Wonder Woman 1984: An Insomniac Review

FINALLY!!! After the last few weeks, it was a miracle getting both this and the video review out to y’all. Although my video review has been available for the better part of a month on YouTube, I decided to exhale another breath into this movie as it departed from the HBO Max streaming platform. That and I got the opportunity to watch, rewind and fast forward more of WW84 as well as take notes. Unlike the my video reaction, I was able to not only process Patty Jenkins’ creation but appreciate it a little more.

I will start off saying I’m a huge fan of Wonder Woman, always have been. So I honestly still enjoyed this movie upon my first viewing. Watching it again only solidified it. All of the reviews were so harsh and some even a tad unfair and others, not so much. So now that I am able to put my biases aside, this second review is much more impartial than previously. Was it perfect? No but it still did not fail to entertain.

DC fans were rewarded what was supposed to be one awesome Christmas gift. After many reshoots and postponements, we finally got the chance to lay eyes on the Wonder Woman sequel. Returning to the director’s chair is Patty Jenkins. It stars Gal Gadot as the titular character and Chris Pine returning as Steve Trevor. WW84 also introduces Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal as Cheetah and Max Lorde respectfully. Warner bros decided to release the film to the big and not so big screen for the 2020 holiday season with it’s hybrid release to theaters and the aforementioned HBO Max. After its reception amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it set the precedence for future movies.

Be forewarned this review contains massive spoilers so if you’re looking for an almost semi-spoiler free review check out my YouTube video review:

No worries, I placed warnings in my video so you can either put up with them, fast forward or come back to it out after checking out the movie.

I really had to think about my thoughts on this movie. As a fan of both Wonder Woman and the 80s decade of my childhood, I had high hopes and really enjoyed this movie for the most part. Given the fiasco we were given with The Justice League because of studio interference and director changes when Zach Snyder suffered the terrible loss of a child and them, acclaimed direct Joss Whedon stepped in. But since Jenkins gave us the amazing cinematic art that was Wonder Woman back in 2017, it improved on many issues plaguing the DCEU as it struggled to catch up with the MCU. However this go-round, she was given complete creative control and I was more than hyped.

That being said I had some thoughts…

Ok I’m gonna get to the point… but I want to highlight my positive points first.

I’m gonna start with Gal Gadot, as I mentioned in my video… she is Wonder Woman. Period. Outside of Lynda Carter, she will be forever be this character. (sorry Adrianne Palicki).

This movie is for about 75% of it, a visual love letter and fan service to those of us who loved not just Princess Dianna but classic hero flicks such as Richard Donner’s Superman. As I mentioned in the video, I felt exactly the same amount of nostalgia I felt during season 1 of Stranger Things, the remake of Stephen King’s IT: Chapter 1 and season 9 of American Horror Story, which ironically takes place the same year, 1984. However WW84 captured more of the bright lights and of course, shoulder pads without the gore. Everything Patty Jenkins captured was as I remember in my childhood. It didn’t feel like a modern movie that regurgitated a bunch of 80s crap like Captain Marvel, which took place in the 90s but didn’t really capture the 90s. But where Captain Marvel succeeds, WW84 fails in its pacing. The storyline feels really stretched out at times and where it needs it most, it leaves questions unanswered. It’s like when a teacher tells you to write a 1000 word paper so you add a bunch of words to fill it out instead of researching and making valid points while siting your work. Don’t get me wrong, the movie fills it runtime well but a lot of scenes could have been deleted and others scenes didn’t fare well with me at first. Even though this flick had some emotional scenes, I didn’t have the same thrills/chills I had when Wonder Woman saved Batman in BvS: Dawn of Justice or where she walked through in No Man’s Land in its predecessor.

And then I gave it another look over.

It wasn’t until I watched a second time that I was able to focus on all that was going on with a clearer view. Even though I had attached myself to the characters and moments in the movie more, I still had some minor complaints.

The pacing of this movie to me is wasn’t the only thing weakened but then you had moments of shoddy CGI, especially in the big boss fight with Cheetah toward the end, who we were misled to believe was the main villain but actually wasn’t. Another scene I didn’t care for was the during the car chase scene where Wonder Woman runs. It felt like I was watching a CW/DC show or a Marx Brothers flick not a blockbuster major film in the 21st century with her legs and pace not matching with anything else…(yes I know it was meant to showcase her speed).

Yet it was in those scenes that I saw that this version of Wonder Woman who was more confident in her powers and herself even when she realizes her powers are waning as a consequence of wishing Steve back to life.

Yet still I have to comment that when Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah does this in another scene however, where she’s running, it feels more natural & believable… especially since the animal for which she is inspired is like the fastest animal ever.

Other things, which I mentioned in my video was the character arc and the motivations behind Barbara Minerva/Cheetah. Why is it every comic book movie where a weak ass person gets powers, they feel the need to become evil? I understand she lost her humanity as a result of wishing for more power but I felt like this cheapened her relationship with Wonder Woman. Yet it is actually seen that after making a wish to be like Diana, she goes from idolizing her to envying her. That somehow slightly forgives the lack of dynamic.

Speaking of wishes, our main villain, Max Lorde is the real baddie. He is set on power! That’s it, just more power! I mean first he sets off to bring back to life his failing company and before you know it, he’s taking over the world until he sets off to pretty much destroy it. This transition is actually portrayed with fine acting. He not only struggles to prove he’s not some two-bit, shiesty businessman but a father who wants to support his son who in turn he’s actually ignoring in the process of doing so.

Although, I love Pedro Pascal’s portrayal of Max Lord, I felt that with the current climate of in politics… it was a bit much especially with what the country went through these last few years. That being sad, Max as a villain was a different breed and someone I ended up liking more than I thought I would.

He wasn’t a classic, cliché good guy turned bad or bad guy who got “badder”. He was an everyday guy simply who sought out more power, which was portrayed by his huge ambition. Pascal plays the hell out of the creeper from his smile to his mannerisms. He inspires and, annoys you yet makes you pity him too. Even his commercial in the beginning he fakes how “you can have it all,” a façade realize when we discover when we see his company is in shambles. He later spurts out to a larger degree toward the third act. Although despite all of his claims about having power, he has nothing and for the most part is a bit of a fraud and failure. But underneath it all you can tell he really loves his son and just wants his kid to be proud shown in a few moments in the movie and it is through this he makes you sympathize with his struggle.

Early on, I noticed that a lot of the men in this movie were depicted in a certain light as well.

While I’m all for giving a middle finger to the patriarchy, this film pushed it to the limit. No worries it’s not extra like *cough* 2019’s Black Christmas. For example, Max’s dad was physically abusive yet he’s not to his son. The Egyptians are kinda living in the stone age with rich barons being well “rich barons”. I know that this flick kind of touched on a few nerves especially since actress Gal Gadot is an Israeli native who tries to speak Arabic as if fluent and saves some poor Muslim kids in the playing on a road. Though to us American citizens, she was doing her duty but to those across seas, I can see how the film touches a sensitive spot. But what else is new in Hollywood.

Our other villain, Cheetah aka Barbara Minerva played by Kristen Wiig is more complex individual. Even if those complexities are vaguely shown.

She doesn’t have the pizzazz that Max Lord has. In fact she is a nervous, shy, nerd type who’s completely ignored by colleagues and an almost cliché character that we see in these types of movies… complete with unattractive clothes and glasses. That doesn’t mean Wiig doesn’t do a great job because she really does. She gives us a superb performance. Back in the 80s, movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Karate Kid displayed unpopular kids in the same light. Except Minerva doesn’t get to show her redemption in a Cinderella story. Her sweet qualities and humanity as and well as effortless ability to be an extrovert are something Diana struggles with since she actually hasn’t gotten over losing her love, Steve Trevor. But the film tends to overshadow this as it pushes her from victim to villain quickly. And I know it’s because she’s lost her humanity but her evil ways aren’t valid for me and the worst part, their showdown was a let down mostly because of the poor, visual effects.

It’s a shame because again she’s actually really good in this film.

Then there’s Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s love interest in the previous film.

He comes back after she wishes it after touches a mystical rock. The same rock that Barbara Minerva wishes to be like Diana unaware that it’ll come at a great cost. Although the rock does mystical and great things with wishes, it doesn’t actually bring him back to life. For example, it can’t undo everyone’s memory of said wishes or the consequences of such except halting a possible nuclear attack aimed at the US. This reminds me of the continuity that has often plagued DC comics and the DCEU. Crazy thing is that despite having poor digital effects and much smaller budget, the CW has made better use of connecting story lines amongst multiple character shows even if it changes a few original comic book storylines.

Although I didn’t feel the same exact thrill from the first, there are some really great sequences in this film. The acting is what hold this film together. From the opening scene in Themyscira to the mall scene to the chase scene to the invisible jet scene, the acting is good even if you get lost in the pace of the plot. You feel Diana’s love lost and inability to connect with humans who age much faster than she can as well as the villains’ need to be something more.

I like the dynamic between Steve and Diana the most because unlike the first film where Wonder Woman is a fish out of water now in the world of man, we see that it’s now Steve, her former guide who is the uncertain one in the future that is 1984.

Back to these wishes and this magic rock found after Wonder Woman foils a robbery heist.

Now while all other people have one simple wish, Max Lord wishes to become the stone itself, meaning everyone has to touch him to grant their wishes instead. This ultimately makes him invincible although it first takes a huge physical toll on him.

Long story short, more wishes are granted, giving Max more power and money. Despite the country and eventually world going to complete and utter shit. And by the movie’s end… BOOM… All the wishes are rescinded and everything kinda goes back to normal… Almost…

Steve goes back to the hereafter once Wonder Woman gives up her wish for him to be alive. And the dude he possessed wakes up not knowing what happened to his life during so. I mean dude had to have had a job or life with people wondering where he’d been the whole time Steve possessed his body. Shit Diana actually slept with this guy technically without his consent. Although to everyone else he still looks like the handsome man as he’s credited, all Diana sees is Steve. She’s so hung up on the first love of her life, that things like this are ignored. This later is why the scene Steve makes peace with the fact he no longer belongs in the land of the living.

All in all, Party Jenkins still did an ok job. I was pleased that she wasn’t bullied by studio execs but I wish more effort would have went into plot holes and graphics. It reminded me of Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, where the creators tried to appease everyone in turn for just telling the dam story. Yet all that aside, this film still has emotion and heart. The comedic light-hearted parts are nice and I really loved the chemistry of the characters as well as the acting.

The best part honestly is Wonder Woman’s growth from finding her powers in part 1 to her saving the day with ease despite losing her powers as a consequence of wishing Steve back. This age old formula works here and it is in that I enjoyed it.

My vote:

It’s kinda awesome!

After a few re-watches… I give it 3 and a half thumbs up out 5!

Until Next time kiddies,

Be Awesome, Be You, But Above All Else… Love Yourself

Shalom

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