Published Jan. 12, 2020
By MICHAEL LAKIND
One evening this past December, an Instagram ad came across my phone informing me that “the moment you’ve all been waiting for is here: Wonder Woman 1984 is available to stream on HBO Max!” In hindsight, I could’ve (and should’ve) kept waiting. “WW84” is long-winded, uninteresting and never fails to fall short of expectations.
This sequel sees Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) comfortably settled into her role as Wonder Woman, who performs neighborhood rescues and wears no disguise, so she always makes sure to tell witnesses that mum’s the word. But when oil tycoon and swindler Maxwell Lord (a very sweaty Pedro Pascal) nabs an ancient relic from Diana’s office and becomes a selfish version of the genie from “Aladdin,” she brings herself to fight for justice.
Trying to capitalize on past success, “WW84” brings back what made its predecessor so interesting: Chris Pine. The writers dig up the same fish-out-of-water concept when Pine’s character Steve Trevor is introduced to the ‘80s landscape, and it’s funny for about four seconds. Looking back at 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” that film’s dramatic climax is now completely undermined by the insertion of Trevor into the sequel, and if it weren’t for Gal Gadot carrying this entire movie, his scenes would have no appeal whatsoever. Not to discredit Gadot. She proves time and time again that in an onslaught of mediocre DC movies she stands out as a perfectly casted heroine.
Even less funny is Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva, with constant attempts to be adorkable while idolizing Diana at every turn. That is until she gains Wonder Woman’s power and instantly decides Diana is dirt to her. Bad pacing plagues her character from start to finish. Her arc is supremely unsatisfying because of the screenplay’s lack of authentic dialogue, making the clock look more appealing than what’s happening onscreen.
Lord is another oddball. Pascal is clearly trying to conjure our lame-duck president in his portrayal of a man who appears to simply be out to give everyone what they wish for, but only by taking everything for himself. He is such a constant focus of the action, yet so uncomfortable to watch. Sweaty is the only word to describe his performance; he never fails to appear exasperated or as if he’s focusing more on catching his breath than on the world domination he yearns for for some reason.
Throughout the film the behind-the-scenes aspects prove to be similarly troublesome. The opening scene featuring young Diana in Themyscira is full of awkward camera angles; the score is uninspired in its recycling of its predecessor’s main theme and borrowing of “Adagio” to try and punctuate an emotional scene; and lousy visual effects had me questioning the flow of the action instead of paying attention to it.
“WW84” is a shining example of why people don’t like superhero movies. It takes itself incredibly seriously and tries way too hard to make sense of lackluster CGI spectacle. Don’t waste your time. Go watch “Birds of Prey” instead. That one was good.