by Sam Acosta
[Editor’s Note: The following review contains minor spoilers]
“Wonder Woman 1984” is a film that entertained me throughout its duration but left me missing its predecessor. Despite the bright atmosphere and vibrancy that comes with the ‘80s setting, the film pales in comparison to its predecessor. While it lacks any glaring flaws and kept me engaged, there were many points throughout the movie where I wish there had been just a bit more substance.
In terms of performances, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, and Kristen Wiig give it their all, and I enjoyed watching each of them in their respective roles. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is once again instantly charming, making it one of the highlights of the movie. I absolutely adored watching Pine clumsily adapt to ‘80s technology and fashion. Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig both play their villainous roles well, though I feel Pascal gets a more multi-dimensional character to work with, while Wiig is forced into a very clichéd outcast-turned-villain role.
The CGI throughout the movie is generally lackluster, something I found disappointing. In a high-level, big-budget production such as this, the CGI should be of the highest quality, yet almost every major action set-piece is marked with blatantly obvious and, at times, off-putting CGI. The scenes where Wonder Woman is running at superspeed were undoubtedly the hardest to watch, feeling straight out of an early 2000’s movie. Overall, I expected more from a movie released in 2020.
Meanwhile, the action is good, but I was hoping for more in the final act. In my mind, the climactic fight between Cheetah and Wonder Woman should have been a clash of the titans, but instead, it feels more like a tedious game of cat and mouse. Most of the time, the two superpowered warriors are jumping around rather than battling, seemingly running down the time until the fight simply ends. After the kinetic action and visceral World War I context of the first film, this finale just isn’t as grand or thrilling. While it kept me engaged, I was left unsatisfied.
That said, the film’s plot is very intriguing and full of possibilities. The idea of a villain being able to grant wishes and using that ability to slowly amass power is inventive. Likewise, I thought the idea of Cheetah unexpectedly gaining her powers through her wishes had potential as well.
Yet each of these ideas ends up falling short of that potential. In the end, Cheetah loses her powers, yet the impact of that loss on her is never shown. Likewise, the fact that Maxwell Lord’s decision to give up his powers essentially reverses all the damage he’s done feels simplistic and unearned. I felt that there needed to be just a little more thought put into each of these plot points for them to resonate with me. I genuinely wanted to feel the emotions the film was so clearly trying to get me to feel, but it simply fell short of doing that.
Another thing that bothered me about this movie (something I couldn’t put my finger on it until long after I left the theater) was Diana’s character arc. At best, it’s shaky and uncompelling. She starts the film as a self-centered loner who doesn’t interact with any of her peers. This is essentially the opposite of who she was in the first movie. While I can understand that the death of Steve might have caused this extreme reclusiveness, such an explanation is never actually given in the film itself.
More than that, however, her arc lacks any real sense of urgency. The big threat of the film is her losing her powers because of her wish to bring Steve back. While we see her get some scrapes and bruises because of this, it never felt like a significant threat against her.
In my mind, this is the film’s biggest mistake. Diana’s losing her powers should have made me fear for her life. While I knew there was no chance that DC would kill off their most lucrative on-screen superhero currently, I should have felt more than passing curiosity for her struggle. I wish she had had to fight the villains while in her weakened state, showing that her heroism goes beyond her superpowers.
This is one of the first big blockbusters to come out since lockdown back in March. I was so happy to sit in a theater again to watch this film, and I wanted to love this movie. While it was entertaining, that is about all it was to me: simply entertaining. I admit that it is still worth a watch if you’re looking for a fun movie night. However, if you are looking for something that will give you the same sense of wonder that the first Wonder Woman did, you sadly won’t find that here.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max
Sam Acosta is a Sophomore Theatre Comprehensive Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper, and writing plays.