DNX Film | Wonder Woman 1984: Cheesy yet ultimately enjoyable

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Austin Salameda
In pursuit of a career in medicine and the arts, Austin considers himself a non-conformist. he thinks everything returns to a baseline no matter how far things tilt from right to left. Writes sometimes, tells stories often, provokes always.

Wonder Woman 1984 takes place in the 80s where it is revealed that Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman works secretly as a superhero while having a day job as an anthropologist for the Smithsonian. She then comes into contact with an ancient artifact known as the “dreamstone” that grants wishes – inevitably bringing back her dead lover, Steve Trevor through a wish.

Kristen Wiig’s character, Barbara Minerva, was introduced as a direct contrast to Diana. She is depicted as insecure, weak and somewhat of an awkward person, but is kind-hearted and empathetic. She also comes into contact with the dreamstone and wishes to become like Diana and as such slowly gained godlike strength.

Another character named Maxwell Lord (Oberyn Martell himself, Pedro Pascal) is a tv personality who is in the verge of slowly losing his oil company. Upon hearing of the dreamstone, he seduces Barbara Minerva and upon acquiring the stone from her, magically consumes the stone via a wish that lead to him being able to grant wishes but also trick the wish-maker to make him the benefactor of their wishes instead.

It is then revealed however that wishing from the dreamstone comes with a price, Wonder Woman slowly loses her powers, Barbara slowly becomes apathetic and loses her humanity and Maxwell Lord’s health problems which were hinted early on, drastically advances.

The films conflict was set, and Diana, Steve Trevor and Barbara go on a mission to stop Maxwell Lord. However the film’s problems might have hurt this otherwise great concept starting with the opening scene.

According to interviews, Director Patty Jenkins’ was asked to shorten the opening sequence but she didn’t, and it will never be known if it would’ve benefitted the movie. The lesson of that sequence was teaching Diana, honesty, truth and the danger of lies – which never really feel fleshed out as the movie progressed, as the film seems to be leaning more on the dangers of power and wants and its consequences. The opening sequence is basically the first action set piece as well, but compared to previous films showing the amazons, it felt slow and this style basically carried over to the rest of the movie’s action set pieces.

Wonder Woman’s first action sequence showed her foiling a mall heist. It was ok, but it was marred by intentional cheesiness especially with how she and the people around her interact. Although this is in fact a homage to 80s superhero flicks, the over indulgence to 80s cheesiness kind of forgets that it’s supposed to be just a homage and not a blueprint to follow as this is a movie in 2020 (technically 2019)

Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor inclusion was done well, he was, and still is charming. However the plot decided to put his soul into another man’s body (instead of him just being there as him) in which that man may have been non-consensual to Steve and Diana’s actions and basically didn’t know about what’s been happening to his body while Steve Trevor possessed it (Diana and Steve-in that man’s body were implied to have sex) And it felt distracting at best and at worst uncomfortable and may go against the feminist nature that the film is supposed to embody (the topics of consent)

In contrast to its predecessor, Wonder Woman wrecking into the enemy soldier lines in the first film were spectacles to behold. The action sequences in this film felt weightless or at least it lacked the style that DC action sequences were famously (or infamously) known for. The next action sequence had Wonder Woman chase vehicles in a desert, and this was almost a good sequence but were spoiled by bad CGI, especially the one where she unrealistically propelled herself with a rocket using the Lasso of Truth to save two children playing in the street. This is a superhero flick after all, but physics is still applied stylistically every so often to make the action feel tangible.

Upon knowing that Diana is losing her powers due to her wish to be with Steve Trevor, it is also revealed that the only way to return it was destroying the stone, which was now Maxwell Lord, or revoking her wish – both of which theoretically will make Steve Trevor disappear. Upon that knowledge, Diana refuses to revoke her wish, however Diana still wants to fix the damage done by Maxwell Lord. Barbara, realizing that if this succeeds, may lose her newfound strength and confidence, decides instead to stop Diana, and ends up becoming the secondary antagonist.

The film introduces an even better conflict if only it was done properly. A relatively amazing action sequence takes place in the white house in which Maxwell Lord manipulates the president to give him access to a new broadcast technology that could make his wishing powers worldwide and this happens while Diana and Barbara face off, the former going after Lord and the latter defending him. This was supposedly the best dynamic of the film if it was only focused more – Barbara essentially becoming Wonder Woman and Diana becoming more human and weak. However this sequence and dynamic was not explored further.

Eventually as the world crumbles and the protagonists are out of options to chase after Maxwell, Diana revokes her wish which essentially makes Steve Trevor disappear from the body he possessed, essentially returning the previous owner’s consciousness – while this concept is still questionable, the exchange between Steve and Diana in this scene is amazingly well acted. This created one of the best sequences in the film which is Wonder Woman gaining back her powers and flies to the score of a reworked version of John Murphy’s Adagio in D minor. Again that sequence was completely marred by bad timing. As sooner as she had the ability to fly and feel powerful, she had to stop and go home to don the Golden Armor with wings – which essentially got no build up to deserve it’s appearance. The last action sequence felt like an excuse for the film makers as Maxwell Lord can’t go toe to toe with Wonder Woman in combat so they had to mutate Barbara into Wonder Woman’s supposed arch nemesis – Cheetah to go head to head with her. It was short and not as overly dramatic as the Ares fight from the previous film, but while its strength could have banked more on a better and intimate fight which would’ve exemplified their dynamic and duality it was instead another distractingly bad and short CGI fight.

To sum it up, the actors were great, Gal Gadot looks amazing as ever. The score by Hans Zimmer is amazing, However the film felt like it was handled by a different director, but it was still Patty Jenkins’ who did amazing in Wonder Woman 1. CGI was unimpressive, action sequences felt either too heavy or weightless, everything was predictable and the dialogue and interactions were cheesy to the point that it felt like it was MADE in the 80s not a TRIBUTE to the 80s. Maxwell Lord was intentionally an allegory to Donald Trump and what would have been a good discussion of “power in the hands of the incapable” became buried by a bad plot.

The trope of losing powers and gaining them again were explored in Christopher Reeves’ Superman 2 and Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 which arguably are an inspiration for this film. While the similar sequence in this film, again, was done well, ultimately Wonder Woman didn’t feel all that powerful once her powers returned, possibly due to a lack of proper 3rd act action sequences and the golden armor which seem to be only a marketing tactic.

Basically the film is a mess, however, making this film accessible to the safety of homes is a good call for Warner Brothers and DC. It can be seen as a light hearted cheesy rom-com, if one just does not mind the body possession stuff and takes off the superhero lenses. It is ultimately enjoyable for families who want a movie break from the already bad turn of events in 2020.

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