Wonder Woman 1984 had some impossible shoes to fill, but, in the end, this extremely bloated sequel has some fun moments but is overall just another mediocre entry in the DC universe of movies.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Summary: Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman's next big-screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.
Wonder Woman was absolutely a cultural moment, and the impact that movie had on the people it resonated with and the industry overall cannot be understated. That being said, the movie itself might have changed things for the rest of us, but that doesn't mean it was perfect. Wonder Woman peaks in the second act with the No Man's Land scene and then falls apart in the third act, thus failing to stick the landing. Wonder Woman 1984 had some extremely high expectations behind it, and, in the end, there really wasn't any way for the movie to live up to that because it really was lightning in a bottle. Wonder Woman 1984 very much tries to do its own thing, but, in the end, it feels extremely bloated and missing any moment that could even come close to that No Man's Land scene.
Thematically, Wonder Woman 1984 tries to do something very interesting with Diana's character (Gal Gadot), and that is exploring the loneliness that comes from immortality. Diana is in this world, she is fighting and saving people, but she's also just existing in it. Her friends from World War I are all old or dead, and she seems to be having a hard time connecting with people. It's an interesting exploration of what it would be like to truly be alone in the world, which, at this point, Diana very much is. It makes the act of bringing back Steve Trevor more than just watching Chris Pine look at the world in awestruck glee. It's the clash of Diana's past with her present and needing to let go of the one man that she loved.
The concept of getting what you want and what you need to give up to attain it is quite literally the theme of this movie, only with the Dreamstone and our two villains, it's taken to, well, comic book level extremes. It makes everything a little silly, which isn't a bad thing but the various things that need to happen to make Max Lourd (Pedro Pascal) and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) get to their villain roles are absolute insanity. There is so much going on in this movie, and everything goes at such a breakneck pace that the smaller moments don't get a chance to breathe. The best moments in Wonder Woman 1984 are when Diana and Steve are slowing down and just making their way through the world. By far, the highlight of the entire feature is when they fly through the fireworks. It's not just a beautiful scene, but it's also one that forces both Diana and Steve to slow down and take in the beauty of the world. Diana fights for love and the beauty of humanity, and she's lost that. This is the beginning of her journey to make her way back to that, but the journey just isn't as strong as the first time around.
Much like the first movie, it very much feels like Wonder Woman 1984 peaks in the middle and then sort of falls apart in the end. The Cheetah and Diana's final fight in her golden armor is almost dull, which is a shame. It was all too dark, so you couldn't really see the design of The Cheetah, which is a lot better than it has any right to be. There aren't enough lingering moments to see what Barbara has become; she's The Cheetah now, so it's time to fight. However, unlike the first movie, the second act of Wonder Woman 1984 is not nearly as good as the second act of the first movie, and it's impossible not to compare the two of them.
It's not, in any way, a bad thing. In terms of quality, it's about as good as Aquaman. Both of them are beautifully shot movies with some truly brilliant moments, but they both don't work as cohesive wholes. The first movie had that one scene to fall back on while Wonder Woman 1984 just doesn't. The people at DC and Warner Bros. can say this isn't trying to be a sequel and that it's trying to be its own thing, but the theme of Wonder Woman 1984 is too tied up in the first movie so that you can't help but compare the two and you just can't compare them. Steve and Diana remain one of the best DC couples, and you really feel for Diana's desperation to keep him. Wiig and Pascal are both clearly having a ball with their over the top villain turns. In particular, Pascal puts in a very physical and damn near manic performance with his Max Lourd that is always interesting to watch if nothing else. Gadot is Diana, and she makes you believe that a woman can fly.
Wonder Woman 1984 slides right into the middle of the DC movies when it comes to quality. It's not going to have the impact that the first one did, and it doesn't transcend the first movie either. Shazam! is still the best of the lot as it seems to be the only DC movie that doesn't peak in the middle. It's a fun watch, and it's one you should watch at home on HBO Max. It's not safe in theaters at the moment, and even if this were the greatest DC movie in the world, it still wouldn't be worth it. Stay home, watch this one at home, and enjoy the spectacle. It's there even if the rest of the film isn't quite as good.