Wonder Woman 1984 is not a ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’

The second installment of the Wonder Woman film series falls short of expectations despite the vibrant 80’s landscape

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Anna

With high expectations and mediocre to dismal results Gal Gadot and Chris Pine’s chemistry is the only shining star in the colorful mess that is Wonder Woman 1984. Graphic by Anna McClellan.

A film about how truth and love will conquer all — how original. However sweet the sentiment, we have learned from politics and life experiences that truth and love do not always triumph, and neither does this movie.

There were very high hopes for the second installment of the Wonder Woman franchise after the success of the original, but the newly released Wonder Woman 1984 is lackluster at best.

To refresh memories, the first movie brought the dynamic character of Wonder Woman to life as she fought Germans in World War I alongside captain Steve Trevor and friends (who are absent from this film). Walking out of the Alamo Drafthouse theater in 2017, I felt confident that the possibilities of where Wonder Woman could were endless (spoiler alert: they were not endless). Diana infiltrating Soviet Russia in the Cold War era, channeling some Percy Jackson and seeing Diana unlock secrets about her past at the ruins of Mount Olympus, or even Diana’s kickass Amazon family defending the world. It seemed anything could happen.

After slowly sauntering away from my couch in 2020, however, instead of feeling glee at the prospect of being an empowered female warrior, I felt very underwhelmed and filled with questions. I pondered that it might be one of those movies you have to watch a few times to really understand. I was wrong about that. At no point throughout the many viewings I’ve had of this movie do all the elements make sense together.

What did Patty Jenkins and her writers come up with to top the dark war-torn reality and the rhetoric of unlimited power?… A rock! In lieu of a Hitler-esque baddie, we are introduced to businessman Maxwell Lorde, a sort of ware-cheetah, and a magical crystal.

Welcome to the sleek color-soaked ’80s where malls, side ponies and fanny packs are all the rage, and our heroine Diana Prince (a.k.a. Wonder Woman, a.k.a. actress Gal Gadot) lives a crime-fighting-by-night, historian-by-day lifestyle. While working at the Smithsonian, Diana encounters an ancient crystal that grants wishes. Trouble ensues as these wishes are granted, and the entire world starts to crumble because of this rock.

There were very high hopes for the second installment of the Wonder Woman franchise after the success of the original, but the newly released Wonder Woman 1984 is lackluster at best.”

If you’ve read (or are currently reading) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you understand the motif of the “American Dream,” which Jenkins and crew tried to incorporate into the film. But instead of bringing about a new classic take on the American dream, they create only a sideways-skewed movie about greed and capitalism. This avarice is personified in slinky, sketchy, conniving businessman Maxwell Lorde, played by Pedro Pascal. Max’s greatest fear is being a “loser,” sounding very Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and while Pascal is normally a magnetic, charismatic actor (i.e. Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian, Kingsman the Golden Circle), the script and storyline for Pascal is bland and ugly.

Lorde is not alone in his nefarious actions. Viewers are also introduced to SNL alumnus Kristin Wiig as Barbara Minerva, an awkward, socially invisible fellow historian turned apex predator. Both Pascal and Wiig play their characters to the extent the janky script allows but are not given the scope to have fun with their respective personalities.

Without spoiling anything, Steve Trevor resurfaces. (It was in the trailer, people.) The thing that this movie depends on, besides a wardrobe montage, is the chemistry between Pine and Gadot. Similar to their dynamic in the first movie, the two are very comfortable with each other and show affection, and not in the ooey-gooey mushy way reserved exclusively for Hallmark movies.

The mediocrity of the film was not only seen in the plot inconsistencies or mess of terrible “goof” jokes, but also in the typically brilliant action scenes. We are used to seeing Diana absolutely destroy multiple evil Germans while using that iconic golden lasso, sliding on her knees in slow motion, all set to the thrilling “danger music.” In comparison, the action sequences in 1984 are dismal with the exception of the excursion to the mall. Riddled with CGI inconsistencies and contorted body positions that can only be accomplished by Elastagirl, viewers are left without the magic a new Wonder Woman movie seemed to promise.

As much as I appreciate Gal Gadot and Co., it’s hard to ignore that this movie could have been spectacular given the era and range of the assembled cast. All in all, I do not recommend this movie, and if you are really jonesing for some Gal Gadot or Wonder Woman content, I would stick to the first film. Some things are better left untouched.