'Wonder Woman 1984': Chaotic, Bizarre, and Entertaining

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Wonder Woman is an important character to me. She was one of the first comic book characters my wife really connected with when we began reading comics, and she remained a key character for both of us as our appreciation of the medium grew. We were both huge fans of the first Wonder Woman film, and we were both looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984. When it was announced that the movie would come to HBO Max for free on Christmas, we were ecstatic.

After watching it, though, I’m… not entirely sure how to react.

It’s a sentiment I’ve seen in several places online. The movie isn’t really bad, but it’s so… weird. I mean, just really, really weird. Cartoonish, almost. From the wacky opening fight in the mall to the over-the-top nerdiness of Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva (her boss doesn’t even remember hiring her? Really?) to the zany, hyperactive performance of Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord, there’s just so much strangeness to process here.

Also, just for clarification--that was not a dig at Pedro Pascal. His off-the-charts wild performance is one of the highlights of the film; you can tell he was having a lot of fun with the role.

I don’t even know where to begin talking about this film. There are some good things: solid performances, a few jokes that really landed for me. There are also some bad things: Steve Trevor’s (Chris Pine) arc is extremely similar to his role in the last film, and Diana (Gal Gadot) herself doesn’t come off as all that heroic, what with her reluctance to stop the villain and what is honestly a pretty lackluster ‘hero speech’ at the end. Mostly, though, there are just confusing things.

Steve and Diana steal a plane and Diana reveals out of nowhere that she can turn it invisible. During a big car chase in the middle of the desert, there are suddenly children playing with a ball in the middle of the road. It’s established that everyone only gets one wish on the Dreamstone, but Barbara gets to make a second one during the final act. Max Lord has to touch people to activate his power, but somehow the particles from a satellite “touching” people counts, even though the person who explains that admits that it’s not literal. Steve Trevor spends the entire movie possessing the body of a random guy and the ethical issues with this are never addressed. It’s just… it’s all over the place!

Still, in spite of this chaos, the movie is at least fun. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the film, and I’ll confess to feeling a little disappointed in it personally (it certainly didn’t live up to its predecessor, I think most people would agree), I also wouldn’t warn people off of it. If you like superhero flicks, there’s enough energy and oddball twists here to keep you entertained.

My one real complaint, though? This is way too long. There are a lot of scenes that just drag; the opening race thing on Themyscira is cool, but it doesn’t add enough to the story to justify its runtime; similarly, scenes like Steve and Diana flying through fireworks linger much longer than necessary. I think the film overall would have been a lot more palatable if they’d cut it down by about half an hour.

More articles and reviews by Ethan McIntyre can be found at rollwithit.blog.