WW84 spoiler-filled review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

It’s the first Warner Bros. film to get a dual release in theaters and on HBO Maxx–Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to the smash hit Wonder Woman in 2017. After months of quarantine and release delays, fans finally have been able to see their favorite heroine in action in their homes or in their nearby sanitized theater. A lot of my thoughts on the film do go into spoiler territory, so be warned if you have not seen the film yet.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The movie takes place mostly in 1984, where Diana (Gal Gadot) continues to fight crime while also keeping a low profile. However, living in the 80s isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be as she still misses her love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who’d given his life years earlier. She eventually comes across Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) who comes into possession of a wishing stone that makes anyone’s dreams come true. Barabara wishes to become like Diana and, as a result, becomes stronger like the demigod, and eventually takes on the persona of Cheetah. Diana unknowingly wishes for Steve to come back to life. Her wish comes true with Steve taking the place of another man in the present. If that isn’t bizarre enough, a charismatic tycoon named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) is also after the Dream stone to make his dreams of fame and fortune become reality. It’s now up to Diana and Steve to face off against these new foes and stop the world from falling into chaos. 

To sum up my thoughts on this movie, it’s barely average. Which is not to say that it’s awful. It’s just that this film feels bonkers most of the time. There were so many times where the viewer may scratch their head with the choices this film makes.

My first issue with the movie resides in the tone. During the first third of this film, with the exception of the opening, it feels like a Richard Donner Superman meets Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie. There are a lot of zany moments where the characters look and act like live action cartoons. The first film had a lot of outlandish elements, too, but it still grounded itself in its mature setting and stuck with it all the way through. This film repeatedly goes back and forth between thriller epic to goofy antics so much that it feels comical. Viewers can understand the tonal shifts as it is a comic book film and the 80s was a more lighthearted time period than WWI, it’s just strange how every character with the exception of Diana has this odd feel about them. 

With that said, while there are issues with the film, there are still some strong elements to be found here. As expected, all of the actors do fantastic jobs in their roles. Gal Gadot once again shines as Wonder Woman. Her charm and skills easily make her one of the best characters in this series, and in the DCEU (D.C. Extended Universe). Unfortunately, the lack of Wonder Woman action throughout the film was a little disappointing. Diana is not in costume for a good portion of the movie. Which is not to say she’s hardly in it as she has tons of great scenes. She’s only active as Wonder Woman during certain parts before being sidetracked by other plotlines. This is a shame because, when the action does get going, the scenes are great and impressive to witness. Some may just wish they weren’t too few and far in between. Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig are also fun to watch and do the best with what they’re given, but the actor who steals the show in my opinion is Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord. He is one of the few actors who sees this film as an outlandish 80s film and he goes all the way with it. He also manages to find that perfect balance of being both over the top cartoony and sincerely dramatic at the same time. 

While some of these characters’ plotlines were enjoyable, admittingly, they do tend to overcrowd one another. There are some subplots that could be trimmed down, while others could be expanded upon. This leads to the biggest issue of the movie — trying to establish numerous subplots at the same time. The film is edited in a way that doesn’t allow you to take in what you’re seeing, because it keeps going back and forth between people each with stories that take up a significant amount of the running time. Viewers understand that they want to develop these characters and their relationships, but when the film is throwing so much stuff at you, you can’t help but feel that certain scenes are rushed. There were certain moments in the film where something big happens and viewers might’ve couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by what was in front of them. People still understood the emotions of the characters and what the filmmakers were aiming for, it’s just that some of these scenes offer little room to breathe before moving on to the next subplot. Sometimes certain plot points become blurred and less coherent as the film continues. Like with what they do with Kristen Wiig as Cheetah. Even though her character starts out as something you’ve seen in multiple other films with a person who has nothing and is ignored suddenly becoming popular and mad with power, they still manage to make her interactions and relationships interesting. However, her storyline goes off the rails during the last third when they cover her in really bad CG and make her another generic villain for Wonder Woman to fight because they needed someone for her to physically fight in this movie. It feels like a lot of the ideas they’re bringing together have promise, though unfortunately a lot of them feel crammed in and end with diminishing returns.

It also doesn’t help that the logic behind the dreamstone and how it works doesn’t make a ton of sense. The Monkey’s Paw reference is easy to understand, but the way the stone works appears inconsistent. For example, the way they bring Steve back is very complicated in that they have him possess the body of some random handsome guy. I know they needed a way to bring this character back but throughout the film, I was asking myself who is this guy? Does he have a family that’s worried about him? Why does Steve need to take someone else’s place when you have wishes that can make anything appear or disappear out of nowhere. I know I shouldn’t read too much into this, but I can’t help it because the logic is this film goes back and forth constantly. This took me out of the story many times.

If you were to ask me who had the most interesting storyline, I would say Maxwell’s is probably the best. I think it’s because there is a lot of time dedicated to his character and relationships, which makes it all the more believable when you see him digress into a power obsessed madman. I also find it clever how he makes himself the dreamstone and uses people’s wishes for his own ends. When you think of what could be done with this stone, you think of all the possibilities they could do with it. While the way he uses the stone is unique, they go all over the place with this plot device. My gripe is that the logic behind it raises so many questions that it’s hard to get behind it. Theoretically, I can see this work with how it affects the characters and their storylines. Unfortunately, it gets pretty convoluted really fast, especially when they tie it into the moral of the film. To the film’s credit, it is a good moral, especially when you take into account current events and what people are going through. No pun intended, but I just wish that it was told more coherently and given more focus.

I feel bad because I really wanted to love this movie. I will admit that this film had good elements with its characters and ideas. I feel that if this film were to work it needed at least one more rewrite where they drop one of the villains for a later film and better establish its elements. It didn’t ruin my love for DC, but it could have been handled a lot better than it was presented. It’s not completely unwatchable, but you have to be really forgiving to get into it. If you’re looking for something fun to pass the time, this film is fine enough to sit through. But if you’re looking for something with a lot more focus and logic, then I’d wait to see what other films DC has coming up in the future.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 sails.


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