Movies & TV

The Good and Bad of Wonder Woman 1984

February 12, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Wonder Woman 1984 Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Good and Bad of Wonder Woman 1984


Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to the mega successful 2017 DC superhero movie, once again teams up star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins for a story where Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman deals with an ancient artifact that, when used, grants people wishes. When it’s just an ancient artifact it does, in a sense, minimal damage, but when the rich but struggling sort of businessman and motivational speaker type guy named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) gets involved, Lord actually becomes the wish making artifact and practically destroys the world in the process. A nerdy museum worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) also gets wrapped up in the whole “wish artifact” thing and, after using it, becomes a different woman and, eventually, a super villain named Cheetah.

The sequel was originally set to open in late 2019, was then moved to summer 2020, and then went into a kind of “release date limbo” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Warner Bros eventually decided to release the movie in movie theaters (that were allowed to be open) and on the HBO Max streaming service starting Christmas Day (the movie had a different release schedule internationally). I eventually watched the movie on HBO Max in the middle of January (HBO Max had the movie for around a month. As I write this you can only see the movie in movie theatres. It will eventually have a Video On Demand and home video release but that won’t be for a few months).

Now, would I have liked to see Wonder Woman 1984 in a proper movie theatre? Yes. I’d imagine that the movie’s spectacle would have come off better. The sound experience also would have likely kicked ass. Even with better TV’s and sound systems and whatnot, watching a movie like Wonder Woman 1984 at home will never be the same as watching it in a movie theatre, on a gigantic screen. So, in that sense, the overall experience of Wonder Woman 1984 was always going to be diminished for me. I’m okay with that, though, considering the state of the world. I would like to see the movie on a big screen one day. I’m sure Warner Bros. will re-release it at some point for that very reason.

And so, without any further what have you, what’s good and what’s bad about Wonder Woman 1984?

Warning: This review contains spoilers!

The Good


Gal Gadot still kicks ass as Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman 1984 is the fourth time Gal Gadot has worn the bracelets and carried the golden lasso and all the rest of it as the badass female superhero Wonder Woman and she is, once again, terrific. Whether it’s a big deal action sequence or just standing around, Gadot makes playing Wonder Woman look effortless (it obviously isn’t). She is Wonder Woman. Gadot also makes Wonder Woman’s alter ego Diana Prince a sad, almost relatable person. She’s smart and gorgeous and good at her job at the Smithsonian but she’s missing something in her life. Minerva tries to be her friend, and while Gadot sort of does that, you know that it isn’t going to work out. She needs Steve to be fulfilled and Minerva isn’t Steve. At the same time, though, how the hell is Price going to be fulfilled when the thing she desperately wants is dead and gone? It’s a fascinating performance from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what she does in the next Wonder Woman movie.

The opening sequence is well done and exciting: I initially didn’t understand what the hell was going on with the opening sequence, which is a flashback to when Diana was a child on Themyscira and participated in a big deal athletic competition and, at the end, learned a lesson about taking shortcuts in life, and then how that connected to the whole “wish granting artifact” thing. I didn’t figure it out until towards the end of the movie. I was amazed, though, by the scope of the opening sequence and the pacing of the race. There were so many things in this sequence that must have looked insane in IMAX. And the kid actor playing young Diana, Lilly Aspell, is phenomenal. I do question, though, why there isn’t a brief scene before the start of the competition explaining what the competition is, why it’s happening, etc. Is there a scene explaining what’s going on and I just missed it?

The period detail looks spot on: The movie takes place in 1984 and, for the most part, the period detail looks spot on. I’m sure more eagle eyed viewers picked out whatever anachronisms managed to get into the movie, but I totally bought that the movie took place in the mid-1980’s. The big “Wonder Woman stops a mall jewelry store robbery” sequence made me think of the mall sequence in Commando. The mall looks very much like the mall in that movie (Chopping Mall, too). And everything else in the movie seemed to have that 1980’s vibe to it. I’m surprised, though, that there wasn’t more “1980’s stuff” in the movie to help amp up the nostalgia.

The big action set pieces are cool: What Wonder Woman 1984 may lack in terms of its story it sure as hell brings it big time in terms of spectacle. The opening competition sequence, the mall robbery sequence, and the big “Wonder Woman running on the road and dodging trucks and tanks and whatnot” sequence are all mega scenes that will no doubt live on forever on YouTube. I’m also going to venture a guess and say that every future Wonder Woman movie is going to feature some sort of “Wonder Woman running” action sequence (just imagine the nerd speculation on what sort of Wonder Woman running scene will happen in the next movie). Director Patty Jenkins clearly knows how to stage an exciting and thrilling action scene, and while it will be interesting to see what she does with the Star Wars spin-off movie she’s set to direct, I would love to see her make a proper action flick, something that doesn’t necessarily rely on fantasy for its action. I bet Jenkins would kick ass with that kind of movie.


The “invisible jet” sequence actually worked: I knew that, eventually, a Wonder Woman movie was going to have to do Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. The question was how would the invisible jet be done? Would they do it like in the old cartoon, with Wonder Woman actually flying an invisible jet, where you see the faint outline of it with her in her seat operating it, or would they do it some other way? Director Jenkins and company went the “other way” and it’s well done and makes sense. Are we going to see more of it in the next one? I hope so. I think it would be cool if Wonder Woman makes multiple things invisible.

The Bad

The movie is way too long: I’ve come to accept that superhero movies, and big deal, big budget movies in general, are going to be mega long, but even with that stipulation Wonder Woman 1984 is way too long. And it feels way too long. When it was an hour over I thought the movie had gone on for at least two hours, and I cringed when I realized that it still had 90 minutes to go. What the hell was going to happen in those 90 minutes? Would the movie ever actually end? I don’t know if it’s an overall pacing problem or the story is just lame. It might be both. And to think that there could be deleted scenes, meaning that the original cut of Wonder Woman 1984 was even longer. Holy shit!

The story is confusing: Like I said, I had no idea what the hell was happening with the opening sequence. When the “1984” part of the story happened and the ancient artifact showed up I didn’t grasp its significance or what it even did. Until someone said “It’s like the Monkey’s Paw” I was super confused about the whole wish thing. And then there was Minerva’s wish. I thought that Minerva’s wish to be like Diana Price was why Wonder Woman started losing her powers, because they were somehow being transferred to Minerva. And the whole thing with Maxwell Lord granting people wishes when he becomes the ancient artifact and then getting something from those wish makers in return, I thought that was part of his wish to become the artifact. I must have missed the big explanation scene where this is, well, explained, before everything bad starts happening.

And the whole Chris Pine thing… I’ll get to that in a second.


Kristen Wiig is miscast: I like Kristen Wiig. She’s funny, personable, she has a certain presence that makes her a star. Unfortunately, she’s completely miscast as Minerva and the eventual Cheetah. She does a fine job at the beginning of the movie, where we see her as the nerdy Minerva, but when she starts to change as a result of her wish it just doesn’t work. She doesn’t change enough, she doesn’t exert enough natural confidence, the whole thing is just awkward. And when she gets mean and doesn’t want to renounce her wish because she doesn’t want to go back to the person she was before the wish, I just don’t buy any of it. And when she becomes the full on Cheetah, what the fuck is that?

Now, who should have been cast as Minerva/Cheetah? If the whole thing with Minerva and her wish is all about becoming “like” Diana Prince, Jenkins and the producers should have found someone who could match Prince physically and, when she transforms, act kind of like her. I bet Whitney Cummings, another comedian, could have done it and made it work.

I really wanted to see Wiig succeed with this part. It just didn’t happen. And that’s too bad.


The whole “Chris Pine” thing: While I understand why Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is brought back, did it really have to be so convoluted, with the very dead Trevor somehow inhabiting the body of a guy is very much alive in 1984? Why not just have Trevor appear, out of the blue, after Prince makes her wish and have him be Steve Trevor without any of the other stuff? Why do these things have to be so damn complicated? It’s just totally unnecessary.

Or how about Chris Pine as some totally different character that Diana thinks is Steve? Will we see something like that in part 3?

Maxwell Lord is a terrible villain: Pascal’s struggling businessman Maxwell Lord is one of the worst superhero movie villains I’ve ever seen, and Pascal’s performance is just lame. I never believed for one second that he was a successful oil business guy or that he could even fake being a successful one. When he becomes the wish giving artifact he becomes unhinged and even less interesting than before. I also have a hard time believing that he would survive as the wish giving artifact. He never seemed devious or smart enough to pull it off. The only aspect of Pascal’s performance I thought was interesting was his relationship/non-relationship with his young son. It was also one of the few things I believed when it came to Maxwell Lord. Lord was just not a good villain for a movie like this.

Wouldn’t people decades later still be talking about the wish guy that almost destroyed the world?: I think they would. I think people would never stop mentioning it. Was this event discussed in any way in any of the previous DC movies? I know that the DC movies aren’t as continuity conscious as the Marvel movies, but, again, something like the potential end of the world due to a wish giving artifact would definitely be something people remember and talk about for decades. Why would people essentially just forget about what happened? I’m just not buying it.


Wonder Woman 1984, while not the mega box office hit it likely would have been if movie theatres were still open, was apparently successful enough for Warner Bros. to announce that Jenkins and Gadot would be coming back for a third movie. And that makes sense, even if Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t very good. Hopefully, Jenkins and company come up with a better story for the third movie, and a better villain. I want to see Gadot star in an absolute classic superhero movie. Wonder Woman 1984 ain’t it.

Only see Wonder Woman 1984 if you absolutely feel the need to.

Now, is there anyone out there who got to see Wonder Woman 1984 first in a movie theatre and then watched it again on TV via HBO Max? Just how different was the experience?

Rating: 5.5/10.0



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