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'Wonder Woman 1984' is a wondrous film

  WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR 'WONDER WOMAN 1984' After many delays, Warner Brothers released Wonder Woman 1984.  Originally scheduled for a December 2019 release, it was moved up to November 2019 before being pushed back to June 2020. Once the pandemic hit, the film was bumped to August 14, then moved yet again to October 2 until it finally was released on December 25. What makes this release interesting is that not only is the movie being shown in theaters, but it’s available for streaming on HBO Max at the same time.   Although the original Wonder Woman was praised by critics and audiences alike, the film was a disappointment. Gal Gadot did a great job bringing a heroic and likable side to the character, but she struggled to carry out some of the emotional scenes of the film. The villain Ares was a weak and uninteresting character, and the film overall was slow. Wonder Woman 1984 follows Diana living a quiet life in the 80s working as a curator for ancient artifacts. She comes across a mysterious stone that grants people wishes, leading villainous character Maxwell Lord wanting to consume its power.

A new decade

Image from Syfy Wire
Wonder Woman 1984 improves upon the original in many ways, including Gadot’s performance. Gadot brought an emotional side to Diana that was absent in previous films while maintaining the strong and likable side she brought in previous films. Wonder Woman got an updated costume that better represents the comics. The original costume was darker and duller, while this one was much brighter.  The sequel also improves by having a better villain over the original. Lord was an interesting villain for a comic book film, as he lacked being a physical threat, but rather causes Diana to suffer emotionally. His arc involves Trevor, leading Diana having to make tough choices. The movie spends enough time with him, allowing us to understand his motivations and thereby making audiences want him to do better, rather than seeing him get taken down by Wonder Woman. Without getting into spoilers, his character poses a threat to Diana as his actions cause a strain in her relationship with Steve Trevor, who is brought back from the dead for this film. Similar to Diana, Lord’s character has an emotional aspect that actually works, unlike other superhero villains. The film is filled with great action sequences. The scenes are well-choreographed and utilize Wonder Woman’s powers well, such as the car chase scene that’s shown in the trailers. There’s also an opening fight scene in a mall that has many nice moments. Fans of the comics will likely enjoy the references to the comics, including the invisible jet. In the climax of the film, Wonder Woman dawns a new costume, one that looks like the one she wears in the graphic novel, Kingdom Come. These references never felt forced as the plot sets up these elements well. The plot revolving around a magic stone could also come off as strange, but the movie is able to bring emotional weight to the plot so it never comes off cheesy.  A magic rock shouldn’t be seen as strange in a film that includes a magic lasso forcing people to tell the truth.

The 80s were a strange time

Image from Gadgets 360
Almost all of the issues of the film revolve around the character Barbara. The character turns into the villain Cheetah, but the transformation into the supervillain was rough. Throughout the three acts of the film, Barbara goes through drastic changes without a great set up. The character feels similar to other villains, such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Electro and Batman Forever’s Riddler. The portrayal of the characters didn’t work in those films, and it doesn’t work in this one either. Her motivation isn’t as strong as Diana’s or Lord’s and is hardly developed. Her character simply felt like she was only included in the film to be a physical threat to Diana since Lord lacked in that area. If you remove her character from the movie, it wouldn’t have affected the plot at all, it would have left a big CGI final battle.  Oddly enough, once Barbara transforms into Cheetah, the CGI is bad. The scene takes place at night and felt like it was done intentionally to try to hide the poor graphics. Since the character is set up poorly, the final battle between Cheetah and Wonder Woman feels hollow since there isn’t any emotional weight. It truly felt like the filmmakers thought a superhero film couldn’t work without a final battle, so they threw this together. It would have been nice to have had a more subtle ending, with all the conflict strictly emotional between Diana and Lord. With every other superhero movie filled with over-the-top battles, such as Spider-Man Far From Home, Aquaman, and Shazam, a more subdued ending would have made this film stand out from all others. The film is more than two and a half hours long, so cutting out the Cheetah fight scene would have allowed for a tighter, faster-moving movie.
Sources: Rotten Tomatoes, Variety, Deadline Featured Image: IMDb Images: Syfy Wire, Gadgets 360