Well, #WonderWoman1984. Good thing it was free. Wanted to like it, but ultimately no emotional connection to any characters. Never felt jeopardy. The movie quite literally pulled its punches. As with all not so good films, poor writing undermined the spectacle. pic.twitter.com/az1fCIrcua
— Daniel Rasmus (@DanielWRasmus) December 26, 2020
So that was my immediate reaction on twitter.
Let me expand.
A lot happened in Wonder Woman 84. And most of it didn’t matter.
Unlike the aftermath of Marvel’s Avengers, where the specter of aliens and the destruction of New York changed the relationship of Earth to the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe the end of Wonder Woman 84 seemingly left no lasting effects, except perhaps to make Diana even more selfless than before.
Gal Gadot was great, but even her furrowed brows and demi-godlike physique could not salvage an emotional connection to the jumble of action sequences and human transformations—that to reiterate, amounted to almost nothing.
In the original Wonder Woman we knew the stakes. World War I brought gravitas of context. Add in the arrival of Ares, the God of War, and well, that’s a movie.
We don’t get Ares in 1984, but we do get the return of Steve Trevor, sort of. I don’t think Steve needed to return. I get that as a plot tool Diana needs to want something so badly she jeopardizes her own power—but like all good demigod beauty contestants, could she have just wished for world peace? Diana it seems is burning a very big candle for Steve, but it does luckily burn out at a most convenient time for the film.
And Kristen Wiig. I’m not always a fan, and Wonder Woman 84 didn’t incline me to appreciate her acting any more than I did from previous outings. Wiig found herself constrained by a role that never quite let her out of her cage. As a perennial Wonder Woman nemesis she needed to put claws into something a little meatier. (Sorry.)
It was nice to see Pedro Pascal’s face for two hours, but like the film’s running time, it was more than I needed. Pascal did a fine job channeling the excesses of the 1980s, but I never felt any deep existential threat from him. The investor he confronted early in the film, and later sent to tax jail, called him a con man and that set the table. I knew that no matter how much power he accumulated he would ultimately self-destruct.
Despite the scene of reconciliation with his way-too forgiving son Alistair, it isn’t clear how Lord actually comes down from his high horse. He quickly, and seemingly without consequence, disavows his wishes, and reverses his rampage of want.
Perhaps the film’s most egregious flaw comes in how easy it is to absolve oneself of selfishness. Maxwell Lord just as easily finds himself absolved of his obsession for more as Diana does for her pining for Steve. Giving up the wishes should have been a difficult, time laden task—it should have involved sacrifice and tribulations. I get that making a wish is easy, but that ease into the promise springs the trap. Absolving oneself of the wish should be a struggle, perhaps one that isn’t even achievable for most.
That the wishes rolled back and the world recovered made the previous two-plus hours feel inconsiquential.
For the plot
Truth comes to the rescue at the end of a magic golden lasso. Why? Because we know from 2020 how easy it is to just present people with the truth. And being presented with said truth will believe it if they are told how important the truth is.
And I have to add, the magic lasso was a little too magic, in that it failed Diana in many cases, or she failed it, yet next scene, it somehow found itself looped tightly on her Amazonian utility belt.
Despite Steve’s somewhat humorous fashion show, 1984 seemed an arbitrary year, and the sets, which really did capture the 80s vibe, left the artisans and craftspeople under served.
And what was with the magic stone’s base inscribed with a god writing? Why didn’t Diana keep it after dropping it (and why did she drop it if it no longer held power?)—but isn’t the writing, the spell, the incantation—the curse the power behind the object? I don’t think any of us know and the film was silent.
Up close, was the Cheetah makeup any more convincing than Rum Tum Tugger’s?
Oh, the Invisible plane—well, stealth plane. Star Trek VI already established that even cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey still exhausts gas. So reason suggests that a stealth plane cuts through fireworks leaving a trail—just like a real stealth plane. Radar may be fooled, but not thermal imaging. How exactly was a vintage plane at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Archives fueled and flight ready for a trip to Egypt? What looked like a Panavia Tornado would only have a range of 2,420 miles; 3890 km even in ferry configuration. So WTF?
“A fighter that size couldn’t get this deep into space on its own.” Ben Kenobi, Star Wars.
Wonder Woman 84: My view from an invisible critics chair.
Good films rely on good writing and attention to detail. Wonder Woman 84 lacked a credible premise, failed in its writing with too many speeches and too much exposition, underdeveloped its characters, and lacked a sustainable threat. That all the seeming peril and destruction ultimately erased itself from the film’s reality left me trying to remember if I cared about my last two and half hours or not, and as far as I can tell, I didn’t.
For more reviews from Daniel W. Rasmus click here.
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