Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

*. Sure I’d been warned. Wonder Woman 1984 received some dreadful reviews but I figured (1) it had Gal Gadot coming back and she was great in the first movie and (2) it was set in 1984 so I figured if nothing else it would have a cool soundtrack and some funny jokes about big hair and how stupid we all were back then. I thought it was going to be silly and have a lot of cheesy CGI, but aside from that: bring on the camp!
*. Well, even going in forewarned I was still let down. Crushed even. I said in my notes on the first movie that Gal Gadot might not be a great actress but she is a great Wonder Woman. And she still is. But she’s asked to do more this time out and comes up woefully short in her big scenes involving any emoting. The ’80s music? I heard Frankie Goes to Hollywood playing in the background at the party but that was it. The ’80s style? There’s one scene involving Diana Prince dressing up Steve Trevor in the height of MTV fashion. That’s pretty much it, unless you count the opening action scene in the mall, because malls are so 1984.
*. Really, calling this Wonder Woman 1984 almost constitutes false advertising. And the cheesy CGI? It looks terrible. Is this all that $200 million buys you these days? Where’d the money go?
*. Things get off to a very bad start with a flashback to young Diana competing in some ultra-gymnastic sporting event. I hated this for at least three reasons. (1) This is the second movie in the franchise now. We’re supposed to be done with back story and origins stuff. Get on with it. (2) Are we supposed to believe that even as a little girl Diana can keep up, running and jumping and shooting arrows from horseback, with adult women? I know she’s a budding superhero, but that makes no sense! (3) It’s all just a prologue and it goes on forever just to wind up with some hokey moral line about how cheaters never prosper and nothing good can come from lies. Things hadn’t even gotten started and I was already wondering what else could go wrong.
*. A lot. Everything. I have to say, Wonder Woman 1984 impressed me. Really impressed me. It’s hard to believe they managed to stuff so many bad ideas into one movie, even one that runs an unforgiveable 151 minutes (that bloated running time itself counting as another bad idea).
*. I honestly don’t know where to begin. I guess with the story. It’s driven by the introduction of something called the Dreamstone, which is the laziest and stupidest plot device you can imagine. It makes wishes come true, you see. And this doesn’t make any sense because what if two wishes come into conflict? Or a wish contradicts the laws of physics in some way? No matter. Nothing that the script and a Hans Zimmer score that really puts in some overtime can’t do an end around.
*. A stone that grants wishes is also what allows Diana to bring Steve back, after he died at the end of the last movie. Except he’s not really brought back. His soul, or whatever, hops into somebody else’s body. That in itself is incredibly stupid, and seems kind of unfair to the meat puppet, but more than that it’s just dumb from a plot point of view. Steve has little function and he’s really only here so that Chris Pine could show up and maybe sell a few more tickets. I wish they’d left him out.
*. About the only thing Steve does do in the plot is he flies Diana around in a jet. Which he knows how to fly because he used to be a pilot in the First World War. I’m telling you there’s no bottom to how stupid this movie is.

*. The Dreamstone also activates the rest of the plot because it creates Wonder Woman’s two antagonists: a mousy chick named Barbara (Kristen Wiig) who wishes to become like Diana but ends up looking like a discount cast member from Cats, and a business bozo named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who . . . you know, wants to take over the whole world. I guess.
*. Wiig is a comedian by trade but the part of Barbara isn’t funny at all. In fact she’s pretty sad. Pascal is capable, which is good because the movie is really all about his character. Which is another mistake.
*. Nearly everything about the movie is very bad. There’s a subplot involving tensions in the Middle East and those are always painful when Hollywood takes them on. Steve and Diana fly their jet through some fireworks and you’re obviously just meant to look at how pretty it is. Wonder Woman loses her powers for love and then gets them back, because that’s what happened in Superman II. Actually she gets her powers back plus some new ones, like the ability to fly. Where did that come from? And she gets some shiny new armour that actually doesn’t help her much at all in the end.
*. There’s a theme about people wanting too much and how you need to be careful what you wish for. This might have been interesting if it wasn’t played through a megaphone until it finally collapses in a wave of distorted noise about the beauty of truth. But in all these movies the fate of the world, or even the universe, has to be at stake so of course it’s dialed up to eleven.
*. A final point worth mentioning has to do with the critical response. I mentioned at the outset that Wonder Woman 1984 received only “some” dreadful reviews. The response was mixed though, ranging from raves to pans. In general, however, its ratings entered into a now familiar decline after the initial hype broke. Or, as Sonny Bunch wrote in the Washington Post, “Wonder Woman 1984‘s critical reception has whipped from early praise to precipitous decline as fast as Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) can snap her lasso of truth.”
*. This decline has become so predictable it makes one suspicious of critical “first responders”: that first wave of reviews that seem so in synch with every new release’s promotional budget. Indeed, this is now so much the case that I’m inclined to write off any hot take on a new release as likely to be a product of the phenomenon Mark Kermode described as being “first, but wrong.” Critics should give themselves at least a week of reflection before writing/publishing their reviews. Even that much time to collect their thoughts would probably help keep things a little more real.
*. I think part of the problem may have been fear at criticizing a film with such sterling feminist credentials. But some critics, particularly in the manosphere, went the low road and took it on for its gender politics. Personally, I actually found this part to be relatively well handled. Yes, Diana is a model for little girls everywhere and embodies the best sort of female empowerment. Barbara, on the other hand, is a toxic feminist who just wants to be another alpha (or apex) predator running with the big dogs. I don’t see that as a “women are good, men are bad” message. As I’ve said, it might even have worked if it had been more focused.
*. But instead the whole thing is bloated and stupid and uninteresting. A movie like this, first and foremost, should be fun. Its biggest failure is that it is no fun at all. Not even to talk about. It’s a bad comic-book movie on a level with such bombs as Batman Forever. But that movie wasn’t the end of Batman and I’m sure there’s more Wonder Woman to come. On the plus side, I’m pretty sure things can only get better. I don’t think you can make a movie this bad twice.

22 thoughts on “Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

  1. fragglerocking

    I haven’t seen it, I really liked the first one, have it on bluray even, but I haven’t read a good review of this one yet by anyone I respect, so decided not to be disappointed and wait for the next one.

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      Setting this one in the ’80s should have been so much fun. But it’s such a big, stupid plot you get tired rolling your eyes over what dumb thing is going to happen next. I really wish they hadn’t brought Steve back, and the rest of it is just crap. Can’t believe they messed everything up this bad.

      Reply
      1. Alex Good Post author

        It’s all there on your site, totally asshamless. And today it’s something about blobs. Probably obscene. I’m afraid to look.

      2. film-authority.com

        No, I’ve been reviewing a popuar Kino Lorber release, it’s not like I’m displaying a collection of snaps of mutilated women, women on toilets or some other screenshot ashameness that raises red flags with the authorities.

        By Marc Kermode’s description, would Alex Good; Last and Wrong be a fair description of the content of your website?

      3. Alex Good Post author

        *sigh*

        “lives up to it’s reputation as one of the worst celluloid atrocious every committed. Beware indeed.”

        Yeah, beware indeed. By the way, two mistakes in there. Don’t fix just the one.

        Bins!

      4. Alex Good Post author

        Whoops. My bad. There were THREE mistakes in the one part of the sentence I quoted. You managed to fix two.

        Who is Scotland’s education minister? Asking for a friend.

  2. Over-The-Shoulder

    Well well well. This isn’t much of a surprise. It sounds horrible. Wouldn’t want to watch these films anyway, but glad to know my paranoid abandonment of superhero films is well worth it.

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      Yeah, the sense I’ve been getting is that Marvel is pretty much played out now too. Aside from Deadpool I don’t have any interest in this stuff anymore.

      Reply
      1. Over-The-Shoulder

        I really like Joker, as I’ve probably said before, but other than that, none of them have done anything for me.

        Also, shame on the critics that praised this when it first came out. If it’s as bad as it sounds, there’s no excuse to claim you got caught in the hysteria – which you basically caused.

      2. Alex Good Post author

        It’s a real phenomenon that the quote I give from the Washington Post just highlights. People talk about it happening with regard to IMDb scores because there it’s clearly measurable. A movie comes out and it has some ridiculously high rating and then it just keeps sliding (or crashing) in the following weeks and months. I don’t know if these scores are being manipulated somehow or if it’s all part of the hype train. But so much hinges on a movie having a big opening (or at least it did) that you can go from an 8.0-plus rating in the opening week to a 5.0 a couple of months later and it doesn’t matter. The hype did its work and you’ve made your money.

      3. Over-The-Shoulder

        How do the calculate IMDb scores? I thought it came from user reviews rather than critics, unlike Rotten Tomatoes, which is just critics (as Eddie will know… hahahaha!) – which usually makes a big difference between scores. Takes Spy Kids: 5.5 on IMDb, and 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences hated it, critics loved it. But it’s sad that people just look at scores instead of actual reviews from good critics to decide whether they go.

      4. Alex Good Post author

        Yes, IMDb scores come from user reviews. I was just using them as an example of the same phenomenon. I read a story on it a while ago and it’s handy to use their scores because they’re readily available and easy to judge. But I think the same thing happens with critics, as the Post story indicates in this instance.

  3. Bookstooge

    I didn’t like the first WW movie so was not enthused about this second one. Then once I started reading actual reviews I realized that the DCEU was completely done for and should be abandoned post haste.

    I enjoyed the Zack Snyder Superman/Batman/JusticeLeague trilogy but that had more to do with me being a huge Supes fan AND the nostalgia of the Death and Return of Superman from the 90’s. All the other DCEU standalone movies were ok action films but nothing that I’d want to watch again or buy.

    As for marvel I think they’re done too just because of superhero fatigue. You have shows like the Boyz and Invincible exploring alternate takes on superheroes or movies like that one where the kid superman turns bad (I think it was billed as a horror movie but wiped the title from my memory so as not to go into a frothing rage) completely inverting ideas. So when Marvel, ohhhh, I mean Disney decides it wants to do a social justice line of superhero movies, well, that’s going ot fall flat.

    Needless to say, I won’t be watching WW’84 or the 3rd one, if there is one. You’d think Gadot would bail, like Cavil and Affleck did. Maybe she needs the money that bad?

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      I’m not sure yet if Gadot is much of an actor. I don’t think she is. I think she got started as a model and that may be the limit of her range. I do think she’s great as WW though so I hope she gets put in a better vehicle next time. I agree that with the other superhero movies fatigue has set in. These various universes all feel played out.

      Reply
  4. Alex's Review Corner

    It is a shame DC keep missing the mark. Aside from Shazam, I can’t really point to any I’ve enjoyed that much. Post Endgame Marvel seems to have gone a bit bland too. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the end of superheroes or anything, with The Boys and Invincible are doing some heavy lifting on Amazon, but having read your take on WW1984, I get the sense there was a lot of complacency. “This is what comic book movies are now, I guess”, said the underpaid CGI artist while producers mop up the millions.

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      I haven’t seen Shazam, but heard it was good. I was really looking forward to this one, what with Gadot coming back and the ’80s setting. But there’s just no sense of fun here, and all the CGI in the world started going stale on me years ago. But then I realize I’m probably pretty far from the target audience.

      Reply
      1. Alex's Review Corner

        Shazam is pretty predictable. But it’s openly more cheesy and aimed for young/family audiences so I can excuse that to a certain extent. That aside, it’s a pretty hood tongue in cheek sort of affair you might have been looking for in this film.

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