The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman has been released. Wonder Woman 84 features the return of the Amazonian demi-god warrior Diana, played by Gal Gadot, as she covertly continues her super heroics in Washington, DC, while also working as a Smithsonian anthropologist. A colleague of hers Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wigg, has been given a number of artifacts to document, including one known as the Dream Stone, a stone that according to legend can grant wishes. Meanwhile, a failing oil tycoon Maxell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal, is willing to take desperate measures to keep his business afloat, and is willing to believe in the power of the Dream Stone. Can Diana stop Max before his ambition brings ruin to the world?
The best way to describe this movie is comparing it to one of the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies from the 2000’s in that it’s lighthearted and corny, which honestly doesn’t work to Wonder Woman’s favor. In her first solo film, we were taken to World War 1, one of the worst and bleakest times in human history. That first movie starts off with Diana saying how she used to be a hero, how she used to want to save the world, giving an impression that her experiences in World War 1 had shaken her. But the first twenty minutes of WW84 shows off Diana saving people out in the open for everyone to see. Sure, there’s no video evidence or anything, but would someone who wants to keep their heroics on the sly be running around a busy shopping mall, tying up criminals and thwarting jewel robberies? If she had kept her civilian identity on or used more subtle ways of stopping the criminals that would have worked perfectly, but as it is the scene is more distracting than entertaining.
Sad to say that unlike the first Wonder Woman, there’s a lack of truly eye-catching or memorable scenes. That’s not to say there aren’t any, Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor who died in the first movie, and both the reunion and last goodbye between Diana and him are heartfelt and emotional. As well as a car chase in Egypt which is a lot of fun. But I can’t help but remember the first film’s No Man’s Land scene, the battle on the beach, and storming the occupied town. Throughout much of the runtime, Diana isn’t doing a whole lot.
One of my biggest problems is the waste of Barbara Minerva. Actress Kristen Wigg does a good job at playing the character, but I hate how she seemed wasted in this movie. For those who don’t know, Barbara Minerva is known as The Cheetah, one of the Wonder Woman’s greatest nemesis. But she’s kind of used as a backup villain for Maxell Lord. Sure Maxell Lord can be seen as a Wonder Woman villain just due to one moment in DC history, but he’s barely in the top ten of greatest Wonder Woman villains. It’s like having a Batman movie where The Joker is playing second fiddle to The Ventriloquist. The design of Cheetah is another problem, because she looks absolutely horrendous. The main reason the big fight between Wonder Woman and Cheetah is so dark is so that the effects for Cheetah aren’t distractingly bad, but darkness can only help so much. I honestly hope Kristen Wigg comes back for a future Wonder Woman sequel, something that’s more deserving to the Cheetah name.
Surprisingly, one of the strong points for the movie are the villain motivations. I was expecting there to be a betrayal by Diana that sent Barbara towards villainy, or she’d pull an Electro from Amazing Spiderman 2 and go evil just because the hero got more attention. But no, Barbara’s turn to the dark side is understandable and kind of sympathetic, a person usually seen as invisible and dispensable finally achieving power and not being willing to give it up. Even Lord’s motivation is compelling, he’s not motivated by greed but desperation, at first needing to not be seen as a failure by his son, but later in the movie he’s motivated by his health due to deterioration from the Dream Stone.
It pains me to say this, but Wonder Woman 1984 was a disappointment. I hesitate to call it awful or even bad, but this was honestly a dull and boring follow-up to one of the best superhero movies in the past ten years.
Wonder Woman 1984 gets two stars out of five.