In 2020, when the world most needed a ray of light, a little bit of hope, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot swung in and brought us a bright, vibrant superhero tale designed for the big screen. Wonder Woman 1984 was one of the first and only big releases to grace the few cinema screens open in the UK during Covid-19 pandemic and now arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD.
We catch up with Gadot’s Diana Prince in 1984 Washington DC. Diana works at The Smithsonian and befriends new employee Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who quickly begins to idolize the effortlessly cool Diana. Elsewhere, flamboyant businessman Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) plots to gain more power and influence, while Diana’s former beau Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) returns to Diana’s life, to her surprise.
WW84 covers a lot of ground from the get go. The film opens up in Themyscira with a young Diana taking part in the Amazon games and learning a lesson about winning. The film jumps from location to location with quick pace and plenty of spectacle. But the first film’s innocent charm is gone and the sequel fails to feel relevant. WW84 is bright and bubbly, but lacks the emotional stakes needed for it to work.
Gadot still makes for a wonderful Wonder Woman; she encompasses the character’s innocence, earnestness and good will, but her acting at times lacks nuance. She’s always either or; Diana is either sad or happy, devastated or joyous but Gadot’s performance never enters that much-needed grey area that would deepen the character’s emotional journey.
The film’s MVP is Chris Pine. The way Jenkins has brought Steve back works remarkably well, even if it tests the viewer’s ability to suspend disbelief, and here, Pine is allowed to flex his comedic muscles. WW84 makes us wonder why we haven’t seen the actor in more comedies. Pine’s delivery and comedic timing are impeccable and his effortless charm lights up the screen.
Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal also have fun with their more villainous roles. Pascal hams it up as Lord and while his performance occasionally feels like it’s been lifted from a totally different film, it’s a fun performance, the kind you will talk about and quote for months. Wiig’s role is arguably meatier and more interesting as Minerva starts transforming into Cheetah, a well-known villain in the comics. Wiig injects the character with empowerment and straight up glee as she snarls and fights her way through Diana’s defences.
But this is really Jenkins’ show. Her directorial style is earnest and fun, but all the pieces of the puzzle that is WW84 never click in place. The action sequences seem corny and don’t have any real weight to them; a big point is made out of Diana disliking guns and attempting to not harm any of the bad guys. However, the action is too light, too breezy, which renders the stakes too low for the audience to care.
The Blu-Ray also comes with extensive extras. The Making of Wonder Woman 1984 is a classic behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film that covers nearly every part of the filmmaking process while two featurettes focus on the goofy friendship between Gadot and Wiig. Two of the film’s main action sequences are also treated to a closer look and Lilly Aspen who plays young Diana gets her own little featurette that highlights the young actress’ incredible skills.
WW84 feels like a giant misfire, but it isn’t without its merits. Jenkins still provides a fascinating entry into the Wonder Woman saga and demonstrates clear understanding of the character, while also adding appropriately to the mythology. It never reaches the highs of the first Wonder Woman and nothing matches the impeccable No Man’s Land sequence, but WW84 is bright, loud fun, that might just be the perfect antidote to our current times.
Wonder Woman 1984 is available on digital, Blu-ray and DVD now.