The start of WONDER WOMAN 1984 is not only interesting from a cinematic point of view, but is likely to prove groundbreaking for the cinema industry. We reveal why this is the case and what the quality of the latest DC adventure is like in our review.
OT: Wonder Woman 1984 (USA/UK/ESP 2020)
It’s the vibrant, sophisticated 1980s – an era of excess in which nothing seems more important than possessions. Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) lives peacefully among mortals. Although Diana has achieved her full powers, she leads an inconspicuous, withdrawn life, guarding ancient artifacts and only appearing as a superhero incognito. But soon Diana must step straight into the spotlight and use all her wisdom, strength and courage to save humanity from a threat of her own making.
When the comic (film) giant DC commissioned the first pure “Wonder Woman” film adaptation for the DC Extended Universe three years ago, hardly anyone could have imagined that the film series would one day dominate the headlines – and not because of it quality of the films, which soon became secondary, but rather due to the circumstances surrounding it. The opening, which we harshly criticized at the time, enjoyed the spotlight primarily because of its proud message of female empowerment and made leading actress Gal Gadot an icon for women around the world. The sometimes miserable effects, the banal story and the stumbling character development apparently played little role for many – and that’s completely okay, because with their status as heroic role models, Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman have done a lot for the perception of women in blockbuster cinema – Regardless of whether we agree with it or not, what counts here is the perception of the broad masses.
Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) meets her new colleague Barbara (Kristen Wiig).
Now we are writing the already chaotic year of 2020 and Wonder Woman is once again the center of the cinematic (online) discourse. And again, it is not its quality as such that makes “Wonder Woman 1984” a topic of conversation, but rather the publishing circumstances. Patty Jenkins’ superhero successor has not yet been released in this country. Instead, it was released simultaneously in open cinemas in its production country of the USA and as a free streaming title for one month on the VOD service HBOMax. For this, the associated distributor Warner Bros. was sharply criticized for many reasons: for the “America First!” mentality that excludes all other film fans, for the ignorance of cinemas that are already struggling due to the corona pandemic and for all the problems that come with it. Because when “Wonder Woman 1984” will be released in cinemas in United Kingdom (and many other parts of the world outside the USA) is currently still up in the air. The release of the film on illegal file-sharing platforms is already booming, potential viewers are being put off by spoilers, and with every day that the film is legally available to watch elsewhere, the appeal of buying a cinema ticket for it later disappears. Warner’s VOD move, which involves a completely revised release model for 2021 and the release of new films on HBOMax and in cinemas in parallel, can be understood to some extent in view of the drastic drop in revenue. In any case, one thing is certain: the publication, the response and the feedback on “Wonder Woman 1984” are likely to be groundbreaking for Warner Bros. and the filmmakers involved. The future of cinema has never been more exciting.
SPOILER WARNING: At this point we assume knowledge of the events of the first “Wonder Woman” film and will also discuss developments in this film below.
The anything but positive tenor about “Wonder Woman 1984” that is currently dominating the Internet (viewer ratings on film rating portals such as IMDb, Metascore and Rotten Tomatoes dropped significantly just a few days after its release) is due to the general hustle and bustle surrounding the release policy Use caution. Whenever a film release is accompanied by certain controversies, the opinions of viewers are colored by it. But what is it like now, this sequel, whose 80s kitsch trailers and posters once made the internet excited? In view of its largely soulless predecessor, which took itself far too seriously, the label “different” is probably best served. Although the personalities in front of and behind the camera have hardly changed – sometimes to the detriment of the film (keyword: Chris Pine) – you would hardly think that an identical team was responsible for this in the most important positions. The only thing in common: Like the first part, “Wonder Woman 2” is tonally unbalanced – strangely enough, that’s a large part of its appeal.
Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is back.
“Wonder Woman 1984” can be easily divided into three narrative sections (or rather, episodes). Each of them is played by a different actor, whose character is the focus of their own adventure. This has both advantages and disadvantages. While a Pedro Pascal, for example, acts as if he were just in another part of the “Kingsman” series and enjoys himself so much in a banging performance by a cartoonish comic villain that it inevitably gets you carried away (and the film as a whole at times too). dominates that his performances rarely tear you away), Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, of all people, falls behind in her own film. This also has to do with the fact that the fish-out-of-water theme of the first part – back then it was Diana herself who was confronted with a world that was completely foreign to her – is repeated here one-to-one. Only this time it’s the surprisingly returning Steve Trevor who has to find his way in the eighties, which are completely foreign to him. It’s not exciting – and the laughs given human habits in the 1980s are also limited.
“While Pedro Pascal acts as if he were just in another part of the “Kingsman” series and enjoys himself so much in a banging performance by a cartoonish comic villain that it is inevitably thrilling, Wonder Woman, of all people, falls behind in her own film .”
The return of Steve Trevor, who died in part one, for “Wonder Woman 1984” is nowhere near as contrived as feared, but it is still symptomatic of a whole series of lazy plot decisions that drive the film’s plot. Regardless of whether it is such elementary things as the introduction of a certain character or banalities such as the conjuring up of iconic images of aircraft flying: in “Wonder Woman 1984” a lot of things happen just like that or, if at all, after a minimum of establishing the content, so that many creative decisions are arbitrary works. Again and again you get the impression that scenes were created just to either throw details from the comics into the race – name-dropping, so to speak – or to be able to put some particularly spectacular shots in the trailer beforehand. The script (Patty Jenkins, Geoff Jones and Dave Callaham) rarely seems coherent in terms of content.
Pedro Pascal aka Maxwell Lord – visually somewhere between Jeremy Renner and Woody Harrelson.
Which brings us back to the division of “Wonder Woman 1984” into three different narrative strands. Alongside Pedro Pascal as an overacting picture book villain and Wonder Woman as a pale supporting character in her own film is Kristen Wiig (“Ghostbusters”) in the role of the reserved researcher Barbara Minerva the last third. Like Pascal, she creates her character of the wallflower, who one day is confronted with sudden popularity and an attractive appearance, exactly in a way that suits her nature. This not only means that her part works well for a long time, but also that the film as a whole has several tonalities. In “Wonder Woman 1984” a dazzling villain spectacle, a melancholic treatise on feeling outcast and a classic superhero adventure collide, enriched with some comic and romantic influences. The entertainment doesn’t exactly suffer from so many different influences – although the film has a running time of two and a half hours and, apart from the finale, it only has one (!) somewhat more lavish action scene, it feels significantly shorter. But there is the feeling of being part of a unity of content here. Wonder Woman 1984 is instead three films at once – and with the exception of Pedro Pascal’s villainous show, none could stand alone.
“The entertainment doesn’t exactly suffer from so many different influences – although the film has a running time of two and a half hours, it feels significantly shorter. But there is the feeling of being part of a unity of content here.”
While the basic conflict surrounding a wish-fulfilling artifact with its simple “Be careful what you wish for!” message is pleasing and it is fun for a while to watch the events gradually get out of hand and characterized by megalomania and abuse of power The final third of the film is (almost) due to this unstoppable escalation. This is particularly fatal for Kristen Wiig’s Barbara. The development of her character gets completely out of control, devoid of any plausibility. This is also matched by the finale, which once again looks pretty bad from an aesthetic point of view, and is in no way inferior to its predecessor when it comes to artificial thunderstorm effects. And anyone who clapped their hands over their heads in the first film when Diana suddenly rambled pathetically about love will probably turn off “Wonder Woman 1984” even before the credits roll.
Conclusion: Three different films collide in “Wonder Woman 1984.” One of them works very well, one at least half of it and the third – of all the most important ones about the title heroine – barely. This collision of three fundamentally different tones has its charm, but is also exhausting. In addition, action fans will hardly get their money’s worth with the film. All in all, the release circumstances and their consequences for the film industry are more exciting than the still solid film overall, which is still significantly better than part one.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is available exclusively on Sky in United Kingdom and on HBO Max* in the USA.
*We watched the film on HBOMax for a monthly subscription of $14.99 and hereby speak out clearly against the use of illegal downloads and visiting illegal streaming platforms!