More than a year after its initial release date and several delays associated with coronavirus later, Wonder Woman 1984 is here. And the delays didn’t affect the blockbuster at all. Actor Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins‘ second solo DC Extended Universe film is a treat.
In Wonder Woman 1984, Gal Gadot’s had a tough way to get to theaters. It was originally postponed from November 2019 to June 2020 and then struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing it to be delayed several times. Warner Bros. recently agreed to give the film a streaming release for those who can’t watch in theaters and screened it for selected members of the press about a week ago. I was one of the lucky few to have seen the film, and while I’ve had a nice time, I think it definitely has some issues.
Wonder Woman 1984 tells us that Diana Prince is without Steve Trevor and the Justice League. She works at the Smithsonian Museum, heading a team that curates artifacts while secretly battling crime. When Smithsonian gets a new shipment that features a stone that gives wishes, Diana Prince wants to bring back Steve Trevor from Chris Pine and Barbara Minerva from Kristen Wiig wants to be more like Diana, leading us on a very weird adventure involving Maxwell Lord from Pedro Pascal. As the story progresses, things get a little shaky, and sacrifices have to be made for the greater good, and that sacrifice is the plot and the results.
But once the action ramps up, cracks begin to show under the weight of a huge film. In certain ways, the film is turned into a largely empty output from saying something real of human nature or American life. The great celestial drama is so narratively unmanageable that the excellent work that has been carried out before this super-powerful tale becomes a little undone. (Even though we all know who the president was in 1984 and how he is aligned so strongly with the capitalist ethos this film challenges, the unnamed POTUS presence was especially jarring.)
A lot of the consequences are hockey. Some are very humiliating (as if Wonder Woman interrupts a well-choreographed desert hunt to rescue two children in the way of harm). And the major final is a bust, as the villain hijacks the Reagan-esque President’s global broadcasting technology to convey everyone’s wishes, and Jenkins is trying to cram the idea into a few hasty minutes of screen time.
There are occasions when Wonder Woman 1984, manages to be cheerful and really lean into the colorfulness of its 1980s setting, but even here the film is fragmented and at times shockingly limp. Early on, there’s a set piece in a mall where Diana foils some thieves, and there’s nothing especially thrilling about it. Wonder Woman uses her lasso to swing around like Spider-Man, and since Wonder Woman is essentially “in hiding” (the DCEU has developed a situation where the world isn’t supposed to know about Diana) there’s not much the film can do about her being out in the open, so you get some sort of middling scenes where Diana is either trying to stop a convoy or battling with Barbara.
Wonder Woman 1984 Conclusion
What is most apparent in Wonder Woman 1984 is that Patty Jenkins genuinely understands the strength of the imagery she’s committed to the screen: what it means to see a little girl as an action hero; the resonance of a power-hungry businessman who broadcasts on White House comms; the majesty of Diana rising to the heavens in search of transforming the world for the better. These moments are so strong that they already feel like they have a presence beyond the screen. Wonder Woman 1984 not only delivers the blockbuster thrills that 2020 has been missing more exciting is the feeling that leaves you: the expectation that we too, will drive ourselves into a brighter future.
Offers candy-colored imagery and unwavering optimism
The final is overwhelmed, itsstakes overdrawn - though madly