“Wonder Woman 1984” is wondrously disappointing

I was stoked for WW84 from the moment I saw the poster at my local movie theater. The colors, the costume, and Stranger Things had previously made all things 1980s cool again. It was slated to come out right around my wife’s birthday; what a treat!

Then the pandemic hit. 

Once Warner Bros decided to release it on HBO Max, I got excited again. Even though we wouldn’t get the full theatrical experience, at least we’d get to see it when it came out. We made popcorn, turned out the lights and settled in to enjoy Gal Gadot’s return to the role. 

Boy, were we disappointed. 

First off, the film is two and a half hours. WAY too long. Why do they keep making these comic book movies so long? The beginning of the film dragged. And dragged. And dragged. Then we got to the “modern day” 1980s. We meet Kristin Wiig’s character Barbara Minerva. She’s quirky, she’s cute; I see where this is going. Then we meet Pedro Pascal’s character Maxwell Lord. I’ve read some DC comics so I have an idea where this is going. But it just kept going. The pacing is awful; I would love to recut this movie into a tight 90 minutes. Gadot has nothing to do as Diana Prince and spends almost as much of the film in street clothes as she does her iconic costume. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor returns (no spoilers; it’s in the trailer) and she spends most of the film being giddy that her boyfriend is back. 

The writing isn’t great. We spend more time with the “villains” of the film than we do Wonder Woman, which can work well if they are compelling, but being driven by greed and jealousy isn’t interesting. Wiig and Pascal are fantastic but too much of this movie is about them. Thanos was a monster, but his plan made sense in a super-messed up dystopian way. The Joker wanted to disrupt society so he could rise to the top as the new leader of chaos. These two are just greedy. 

We spend countless minutes on what should be emotional scenes with a swelling score to pull on viewers’ heartstrings that fall completely flat and had me doing the “wrap it up” motion on my couch. Steve Trevor’s return is clunky and confusing. The second act is a quagmire. Important character development is done in the third act and undercuts the emotionality of the scene. 

The effects aren’t great. A lot of the CGI looks like a video game, which makes no sense considering how much money Warner Bros and DC spend on these movies. The final fight scene looks even worse than the climactic battle of the first and that looked pretty cheap.

Wonder Woman spends A LOT of time crying about men while sitting on the floor. Who thought that was good writing? This strong, empowering woman is reduced to a heartbroken damsel. Why though? Why did they do this? The fights are few and far between. Wonder Woman has three fight scenes and one feels like a rip off of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

I try very hard to see the good and bad in movies and other reviewers are favorably comparing this to the Richard Donner Superman films. I guess I can see that, but I’m sure if I watched those now, I’d find them slow, boring, and generally lackluster. When we’ve had 23 Marvel movies and only a handful of DC, so the bar is set high by the MCU. I had hoped WW84 would break DC’s streak of “meh” or even awful films (excluding Birds of Prey, which I LOVED) and follow in the first film’s footsteps, but instead they made yet another middling comic book movie with too much fluff and not enough substance. I felt nothing when the film was over and I’m worried about the future of Wonder Woman on the big screen. 

The film is streaming on HBO Max if you want to see it – and you should; support film – but please don’t get your hopes up like I did. 

Rating: 2 out of 5 Snack Packs

Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and writer in NYC. His web series SESSION ZERO: A DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CONVERSATION has new episodes weekly on YouTube. Find more at www.lincolnlhayes.com/sessionzero

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