It split audiences and critics alike when it was originally released on the big screen and streaming in 2020 but Wonder Woman 1984 is film which improves on the blockbusting 2017 original, delivering an entertaining and action-packed superhero adventure.
Director Patty Jenkins delivers a handsomely produced superhero sequel which continues the story of Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince in her battle to help humanity. Admittedly, it’s a little stretched with a 2 1/2 hour running time, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Moving the action from 1918 to 1984 gives this Gal Gadot starrer a freshness which few sequels get. Gadot’s Diana is now working in Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute, still mourning the loss of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. Diana is working alongside Kristen Wiig‘s geeky geologist, Barbara Ann Minerva when a mysterious and magical rock which grants wishes arrives at the museum. Before long Diana wishes for the return of Steve and Barbara requests to be more like Diana. These wishes are granted – but making the situation worse is Pedro Pascal‘s Maxwell Lord, a Trumpish businessman/TV personality who wishes that he can become the wishing stone to inhabit its power. Cue: international mayhem.
Clearly inspired by the tone and vibrancy of Richard Donner’s Superman, Wonder Woman 1984 opens with two energetic and well-staged set pieces, The first sees young Diana (Lilly Aspell) taking part in an Olympics style athletics competition on Themyscira and second sees Galdot’s Wonder Woman foiling a robbery in a shopping mall. They show that Jenkins has huge confidence in delivering epic action and once again proves that Gal Gadot was born to play Wonder Woman.
As spectacular as the action is, Wonder Woman 1984 works because of the characters and the performances of the film’s great cast. The first instalment was a fish out of water tale which followed Gadot’s Diana as she integrated into humanity, but this follow-up makes Steve Trevor the man out of time and Chris Pine is great in selling his amazement at a future that he never could have imagined. Wiig makes for a great villain who transforms from meek to mad across the film’s running time. Pascal’s flawed Maxwell Lord is the screen embodiment of everything which was wrong with the 1980s and there’s more than a hint of a young Donald Trump and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor to the character. As great everyone is, Wonder Woman 1984 is Gal Gadot’s show and she delivers, in spades.
Wonder Woman 1984 is about 20 minutes too long but at least the film’s finale is much more satisfying than the 40 minute last act battle of its predecessor. There’s more humanity to the action, even if Wiig’s apex predator, Cheetah is augmented by CGI fur – which is thankfully better than what was on display in last year’s Cats.
A big budget action film which balances its action with characterisation, Wonder Woman 1984 is a first-rate superhero adventure. Roll on Wonder Woman 3!
Wonder Woman 1984 comes loaded with 90 minutes of special features. You get all sorts of behind the scenes goodies and interviews with Patty Jenkins and the film’s cast along with a gag reel. Fans will love it .