As someone who grew up watching Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, I was looking forward to seeing what the 2020 version of the comic book superhero classic was going to be like.
The film opens with a mall heist in which things go wrong and the robbers start to panic. In the ensuing chaos with security guards and screaming shoppers, one of the robbers holds a young girl over the balcony and threatens to throw her over unless the guards back off. Of course, you can guess who turns up swinging on a lasso to save the day. This cliched start is a good indication of what follows in the rest of the film.
The film is set in Washington, DC, in 1984. Diana Prince is living among mortals and working as an anthropologist and archaeologist, curating ancient artifacts at the Smithsonian and keeping a low profile.
Though she mainly keeps to herself, Diana befriends a new colleague at the museum, Barbara Minerva, a character first created in the comics by Len Wein and George Perez. In the film, Barbara is a socially awkward geologist/gemmologist (plus a host of other areas of expertise) with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
She also appears to be in awe of her sophisticated colleague (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot), spurred on in part because she is someone who feels invisible and undesired, despite her obvious academic intellect.
Nobody really pays much attention to the mousey, clumsy scientist, which, in her mind, is due at least in part to her working alongside someone like Diana, who attracts all the attention in the room wherever she goes.
Actress Kristen Wiig brings Barbara and the fan-favourite DC Super-Villain Cheetah—created by Wonder Woman originator William Moulton Marston—to the big screen for the first time.
Barbara’s claws start to come out as she slowly shifts from newfound friend to formidable enemy. Barbara’s transformation is as much on the inside as the outside. As she goes from being reticent to being edgier, resulting from the years of internal anger and rage that have built up inside her, she becomes unexpectedly agile and strong. In essence, she goes from victim to survivor to predator.
Someone else who becomes a powerful adversary for Diana is Maxwell Lord. Originally created for the comics by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, in the film Lord is the proprietor of Black Gold International but is actually more like a snake oil salesman in expensive sheep’s clothing.
Max is a Gordon Gekko-type, without the polish. What’s interesting about Max is that he’s a very regular guy: divorced, has a kid, doesn’t want his son to see him as a failure and believes the best way to show his son he’s a success is to become powerful and rich and provide him with whatever he dreams of having. How far he is prepared to go in terms of proving his worth to himself, the world and, ultimately, his son, is what turns him into an arch nemesis.
In this film, Diana is reunited with Steve Trevor, the love of her life, played by Chris Pine, whom she’s missed for nearly 70 years. Whilst every film needs a love interest or angle, this love story seemed to actually slow down the film, especially the scene where they are flying amongst the clouds in a romantic interlude. It made the film overly long and Steve came across as a bit of an appendage to Diana. It may have worked had the script been written more pithily and made his character more central to the eventual outcome in the movie.
The plotline of the film hinges on the age-old adage of “be careful what you wish for” because you may end up paying a heavy price for getting whatever you want.
The premise was interesting. However, and given how much was spent on special effects and CGI, it was a badly executed film with a sketchy plotline which veers from one thing to the next, from scene to scene, without any real golden thread running through it all.
It abounded with cliches from every Good V Evil action film you’ve ever seen. The clumsy scene where two children are rescued from the middle of the road in the midst of a gunfight with tanks made no sense at all in the overall script of the film. To pit two women in a ‘catfight’, where one is an actual cat (Cheetah) – well, how much more cliched can you get.
One interesting thing I picked up was that the sexual predator who attacks vulnerable women, resembled a younger Harvey Weinstein to me. Given how many multi-million pound legal spats he’s had with Warner Brothers (the makers of Wonder Woman 1984) in the past, I wonder whether that was intentional or a complete coincidence?
There was also, for me, no real explanation as to why the film was set in 1984 and how this related to the premise of the movie or was integral to the plot.
The film ran for about 2 hours 45 minutes and was about 45 minutes longer than it needed to be which I think was down to the lack of sharper writing, clarity and direction. Of course, I’m sure die-hard fans of the DC comic book superheroes, will lap it up.
Wonder Woman 1984 is set for release tomorrow, 16th December, but given that we’ve just gone into a tier 3 lockdown in London and some other parts of the country, please check your local cinema listings for up-to-date information.