'Wonder Woman 1984' movie review: An uncynical take

'Wonder Woman 1984' movie review: An uncynical take on heroism

The plot may not be its strongest suit but the characters and excellent use of its setting make the film a solid entry

Gal Gadot in 'Wonder Woman 1984'. Credit: Warner Bros/YouTube

Wonder Woman 1984

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig

Score: 4/5

The year 2020 has been a strange year. Studios have suffered the brunt of the closure of theatres, while OTT has flourished. Many films, though, are taking a hybrid approach, releasing in some territories on streaming, and in cinemas in the others.

This brings us to Wonder Woman 1984, the last film to hit the silver screen in this crazed-out world, and what a coincidence, because the film is also pretty crazed-out itself.

While the first Wonder Woman focuses on the superhero's adventures surrounding final days of World War I. The Amazon princess' other outings brought her to the modern world but a huge gap remained in between leaving viewers wondering what lay amd the two transitions.

As the title says, the film takes place in 1984, and this means the classic 80s aesthetics are on full display: Mohawks, baggy clothes, break dance and fancy cars, and the infamous oil glut. Hidden in the middle of this is Diana Prince, who's been diligently carrying out her heroics while suffering from a severe case of longing for Steve Trevor, who blew himself up to save the world in the first film.

Of course, no superhero is without a public identity, and Diana moonlights as an employee at the Smithsonian, where she befriends Barbara Minerva, a seemingly forgettable character, and comes across a strange stone that can grant one's deepest wish.

On the other hand, there is Maxwell Lord, a ponzi scheme-runner with style to match a well-seasoned businessman. He seems to mean well, predominantly based around the love for his son but is driven to madness and a relentless hunger for power.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a very different kind of film, when looked at from the lens of its predecessor. Diana, no longer a fish out of water, has more power and grace in the way she handles herself. However, she is not invulnerable to the pangs of a desire for companionship. Gal Gadot successfully personifies every aspect of the warrior goddess here, from the badass hero who swoops in to save the day to a person who just longs for love.

Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig also get their time to shine. Both possess similar qualities in that they desire what they do not have in the same sense as Diana though their goals might be different and both pay a heavy price in the course of their journey. While Barbara goes from being an awkward-but-kind lady to a fearless, perhaps heartless beast, Maxwell goes from a well-meaning father to a tool of greed and madness, bent on capturing everything in the world. It's a mania driven by a justified, profound sense of non-belonging though his actions themselves can never be justified.

Patty Jenkins gets full points for her use of the 1980s setting, in both the vibrancy on the streets and the gloom in the global geopolitical scale. She has the humour set just right, particularly in the spectacular reversal of the fish-out-of-water situation with Steve Trevor, and the action scenes are brought to life with the finesse of a truly seasoned director who knows their characters inside out. Chris Pine is clearly enjoying being the generally clueless man here and it shows in his actions and his words.

There is also the question of the regular sexual harassment and catcalling Diana and Barbara face, which is addressed in a particularly forceful manner, often involving kicks and punches as much as quietly ignoring the harassers.

The plot comes does come off a little too simple and it takes the entirety of the first half of the film to pick up pace. The stone in question is treated as sort of a MacGuffin as opposed to a serious threat, much like Ares in the first film, though fortunately, the better parts of the film manage to turn what would be a major detriment into a slight inconvenience.

Covered in the veil of all the action in Wonder Woman 1984 lies a message, in that there is a truth that is absolute to each individual, one that must be accepted if people are to see the things that truly matter, no matter the cost they have to pay. It's a pure take on the concept of hope, free of any cynycism that would otherwise stymie the efforts of both everyone involved in the film, and the subject of it. Wonder Woman 1984 is a worthy sequel, which finally puts the Wonder in Wonder Woman.