Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Pretend I’ve been whipped with the lasso of truth, 3.5 readers, for this will be an honest review.

Some preliminary thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a movie theater quality movie that it was nice.
  2. I get why some reviews are calling it bad.
  3. It’s not as good as the first one…
  4. …but that is, largely in part, due to the fact that the first one was so good.

If we back up a few years, DC had totally botched its rollout of a DC Universe of movies that we hoped would rival what Marvel had done over the past decade. Instead, we got the horror show that was Batman vs. Superman and the Suicide Squad movie (I was the only one who liked it though even I admit it could have been better.)

In those days, we realized that DC wasn’t going for perfection, or anything near it. Instead, they were going for the quick cash grab, trying to rake in a big haul before the comic book movie bubble burst. (I’m not sure why they thought it would. If anything, there’s a hole to fill in the wake of the end of Marvel’s Avengers saga that DC could be stepping in to fill nicely had it taken its time to work on some good stories.)

At any rate, there was a lot of pressure on the first Wonder Woman film. BVS and SS were considered total failures and if WW had tanked, that would have been the end of DC movies for the foreseeable future.

Ahh, but then our favorite lasso wielding lady came in and stole the show, as well as our hearts. Her origin story, as an Amazon warrior princess who leaves the safety of her homeland to save the world from the destruction of World War I was quite harrowing indeed, and frankly, her presence saved the mediocre Justice League movie.

In DC’s defense, they had a bigger challenge. Marvel’s cast of characters were largely unknown to the movie going public, and so they were able to roll out each character with an origin story of their own, followed by flicks that tied the heroes together.

Meanwhile, we’ve already seen Baby Superman’s space capsule crash in Mr. and Mrs. Kent’s backyard 100 times on screen. We’ve seen Young Batman watch his parents get shot after a night at the theatre too many times too. We didn’t need any more origin stories for them and yet, we would have benefitted from stand alone adventures that introduced us to these versions of the well known characters.

Don’t even get me started on the drek that was Birds of Prey. DC should just pay to have all the copies recalled.

Thus, it’s hard for me to knock Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is beautiful and charming and overall, this character and Gadot’s portrayal pulled DC’s bacon out of the fire. WW is now carrying the whole DC universe on her back and its sad, because if they’d put more thought into creating a cohesive cinematic world, then it would never have had to be that way.

Back to this movie.

We want it all and we want it now. We’ve felt that way for quite some time and the 1980s is arguably the decade where that sentiment began. Get rich. Get famous. Get this. Get that. Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie and give it to me today, not tommorrow.

This is evident from the opening said, where WW saves numerous citizens from, well…their own self-obsession. Idiots impressed with their fast car don’t noticed a jogger. A groom holds up his bride too close to a railing over a steep drop to get the best photo while dopey teenagers run from a store with their shoplifted goods. A pack of imbecile crooks who’d rather cause mayhem in a shopping mall than get caught and do the time attached to their crime. There’s an ongoing theme – everyone is obsessed with their own personal gain and only Wonder Woman can save them from…themselves.

Enter villain Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal aka Mando), a typical 1980s self-help type guru who promises his fans big riches if they buy into his BS. We quickly learn is schtick is but a mere pawnsi scheme, but when he gets his hands on a wishing stone that has wreaked havoc on past civilizations, he gets it all, but to a disastrous effect.

You see, 3.5 readers, at the start of the film, a young WW learns the hard way, back on Amazon Island (whatever it’s called) that nothing good in life is free and if we want something, we must put in the time and the effort. We must slug our way through to the end and drag our weary butts across the finish line. We can’t do things half-assed. We can’t take shortcuts. We can’t cheat our way to success and expect to grab a long lasting success that actually matters.

Referring to “The Monkey’s Paw Effect” (which assumes viewers have read the Monkey’s Paw or seen one of its many TV parodies), WW and company learn that wishing upon the stone comes with a terrible cost. When something is given, something else is taken away. In the Monkey’s Paw tale, an elderly couple wishes on a simian hand. They get, but they also lose…big time.

In reality, magical comeuppances are rare, but to cheat usually brings shame upon yourself. It damages your reputation. Makes people less inclined to trust you. To want to work with you. Ultimately, any ill gotten gain isn’t worth it. You would have been better off slugging away in the trenches of your profession, building yourself up than say, sleeping with your boss to get ahead, or slandering a rival or engaging in corporate espionage or what have you.

Comeuppances in exchange for wishes are bigger and bolder in this film, and that’s where it starts to fall apart. You see, Lord wishes to become the wishing stone, the granter of wishes, and thus, when he grants a wish, he decides what he wants to take from the wisher, and does so in order to fill his needs. Wishes beget more wishes, comeuppances beget more comeuppances, somehow this all escalates into global turmoil as world leaders enter the fray, wishing for madness and getting madness in return.

Ultimately, the movie is more of a lecture on the dangers of consumerism and the need to walk the straight path. If you want to be X, you need to get in line, wait your turn, and check off all the boxes that come with becoming X. Great lesson but, you know, we’d all prefer to see less lecturing and more of WW beating dudes senseless with her whip.

It was cool to see comedienne Kristin Wiig get her day in the sun. She’s that underdog you root for. Talented. Funny. Got to shine in Bridesmaids and then was never given another major vehicle until now. My main complaint is that she is WW’s nemesis, Cheetah, yet we see very little of Cheetah.

STAUS: Shelf-worthy. Overall, it’s a good movie and if you miss the theater experience as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this. It doesn’t beat the first, though it’s rare for a sequel to do so. Wonder Woman continues to be the best that DC/Warner Bros have to offer and if recent forays like Birds of Prey are any indication, poor Ms. Prince will be carrying the DC universe on her back for years to come…so if she wasn’t all you hoped and dreamed for this time around that a) you missed the movie’s point and b) give her a break. She’s doing a lot of work.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

  1. Chel Owens says:

    Well, you’ve at least convinced me to watch the first one. 🙂

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