Gal Gadot Is Flawless, but ‘WW84’ Has Some Flaws
After I — and so many people across the world — loved the first Wonder Woman movie, there were big expectations for Wonder Woman 1984, newly released in theatres and streaming on HBO Max. Would this installment be better? Not when it focuses on an ancient stone that when touched, may be able to grant any wish.
Gadot is stunningly beautiful, and a great actress. But there’s a certain formula that makes superhero movies work — and this one doesn’t follow it. The film starts off amazingly, with the young Diana Prince competing against women twice her age in a cool obstacle course. She’s told that “no true hero is born from lies.” That verbal spear could easily be pointed at all current politicians.
The last movie dealt with the period of World War I. I’m not sure what the purpose of going to 1984 here was. The costumes are fun, but it doesn’t merit setting the movie in that year. The rehashing of the America vs. Russia nuclear war motif is so tiresome that if I had a nickel for every time I saw it on the screen, I wouldn’t have had to steal hotel towels all my life to make ends meet.
The fight scenes are good, but could be better. We need to see Gadot kick tuchus more often. The humans she fights look like they couldn’t last one second in a serious battle. We already had to wait three years to see her back on screen in this role, and Cheetah is not a villain that makes you get on the edge of your seat.
The film does a lot of things well. Gadot looks angelic both when she is Wonder Woman and her alter ego. The music by Hans Zimmer is perfect. The chemistry between Gadot and her love interest is strong, especially given some odd circumstances. The movie also does well to deal with topical issues, such as female empowerment and the need to fight against abuse. The costumes are perfect, including a new metallic-looking one that Wonder Woman wears, which is supposed to protect her. There’s also a prophetic moment where the government wants to control what’s on TV.
Kristen Wiig, who plays the comedic sidekick, Barbara Minerva, does well in the first half of the movie, but will get on your nerves when she is asked to do too much in the second half. She doesn’t have the gravitas for it.
The biggest weakness here is that there are no powerful villains to care about — and as such, we don’t feel Wonder Woman has any vulnerability. Pedro Pascal, a gifted actor you may remember from Game of Thrones, does his best to ham it up as Maxwell Lord, a man who is obsessed with the stone that will make your wish come true. But we only get his backstory in a short flashback — in a movie that runs 150 minutes. As it is, he just comes off as a freak. He has a son, but we have no clue if he was married or adopted the child.
The film’s climax is anticlimactic and leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a shame because many moments are majestic, and the character of Wonder Woman is fascinating. But in this film, the world she lives in isn’t.
I’d love to see her be put in World War II and destroy some Nazis, or at least defeat some imposing villains. Gadot looked more nervous eating eggnog for the first time on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show than she does here.
Gadot deserves a script as spectacular as she is. She also has a good sense of humor, which we only see in glimpses. The movie is definitely worth seeing for Gadot’s coolness and star power — but it could have been a lot better.
Alan Zeitlin is a writer and educator based in New York.