I didn’t have big expectations for “Wonder Woman 1984,” the highly-anticipated sequel to one of the best superhero movies in years. All I really wanted was to be entertained by a fun popcorn movie. What a letdown that this overly-long, tedious film failed to meet even that basic requirement.
Fast forward to the year 1984. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is working as a curator of ancient artifacts, keeping a low profile and only breaking out her Wonder Woman alter-ego when there’s danger in the city. She’s trying to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible (which is ridiculous considering she routinely makes a splash with her jaw-dropping. heroic rescues). When a mysterious monkey paw wishing crystal finds its way into the hands of slick business man with nefarious intentions named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), Diana faces off against him and his associate, her former mousy co-worker turned supervillain, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). In the mix is Diana’s pilot boyfriend Steve (Chris Pine), who is revived from the dead thanks to the wishing crystal.
The convoluted plot is bogged down with too much detail. Wishes are made and granted, but powers and health are consumed from normal people who ask out loud for their greatest desires to come true. It kinda sorta makes sense, but it’s too complicated for a superhero movie. Wiig does not make a great villain, and Pascal hams it up so much he’s a distraction. Gadot certainly looks the part, but I still contend that she lacks charisma. The nonexistent chemistry between her and Pine hurts the narrative.
The corny special effects are downright comical and look like something that would’ve been in a movie set in that time period. Thankfully, the film doesn’t rely too heavily on nostalgia, except for a ridiculous montage as Diana dresses Steve up in era-appropriate clothing. (If you think fanny packs are funny, this will absolutely work for you).
A big sticking point for me, and I know comic book geeks will be divided on this issue, is that I like to stick to the classic books and am in the “Wonder Woman cannot fly” camp. Yes, she was given the ability to fly under her own power in the late 1980s (by George Pérez), but it’s something that still bothers me. Here she zooms around like Superman, and it may also annoy a few other purists (although I admit that I’m more sensitive than most about this).
The ending is more of the same old routine, with a showy CGI fight sequence between the bad guys and our superheroine. By this point, I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters — which is a huge breakdown in storytelling. I never felt like anyone was in real danger, making it difficult to be engaged at all. Director Patty Jenkins is more than competent, but the material is too unexciting and the performances too lackluster to deliver much more than a stale action piece and flat comic book fantasy.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is not a great superhero movie, but it’s not a total stinker. Fans of the DC Comics character will likely find enough to enjoy to make it moderately engaging instead of downright hating it. In that sense, you could consider this unexciting film a mild success.