Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 review

Truthfully said, Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel of the highly successful 2017 Wonder Woman, is an emotionally satisfying but logically flawed superheroine film. Why is it so? Is it really that terrible as many would have said it is? Not really. Let’s find out.

More than 6 decades have passed since the first film, Diana is living a solitary life and works in a museum as an archaeologist. Occasionally, she does her Wonder Woman crime-fighting, hero saving work when she’s around. From Gadot’s performance, we can clearly see that it's due to Diana's love and compassion that drives her to do the things that she does, which she learned from Steve Trevor in the past.

The mall heist action scene that was shown early in the film carries the cheesiness of the 80s, seemingly paying tribute to the Silver Age comic era (similar to Christopher Reeve Superman era) version of the character. It does feel fun, lighthearted and welcoming for casual audiences but hardcore fans might feel perplexed due to the sudden change of “age settings” of the character as the overindulgent, campy and cliché nature of Silver Age version might affect the realistic, grounded approach of Modern Age version of Wonder Woman that was established in the first film and the tone of the overall DC Extended Universe.

There are a few logical issues brought upon due to the decision of changing from a realistic, grounded and serious approach of Modern Age to the fun, campiness and cheesiness of Silver Age:

1) The fireworks depiction of fourth of July independence day in the middle of winter, should've been New Year instead.

2) The mastery of Silver Age capabilities of Wonder Woman - flight and “making things invisible” aren't reflected or depicted in Justice League,

3) Steve able to flawlessly drive a 1980s car or plane without issues.

4) Steve was in awe of escalators or underground trains (although this can be explained that he’s a soldier in a turbulent period of WWI, he couldn’t possibly know new inventions that aren’t fully commercialized yet.)

On a positive note, the sequel further examines the inner feelings of loneliness Diana endured over the years, moved on but still deeply holding on her love for Steve, who sacrificed himself at the end of WWI. The film beautifully captures the painful yet crucial solitary existence of her character, brilliantly portrayed by Gadot in scenes with intense moments of tears. By remembering the love, compassion, kindness shown by Steve when he brought Diana with him to the "Land of Men" outside Themyscira, she's able to continue holding on to be our beloved Wonder Woman. These are the strong key defining moments that shapes how Diana becomes who she is now...much like when Diana making her stand across No Man’s Land in the first film. This shows us why she’s one of the beloved DC Trinity after so many years (Wonder Woman was created in 1941, the other Trinity members are Superman & Batman).

Most casual audience might wonder how can any woman capable of holding the same passions of love for someone who died for so long? Is it realistic enough in this day and age? Just imagine yourself that you’re born and live most of your life in a world filled with women only, suddenly a man appeared in your life, brings you to a different world, made you see things in a brighter way, instills faith, trust, love, compassion in you, sacrifice his life for greater good. How would you feel? The sequel gets the heart of what’s important about the character, the idealism of her character is depicted well.

Steve’s life gives value, meaning, strength and inspiration for Diana to be Wonder Woman, to protect the world of mankind. He’s the bedrock foundation of Diana. The strong on-screen chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine carries emotional weight and show the audience that what they’ve been through felt real.

However, there's another glaring issue that will surely create mixed feelings among fans and casual audience alike: Steve’s soul returned and possessing the body of a stranger instead of returning in full body and soul. The idea of possessing a stranger, using the body to do the things depicted in the film aren't exactly right to begin with...Perhaps the idea was haphazardly implemented with the emotional reason that hopefully Diana would move on with her life and find a new love, in this case the stranger who Steve possess during that time, but still it doesn't sound right logically.

Aside from that, the film dares to ask big questions such as:

“Is truly getting what you want is the same as getting what you need?”

“Are we truly happy by being ignorant, choosing to deny the truth, succumb to our desires, or content with the choices that we made even though it felt wrong?”

Unfortunately, the execution of these thematic elements have been rather flimsy and sloppy. The scriptwriters used a “MacGuffin” - Dreamstone to push forward most of the plot narrative which ironically made it messy and convoluted, as many plot contrivances can be seen throughout the film. The Olympian God, Dechalafrea Ero/Dolos/Mendacius or called the God of Lies, the creator of the Dreamstone, is just briefly mentioned and no further elaboration of his current status afterwards.

The plot decision of having Diana wearing the Asteria’s golden armor is rather out of place and sudden. The question of how she’s able to find the armor all those years and how she’s able to keep it in her apartment are questions yet to be answered as well. 

Barbara’s character was haphazardly developed and shortchanged...following the standard cliché of “an eccentric, but neglected person who lacks self confidence, doesn’t realize how smart and worthy she is until something happened that made her gain confidence through nefarious ways and lose her humanity”. Her character arc is bland and just isn't compelling enough to be remembered. It’s not the issue of Kristen Wiig’s acting performance, she did well for her part, it’s just script issues about her character (Silver Age setting as well).

The other villain in this film, Maxwell Lord, an over-the-top 1980s fraud who cheats, despite being well acted by Pedro Pascal, is also not a compelling villain to begin with. His motives and desires are just mainly motivated by greed and power for no known purpose. The only thing that show us his humanity is his relationship with his son, which is not that complex or justified.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, the sequel does deliver well on an emotional level. It understands the main character well, it's bright and filled with hope but the numerous plot contrivances and glaring issues that the script brings shows that it's not carefully thought out before pre-production starts. The decision to adhere to the more classical, campy Silver Age years rather than follow the established realistic, grounded Modern Age has created more unexpected consequences. Paying homage to the old superhero format of yesteryears just doesn't work in this day and age anymore.

Rating: 6.5/10

Steve: "Diana, I know it's been hard."

Diana: "You don't know. You don't."

Steve: "It can't go on like this."

Diana: "I give everything I have, every day. And I'm happy to. But this one thing...You're all that I've wanted for so long. You're the only joy I've had or even asked for."

Steve: "I am so sorry...but that's crazy."

Diana: "Why, for once, can't I just have this one thing, Steve? This one thing. I can't give you up. So I won't. There has to be another way."

Steve: "Diana, listen to me. I had a great life. And you only made it better. But you know what you need to do. The world needs you. All right?"

Diana: "No. I'll never love again."

Steve: "I pray that isn't true. There's a wonderful, big world out there. This crazy new world. And I am so happy I got to see it...but it deserves you."

Diana: "I can't say goodbye."

Steve: "You don't have to. I'm already gone. I'll always love you, Diana, no matter where I am."

Diana: "I love you."

Diana: "Nothing good is born from lies, just wasting precious time. I've never wanted anything more. But he's gone...that's the truth. Everything has a price. This world was a beautiful place just as it can't have it all. You can only have the truth. The truth is enough. The truth is beautiful."


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