Wonder Woman 1984 is probably the most disappointing superhero film in recent memory. After wondering whether it would be released this year, the film arrived this past Christmas to a divided reception. Wonder Woman 1984 falls short due to its script that spends too much time on the wrong topics. Still, the film isn’t aggressively bad it just squanders its potential in favor of a hollow spectacle.
Wonder Woman 1984 is visually pleasing, the performances are great, and Hans Zimmerman has crafted another terrific score. Despite that, Diana Prince’s return manages to miss the mark on more than one occasion. The anticipated successor to the hit 2017 film probably should have had a few more rewrites along the way. Directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, the film stars Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, and Connie Nielsen. Set in the 1980s, Wonder Woman (Gadot) must fight off two new foes, The Cheetah (Wiig) and Max Lord (Pascal) all while dealing with the return of her former love. The film starts very promising but then makes the mistake of introducing subplots only for them to amount to almost nothing in the end.
Jenkins co-wrote the script alongside Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham, and most of the film feels like they were never on the same page. For instance, the opening sequence showcases a young Diana (Gadot) in a competition where she gains an unfair advantage. This theme of cheating is revisited in a very lukewarm manner through Steve Trevor’s (Pine) return. Over the last several decades, Steve died, but Diana has held onto her love for him ever since. She jumps at the shot of resurrecting him, which is an issue in itself that many will question after watching. The script focuses too much on Diana and her inability to let go of Steve, and this takes away from developing Barbara Minerva (Wiig), who eventually becomes Cheetah.
Barbara is introduced as the typical underappreciated staff member who will make her peers regret their past behavior towards her. Her arc is intriguing, and her development is cut short for focus on a dead man. Barbara wants to be just like Diana, strong, confident, and meaningful. The writers do a great job making her a sympathetic character, but then viewers are beaten down by the never-ending love story between Diana and Steve. The significance of the opening scene vanishes due to the way it’s connected to Diana’s present predicament. The introduction of the Dreamstone creates more narrative issues that the writers just can’t escape. Wonder Woman 1984’s narrative about a magical stone granting wishes is unimpressive overall. The film does an adequate job laying out that everyone wants something from this stone, but this plot device creates glaring logic issues as the film progresses into insanity.
As mentioned, the performances are fine and everyone is doing their best with this subpar script. Pascal is wonderful as Max Lord, the film’s primary villain who eats up every scene. His descent into madness is exciting to watch, and Pascal delivers a powerful performance from start to finish. Gadot impresses once again as the titular character, but her stardom doesn’t outshine Pascal. She is far less interesting here compared to her two foes, and Wiig is amazing as Barbara. Her ability to transition from the shy outcast to the dominant foe is great, and it’s a shame her character isn’t focused on as much as this dead romance.
Jenkins delivers an emotional ride, yet the pacing was kind of stagnant after a certain point in the film. Wonder Woman 1984 is exciting for the first half, but then it slows down for what felt like forever. Most of the action sequences are pretty bad as well, but despite that and its lackluster script, she manages to deliver an engaging film. Zimmerman’s score is an emotionally draining experience, especially during the final moments. The energy behind this score is on another level, but that’s to be expected at this point when dealing with Zimmerman. If the characters fail to keep audiences interested, then Wonder Woman 1984 will keep viewers watching and listening due to its score, which is the film’s strongest component.
Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t completely sink thanks to certain aspects mentioned above, but this script holds it back too often. Its central conflict surrounding this Dreamstone becomes problematic, and the lack of development for certain characters in favor of romance is astoundingly frustrating. This divided reception is warranted, and hopefully, it is enough to spark a better sequel in the future.