Aquaman, and the current MCU films is not based on adventure at all. There is little action in this film. At most, if compile, the action would comprise less than 15 minutes. Everything else is built on characters. And this where superhero movie fans may feel disconnected with the film. The action is secondary to everything and we see little of Diana in her Wonder Woman attire. What we do see was already previewed in the previews. Forget about the Cheetah. She is tinted blue in her entire sequence and not displayed much. It really seems like portraying anthropomorphic cats is very difficult. Furries’ fans beware. Your wet dream may not be possible even with the best visual effects. I need to mention that cheetahs in the wild, unlike what was stated in the film, are not apex predators. They often fall victims to lions, leopards, wild dogs, crocodiles, and hyenas.
Now Maxwell Lord is Maxwell Lord as I have always known him in the Justice League International comic series. Director patty Jenkins went for the shrewd and questionable businessman instead of the lethal government agent. Doing this, Maxwell Lord will come off as a criticism of Donald Trump and as sleazy. This is because, as established in the world of comics, many 1980s villains were modelled on Trump. That 35 years later, Maxwell Lord would come off as a Trump pastiche feels accidental to some extent, although Jenkins could have changed that. I was expecting an important confrontation between Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord. Readers familiar with the comic will understand that in the comics, Wonder Woman once snapped Lord’s neck to make him relinquish his control of Superman. This is the most important confrontation between the two. Watch the movie and see how Jenkins dealt with that. That’s why I consider Maxwell Lord to be a major Wonder Woman villain and I hope that the comics will reflect that in the future.
As for Steve Trevor, much of the humour and the story about him was about how he was a man out of place and time. This was not well-handled. For example, Trevor was impressed by subways. Subways existed as far back as 1863 in London, Paris (1900), and New York (1904). He would have been familiar with those.
The little action we saw was at time good but mostly, the visual effects were not good when it came to Cheetah. On the photography and colours sides, this was at another level with impressive colours. However, Wonder Woman’s lasso has become a weapon that transforms and does almost anything, like She-Ra’s sword. This is the ultimate 1980s cheesiness and part of the weaknesses of the film. The lasso would also reappear next to Diana’s waist even when she dropped it.
This movie is quite different from what I expected. It’s not an action film like the first. I still have faith in Wonder Woman as portrayed by Gadot and Jenkins but this film is not what I wanted to see. DC Comics and Warner Brothers can ill afford to release bad superhero films. Even Aquaman, their most successful movie thus far has been severely criticized by audiences and critics. We got a Richard Donner superhero film in 2020. While inspiration is an important factor for Wonder Woman, giving audience nothing but that by telling viewers it is a disservice. Inspiration is also about showing it.
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