Wonder Woman 1984: The BRWC Review. By Alif Majeed.
After watching Avengers Endgame, you realize that it would be hard to top that movie in a long while. Especially now, with Marvel focusing as much on their TV shows and the DC universe, it is hellbent on steering its superhero movies into TV shows or giving it the small screen treatment. But I’m happy to say that WW84 makes a case for solo hero movies, which does not hold back with spectacle and creates a sequel that mostly works.
I was apprehensive when the movie started, as it opens with a Quidditch cum Hunger Games like contest set among the Amazonian where special effects looked pretty quizzical. As the scene progressed, though, I felt myself getting caught with the escalating spectacle.
One thing that bothered me when I knew Chris Pine was returning was how they planned to bring back Steve Trevor. Dead characters coming back is not that unusual in the comics, and Steve has come back from the dead in the books, but you do wonder how it would convince on screen. Thankfully, they got him back in a way that makes sense and is in line with what was happening in the movie.
After Wonder Woman thwarts a robbery in a mall, the Smithsonian Institute, where she works under her Diana Prince identity, comes in possession of some rare artifacts, including an ancient one that seems to have some strange powers. Pretty soon, it catches the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a TV millionaire hiding a lot more than he lets on and desperately wanting the artifact for himself.
Kooky artifacts asides, a large part of what works in the movie is the cast and how invested they are in what is happening. Gal Gadot has long become the face of the DC universe, and this movie makes it clear that it will remain so for quite a while. She is the living, breathing center of the film, and, to her credit, she lets none of the supporting cast upstage her even while remaining secure and gracious with others getting their place under the sun.
As Steve Trevor, Chris Pine is one of the better superheroes’ other halves, and you are glad seeing him in Diana’s corner. There is a scene where Steve Trevor and Diane Lane are trying to break into a building to investigate the artifact. The moment he sees the entrance locked, he immediately lets Diane do the honors without an iota of ego or a misplaced sense of masculinity.
Here is a guy who knows his place, which makes it satisfying to see him know precisely when to take charge, even coming to her rescue when she needs it. There may be a time when Diane gets together with other people with Steve long becoming a footnote, but the pleasure and clear love Patty Jenkins and the team had for this couple shows.
The secret weapon of the movie is an effective Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva, aka Cheetah. Actors who are known for their comedic talents tend to add their quirks and personality to the character. Or try to adlib their way through many of their lines, which sometimes come across as showy. Many may not agree with me, but I was grateful that she plays the character straight because she could have gone overboard to Jim Carrey in Batman Returns level proportions.
Speaking of Jim Carrey’s Tommy Lee Jones, Pedro Pascal plays the big bad in a role supposed to have been offered to Tom Cruise first. That is not surprising as Maxwell Lord appears as a cross between Lex Luthor and Donald Trump bunny looped with Tom Cruise. (Or at least Christian Bale’s interpretation of him in American Psycho). To his credit, even when he is hamming his way around the character, Pedro Pascal holds your attention and sometimes even your sympathy. It is also quite a pleasure to see Maxwell going all out with the artifact and its powers and Wonder Woman trying to stop him with some help from Steve Trevor.
Despite a lot of what works in the movie, there are still things that don’t. For example, the special effects in some places, especially during the climax boss fight between Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and Wonder Woman, threatens to derail the movie. It almost did for the prequel where the climactic battle looked out of place with the rest of the film, and the same thing happens here.
And the rules about how the artifact works and what powers it is also a bit confusing. There were at least a couple of times where I caught myself asking, “Wait, what are the rules of that thing again?”. But it is easy to let go of the nitpicking when you realize that what you are watching is a pretty fun movie.
It is a real shame that the movie would not get a full release in the theaters in some regions. Giving the present situation that might be what the future business model will be but WW84 does make a case for the theatre spectacle. It deserves to be seen in the theatres as it is a real big event blockbuster that needs the big screen treatment.
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