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Wonder Woman 1984

No Award
2020

‘…a joyless dud, a bucket of sludge when we’re crying out for a glass of water…’

‘Films roll out like potatoes’; as one commenter put it last week, movies just seem to be turning up in 2021, with no hoopla, no ads, no press access, and no vibe at all. At least Warner Brothers pulled half the billion worldwide box office expected with their release of Tenet; Wonder Woman 1984 has pulled a miserable ten percent of the same projected box-office total. While director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot are giddily reading from pre-pandemic scripts about more instalments and spin-offs, it’s uncertain whether this kind of blockbuster will be made at all in the future. On the basis of Wonder Woman 1984, it’s hard to care.

TBF, I was never enamoured by Wonder Woman in the way that everyone else seemed to be; something of a slog, it builds to a non-event scrap between Gadot and David Thewlis, a scrawny British thespian who previously fought, and lost, a bout with an ironing board in Mike Leigh’s Naked. That wasn’t much of a spectacle, but Wonder Woman 1984 has even less essential viewing to offer. A pious lecture on why it’s best not to cheat. Chris Pine modelling terrible 80’s fashion. A lousy body-swap sex plotline that’s ethically disturbing. A lot of kid-unfriendly waffle about oil. A funny comedienne in Kristen Wiig completely missing the mark. Parsimonious use of action scenes and green-screen effects so shoddy that look like they came from the 1970’s. Maybe this might have entertained on big screens on July 4th 2020, but that train has well-and-truly flown and Jenkins’ misbegotten sequel now tastes like the thinnest of gruel.

A plot summery is required. Diana Prince (Gadot) is working in the Smithsonian alongside a frowsy co-worker Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) who seems to have a gal-crush on her. Diana prefers to think of her dead lover Steve (Chris Pine) and gets her wish when he’s re-incarnated in the body of a passing stranger at a party. Barbara also gets her wish to gain super-powers, while aspiring tycoon Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) does the same; the power comes from one of the mysterious ancient stones that abound as plot-points with monotonous regularity in these films. Everyone rushes to an Egypt casually painted with a racist brush for some punch-ups in the desert. The end.

Wonder Woman 1984 probably had 2020’s best poster, that jagged day-glo number, and the best trailer, cut to New Order’s Blue Monday. Such promises are made but not kept here in a joyless mess without much music (Welcome to the Pleasuredome, anyone?), wit or style. America’s absence from the world-stage during a global pandemic will make the recent, hugely successful Marvel cycle something of a nostalgia piece; the US seems incapable of saving itself rather than anyone else right now. This Wonder Woman still seems to be fighting pointless and trivial battles with no relevance now, and those who fork out for premium access are likely to feel ripped-off, not boding well for the rest of Warners’ 2021 slate. This Wonder Woman movie is a joyless dud, a bucket of sludge when we’re crying out for a refreshing glass of escapist water, and raises the question of where cinema can possible go from here? Expensive product rots on the shelves, there’s no means of recoup, and there’s no point in making anything new until the backlog is cleared, which will take longer with each passing day. We’re going to need a hero, or heroine, and on this evidence, it sure won’t be Wonder Woman. Gadot says she cried watching this, and I felt the same, although probably not for the same reasons…

Wonder Woman 1984 is supposedly released to streaming in the UK from Jan 13th 2021 although it’s January 11th and I can’t find a shred of evidence that this is actually happening. It’s supposedly on Sky Cinema but there’s less-than-zero about it on their landing page.

Oh, here is is, finally, on Amazon, only £15.99. Good luck with that.

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  1. I enjoyed the first film, probably because I went into it with zero expectations. However, I haven’t yet seen the 1984 film because (A) the price of renting it, and (B) the scathing reviews. I may look for it eventually if it shows up on Netflix.

    However, I truly enjoyed your review, as always.

    • Thanks! There is a backlash against the negativity of people like me, but I can’t find glasses rose tinted enough to suggest that this is worth that rental price….

      • Streaming-admin unfortunately you are not alone.

        My review on YouTube has an equal amount of likes and dislikes. I’m not sure why it’s so polarizing these days to be honest about your opinions on a movie. I spent the entire video breaking down the various elements that just don’t make any sense. I went out of my way to explain that I have no animosity towards the director, the actors, the characters, or DC in general, it was just a very messy movie. I’m even willing to see another sequel. Hopefully the next one is better, but I probably won’t review it. Every couple of months people seem to latch on to a movie that gets poor reviews and turns it into a war against critics. Usually something to do with accusations of some sort of phobia which just isn’t fair at all.

        • Totally. A friend suggested that boys do not like having their toys dissed, and maybe that’s it, but I do not support franchise or talent with the blind allegiance that people support their favourite sports team with. I now know there are some people who like this movie, but I don’t, and I don’t see any phobia being involved, other than a bad reaction to bad movies. It’s just an opinion, and I’m happy to engage, but I guess some people take their comic book characters very seriously. I’ve no plans to see the Justice League revamp either, once was enough.

  2. After such a tragedy, it’s tough to get excited for the third movie. Even less for the spin-off movie about the Amazons before the 3rd movie… Hopefully, movie theaters will be open again by then to give it a box office chance??? 😀

    • Right on all counts, but that’s why it’s surreal to here the talent involved talking as if this one was a golden goose. If Warners were making any coin at all, they’d be shouting it from the rooftops, but the model is well and truly broken. Turkeys from the Green lantern to last Witch Hunter have seen the creatives immediately announce sequels, but that didn’t happen, and that’s before the market collapsed. These big losses will be hard for the market to bear, so they won’t be greenlighting anythging right now, spin-off or sequel…

  3. I really hated the first WW movie, so didn’t feel in the least compelled to watch this. Though I’m sorry that you had to go through it!

  4. Wow! You did not like Wonder Woman 😉 I’ve been long burned out on the super hero movies. I loved the early X-Men trilogy with Hugh Jackman and went to see the early installments of the Marvel movies on opening night, but there just got to be too damn many of them….I’d start waiting a few weeks after release, then starting waiting them to come out on DVD, then stopped watching them at all. I did watch the first Gal Gadot WW, my first superhero movie since Captain America I, and I enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one. I’ll still watch it eventually, but based on your thoughts I’ll wait until it shows up in my Netflix DVD list, and not shell out extra to stream it. So I’ll be back in 12-18 months to see if I agree 😉

  5. My thoughts exactly! I personally find myself liking the movie less and less with each passing day. Unfortunately, I did see WW84 in the theaters on Christmas day. It didn’t ruin the day, but I was very disappointed.

    • I felt some kind of toxic shock after seeing it, willing the film to be good, but knowing in my heart that misculculation after miscalculation would doom it to failure….

  6. From my review at http://ReelHeroes.net: “Wonder Woman’s superpower is love and compassion. That’s a pretty rare commodity among superheroes. This is a film not for adults, especially not for adult men, but for little girls. If it were edited down to 90 minutes and fixed a bit for a PG (rather than PG-13) rating, it would be the perfect superhero film for girls ages 5-13”

    I stand by this. WW:84 (I didn’t see WW:2-WW:83) *is* a bad movie. But in comparison to what? All the previous DCU films really truly sucked ass (except, in fact, WW:1). And the Marvel films are progressively ridiculous and plot-holey. I don’t think a single one of the combined DCU and Marvel Universe films is worth a second look.

    • I’m glad you like it, I really mean that! However I find it hard to believe that a $200 million dollar film would be aimed at just one demographic like girls 5-13. And why would they do that when all they had to do is look at the demographic of people who watched the last movie, and gave it positive reviews? Even 5-13 year old girls are smarter than this script. They deserved better. Gal Gadot, and Kristen Wig deserved better. We all deserved better. I have been rooting for the DCEU to fix itself, but for every Joker, or Wonder Woman 1, we get Suicide Squad, Justice League, and Birds of Prey. Even Birds of Prey at least had a plot that made sense. This seems to be a regular excuse when a high profile movie is devisive. “It wasn’t made for x, it was made for y. As if to assume that adult money isn’t good too? A blockbuster is meant to appeal to everyone, and that’s why this model is a failing more times than not.

      • Agree with these points in general, although, surprisingly enough, I dug Birds of Prey and would put it on my very short list of super-hero movies I’d watch again. I expect different heroes and heroines to have different appeals and fan-bases, and can get my head round watching and enjoying a film that’s not made for me. But I’d say the number of people that would enjoy WW;*4 is a lot smaller than enjoyed the original film, or most DC movies. I just find it hard to imagine that the new Marvel cycle will appeal to wide audiences the way the previous one did…

      • Your point is well-taken. You’re right – as a blockbuster it should have wide appeal. And this movie certainly does not. (I’m reminded of 2018’s “A Wrinkle In Time” which def. was aimed at young girls and yet was supposed to be a summer blockbuster.) I have to admit my comments are a bit of wishful thinking.

        • Not by me! With so much else going wrong, it’s hard to gauge; people didn’t seem to have the same issues with the much praised first film…

    • Tough talk! I’m not a big fan of the super-hero genre, but I get that some really dig it. I would full agree that at 90 mins, with some plot and content adjustments, this would work for a specific audience, but it really wasn’t the revival of blockbuster spirit that people seemed to be yearning for…

  7. I liked the first Wonder Woman movie just fine. So I went in with mild expectations this time. This one however in my opinion feels like a series of contrivances held together by magic, actual magic. I go into super hero comic book movies with suspension of belief, but even in comic book movies, and especially those coming out in 2020, they have to follow some kind of rules. The plot is so silly it insults my intelligence. The super villain of this movie is the script. I can’t understand why it’s so divisive either. I reviewed this about a week ago on my YouTube channel, and said all of these same things. I even took the time to take notes, and break it down scene by scene, and yet I have almost as many downvotes as I do upvotes. I am waiting for the strawman argument that I don’t like strong women… I love The Expanse, who’s key characters are not only awesome women, they are awesome characters. Forgive me, if I don’t find a girl that becomes a cheetah villain because she is jealous of another girls shoes, or a demigod who pines for Chris Pine to be horribly compelling. I appreciate this movie trying to be positive, but trying to convince Donald Trump..I mean Max Lord, to tell the truth, is noble and all, but the plattitudes are a bit too thick for my tastes, and I’m not made of magic.

    • Totally with you on these points, and there’s plenty of movies made by, and featuring strong women that I am keen to endorse and suppirt, just not clonkers like this. I did not like the ‘magic’ plot for the reasons you describe, and Wiig’s character drove me up the wall; her transformation seemed to be based on a shallow and trival reading of female character, and also seemed to have a negative LGBT slant. And whatever we think of Trump right now, we really didn’t need a villian who borrows much from his 80’s persona. I really didn’t imagine that I could dislike this movie as much as I did, but I’m glad to hear that my revulsion is not unique.

  8. One thing I’m mostly confused about is your consensus on Egypt’s “racist” depiction. Are people not aware of how Egypt is like? It’s not exactly a paradise.

    • Good question, happy to deal with this; I’m not an expert on what Egypt is like in any way. But there’s a way that blockbuster movies, particularly comic-book movies, deal with non-Western cultures which seems very stereotypical to me, and I’m annoyed that this very recent movie still appears to lean into these cliches. I’m fed up with seeing exotic backdrops for a white cast, with no respect shown for the cultures depicted. That’s not to say I’m endorsing the various cultures depicited, just criticising the laziness of the Hollywood portrayal, which gets in the way of depictuing what a place or race are actually like.

  9. I haven’t been a superhero fan and find them generally pro-wrestling with a lot more special effects. But, I heard Marc Maron (that fun grumpy comic with one of the first Podcasts) talk to Jenkins about this film, and the talk was so good I thought I’d try a view. I didn’t get past the first fifteen. I get the desire of the fantasy, and the Harry Potter-like marveling at impossible physical feats while endangering kiddos but it just didn’t feel good. and by the time I saw Wiig playing the mousy and unfunny Minerva and Gadot stiffly standing around spouting educated drivel at the Smithsonian I turned it off. Whatever ride that was going to take me on was not for me.

    • These were the best bits. It’s funny hearing all the positive chat about this film when 1) it’s awful and 2) nobody is seeing it. But still there’s endless guff served up about makes more of this muck. That Quiddich match at the start was hardly a winner, and the human drama is pitiful. Utter garbage, in my book; you were lucky to get out when you could!

  10. Excellent review for a not-so excellent movie. While I did watch the whole thing, I only caught about half of it, and that made it not-half-bad! I’m not sure what caught the rest, but if it was my potato, then I say, “Let the potato have at it!”. Haha. I freakin love it. Cheers. 🤠

  11. I suspect Caville and Affleck simply saw the writing on the wall before Gadot did. While I wasn’t crazy about the WonderWoman movie, I did hope this one could reignite the DC universe. But if this movie is even 50% better than you make it out to be, I don’t think my dream is possible. DC is back to standalone one offs.

    makes me wonder if Marvel will hold off making another cycle of superhero movies?

  12. Hm. I thought the first one was OK, and like you I was impressed by the trailer and ad campaign. Surprised they messed up so much. Not sure I even want to bother with this now.

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