Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017) was an impressive film.
In my estimation, it had one of the best movie superhero characters ever to burst upon the big screen.
Gal Godot was the embodiment of Wonder Woman. She was both strikingly attractive and fiercely formidable.
In real life, she was a model and beauty pageant winner as well as a former member of the Israeli army, trained in martial arts.
She was born to play Wonder Woman.
She was dazzling in the original film, with just the right amount of character establishing backstory and showstopping action-adventure entertainment.
The supporting cast included Connie Nelson and Robin Wright as well as Chris Pine playing Diana’s (Wonder Woman’s) love interest.
The story was set during what is now referred to as World War I, thought to be the war to end all wars.
It had all the drama and romance of the era. And a bit of tragedy when Chris Pine’s character Steve Trevor is apparently killed in an act of bravery and self-sacrifice.
As indicated in the title, the follow-up takes place in 1984.
Writer/Director Patty Jenkins stated that she chose the decade of the Eighties because she saw it as “the height of Western civilization and society.”
Funny thing, I was around during the Eighties. I definitely don’t share that opinion.
For the record, I pray that it doesn’t represent the highwater mark for modern civilization or society. That would be pretty depressing.
That said, Diana doesn’t look a day older than when we last saw her almost 70 years ago, still looking good in leggy, revealing dresses. These days, she has a job at the Smithsonian and is still pining (sorry for the choice of words) for Steve.
Kristen Wiig plays Diana’s envious, bespectacled co-worker.
She longs to be as strong, sexy and popular as Diane, and her wish comes true one day with the discovery of an ancient gem that has the mysterious power to grant wishes.
That kind of power always spawns greed and corruption.
Enter Maxwell Lord, a con man televangelist bearing more than a passing resemblance to Donald Trump—his appearance, demeanor, enormous ego and insatiable ambition.
In this case, it’s the desire to rule the entire world, by using the power of the gem and offering to make everyone’s wishes come true, for a price.
In the past, granting wishes was generally a good thing. You just had to be careful what you wished for.
Here, it is a slippery slope leading to the self-destruction of mankind.
That may sound like an interesting plot. But it isn’t.
The failure of WW84 to live up to the success of the original film is the absence of an engaging story.
It would appear that the entire script might have been scratched out on a paper napkin during a brainstorming session at a coffee shop where everyone was drinking decaf.
Without giving away anything that’s not leaked in the movie trailers, the Steve Trevor character is back. From the dead. Which is quite a feat and quite a writing challenge for the creative team.
I won’t give away the details except to say that it only marginally makes sense and is quite a bit of a stretch.
The movie stretches the underdeveloped storyline to the breaking point, opening the movie with an extended scene that flashes back to Diana’s home and her experiences as an athletic, ambitious young girl.
Action sequences are comprised of stock elements that we’ve seen before, including the obligatory superhero climactic fight scene in which two invincible characters duke it out in a flurry of fast cuts and deafening sound effects.
The villainess, Cheeta, is played by Kristen Wiig, woefully miscast for either side of her dual personality.
As the weak-minded Barbara Minerva, she serves up a variation of one of her recurring SNL characters rather than making the effort to create something new. The same can be said of her evil, superhero alter-ego, Cheeta who looks like an escapee from a road show of Cats.
WW84 has the feeling of being hastily thrown together. And that may have been the case.
There are so many instances following the unexpected smash success of a movie when the studios green light a sequel in the hope of more profits and kick things into high gear.
Often, the writing process is rushed in order to get production moving ahead and that in turn results in a story that falls far short of what audiences came to see in the first place.
You can count worthy, successful movie sequels on one hand.
And it’s a shame. Audiences walk away disappointed and the chance of a truly great franchise fades away.
It’s particularly painful when fans have waited for over a year for this sequel.
Expectations were sky high, particularly when the director, star and supporting cast were all scheduled to return.
Unfortunately all the special effects in the world can’t save a lackluster script. To her credit, Gal Godot is still on her game.
She is Wonder Woman.
Unfortunately, the only cause for wonder here is what this woman is doing in this hot mess of a movie.
Wonder Woman 1984 is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.