It’s been 70 years since we last saw Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). She’s working at the Smithsonian in cultural anthropology and archeology, she’s doing her hero work on the down-low, and she’s been missing her sweetie, Steve. She’s been missing him for 70 long years.
Her new colleague at work, the meek and self-conscious Barbara (Kristen Wiig), is a gemologist doing a little investigative work for the FBI. The stone itself is worthless, but it claims to be a wish-granter, a dream stone, and both Barbara and Diana make wishes on it before they realize its true potential. Diana, of course, wakes up beside Steve (Chris Pine), but Barbara wakes up cool and powerful and strong, like Diana, although wishing to be like Diana does come with a little more than she bargained for.
Anyway, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), greedy 80s business man, seemed to know the stone’s possibilities very well, which is why he cozies up to Barbara in order to snatch it. With infinite wishes at his disposal, Lord becomes overwhelmingly powerful and practically unbeatable – especially since the wishes seem to extract something from the wisher, and Diana’s been growing weaker. Barbara, meanwhile, is growing stronger, but also shrewder, meaner. And Lord’s finding ways to increase his reach, taking his avarice international, influencing entire nations, not to mention enemies.
In fighting Max Lord, Wonder Woman is fighting pure greed, corruption, and the world’s obsession with more. Wonder Woman has always been more than capable at taking down villains with her expertly applied kicks and punches and of course her trusty lasso. But how do you fight concepts, ideology, or human nature? This presents an interesting challenge that even Wonder Woman hasn’t seen before.
Gal Gadot is of course absolute perfection as both Diana and Wonder Woman. Having spent the past 70 years among humans, she is of course more jaded, more knowing, but she’s also more human herself, subject to the same loneliness that anyone would be if they’d been grieving for seven decades, and reluctant to get close to anyone because of it. She’s become more familiar with her strength and her abilities, and puts her weapons (tiara, lasso) to greater use. To win, Wonder Woman will have to flex not just her muscle, but also her ingenuity, and harder still, her faith in humanity’s inherent goodness despite plenty of evidence otherwise.
Kristen Wiig is well-cast as Barbara Minerva, a woman who is tired of being overlooked. As she transitions into the film’s co-villain, Cheetah, her confidence and her newfound powers race to outstrip each other, and we see her grow into her new role, wearing her new power like a mantle, like the fur coats she’s begun to adopt.
As for Pedro Pascal, it’s just nice to see his face for once. He understands that Max Lord doesn’t have to be evil to be a great villain. Villains who go around murdering and pillaging are easy to identify and unanimously reviled. But a villain who gives the people what they want will get away with a whole lot more. Since eliminating Lord would also mean negating their own wishes, people like Cheetah, who would otherwise perhaps not be on his side, are willing to fight for him to protect their own interests. Pascal puts a charming face on greed and desire, convincing an awful lot of people to wish for things they probably know they shouldn’t.
Director Patty Jenkins’ action sequences remain divine, but she’s not afraid to remind us that Wonder Woman, unlike some super heroes who shall remain nameless, is about more than just brawn or fancy gadgets; she’s got heart, and not just her own strong sense of right and wrong, but an impressive belief that ultimately humanity will share it and choose it as well.
In flashbacks, we saw a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competing in Amazonian warrior games, where she learned that she couldn’t win until she was truly ready. What will the grown up Diana be asked to give in order to win, what sacrifices will she make for people who will never know or appreciate it, and how will she fight differently when she actually has something to lose? Seventy years among humans will change a woman, even a Wonder Woman.
If you’re in the U.S., Wonder Woman 1984 is available to stream on HBO Max. In Canada, it’s available as a premium rental. Stick around for a mid-credits scene.
I want to see this one Jay. Women need role models.
Excellent review, Jay! My sons selected it for our Christmas night family movie. It was a joy to watch a strong woman in action who is unafraid to reveal her vulnerability.
This is a must-see!
I saw this film on my laptop late last night up until nearly 7 in the morning. I was hoping that maybe I would watch a few minutes of it but I ended up watching the whole thing and got sucked into it. It has flaws but I enjoyed it. Plus, I did enjoy the concept on the fallacy of wishes and the search for truth. It was a better film than I thought it would be.
Sorry to play contrarian here, but this one didn’t work for me. I hate to say that because I’m a huge fan of the first one. Glad it worked for you, though.
Good write-up Jay, but have to say, after loving the first, this one pales in comparison. Sadly, did not think it was very compelling.
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I’m looking forward to this one.
I liked it but it was definitely not as good as the first film.
I’m going to go with Dell on Movies, this one tried very hard to live up to the first one and of course Justice League. But it lacked something, and since I’m not a fan of Kristin Wiig (she just plain annoys me) as the villain, I was hard pressed to like it. I did however did LOVE the post credit scene! It’s about time we saw her in a Wonder Woman film!
I’ve been wavering over whether to spring for HBO Max or not. I’m leaning towards it. Not sure just yet.
Watched it last night … damn near perfect! 😀 … a couple of scenes went on a bit long and could’ve done with some judicious editing, but that’s my only quibble … and the mid-credits scene? I squeed! 😀
*wipes tear from eye*
it’s just so . . . .
I think it was fine to watch on a streaming service. It would probably feel more disappointing if watched in a movie theater. Not a terrible movie though. I also keep being more intrigued by life on the island in both movies as well.