Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) opens on Themyscira and it's nothing short of breathtaking. We are treated to a prologue in which young Diana (Lilly Aspell) makes a return and I for one could not be happier. This actress is a joy to watch.
Then, cut to Washington D.C. in 1984. Diana Prince is working at the Smithsonian museum and completing mundane crime-fighting jobs on the side. "Mundane?" you ask. Well, most things are mundane comparative to fighting a God. Specifically though, on this particular day, Wonder Woman is preventing a theft at the mall (#letsgotothemall). She rushes in and fights the baddies in front of hundreds of witnesses, but does not neglect to take out the security cameras (as you may have observed in the trailer). This scene stands in stark contrast to the prologue. The best description I have is "heightened". There's a hint of a Baz Luhrmann-esque quality in the facial expressions of the performers and in the events of the scene itself. I tend to believe that this is actually less inspired by Baz and more inspired by the comic book origins of the Wonder Woman franchise.
Being that this is an opening scene, and that it is (as we've already established) a mundane job, Wonder Woman is successful in apprehending said criminals. We then cross to a reporter at the scene, who actually says, something to the effect of, "Who exactly even stopped this crime?" Before outlining that what they do know is that it was a woman... I'm going to stop this review right here and cut to the chase. I really enjoy Wonder Woman and I really enjoy Wonder Woman 1984, but the inherent problem with 1984 is that there are a number of moments that require suspended disbelief. This is one of them. You may argue, that all superhero films require suspended disbelief, and that is true, but 1984 certainly asks for a little bit more. You can't tell me, that hundreds of witnesses, and four criminals, could not provide a more accurate description of Wonder Woman than "woman". Wouldn't you want to tell someone if you witnessed a person, dressed in red/blue/gold onesie armour, kicking butt and holding thieves aloft by the ankle? I don't think I could keep that to myself, even if the said vigilante shushed me. Be all of that as it may, these moments of suspended disbelief are not enough to make me dislike this film. In fact, I like it. I like it a lot.
Anyway, turns out these thieves were robbing a store of it's black-market-lets-store-these-out-the-back products. AND these products just happened to be artefacts, that are then acquired by the police and sent to the Smithsonian for follow up and identification. THEN it turns out that one of these items, is a sweet wishing rock. That is to say, a rock, inscribed with Latin text articulating that this rock will grant one wish to the holder. Now, I'll pause this review here, to say that at this moment in the movie I was suddenly filled with rage. You see, I watched the trailer in the lead up to this film and the main question that I was looking to answer was: How do they bring back Steve Trevor (Chris Pine)? Sadly, (and spoiler alert for Wonder Woman) unlike Steve Rogers, Steve Trevor died in an EXPLODING PLANE and did not have the foresight to freeze himself in the ice for many decades. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the wishing rock (which probably has a much cooler name that I cannot remember...I just Googled it, it's technically called the 'Rock of Wishes'...not as cool as I thought, after all), I was immediately filled with rage. "Do not," said I, "bring back the love interest with a wishing rock. That's cheating." However, in time I realised that the wishing rock is actually central to the entire plot of Wonder Woman 1984 and isn't used simply as a device to solve plot problems. Excellent.
Thematically, I'm sure you've guessed that Wonder Woman 1984 is a modern film addressing Aesop's moral to be careful what you wish for (otherwise you'll end up looking after a small herd of cows in the middle of Washington D.C.). This is outwardly the most obvious theme, along with the importance of telling the truth. However, Patty Jenkins also seems to subtly thread political commentary throughout her film. At the very beginning of the movie, in the mall fight scene, Diana says, "I hate guns". Then there's the fact that our central antagonist is a oil baron. Finally, one of the wishes that is granted in the film, results in a huge wall being built to keep a group of people out of an area of land, resulting in chaos. It's understated enough to miss, and It could be that all of these moments are coincidental, or it could be that Jenkins uses Wonder Woman 1984 to subtly convey a political standpoint. Of all the superhero films in which to convey such a stance, any Wonder Woman film seems an apt choice.
The biggest downside to this film, is the ending. I'm not actually going to say anything too spoiler-y. However, I will divulge that the interaction between Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and his son Alistair (Lucian Perez) is very corny. So, so corny. You will not believe how corny it is. I will also divulge that the way in which they are reunited after the climax, either requires more suspended disbelief...or I missed something very pivotal in the plot. Essentially, the ending of this film, took me right back to a little ol' classic from 1939: "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with". It's corny. And I'm sad to say it, but it did detract from the overall impact of the film for me.
Pictured: The ending of Wonder Woman 1984.
Wonder Woman 1984 is fun. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I enjoyed it. That's the bottom line. There are certainly moments of corniness and there are moments where you need to suspend your disbelief, but all in all, this is a decent sequel and it's worth a watch.