“WONDER Woman 1984” is a sequel to the hit 2017 “Wonder Woman” origin story from the DC Universe. Gal Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince, an immortal demigoddess and Amazon princess. The first film was set during World War I.
The new film is set during the Cold War, but the stunning action-packed opening sequence shows Diana as a high-spirited young girl who competes in a race against older Amazons. She’s leading the race, but she fell off her horse and takes a shortcut to catch up. For this, she was disqualified and told that she should not cheat but practice honesty.
Jump to 1984, Diana is working as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. She meets a new scientist, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), and they become quick friends. Barbara is asked to identify some stolen antique items, one of which is called the Dreamstone, that could grant wishes.
This magical stone was created by Dolos, the god of lies and deception, so it’s understandable that it will have atrocious repercussions. Although your wish is granted, it would have a negative backlash on you, just like in the classic short story, ‘The Monkey’s Paw’. The only way you could reverse this is by willingly renouncing your own wish.
Without really meaning it, Diana wishes that her lover, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a pilot who vanished in the first movie, be brought back to life. Barbara is an awkward and clumsy nerd and when Diana rescues her while she’s attacked by a man on her way home, she wishes that she’d become like Diana.
Both their wishes are eventually granted. Steve returns to Diana by inhabiting the body of another man. The toll is she is slowly using her powers as Wonder Woman, but she won’t renounce her wish as it would mean she would lose Steve again.
Barbara becomes chic and sexy and also gains superhuman strength that gives her the power to lift up huge barbells all by herself. The toll is she becomes ruthless and thinks only of herself and her own welfare. She wouldn’t renounce her wish as it would mean she would be a dork again.
Meantime, a businessman, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal of the hit TV series, “Narcos”), visits the museum and steals the Dreamstone. His oil company is a sham and he’s bound for bankruptcy so he’s hoping the stone will save him. He uses the stone and wished that he himself would become the stone, so that he can grant the wishes of other people for his own selfish motive.
He becomes very powerful in influencing world leaders, including the U.S. President, and this triggers destruction and disasters in various countries. Barbara mutates and becomes Cheetah, a powerful villain who sides with megalomaniac Max in wanting world domination. But Diana has her lasso of truth and the armor of the warrior Asteria, so how can they win?
The new “Wonder Woman” movie definitely pales in comparison to the first one which is a real knockout. This one is certainly a huge downgrade. After the amazing opening sequence showing Diana as a girl, there’s another big action set piece where she fights some robbers in a shopping mall as Wonder Woman and where folks are wearing 1980s fashion. But after this, there’s a long lull filled with so much talking and blah blah blah.
This goes on for about half an hour before we get to see some spectacular action once again. There are many ho-hum moments in the two and a half hour movie. The main conflict itself concerning granted wishes and desires seems quite weak and even goofy, although it has a serious and valid message saying that being so selfish and greedy is never without its sad consequences.
But for an escapist superhero film, this plot element just does not land effectively. We really wish that the script was better written as the concept of wish-granting just does not appear impressively cinematic enough in the final showdown between Wonder Woman and Max Lord.
But Gal Gadot is still terrific and remains to be perfectly cast in the title role. She also remains to be the best thing in the movie, just like in the original. She looks even more beautiful and ravishing now. Kristen Wiig tries to steal some scenes as the female antagonist but she just cannot upstage the gorgeous Gadot.
Pedro Pascal lacks charisma and is just not menacing or compelling enough as the male villain. Patty Jenkins directed both the first movie and the sequel. For the next sequel, maybe she should get better co-writers to help her come up with a more substantial and engaging storyline and script. Wonder Woman deserves better, and also us viewers.