Whilst working as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute, Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman continues to fight crime whilst trying to maintain her anonymity. Yet, settled in 1984’s brash America, it’s a lonely future that she’s found herself in. Pushing away all those that are around her, only shy, insecure co-worker Barbara Ann Minerva persists in trying to befriend Diana. Yet Barabara’s own life radically changes as she investigates a stolen artefact that magically grants wishes. In wishing to be just like Diana, it turns out that Barbara gets much much more than she ever bargained for…
... in this colourful follow-up to 2017's Wonder Woman, it seems that director Patty Jenkins has finally been able to breathe out.
If anything, in this colourful follow-up to 2017’s Wonder Woman, it seems that director Patty Jenkins has finally been able to breathe out. In dispensing what feels like a contractual reminder of Wonder Woman’s powers and abilities, Wonder Woman 1984 quickly snatches every comedic opportunity that the 1980s offers it. Whereas Travis Knight‘s Transformers sequel Bumblebee was all rose-tinted reverie Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman sequel seems to have much more of Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop in mind when it comes to laying on the 1980s satire. Where men mostly as molesters-in-waiting and women are judged by their appearance, Gal Gadot stands out like a sore Thumbelina in all the problematic pageantry. Craving the grown-up companionship of her lost love Steve Trevor (as played by Chris Pine), Wonder Woman actually gets her wish early on in the movie. Now whilst some may groan at such a lame return-from-the-dead, those who have actually seen the film will understand that this contrivance actually suits the themes that Penny Jenkins wants to explore.
You see, whereas 2017’s Wonder Woman felt like a franchise trapped by a rah-rah origin story, the real emancipation of Wonder Woman 1984 is that it is now free to explore a grown-up subtext. Sure, the superhero setup of Kristen Wiig preening herself into becoming Wonder Woman’s nemesis Cheetah, feels like a budget version of Selina Kyle (that’d be Catwoman for those of you who missed the cultural catnip), the real villain of the piece is Pedro Pascal’s Max Lord.
Now, to be honest, on paper I didn’t really get excited about this piece of casting. However, it has to be said that Pascal’s performance singularly elevates this movie into a whole other level of consideration. In delivering in what amounts to a mashup of Dallas‘s J.R. Ewing and pretend businessman Donald Trump, Pascal pirouettes on a knife-edge of real-life parody. Like a King Midas forever on a quest for a magic touch, Pedro Pascal’s Max Lord is as perfect a self-serving reminder as you could ask for at the moment. Permanently perspiring, as if his avarice is eating him from the inside out, greed would not always seem to be good for the oil tycoon. Whether its working down his list of past enemies or successfully building a wall (albeit in Saudi Arabia), there’s so much to enjoy here, that seeing Wonder Woman 1984 twice could now actually be on the cards…
Later on, successfully spiralling out its core theme of what the world would look like if everybody got exactly what they wanted, there’s a real lightness of touch here which totally escapes the films of Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s third Batman outing. Yes, there are some fairly hefty, truck-sized plot-holes and some screamingly-cheap sacrifices but putting the naffness of its dialogue and the quidditch homage to one side, there’s a lot to enjoy.
So, whilst Kristen Wiig‘s storyline of Cheetah gets a shallow saucer of milk, save for some scenery-lifting at the end, it’s really hard to deny the clear machiavellian glee with which Patty Jenkins and Pedro Pascal set about this sequel. This time Gal Gadot gets to flex more emotions than muscles and Chris Pine wanders around 1984 like a kid who’s truly fallen into the bubblegum machine.
Yes. It’s superhero fluff but at least in this movie, it knows how to sour the candy cane and in this respect, Zak Snyder et al might actually benefit from a stern beating. -And that’s not meant as a snider cut.2