Blu-ray Review: Wonder Woman 1984
Written by: Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns & Dave Callaham
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks go to WB for the free review copy.
“The fate of the world is once more on the line, and only Wonder Woman can save it. This new chapter in the Wonder Woman story finds Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) living quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s—an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile, curating ancient artifacts and only performing her superheroic acts incognito. But now, Diana will have to step directly into the spotlight and muster all her wisdom, strength and courage in order to save mankind from a world of its own making.”
Contrary to the opinions of various folks whom I know, there’s actually a lot that I liked about Wonder Woman 1984. It may have fallen short of its 2017 predecessor, sure, but it remains an enjoyable action flick with much heart in my eyes. If Patty Jenkins has proved anything during her two tours with the Amazon Warrior, it’s that she intrinsically understands the character – and that’s one reason why I’m glad it took so long for the timeless icon to make it to the silver screen. Seriously, I think directors in previous eras likely would have missed the mark.
Undoubtedly, the romance involving Diana Prince and Steve Trevor is at the heart of the piece, not to mention being one of the highlights. As reunited lovers in a different time period, their experience does distinguish itself from their previous time together. It should also be noted that their role reversal is quite charming, with Diana now being forced to introduce Steve to the modern world. Suffice it to say, the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine remains strong.
Like I intimated, (most) of the action scenes won me over, specifically those taking place at the White House and on the open road. The latter was meant to be this sequel’s equivalent of “No Man’s Land” and, while it wasn’t quite the pivotal moment we saw on the World War I battlefield, I was rather dazzled.
Another positive I’d like to mention is that of what I found to be one of the best learning-to-fly sequences in a superhero movie. Not every iteration of Wonder Woman is able to fly, with Gal Gadot’s not acquiring that skill until this particular flick. The question had always been hanging out there, and it was quite cool to see her take to the skies without the aid of the Invisible Jet (which also puts in an appearance). In my view, this scene ranks up there with both Man of Steel and Iron Man when it comes to heroes taking flight for the first time.
As for the bonus features, I found myself highly satisfied. There’s a fair amount of content to digest, both informative and entertaining. My personal favorites probably had to be “The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding The Wonder” and “Scene Study: The Mall.” Both are self-explanatory, though I’d like to say the latter resonated with me because I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. And if you did as well, then there’s a very good chance you spent a chunk of your childhood at shopping malls when they were in their prime.
Make no mistake, this movie is far from perfect. In fact, the first half hour or so waste no time being evidence of that. Don’t get me wrong, the opening sequence on Themyscira was quite the spectacle, but you could have removed it from the movie and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Soon afterward, we flash forward to Diana kicking ass in the era of Reaganomics. Problem is, the action scenes during this portion of the film are so painfully campy in their execution that they rival the goofy slapstick seen in the intro to Superman III.
It’s actually kind of weird that I can enjoy a movie when I didn’t necessarily dig a certain plot device – the Dream Stone – or how its villains were portrayed, those being Max Lord and the Cheetah. For that reason, I’ll have to draw a parallel to Batman Forever later on in this review. With Geoff Johns being one of three writers credited as working on the screenplay, I expected a bit more, but this was indeed a collaborative process. The whole “wishing rock” thing just doesn’t play well with modern sensibilities, not to mention it was a cheap way to bring back Steve Trevor. And yes, I too was confounded by the moral implications of Wonder Woman knocking boots with a possessed guy, but that issue has already been addressed ad nauseam elsewhere.
But if I will beat a dead horse, I’d like to point out the absence of ’80s music. Infusing New Order’s “Blue Monday” in one of the trailers was a stroke of genius, and I expected the feature the follow suit. It most certainly didn’t. Ideally, the soundtrack could have rivaled the likes of American Psycho and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but it wasn’t meant to be. Hey, where’s the beef?
My analogy is as follows: If Wonder Woman (2017) is The Dark Knight, then Wonder Woman 1984 is Batman Forever. By that, I mean it’s not a terrible movie; it’s enjoyable but flawed. Because of that, I recommend the Blu-ray for diehard fans, while other lovers of the genre and general moviegoers are best advised to rent before buying. Regardless, I look forward to the already announced third installment in the franchise.