Thursday, 17 December 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 (Movie Review)

It's funny to think that the last superhero movie released in theaters was Birds of Prey all the way back in February. At the start of the year, we had a good slate of tentpoles to look forward to. But then the pandemic happened and the countless release date changes and delays began. One of the films affected was of course the highly-anticipated DCEU sequel, Wonder Woman 1984.

The film had burned through its own share of release dates, before it was finally announced to be getting a simultaneous release on both HBO Max and theaters. But having been starved off big-budget superhero fare for the better part of the year, I was quite eager to see if Wonder Woman 1984 would be able to satisfy my craving for such. I'm pleased to report that the film not only meets those expectations, but in fact packs a few surprises worth experiencing on a big screen.

Set roughly 70 years after the events of the first movie, the film finds the exiled Amazonian princess (Gal Gadot) fully integrated into life in 1980s America. But when she is faced with a new threat in the form of two villains, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and The Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), she is forced to fallback on the teachings of her childhood as she goes toe to toe with the powerful pair.

The less said about the plot of Wonder Woman 1984 the better, as even the trailers for the movie had done their best to paint the movie's story with the broadest of strokes. All you need to know is that it contains all the elements of your standard superhero fare. A villain that desires to rule the world? Check. A hero that is forced to overcome both said villain and some personal demons along her journey? Yep. That's here too. A rousing score by Hans Zimmer that is sure to get your blood pumping? Present and accounted for. 

But where the movie excels is in the way all these elements come together to create something truly epic. The film does a decent job of capturing the spirit of its 1980s setting. This extends beyond the presence of 80s movie staples like colorful fashion, big hair and the music, to the way the film is shot and presented. It had that throwback look and feel that classic superhero films released during that decade tended to have, and as such, serves as a sort of homage to that era of superhero filmmaking.

The film was also never light on action, presenting several setpieces that helped shake things up between its more dramatic moments. None of it quite managed to reach the same heights of the No man's land crossing from the first movie, but they did manage to reach heights of their own. I especially loved seeing more of Themyscira during an extended flashback sequence at the start of the movie, and a part of me wished we had gotten more of that in the movie.

Another highlight is of course the villains. Rather than the typical one-dimensional villains we usually get in these types of movies, the movie boasts two fully fleshed out villains with a surprising amount of depth. And both Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal put in their best to help bring both characters to life. This is not to say that they were on the same level as top-tier DC villains like the Joker, and they did get to do their fair share of mustache twirling during the course of the movie.

One of my major gripes with the movie was its overall length, as well as its pacing during its opening acts. The film clocked in at two and a half hours, and not all of that runtime was well utilized in my opinion. It tended to drag in bits, and I would've personally preferred if they were able to tighten its pacing by shaving off an additional 10 to 15 minutes of the film. That said, the film never became a slog to watch, so there's that.

And for those people wondering if the movie has a mid or post credit scene, well, it does have one (unlike the first) and it is totally worth staying back to see, as it managed to put a smile on my face that was bigger than any I'd had while watching any of the past DCEU post credit scenes. This one was specially done for long-time fans of Wonder Woman like myself.

A part of me can't help but wonder (no pun intended) how moviegoing would have fared this past year had Wonder Woman 1984 swapped places with TENET. After all, the latter was accused of being confusing and joyless by the few who ventured outside their homes to see it, while the former is just the kind of crowd-pleasing event movie that moviegoers look forward to. I suspect that we wouldn't have had that much of a different outcome, but still, where was Wonder Woman when she was most needed?

Wonder Woman 1984 is the much-needed jolt in the arm that theaters have been deprived of for all these months. It does more than enough to ensure that fans of the DCEU and superhero movies would be pleased. And while I still consider the first movie the superior of the two, this one is very much a worthy follow-up in more ways than one.

33 comments:

  1. Good to know! I do plan on venturing out to the theaters to see it and might get HBO Max as well just to watch it again.

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    1. That sounds like a solid plan. I hope you enjoy it.

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  2. Still plan to catch it in theaters. Glad you enjoyed it.

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