Review – Wonder Woman 1984

“Middle-of-the-road” movie receives mixed reviews


Without much fanfare, “Wonder Woman 1984” [WW84] was released on Christmas day of 2020 to a mixed reception from critics. Set in the year (wait for it) 1984, “Wonder Woman 1984” centers around Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot), a worker at the Smithsonian Institution and part-time superhero. When Diana isn’t studying artifacts, she is scouring the city as Wonder Woman, fighting crime and gender roles alike. However, after meeting Barbara, a shy new employee, Diana’s world is suddenly turned upside down. A chance encounter with a magical wishing artifact called the “dreamstone” and a mixup with a crazed oil magnate spirals into the eventual downfall of the entire planet. 

Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? Thankfully, this somewhat unbelievable premise is supported by convincing set pieces stylized with a classic eighties aesthetic complete with fanny packs galore. As far as set design and costuming goes, WW84 gets an easy A+. In addition, the acting is impressive for the most part, with Chris Pine (who plays Steve Trevor) and Gal Gadot’s chemistry easily stealing the show. 

Where it starts to falter, though, is in its plot. Much of the plot is based on rules that aren’t explained until three-quarters of the way through the movie. For example, when Max Lord, the oil magnate, wishes to become the dreamstone, the movie assumes that the viewers know that the stone requires a sacrifice to work. This wouldn’t be such a problem if it had taken the time to explain it earlier on. Instead, viewers are left with many scenes that don’t make much sense until the end of the movie. 

While this can be an interesting way to tell a story, there isn’t much else to keep audiences interested while they wait for an answer. The action scenes are subpar compared to other superhero films, with much of the CGI (computer-generated imagery) taking a heavy hit from quarantine delays (WW84 was initially planned to release on June 5, 2020). The cliche premise and final lesson of “be careful what you wish for” is drawn out and overused. And while it’s interesting to see how it would apply to the Wonder Woman universe, it quickly loses its luster after the first hour and a half. 

With a runtime of nearly two and a half hours, this leaves viewers with a solid hour of confused boredom. In addition, despite its lengthy runtime, all of the character development feels sudden and jarring. In particular, Barbara’s transformation into a villain is nonsensical and forced. 

All of these problems make for a visually interesting yet somewhat disappointing movie. Stunning set pieces and a great cast unfortunately don’t mix well with a flawed script. While it is by no means the worst movie of 2020, it’s definitely one of the more middle-of-the-road titles that have come out of the superhero movie genre to date.