Film review: Wonder Woman 1984

Can Gal Gadot save 2020? Linda Marric's not totally convinced


2020 has, understandably, seen very few blockbusters released in theatres. With the majority of distributors choosing to hold back their biggest and most lucrative productions until next year, it feel good to finally have a real superhero movie on our big screens with the imminent release of Wonder Woman 1984.

Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot reprises her role as intrepid Amazonian princess Diana Prince in this action-packed follow up to Patty Jenkins’s critically acclaimed 2017 origin story.  In Wonder Woman, Diana set out to stop World War I, believing the conflict was started by the Amazon's longtime enemy Ares. In WW84, the action takes place at the height of the Cold War conflict between America and the Soviet Union and sees our heroine take on two mortal enemies - media businessman Maxwell Lord and protege-turned-enemy Barbara Ann Minerva / Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).

Still reeling over the loss of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who sacrificed himself to save the world decades earlier, Diana cuts a lonely figure in the modern world. Her days are spent secretly fighting crime and sharing her vast knowledge at the ancient history museum where she works. After thwarting an attempt by some small-time criminals to steal a seemingly worthless ancient artefact, Diana soon discovers that the object has magical powers and can grant its owner anything they wish for.

Meanwhile, having taken the museum’s newest recruit - the shy and reserved Barbara (Wiig) - under her wing, Diana is concerned to see her new friend fall for the calculated charms of immoral media mogul Maxwell Lord (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal).  Diana must find a way to stop Maxwell and his destructive plan even if it means having to give up the thing she loves the most.

Patty Jenkins' first film in the franchise proved to be a shot in the arm for Warner’s ailing DC Extended Universe which had until then been forced to play second fiddle to Disney’s  MCU. Whilst undeniably engaging and beautifully acted by Gadot, this second instalment is sadly lacking in the storytelling stakes. Jenkins and co writers Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham present an overlong and bewilderingly muddled film which puts the emphasis on all the wrong aspects of the story.

Furthermore, far from offering up a believable origin story for Cheetah, we get a watered-down version of what could have been a truly exciting character development. Nevertheless, Wiig does a great job in the Cheetah role and is truly hilarious as Barbara in the earlier scenes. For his part, Pedro Pascal is in excellent scenery-chewing form as the man who wants to have it all.

Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 has at the heart if its story a strong female centric narrative, but is sadly not a patch on its predecessor. Parallels with the current political landscape feel a tad overdone and contrived, but on the whole Gadot has once again done a great job in bringing this much loved comic book heroine to life and has succeeded in making us really care about her.

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