Wonder Woman 1984
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First of all, it’s really nice to see everyone again! The fantastic opening sequence in Themyscira, the Amazonian paradise that raised Wonder Woman, brings back Lilly Aspell, Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright — reprising their roles in the original film as a young Diana, Queen Hippolyta, and her sister General Antiope. We see Diana learn that “greatness doesn’t come from lies.” So, hold that thought.
The Diana we meet in 1984 is more world-weary, wiser, and savvier, but very lonely. Let’s face it: Long relationships aren’t really a thing when you’re immortal. You either outlive all your friends, or they start asking questions, or both. She may come off as strong, confident, and aloof to awkward co-worker Barbara Minerva, played by Kristn Wiig, but it’s just a way to keep her distance from other people so no one gets hurt.
But then, the mysterious “dreamstone” comes across Barbara’s desk, carrying an inscription claiming to grant wishes. Diana silently wishes that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who she still misses terribly, were alive. Barbara wishes to be like Diana. It’s just a worthless rock, right? What’s the harm?
Enter Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal, a desperate and cash-poor TV personality who promises everyone he can help them get-rich-quick. He’s been searching for the dreamstone for years, as the answer to all his problems, and that answer is one word: More. More money, more power, more love and attention. MORE. Again, what could possibly go wrong? We soon find out. As Diana, Barbara, and Max become more and more desperate to hold on to their wishes, the world literally crumbles around them.
Wonder Woman 1984 shines when it explores the motivations and humanity of each of these characters. Their wishes come from a desire to change their circumstances for the better, but they don’t understand the consequences. Max’s powers start to physically eat him from the inside out; Barbara becomes sexier and more confident, but loses her compassion and integrity; and Diana gets the love of her life back, but slowly loses her invulnerability. No one is really a villain here, though, which is an interesting take for a superhero movie, and one that keeps the body count to a minimum. Really, I’ve never seen so many people not die in a superhero movie.
Wonder Woman 1984 also works as a candy-colored period piece, hitting all the highlights of the 80s: The mall! Leg warmers! Aerobics! Parachute pants! It’s slightly cheesy, but in a Stranger Things kind of way. What can I say, I enjoyed the flashback to my childhood.
Kristin Wiig’s Dr. Minerva is my favorite performance. Self-conscious, awkward and clumsy, Minerva is in awe of the statuesque Diana and how she commands the attention of others. Barbara, on the other hand, is quickly forgotten by the boss who hired her only a few days before. There is a great scene, the night after she makes her wish, when she wakes up at her desk. Rather than going home to change, she takes off the frumpy skirt she was wearing over leggings (totally rockin’ that ’80s style), pulls down her hot pink sweater over them, and pops on her baby-blue heels, instantly transforming from a 5 to a 9 on the hotness scale. See, Barbara, the sexiness was within you the whole time!
Meanwhile, Chris Pine (my favorite Chris) is on board to provide some fan service. Diana has been pining over this guy through three movies now, so it’s about time we see if he holds up to the hype. And he does, more or less. He and Gadot still have great chemistry. Paralleling the first movie, he even gets his own fish-out-of-water scene, trying to find the perfect outfit to go out into the world. His wide-eyed wonderment at modern technology and fashion is cute, especially when he becomes overly attached to a fanny pack and a pair of Nikes.
But, admittedly, Steve Trevor is also part of the biggest problem that the movie has — explaining how this particular “magic rock” McGuffin works. Diana wishes for him and he appears…in the body of another man. Why this man? It’s never explained. Why doesn’t he just materialize as himself? Never explained. And Diana is a supernatural being herself, so you would think that game would recognize game, so to speak. At the very least, it’s creepy. At worst, there are some questionable consent issues. But either way, she’s disturbingly nonchalant about the whole thing. Is it a psychological side-effect of the dreamstone? Yet again, never explained. Max gets more wishes by granting wishes, which he just seems to have made up as a thing, since it certainly isn’t in the instructions. The rules of the dreamstone seem to be made up as the movie goes along. It’s a continuous head scratcher that brings the action screaming to a halt.
Ultimately, though, those issues don’t get in the way of the film’s great and timely message that no one is alone, and that most of us are feeling lost, unappreciated and powerless, just like everyone else. And of course, only by working together can we truly make the world a better place.
Wonder Woman 1984 has its issues, but it’s a funny, nostalgic and heartwarming escape, and the special-effects are terrific. The performances and the period theme do a good enough job of carrying the movie. The ultimate takeaway? We may feel all alone, but remember, we’re in this together.
There’s minimal sex and violence, so it’s fairly safe around kids. Girls especially will love it because all the women are smart, beautiful, and kick much ass, even the crazed ones.
The running time is just over two and a half hours, which is definitely too long by at least 20 minutes, but that’s the DC Universe for you. Stay for the post-credit scene, though; it’s worth it.