I suppose, at this juncture, you are expecting me to wax lyrical about Wonder Woman 1984, right? Perhaps the most anticipated movie of 2020, arriving on Christmas Day for most of us, in what has been a lacklustre year for movie releases it really stands out.
I’d love to oblige, I really would, nothing would bring me more pleasure than to say that Wonder Woman 1984 is as good as the trailer made out. That the pulsating beat from the classic New Order track, aligned so well to the action on screen, is exactly what we see for two and half hours, I’d like to say that, but I can’t.
I can’t say that because, rather than a non-stop action romp, rather than a tongue-in-cheek look back at the eighties, the decade of greed, commercialism, bad clothes, bad hair and massive pieces of technology, we get a rather turgid affair.
This was an open goal that writers Patty Jenkins (“Monster”), who also directed, Geoff Johns (“Aquaman”, “The Flash (TV)”) and Dave Callaham (“The Expandables, 2, 3”, “Doom”), missed by some margin.
The chance to laugh at the bad hair and excess of the eighties, to put a superhero in another time, poke some fun. Instead, what you see in the trailer is as far as it goes, Chris Pine (“I Am The Night (TV)”, “Star Trek Beyond”) laughing at a bin and trying on a few cringey outfits.
What we get instead is an opening scene of a young Diana, Gal Gadot (“Ralph Breaks The Internet”, “Justice League”), racing against older woman back in her Amazon homeland. Naturally, because she’s the best, she trounces them but, because she’s young, she makes a rookie mistake and takes a shortcut to win.
This opening scene is a ham-fisted way of Antiope, Robin Wright (“Blade Runner 2049”, “Justice League”), telling a young Diana that the truth is all that matters. This will be used later in the film, but first there’s a further two-hours to get there.
In between we see Barbera Minerva, Kristen Wiig (“Mother!”, “Downsizing”), a colleague of Diana’s in the museum she works, come across The Dreamstone, a stone that can grant a single wish to the person holding it and, in return, it takes what you value the most.
Barbera wishes she was more like Diana and winds up becoming Cheetah, whilst Maxwell Lord, Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian (TV)”, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”), a wanna-be oil baron wishes he was the stone itself, able to grant anyone their wish and able to take anything from them in return.
Diana meanwhile inadvertently wishes for Steve (Pine) to return which he does, briefly, in someone else’s body, think Quantum Leap.
If all this sounds a bit, ‘meh’, it’s because it is. About an hour or so in and I, and everyone else watching, was beginning to fidget, turning to each other, talking. There was nothing exciting, nothing grabbed us and keeping our interest enough.
Maxwell Lord is a so-so bad-guy, single minded in his pursuit of wealth and what he thinks will impress his son (who is adopted, in case you were wondering, that’s not explained) but then easily swayed to end his pursuit when the movie calls for it.
Barbara/Cheetah isn’t a great bad-guy it has to be said. We see her use her powers maybe twice in the whole movie and, in the end, Diana beats her quite easily, although it is left open for her to return.
I’m not one for picking wholes in movies whilst watching, I think it spoils things, this means that, should I happen to spot one whilst watching, it usual means it is very, very obvious. And so it is with Wonder Woman 1984, there’s spoilers ahead.
We are expected to believe that no-one thinks of wishing Lord didn’t become the stone, or wishing him dead? Not even Pine who knows he doesn’t belong in this era anyway? Or that, because Wonder Woman has given some speech about “look inside yourself”, “truth is all we have” (told you it would come back), that everyone who previously wished for something would take it back because of the consequences?
I’m sorry, there are people in this world who would quite happily take the wish they were granted and be damned with the consequences, particularly in the eighties, from everyone in the world, I struggle to buy-it.
Even if you ignore that, if you decide not to look closely at the plot and story and just watch for the action, you will be sadly short-changed. Light as it is and not that good when it arrives, the action is not worth waiting for.
Of course, none of this matters, you will watch it where you can and there will be another, Jenkins has already been confirmed according to reports. For me, I’ll lower my expectations for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, also a DC affair, when it arrives in August 2021, after seeing this, that may turn out to be a good thing.