After being delayed twice, Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to Patty Jenkins’ original DC film, was released in both the theaters that are available and open and streaming on HBO Max today.
Jenkins returns to direct WW1984 with Gal Gadot reprising her role as Diana, the Amazon princess. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor, who did die in Wonder Woman. Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal is the lead villain Max Lord and Kristen Wiig appears as Cheetah.
Diana has been living and working in the world since the ending of World War I. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) was new at the same museum Diana worked and the FBI came to have her try to identify an ancient rock. That rock turned out to be an artifact created by an ancient god and the artifact is able to grant one wish, while taking what the person loves or needs.
Turns out that Max Lord was in search of this artifact and wanting its power for himself. He cons Barbara into letting him get his hands on it and he starts to use it to accomplish what he wanted.
Looking at the previous Wonder Woman movie, I thought the first two acts of the original was just about as good as it was going to get and the third act derailed the film a bit. While the third act was not terrible, I found it to be easily the weakest of the film. Here, however, I found the third act to be very strong, in particular with the showdown between Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord, but I found the first two acts of WW1984 to contain the weaker parts.
One of those weaker parts, for me, was the overall performance of Pedro Pascal as Max Lord. While I love him in the Mandalorian, I thought Pascal was way-too-over-the-top comic bookie villain in WW1984. There are moments that I liked, but more often than not, I found myself grimacing with Lord. I am not convinced with his motivation and his relationship with his son Alister (Lucian Perez) did not convince me.
However, the other major relationship in the film is between Diana and Steve Trevor and that worked like aces. They have great chemistry together and pick up right where they left off. The dynamic that brought Steve back from the dead worked for me (although there was one part of it that bothered me a bit–can’t go into it further without spoiling it). The film flipped the script with Steve now being the fish out of water and having Diana lead him through the world of the 1980s where Diana was the fish out of water in the late teens. The scenes with the two of them worked completely.
I also liked the scenes with Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva, but she feels as if her story got rushed and tossed into this movie to say “Hey, we have the Cheetah!” Cheetah is Wonder Woman’s most iconic villain and she did not feel as if she needed to be here. I would have rather saved Cheetah for a future installment of the series or to have had her be the lead villain in this one.
I should also mention that Gal Gadot is the perfect Wonder Woman. This casting, which I did not think much of prior to the first movie, works so well again. Gadot is exceptional as Diana and hits all of the major emotional moments well. She is exceptional in this role.
I found most of the CGI and effects here to be awkward and lacking any real feel to them. With the exception of the lassoing lightning scenes that were shown in the trailers (which looked fabulous), a lot of the rest did not look great. There was also a story beat in the second act that, while I will not reveal it, is very much a super hero trope that has played its course. It felt the same as if the characters would get amnesia. I’ve seen that too many times to be too invested in it.
The film was too long too as it should have trimmed about 20 minutes off the runtime of 2 hours and 31 minutes. WW1984 has some great moments in it and I believe it is worth seeing. I wish it was more focused of a film than it turned out. Gal Gadot is fabulous again and her relationship with Chris Pine is special.