By Paul Hall
When Wonder Woman graced theaters in 2017, it was a special moment for the DC cinematic universe. A feeling of hope arrived in the form of the superhero toting a golden lasso. Now we fast-forward the tale to everyone’s favorite decade — the ’80s — as Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) story evolves in the new film Wonder Woman 1984.
Diana, working in cultural anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., meets a new colleague, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who specializes in rare gems. Barbara has been asked by the FBI to identify some items that have recently been recovered after a robbery. It is that task that eventually introduces Barbara to the suave and debonair Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).
The particular stone that Maxwell and the FBI are both interested in allows people to be granted their wish, whatever they desire. Maxwell will stop at nothing to get the stone and use it to benefit the one person he cares for the most — himself.
Maxwell attempts to charm everyone around him. Some fall for his advances and others shut him down, but many are about to experience the power of the stone in one way or another. The question remains: Once the power is unleashed on the world, can the genie be put back in the bottle?
The genre is filled with possibilities and I remain hopeful even after I experienced this film, but this is definitely a speed bump for the DC universe. WW84, as it has been dubbed, has myriad issues that slow the promise that Wonder Woman held. For starters, it is too long, checking in at 2 hours and 31 minutes. That duration is not a problem when stories keep moving, but this film feels like following a broken path to the end.
Setting the film in a timeframe that is likable helps, as the ’80s evoke positive memories for many fans of the character. Set decorations, background music and fashion engulf viewers in the era, and that may be enough for some to forgive the bigger faults.
Without giving too much away, part of the plot seems like a thinly veiled attempt to bring back Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and this really feels like a manipulation that wasn’t needed. I like Chris, but there comes a time when packing too much in hinders the overall film.
I love Gadot’s take on the Diana/Wonder Woman character, but this film just doesn’t reach the finish line on her talent alone. The brightest star is Wiig, whose villainous turn feels like an everyday baddie coming forward for the masses.
Because I like so many aspects of the franchise, I can’t wait to see where things go, but this effort seems to be an average one at best. Wonder Woman 1984 is less wonderful than I hoped for; let’s just hope the wonder can return in the future.
Paul’s Grade: C+
Wonder Woman 1984
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal
Director: Patty Jenkins