In 2020, the entertainment industry has had to make huge changes in order to keep producing movies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the case for the newest installment to the DC cinematic universe: Wonder Woman 1984. This film was released in cinemas, as well as in living rooms across the world through streaming service HBO Max. This marks a new turn for the movie industry as they continue to make movies more accessible during the pandemic.
Wonder Woman 1984 follows Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) as she continues balancing her life between her work at the Smithsonian and her duties as Wonder Woman. She meets a new co-worker, Barbara (Kristin Wiig), who discovers an ancient stone with the ability to grant wishes. Diana, along with her magically-revived boyfriend (Chris Pine), set out to retrieve the stone and save the world from Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), an oil tycoon set on world domination.
Compared to the strong first film, WW84 does not hold up as a sequel. The plot feels much more shallow and under-explained than its predecessor. There are times in the movie where it feels like the writers tried to shoehorn in abilities and superpowers for Diana from the comics without spending enough time explaining them or setting them up in-universe. There seemed to be a general lack of character development throughout the film, as Gadot’s Diana ends the film in the same emotional state as she started. The ending feels rushed, idyllic, and unrealistic, like this movie takes place in a fairytale universe instead of the gritty, darker superhero reality that the DC Universe and previous Wonder Woman film have set up.
What this film lacks in plot, it makes up for in production design. The movie takes place in an extraordinary well done 1984. The sets and costume design convey the campiness and vibrance of the decade perfectly, while still showing a wide range of styles from the 80’s in order to keep the universe realistic. The styles and character designs for each actor in the film fit perfectly within the story, and work to further both characterization in the eyes of the audience, and the plot. Some of the best work is done with Kristin Wiig’s character Barabara, who transforms throughout the film from a frumpy, shy scientist, into a more confident and eccentrically-dressed version of herself. The audience can tell exactly what part of her character arc she is in based off of costume design alone, making this a highlight of the film.
The film also contains some wonderful performances, despite some of the pitfalls of the script. Pedro Pascal fully delivers as Max Lord. While Lord is by far not the most well-written supervillain we’ve seen, Pascal goes full out in his performance. He grows frantic and out of control as his character spirals, delivering some truly manic monologues and villain moments. Gadot’s Diana seems to fall victim to bad writing and characterization by the writers. Gadot’s and Pine’s chemistry seems rushed, and seems to rely more on what was set up in the first movie instead of trying to actually build upon their relationship in the sequel. Some of the more dramatic and emotional moments seem stunted, and Diana doesn’t seem to really learn anything by the end of the film.
Overall, this movie is a good choice for a lighthearted family movie night, especially since it’s so easy to access through streaming services. This film marks a huge step forward in the film industry, and marks a new chapter of streaming services and accessibility for movies.