WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)
Review posted to site Jan 20, 2021 (viewed Dec 25, 2020)
NO SPOILERS AHEAD
Movie sequels tend to fall into a few categories, easily definable. While only a very few are better than their originals — and this is not one of those — there are limitations; frameworks which are adhered to; the development and use of characters, continuations of storylines, and the progression of time.
Here, some of those, to good effect, are tossed out the window. As far as categorizations go, this has a fair blend of direct sequel, being a continuations of characters, and one of displacement, where the characters are in new, unique settings of geography or time. Here, our lovely heroine is nearly 40 years in the future, looking like she’s aged not a single day (she is, after all, Wonder Woman!).
The setting has changed, also, with the first and excellent film being set entirely in Europe, she is now working at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as a specialist in ancient objects of some sort. Her title — and what she’s doing there — isn’t exactly clear.
Although Patty Jenkins’ direction is superb, taking the mundane and making it glorious and enticing, the flatness of this film suffers from what I call justsohappensness. Another way to put it, just so happens. It just so happens that Diana Prince, Wonder Woman’s mundane persona, meets Barbara Ann Minerva, a shy and stumbling wallflower on the day the events in the film begin. It just so happens that the FBI is also leaving a bunch of artifacts at the Smithsonian for the team to give a report on. It just so happens that this is right up both of their specialties. It just so happens that one of the objects is a Dreamstone, giving those who hold it while making a wish have that wish granted. It just so happens that Barbara, in her attempt to be less uncomfortable in her own skin and more like the suave, confident and foxy Diana, turns into one of two rivals for Wonder Woman.
One of the problems coming into the film is how they are going to bring back Steve Trevor, who died in the first film. Wont to give anything away, it is decently explained, though with far more flaws than other similar ventures into similar plotlines, ala BIG or any of the myriad incarnations of FREAKY FRIDAY (or PRELUDE TO A KISS or THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND or ……). Here, there are implications which are not addressed, and Jenkins has acknowledged a bitter flavor to some feminist interpretations.
Although I will recommend WW84 (its stylization), don’t expect such greatness as the original. The soundtrack includes incidental music from a very creative time in progressive pop rock, while the score was composed by Academy Award winning Hans Zimmer (who has an asteroid named after him). The film with a long but lively sequence of the young Diana, where she learns a hard lesson she carries with her through life. Had the rest of the movie continued the confounding smoothness and creativity of the first sequence, perhaps critics wouldn’t have such umbrage over the final results.
Recommended, but with presumptive caveat firmly in hand.